Thursday, September 29, 2011

Logline Love

Writing is hard work, but to quote a friend, of the two, it's often more work than hard.

And nothing's harder than condensing 80,000+ words down to 100 words that include all the where's, what's, why's, who's, and how's: the logline. Except maybe the query, but that's another post for another time.

A logline is a one~two sentence description of your book, something you should be able to pitch while riding in an elevator with your dream agent. It could happen. Hey, we're writers - we dream big. The logline must have character, conflict, stakes, and a good hook to work. To see my latest attempt, take a look at the logline/elevator pitch tab at the top of my blog. Be gentle.

This week started the call for logline submissions over at Miss Snark's for critique. Don't worry if you missed it - there are two more rounds. But get over there and give a little logline love. Because the best way to improve editing your own work, is to edit someone else's:
I submitted mine to Ms. Snark's, but was not randomly chosen and posted for critique. But I will try again next week. Or even the week after that. Getting critiqued makes my tummy hurt. Writing hurts. But what great endevors don't? Good luck to all who enter and good eats!

¡Buen Provecho!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Review: The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann. Mucho Wanted!

New York Times bestseller Lisa McMann has done it again! Her newest release, THE UNWANTEDS, should definitely be on your most wanted list.

UnwantedsEvery year in Quill, thirteen year olds are sorted into three groups: the Wanteds, the Necessaries, and the Unwanteds. Wanteds go on to university, while Necessaries go to work. And the Unwanteds? They are purged. Permanently. Yes, that means exactly what you and everyone else in Quill thinks. Until identical twins Alex and Aaron are sorted. Aaron is declared Wanted, while Alex is deemed Unwanted. But being permanently purged isn't what it used to be: Alex and the other Unwanteds find themselves rescued by the so-called Death Farmer in his hidden magical land where all who have the creative talents that had doomed them back in Quill, now can work real magic. Real dangerous magic if needed, and boy, does it become needed when Quill discovers the magical land and hits it with everything they have, including Alex's twin, Aaron, leading the charge.

THE UNWANTEDS is an imaginative, fast-paced, fun read that will make you forget it's meant for a middle grade audience. Lisa McMann weaves a classical fantasy feel with today's demand for high octane action. The fantastical elements reminded me of Nickelodeon's excellent series, Avatar, The Last Airbender. You'll meet a cute but deadly squirrelicorn, an Art-teaching octogator named Ms. Octavia, and, my personal favortie, Jim, the winged turtle. Funny, poignant, and, at times, heart-wrenching, THE UNWANTEDS is a showcase for how modern MG fantsay should be done.

Go read, now. And together we can wait for the sequel. While you're wating, be sure to check out Lisa McMann's other titles: The WAKE trilogy (WAKE, FADE, and GONE) and CRYER'S CROSS. You can visit her at or follow her on facebook, twitter, and Vyou.

¡Buen provecho!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Action! Oops, I mean Auction! The only difference is U.

Get your manuscripts ready - it's almost time for Miss Snark's Second Annual Baker's Dozen Agent Auction. Yes, Auction. As in agents placing bids. On YOUR work! Here's the skinny:

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 07:28 AM PDT
Here it is, folks.  (Yes.  It was either force myself to get uber-organized, or curl up in a corner and pluck my eyelashes out.) Mark your calendars!


Each Baker's Dozen entry is required to have a logline.  We will have 3 critique rounds for those of you who would like feedback on your loglines prior to submitting.  These rounds will be run as lotteries.  Times TBA.

ROUND 1:  Tuesday, September 27
ROUND 2:  Tuesday, October 4
ROUND 3:  Tuesday, October 11


ADULT ROUND 1: Tuesday, October 18 (100 entries)
ADULT ROUND 2:  Thursday, October 20 (100 entries)
YA/MG ROUND 1:  Tuesday, November 1 (150 entries)
YA/MG ROUND 2:  Thursday, November 3 (150 entries)


25 adult category winners notified via email:  Monday, November 14
35 YA/MG category winners notified via email:  Monday, November 21

60 WINNING ENTRIES POSTED:  Friday, December 2

AUCTION GOES LIVE FOR AGENTS:  Tuesday, December 6 (for 24 hours)


  • There will be an $8 entry fee for this contest.  Payment will not be required until after your submission goes through (so you're not, yanno, paying for nothing).
  • A maximum of 500 entries (200 adult, 300 YA/MG) will be accepted.  Of these, 60 winners will be chosen (25 adult, 35 YA/MG).
  • If the maximum number of adult entries isn't reached, the remainder will be added to the YA/MG entry maximum (because you know as well as I do that I'm going to be inundated with kidlit).
  • The 60 winning entries will receive critique from editors, authors, and blog readers, in addition to being on the auction block for our participating agents.
  • The (up to) 440 non-winning entries will be given the option to receive critique on participating blog sites after the auction has closed.
  • A percentage of the fee is earmarked for a donation of YA/MG books to my local library (which, sadly, has one of the worst selections of YA/MG I've ever seen).  Given anonymously, of course. *grin*
  • Currently, we have 14 agents who have given us a firm YES.  And 2 amazing editors.  Names of participating agents (and critiquing editors and authors) will be posted as soon as they are finalized.
  • Just a reminder that there will be no Secret Agent contest in November.  October's SA will run as planned.  And, yes.  You may enter the October SA and still submit to the Baker's Dozen auction. Unless you win the SA contest, of course.
Whew!  Please let me know if I've forgotten anything.  (But please don't ask specific submission questions.  I'll be posting detailed submission instructions later.)

Spread the word.  Invite your friends.  And start working on your loglines!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wednesday Writer Workout Wii Tip

It's Wednesday. Are you moving? Everyday? Ok, me neither. But I'm trying. I aim for 4 days a week so that I move more days than I don't. I am noticing small changes. The pews at church don't hurt as much. I can stand more comfortably for longer periods of time. And I'm getting this little bump above my elbow that the doctor assures me is a triceps muscle. Now I'm focusing on the great divide, the ponderosa spread, the wide load – what I affectionately refer to as Writers' Butt. Believe it or not, I can minimized it, and maximize it, in all the right place with a simple step added to the Wii workout.

TIP: This tip works best when playing 9 holes of wii golf. In between holes, do 10 deep knee lunges, five on each leg. By the time you get to the last (ninth) hole, you'll have done 80 lunges! Believe me, you'll feel it the next day. And the next time you do it, it'll be worse, but I promise it gets better after that. You'll work muscles you didn't even know you had! Don't forget to stretch.

Now if I could just stop eating the kids' leftover pizza crusts.

¡Buen Provecho!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Submit for Crit: Ms. Snark's

This is only a (beta) test :)

If you're looking for feedback on your work, here's a call for some of your more dialogue heavy words (250 to be exact) courtesy of the fabulous Ms. Snark's First Victim. If you haven't checked out her blog, get over there now. Many a writer has been picked up by an agent here, so polish up your WIP. Submission open tomorrow (9/7) at 9am EST. Here's the skinny:

Posted: 06 Sep 2011 05:55 AM PDT
Okay, this is going to be fun!  (No, I promise!)

Michael Extraordinaire wants to be sure that everything's running smoothly by the time the Baker's Dozen submissions open (next month!).  So we're running a live test right here on the blog.

Best part?  It's still going to be a real critique!  So please only enter work on which you would like to receive feedback.

FUN THING NUMBER ONE:  This round is going to be a LOTTERY!  That is, everyone who submits will receive a lottery number.  Once the submissions close, the bot will randomly choose the winners.  These winners are the ones whose entries will be included in the crit round.

FUN THING NUMBER TWO:  Our submission web form is ALIVE AND WELL! So for this round, you will have the option of using email or the web form, whichever works best for you.  (We need to test widely, so please don't feel compelled to only use the web form.)

FUN THING NUMBER THREE:  Plain text in emails is no longer necessary!  When you receive your lottery number, you will also receive a link to preview your entry.  So you'll get to see exactly what it will look like BEFORE it goes live.  (If your entry is chosen, naturally.)

FUN THING NUMBER FOUR:  Italics will work in the web form!  Instructions are included in the form.


Email:  authoress.submissions(at) (same as always)
Web form:

With me so far?  Yay!!

Here are the submission guidelines:

1.  Submissions will open tomorrow at 9:00 am EDT and will close at 3:00 pm EDT.  All entries will receive a lottery number.
2.  At the close of the submission window, the bot will choose 10 winning entries.  All winning entries will receive email notification.  Winning numbers will also be posted on the blog.
3.  The crit:  Talking Heads!  Please submit a 250-word excerpt from your novel (completed or in progress) that is heavy on the dialogue.  Please include a BRIEF lead-in sentence to help drop us into the scene.  (You will be allowed 30 extra words for this.)

The format:


SCREEN NAME: (type it here)
TITLE: (type it here)
GENRE: (type it here)

(type your lead-in here IN ITALICS)

(type your 250-word excerpt here)


Follow the instructions on the web page.

So there it is. Go for it - you have nothing to lose and lots to gain. We'll talk more about the importance of critiquing, both giving and recieiving, another time. Until then...

¡Buen Provecho!