Sew…What’s New?

Since the point of this blog is partially to showcase writer friends of mine, allow me to introduce Elizabeth Lynn Casey (aka, Laura Bradford , when she’s not donning her author costume). Casey’s fourth book, Deadly Notions, takes us back once again to the tiny southern town of Sweet Briar, SC, where the ladies of the Sweet Briar Ladies Society Sewing Circle are hard at work spinning yarns about all the gossipy town happenings.

As the publisher review says, “Librarian Tori Sinclair would do anything for her new circle of friends–including throw a birthday bash for a fellow sewer’s daughter. While the party is a hit, self-important pageant mom Ashley Lawson leaves the ladies wanting to permanently shut her high maintenance mouth. But when Ashley turns up dead, Tori and the girls need to figure out who really murdered the monster mom, before the finger-pointing causes their friendship to unravel.”

If you’re a fan of cozy mysteries, you’ll love the tale Casey has spun. In fact, parts of it will leave you in stitches.

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The Literary Lab

Social media networking is the new cocktail party. One of my goals with this blog is to connect authors so we can help each other succeed and grow.

So in that light, let me introduce you to The Literary Lab, created by my friend Michelle Davidson Argyle, author of the novella Cinders (you’ll never think of Cinderella the same way) and the soon-to-be-released thriller Monarch, which I had the privilege of helping her edit and will be reviewing this fall.

Check out Michelle’s other blog, The Innocent Flower, too.

Rejection is Good!

[This is a reprint of a blog I wrote near the end of last year for author Cassidy Webb’s blog Twisted Webb.]

QUERIES…UGH!
Every author dreads them, but query letters are the lifeline to the publishing world, and we have to write them…like it or not. At least, that is, if you plan to go the traditional publishing route, which is what I am currently pursuing. Sure, I could self publish (which I did with one book already) and may yet end up doing so, but for now I am going the old fashioned route and sloshing through the query swamp.
The good news is, creating a query letter isn’t as hard as it used to be, thanks to many, many free and cheap resources. You can Google “query letters” and you’ll get all sorts of tips on what to say, how to say it, formatting, and even warnings about what agents hate. There is software you can buy to help you create the “perfect” query letter (don’t know about that) and all sorts of websites that claim they will teach you the ins and outs of paragraph sequence, catchy openings, plot summaries, and the tricks to get an agent’s attention. That is all well and good until you get to…
The bad news: you still have to write the darn thing. But what do you say? How do you take your 300-page book and summarize it adequately so that the agent will get the gist of your characters and plot? Worse still, how do you summarize it in a way that doesn’t water your book down so much that it sounds like every other book they have ever seen? What danger is there in describing every detail to the point that you realize you could have written a short story instead? And how many agents do you have to send it to before you get a positive response and find someone who actually wants to lay eyes on what you have spent months, years, or a lifetime lovingly creating? (And how come not everyone is as fond of it as you are? Come on, people, it’s great writing!)
We have all heard the stories about best-selling authors being rejected over and over — Stephen King was rejected over 30 times before the right agent came along — and are now reaping the rewards from taking a chance on an unknown whom everyone else said would never amount to much. I bet those agents wish they had that choice to make over! What we are supposed to take away from stories like that is some sort of solace that tells us it is okay if the first agent you solicit says, “No.” But it’s hard. I remember fondly the first rejection letter I received like it was just yesterday. Actually, it was last Tuesday, but you get the point.
I am in the process of finding an agent myself for a novel I began almost a decade ago. The manuscript is finally done and is now collecting dust on my hard drive. No, it really is. I need to clean the vent in the back of the computer. It’s filthy!
Over the past week and a half, I have sent out a total of 49 queries to agents from New York to San Diego and I have gotten rejected six times. In the big picture, it is not a bad ratio. It means that I am only 25 queries away from becoming the next Stephen King. (I can dream, right?) But, over the same 10 days, three agents have requested sample chapters and pages, which I hurriedly sent off. Am I excited? You betcha! Am I am rushing out to buy my new Mercedes? Uh…no. I think I will wait until I receive my first royalty check.
It really is true that each rejection gets you one agent closer to writing success. That’s the attitude we need to have. So stop staring at the computer screen. The e-mail won’t change. The answer is still no, so move on to the next one. The right agent is out there. You just have to fight your way through the weeds to find the right one.
*****
FOLLOW-UP NOTE: Since I wrote this last year, I have received numerous positive query responses, including full manuscript requests. A couple have panned out to be real possibilities. Writing success can happen. It just takes hard work, diligence, and patience.

New Blog! How Boring! (Or Not!)

If I’m going to take this author stuff seriously (which I am), then I better throttle myself up to the 21st century and start a blog just like everyone else. How boring, right? I mean, everyone has a blog, right? Not so fast, Buck Rogers! You see, the face of publishing has changed from what it was even five years ago. Back then (the good ol’ days) it was almost unheard of for anyone to have a blog. Blogs were not popular, many of the blog sites we have today didn’t even exist, and nobody really paid any attention to blogs. They were firmly entrenched in the mythological land of Geekdom. No normal person had a blog. If you wanted to get noticed in the tight-knit publishing world, you had to win writing contests, publish short stories, write magazine articles, and then, and only then, maybe, just maybe you might build up enough street cred to submit an actual manuscript of your first book with a credible quiery letter, hoping you’d get lucky and someone will have read enough of your stuff to agree that you can write.

But as usual, things changed, much of that laundry list of poodle hoops has disappeared, and now you’re considered an outcast in the publishing world if you don’t have a blog. Everyone has one. The Jones and all their neighbors as far as the eye can see publish electronically on a regular basis — not necessarily daily but often enough to keep up a loyal following.

The blog has become the new writing contest. Publishers and agents troll for blogs all the time to see the latest trends and (they hope) identify new and upcoming authors who might breathe excitement into a sometimes desolate publishing landscape. As the e-reader has changed the way books are produced, the blog has changed the way authors are discovered.

Blogs are also a great way to meet other authors, both established and budding, and exchange ideas through comments and links back to other authors’ blogs. Sometimes entire books can be written about the material exchanged across blogs.

So hop onto my blog, post comments, contribute material, and subscribe so all the new posts get sent to your e-mail box and you won’t miss a thing. Who knows, maybe you’ll become famous!