Monday, March 20, 2017

New #Pitmad Thursday March 23

by Susan J Berger
PitMad is coming up on March 23rd 2017. 8:00AM to 8:00 PM EDT
What is PitMad? I am so glad you asked. It's speed dating for authors.

This information is from Brenda Drake's site.
#PitMad is a pitch party on Twitter where writers tweet a 140 character pitch for their completed, polished, unpublished manuscripts. ANY Genre

New Rules:  you may only tweet three (3) pitches (they can be different pitches or the same pitch) per project for the day. You may pitch more than one project. I suggest every four hours or so tweet a different pitch. Or tweet during breakfast, lunch, & dinner breaks.

The pitch must include the hashtag #PitMad and the category (#YA, #MG, #A, #NA, #PB etc.) in the tweet. The “#” is important to include. It will sort the categories to make it easier for the agents/publishers.

For more information about Twitter Pitching visit this post by agent@carlywatters here and this post by #PitMad alum @DianaUrbanhere. And here find a post from Diana on how to filter out spam from the #PitMad feed.

What an opportunity.  3 pitches per project. Each of the three tweets must be slightly different. (easy way? Change the position of the hashtags in the post. Put them on a spreadsheet.)
First job. Compose your enticing tweet. approximately 126  characters (You have to leave room for the hashtags #pitmad #YA  That's 13 characters right there.
I searched the internet for advice on how to compost a great tweet. On Ava Jae's Blog I found this:
By the end of your Twitter pitch, readers should know a few key things about your novel: 
  • Who your MC is. 
  • What’s at stake. 
  • Essence of plot. 
  • Genre. 
  • Bonus: What makes your story unique. 
  • Bonus: Conveying the voice. 
Her example: 
Cade is unaware a secret society has been watching since he killed his gf w/ a kiss—now an assassin isn't his biggest problem #PitMad YAPar

I got more examples from Literary Agent Carly Walters' Guide to Twitter contests.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
When escaping WWII 4 children go to magical, tyrannical land through wardrobe to fulfill prophecy & save both worlds. #PitMad #SFF

The Three Little Pigs
Brothers devoured by a killer known as Big Bad Wolf, third pig fights for his life with a pile of bricks between him & death #PitMad #A

Alice in Wonderland
Girl abducted by rabbit from family picnic to fight war in magical dimension. When put on trial for her life, will she wake up? #PitMad #YA

I hopped on over to Twitter to check their lengths and try one of my own.
For composition purposes, I suggest putting your hashtags first. Then you will know how much space you need. By the way, if you are an author/illustrator you can include a picture.
I am setting up mine in buffer now.

#PITMAD 1 sound easy reader. When Nat the Rat disses Fat Cat,
 Fat Cat brings in his enforcer -Matt, the Bat! Is peace possible? #PB #HA

#PITMad #MG #IRMC. Can wishing on a statue fix a broken family? Or is friendship the real magic?
(This one's awful I have to fix it. Mind scrambling for answers. Coming up blank.)

Here are the Hashtags …Age Categories:
#PB = Picture Book
#C = Children’s
#CB = Chapter Book
#CL = Children’s Lit
#MG = Middle Grade
#YA = Young Adult
#NA = New Adult
#A = Adult
Genres/Sub-genres:#AA = African American
#AD = Adventure
#CF = Christian Fiction
#CON = Contemporary
#CR = Contemporary Romance
#DIS = Disabilities
#DV = Diversity
#E = Erotica
#ER = Erotic Romance
#ES = Erotica Suspense
#F = Fantasy
#H = Horror
#HA = Humor
#HF = Historical Fiction
#HR = Historical Romance
#INSP = Inspirational
#IRMC = Interracial/Multicultural
#MR = Magical Realism
#M = Mystery
#Mem = Memoir
#LF = Literary Fiction
#NF = Non-fiction
#R = Romance
#P = Paranormal
#PR = Paranormal Romance
#RS = Romantic Suspense
#S = Suspense
#SF = SciFi
#SPF = Speculative Fiction
#T = Thriller
#UF = Urban Fantasy
#W = Westerns
#WF = Woman’s Fiction
How to set up your Pitchmad day.
Practice your tweets on the twitter app.
Move your final tweet to an excel spreadsheet or word doc.
Copy/past it three times. Change the position of your hashtags on each tweet so that you have 3 different tweets.
Save and repeat with the next project you plan to pitch.

Start the process now. It's not that easy coming up with the tweets. If you have time, run your tweets by your critique group. They will help you.
You can set up and schedule tweets.
Step 1
Open TweetDeck, then select your Twitter account. Click the clock icon to the left of the Send button.

Step 2
Enter the date and time that you want the first tweet to post. Click "Set Time" to schedule the tweet.

Step 3
Type your tweet into the entry field, then press Enter to send the message at the scheduled date and time. Repeat for each tweet that you want to schedule. Stagger the publish times to if you have tweets that need to be published in a particular order.

Remember many of the people you want to reach are on the East Coast. So I suggest scheduling to match their 9:00 AM, noon and 4:00.

Do a few minutes off those exact times.

There are a number of tweet scheduling apps. here's another. (ten free tweets a day)

Come on. Try it. What have we got to lose?

PitMads for 2017

March 23, 2017 (8AM – 8PM EDT)

June 8, 2017
September 7, 2017
December 7, 2017
Other pitching opportunities: You can find a complete list of 2017 pitch opportunities on author John R Berkowitz's site.
Also don't forget to check #MSWL on Twitter. You can always find agent's wish lists there. Happy selling.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Dispatch #62: Oh Say, What Do You See?

by Lupe Fernandez

In the early New Mexico light, I visited The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History. Cold, clear day. Vapor streams from my warm breath. Bundled in multiple sweat shirts and jackets. Inside was warm. The museum guide is bright and cheery. The floors polished. Once section gleamed with a giant sized Periodic Table of Elements.

Then I came to the “gadget.”

What do I see? Do I see the ingenuity to create this complex device, the first of its kind? The men and women of the secret Manhattan Project sweat in the mountains of Los Alamos, tweaking the boundaries of physics to liberate tremendous energy by an impossible deadline. Do I hear the goosesteps across the Atlantic in Nazi Germany’s fortress Europe, developing their own atomic program? Do I hear Einstein drafting a letter, scratch of pen to paper, to President Roosevelt warning of the potential energy contained in the atom for use as a weapon?

Do I hear the shriek of air as the “gadget’s” cousin, Fat Man, plummets toward Nagasaki? The flash, heat and blast. Flesh incinerated. Ash falling. Twisted screams. Sizzling metal. The stink of putrefaction. The cries of widows, orphans and the surrendering voice of Japan’s Emperor.

Do you hear me go “Gee Whiz! It’s the gadget! I read all about it in history books.” Meanwhile, my stomach cramps, sour taste in my mouth at the sight of this bomb.

What am I to think? As a writer, I’m fascinated by the creation and the destruction. The use and abuse. As a citizen, imagine seeing a mushroom cloud on TV and hope fall like burnt leaves as I shake my head, thinking “all is lost.”

Perhaps I should see further.

I’m one hundred and two and visit a museum – virtual, nano-size, who knows – and see children cluster around metallic curiosities. “These were weapons we used to hurt each other.” My breath smells like used wax paper. “These things we feared and we idolized at the same time.”

The mouths yawn. Eyes are rubbed. Somebody shoves somebody. A quiet protest of quit it.

Finally, an eye roll. “Well, that’s just stupid.”

And on to the next exhibit.

So what, oh see do you?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Picture Book Queries. Again/

This is a repeat post. Still Valid

Picture Book Queries

Picture Books queries are a different animal from Mid grade and YA queries. You are going to be emailing your entire ms.

I met with two of the four other members of my picture book critique group this week and we each tried to hammer one out.
One question that came up immediately was what do you put in the "experience" part of the query letter when you have yet to be published? 

Everybody had to have a first query. Even Dr. Seuss. And we all know how that one went. It took him lots of tries to get a "yes" for To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. And he had illustrations!

Then there are those of us who write stories only.  Doreen Cronin's first book was Click Clack Moo. Cows That Type. What did she put for experience?
 Best advice I could find was if you have not yet been published. Don't put anything. Except that you are a member of SCBWI.

Advice from Query Letter Wizard:
The first paragraph. Always. Why? Because most query letters are not read top to bottom. Sad, but true. Agents, buried under mounds of submissions, will give your query only a quick look to determine if the first paragraph grabs and sustains their interest.
This is why you must write and re-write those three sentences so they tell the plot and give compelling information about your protagonist and their challenge.
SENTENCE ONE: Introduce your protagonist (main character) and what they want in the first sentence.
SENTENCE TWO: Describe the obstacle (s) that stand in their way.
SENTENCE THREE: Hint at the possible outcome and the terrible "or else" that could happen if your protagonist does not succeed. Write this "tease" to motivate the agent to read your query second paragraph which expands the plot as it involves your protagonist.

Here's another POV Mary Kole's From

 Since most agents ask that the picture book manuscript be included in the submission, writing a really meaty query for that short a manuscript seems a bit silly. When I see picture book queries — and when I write my own picture book pitches, in fact — I keep it very simple.

I’ve had a book by Katie Van Camp and illustrated by Lincoln Agnew called HARRY AND HORSIE in my sidebar for a while as an example of a great picture book with an outside-the-box friendship hook. If you haven’t picked it up yet, I’m sorry for you, because you’re missing out.

If I were writing a query for HARRY AND HORSIE, it would read something like this:

Harry and plush toy, Horsie, are the best of friends. One night, Harry is trying out his bubble-making machine when one of his bubbles swallows Horsie and hoists him into outer space! Harry has to rescue his best friend — and go on a wild space adventure — before returning safely home.

A quirky picture book with a great friendship hook, spare text and retro-style illustration, HARRY AND HORSIE is sure blast your imagination into the stratosphere! This is a simultaneous submission and you will find the full manuscript of XXX words pasted below. I look forward to hearing from you and can be found at the contact information listed below my signature.

Easy peasy. No need to write an elaborate letter. Just present the main characters, the main problem, and the resolution, then work in a hook (“great friendship hook,” above), and sign off like you normally would with a novel query.

After that, just paste the picture book manuscript. If you are an author/illustrator, include a link to an online portfolio where the agent or editor can browse your illustrations. Do not include attachments unless the agent requests to see more illustrations or to see a dummy.
If you are an author/illustrator you provide a link to your portfolio. One of my PB critique members, Cassandra Federman has a wonderful website. Check out her portfolio. She also has a wonderful book to query.

Krysta Wittmore and I have nothing but our words. Together we hammered out the best queries we could. I don't have permission to share theirs, so I will share two of my own. I wrote short letters and did not follow the advice given above, although I did try to write letters that that my voice in them.

Dear John,

Your blog says are looking for fast paced/thrilling/heart-breaking stories. Villains with vulnerability.

So I'm submitting my picture book, Fat Cat and Nat, the Rat (or War and Peace for the challenged reader) complete at 170 words. It's a crime story between rival gang leaders.

Besides writing, I volunteer with young students who are reading challenged. When I ran out of books I wanted to use to help them read, I started writing them. 

I am a member of SCBWI .My Great American Novel, Log on Log, complete at 65 words is contracted by Beach Lane Books.

Dear Linda

 My son’s best friend was terrified of undertows, which she called Undertoads. It set me wondering what would an undertoad look like? I wanted to see their world.

The Undertoads, complete at 463 words is a cautionary tale told by an older child to a younger child. It's in (hold your breath.) rhyme.

NO! Please don't stop reading! It's in meter, I promise you. I was seduced by Dr. Seuss at a tender age. 

I am a member of SCBWI and RWA. My Great American Novel, Log On Log, a picture book, complete at 65 words. is under contract with Beach Lane Books.

Places to Query. Things to do.

Here's a link to Manuscript Wish List agents who are looking for Picture Books. I know you always go to the agency website and check guidelines. Here is a link to more picture book agents. It includes link to their websites and my notes. (Suggest opening it in Excel.)
Do set up your own excel sheet so you can tract your queries. I have columns on my submission sheet for Agency, Email, Project queried, Date sent, Date responded and a note about the response  - or lack of response. So many agents do not respond. I know it hurts. We put so much time and thought into querying. But don't let lack of response stop you.
“It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” 
Martha Graham

 How do you query your picture books?   Want to show us one?    Leave it in comments or send to Write on!                   

Monday, February 13, 2017

Dispatch #61: Kissing in the Rain


by Lupe Fernandez

Romantic versus realistic.

Have you ever kissed in the rain? I mean during a cold, drenching downpour. Water hammers on metal gutters, splashes in murky puddles, beats on window pane, liquid streaming off your hair, clotting your nose, stinging your eyes, dripping down your back, punching your membrane-thin umbrella.

I watched Four Weddings and a Funeral the other night. Great movie, but watching Andie MacDowell and Hugh Grant kissing in an English downpour got me thinking about what’s it like to kiss in the rain. No, this isn’t a romantic disclaimer.

I present another version:

I walk with Sheila around the Lodi High school campus and talk what we will play in our set for the jazz festival. My hand brushes hers and I cross the great chasm of insecurity – what if she refuses - and slip my fingers around hers. Sheila holds my clammy hand.

Drops go tap, tap, tap on her wind breaker. We hurry to get out of the drizzle. The sleeve cuff of her wind breaker rubs against my palm. Her jacket fabric flexes and crinkles as her body moves; we hurry to shelter of the school auditorium.

My sneakers squish on a watery sidewalk. Humidity has frizzed her red-hair tucked under her hood. I kiss her quick. She smiles, a glimpse of dull braces, and quickly covers her mouth, embarrassed.

Back in the auditorium, our fellow jazz players see us, my sweater soaked, her face flushed and our nervous smiles, followed by a trail of damp footsteps.

Love is like that: a gentle tap on a window pane, an invitation to fill parched lips of dry earth or a root ripping torrent wiping away the past into a chaotic present.

A little of both, I should hope.

Is it raining now?

Is it raining all over the world?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Andrea J Loney on Preparing for Publication

By Susan J Berger and Andrea J Loney

Meet Andrea J Loney, whose first picture book Bunnybear will hit the shelves January 31st.
Although Bunnybear was born a bear, he feels more like a bunny. He prefers bouncing in the thicket to tramping in the forest, and in his heart he's fluffy and tiny, like a rabbit, instead of burly and loud, like a bear. The other bears don't understand him, and neither do the bunnies. Will Bunnybear ever find a friend who likes him just the way he is?

Sample Editorial Reviews:
"Despite the lighthearted tone, Loney's story has important things to say about identity and acceptance, and is valuable both as entertainment and a conversation-starter." Publishers Weekly, November 7, 2016

"A sweet story of friendship and acceptance…the message of being true to one's nature is one many children need to hear." Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2016

Susan's review. Funny, charming, An implied message we all need right now. I plan to buy a copy for each of my grandchildren. I loved it.

Andrea's first ever Book signing is at Children's Book World this Saturday, Feb 4th, 2:30-4:00 PM
There will be puppets and sweet things and games.
address: 10580 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles 90064
More book signings at the end of this post.

Bunnybear is not actually her first book accepted by a publisher. Andrea won the 2014 Lee & Low New Voices Award for her biographical picture book, Take a Picture of Me, James Van Der Zee. It's illustrated by Keith Mallett ( ) and will make it's way onto the shelves in May, 2017. 

 In other news. Andrea will be inducted as a Brown Bookshelf Honoree on February 1st.

And this just in from Publisher's Weekly:
Erin Clarke at Knopf has bought world rights to Andrea J. Loney's Double Bass Blues, illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez, a picture book celebrating music and family in which a black boy shoulders his beloved double bass from his suburban school to his city neighborhood. Publication is slated for spring 2019. Jill Corcoran at Corcoran Literary Agency represented the author and the artist represented himself. I couldn't be happier for Andrea, and for her agent, Jill Corocran

I asked Andrea how she prepared for her book launch. here's her answer.
Preparing for Publication
One of the things I did not know when I first started writing picture books is how long it actually takes to get them out in the world. It can take a long time. Three years from sale to publication is not unheard of, and it can take years to get a book ready for sale. I’ve heard this process described as “hurry up and wait."
But once a book is sold and printed and about to hit the shelves, things can speed up at a dizzying rate. I’ve heard this phase described as “wait and hurry up.” So as soon as I sold my first book, TAKE A PICTURE OF ME, JAMES VANDERZEE!, I started searching for information on how to publicize my book. Most places mentioned getting a website, staying active on social media, connecting with bloggers, and things like that. Then I found this 15-tab book marketing preparation spreadsheet  It took me a few days to even read through it, but there were so many of great ideas for promoting a book online and offline, and through various forms of media. I downloaded this spreadsheet. It's incredible. A great author tool.
Also as a book gets closer to publication, the publisher’s publicity department sends out an author questionnaire. This multipage list asks questions about the author’s publishing contacts, local magazines and newspapers, organizations that might be interested in the book, and more. Then the publicity department combines the author's information with their own contact information to circulate advance reading copies of the book-to-be-published. So far I’ve filled out these forms for two publishers since both books will be published in the next five months.
Bookstore visits and signings are also very important for promoting a new book. Luckily, my publisher connected me with Tracie, the publicist, and she booked me to read BUNNYBEAR at three local bookstores and a children’s museum. There are lots of things that Tracie is doing behind the scenes, which is great because then I can focus on promoting my book by writing blog posts, engaging potential readers on social media, and inviting everyone I know to my book events.
Thank you, Andrea. I'm definitely going to the Children's Book World signing, bar flooding or famine. You are one of the most creative teachers I know and I can't wait to see what you have planned.
Andrea other events so far:
The Zimmerman Museum
Thursday, February 16 at 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM6505 Wilshire Blvd. #100, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Vroman's Bookstore
Saturday, February 18 at 10:30 PM - 11:30 AM
695 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, California 91101
Pages Bookstore Monday, February 20 at 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM (President’s Day)904 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach, CA 90266