Monday, June 27, 2016

Pitching your book.

By Susan J Berger
If you are going to the 2016 Summer Conference, you may be pitching your book.
First thing you need is a good elevator pitch. John Grisham says. "If you can't describe what a book is about in one or two sentences, you don't have a story worth telling." Harsh and I think he's wrong. I think it means you don't know your own story well enough to narrow it down. So start practicing now.
Why do you need a pitch?   The Writer's Workshop post explains how your book will be sold to retailers.

A good pitch might include:
The name of your protagonist with a brief description.
Their "want". It needs to be selfish. World Peace doesn't make a good story want.
What stands in their way?  - Their antagonist or opponent.
What's the worst thing that could happen to the hero or what could happen next.

Hero. Eleven-year-orphan Anne
Their "want",  Dreams of a family of her own.
What stands in their way?  - Their antagonist or opponent. But her red-headed temper and an overactive imagination keep her constantly in hot water.
What's the worst thing that could happen to the hero or what could happen next. Will her latest mistake get her sent back to the orphanage?

Hero. Kindly Wolf
Their "want",  Needs to borrow a cup of sugar to make a posset for his cold.
What stands in their way?  - Their antagonist or opponent. But his terrible sneeze keeps blowing down pigs' houses
What's the worst thing that could happen to the hero or what could happen next. Will he be vilified forever in the annals of fairytaledom?

I have a longer better template for you.. Writing Coach Michael Hauge's pitching formula is available on his  website Follow the link and click on the download. I've downloaded it for myself. It's a perfectly safe word doc. This one was specifically aimed at pitching a romance, but it's adaptable to pitch any story.

Want to share your pitch with us? Oh please share!  Leave it in the comments. Happy pitching!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Pen And Ink Blog: A Conversation with Richard Peck

The Pen And Ink Blog: A Conversation with Richard Peck: by Victoria Krol and Hilde Garcia Pen and Ink met Richard Peck at the 2013 SCBWI Summer Conference.

Lately, I haven't been very inspired to write, but then I stumbled upon this amazing post by my daughter, with a little help form mom, and thought it was worthy of a re-post. And who knows, my muse may just find her way home. Click and enjoy!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Dispatch #53: Writing In The Field

La Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe
by Lupe Fernandez

I sit in La Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe church. Romita, GTO Mexico. I'm here with my mother to mourn the death of her brother after a prolonged illness. I'm am in the field. Another country. Another culture. Another language familiar and not. A fresh breeze flows through the open side door. The interior is cool at 12:48pm. Three viejas in scarves, blouses and skirts sit silent, contemplating the mysteries of Christ, crucified on a gold laden altar.

What should I write about? I've read many accounts of writers who travel to foreign locations and write about their experiences. What should I write about? So much history has swept by this town founded 140 years ago. Revolution. Drought. Flood. Birth. Death. Miracles. Perhaps I'll write stories my mother recounts with her sister over sweet bread and atole.

How in 1957 or 59', my parents walked from Leon to San Juan de Los Lagos. My father had promised La Virgin he would walk 81.9 kilometers (highway distance) if his paperwork to reenter the US went smoothly. They walked two days with blankets and bad shoes, over rocks, dirt, hills and hot sun.They traveled with a group of other pilgrims, slept at night in the open, fed by locals who recognized their purpose.

Pilgrimage from Leon to San Juan de Los Lagos

"I was so tired. I was so hungry but too tired to eat," my mother said.

When they reached the church in San juan, my mother asked my father "Why did I have to come? It was your promise."

"Pues, you have to come with me." My father implied it was her wifely duty.

Shall I write about the old days when merchandise traveled by burros? Roads were dirt or non-existent. Rain produced torrents of mud blocking travel. To save the merchandise, travelers would cover the burros first and then sleep by the animals, exposing themselves to the elements.

Or I could write something contemporary. Leons de la Tierra played in El Jardin Friday night. Donald Trump - at the time of this writing he was the front runner for the GOP Presidential Primary - made a guest appearance. Mr. Trump renewed a few campaign promises. One of the singers summarized all the promises Trump had made during his campaign, including building a wall across the US Mexican border to keep Mexicans from stealing valuable American jobs no one wants. Upon finishing the litany of Trump's promises, the singer concluded in English, "Fuck You!" The crowd cheered. I was proud of my kinsmen. They are no strangers to US military incursions and they will fight.

And now the flip side. It's hot outside. Probably low 90's. What do I know? Temperatures are measured in Celsius. The hard wooden bench hurts my butt. I'm writing on a legal pad against the bench arm. I genuflected ad hoc before I sat down. Shirt sticks to my back. Stomach cramps. I ate a delicious bollo de  carnitas and tomato from a trusted vendor - Tia Delia vouched for her - I carry three five peso coins in case I need to use El Publicaa Sanitoro (restroom). My handwriting is sloppy. Will I be able to read this page later when I type it? No I didn't bring a laptop, iPad or tablet. I have two sheets of paper towels in my back pocket of my sweaty shorts.

I lug around - wait a minute - I have to go.

I exit the church, cross the baking plaza, leave the gates for the secular world and head for El Publica Sanitoro. I pay the lady behind a cart four pesos. I need the coins - some lady just verbally chased out two young women for breast feeding in church, the other was chewing gum - El Publica Sanitoro lady does not change big bills. She hands me several sheets of toilet paper.

I wonder if she's calculated the minimum amount to get the most value out of a roll vs. what a customer needs to avoid a mess. Hence the paper towels in my back-pocket for insurance. The stall is cramped and the door is misaligned with the frame. I lean against the stall to shut the door. Bathroom is clean. I've seen worst in certain restaurants in good old U.S. of A.

I walk back to the church and complete this post. I lug a backpack with camera gear, a used paperback about cosmonauts and snacks for emergencies. My stomach feels settled.

Now to shoot a self portrait without appearing sacrilegious.

Snap and I walk out into the dry heat.

Monday, June 6, 2016

How to get Light Years ahead in the Twitterverse

Dear Facebook, There is Someone Else . . .

By Sue Ganz-Schmitt

When my third book Planet Kindergarten was nearing launch in 2014, I was figuring out how to get a presence on Twitter.  I was an avid Facebook user but did not understand Twitter.  It was an overwhelming waterfall gushing down my feed compared to the steady easy to manage stream on Facebook.  I just didn’t get it. 140 characters what was the point?

Facebook’s algorithms frustrated me at that point. My fan page posts to my several hundred followers would get me seven impressions if that. Plus you can only post a couple of times a day on Facebook without annoying people, so without buying ads to bring loads more followers to my page, I was lonely there.  

So I jumped in and have fallen in love with Twitter as my top social media choice ever since.   I still use Facebook but primarily for my closer network of family and friends.

On Twitter, I now get about 1M+ impressions a year.  I found a place to connect to other space enthusiasts, and a place to find and curate information.  It’s not just about having content for me.  It is that I am crazy to learn more. So with every post I share, and every post I find, I am becoming more savvy to my fields of interest.  And I find I now have some pretty interesting topics for dinner conversation.  By the way, did you know that Exoplanet Gliese 436 is coated in burning ice?

Aside from paid promotions to attract followers (which I haven’t found cost effective), the price of growing your Twitter community is time.  Time to find and follow like-minded Twitter users, and time to attract followers with your consistent and appealing posts. 

 One of the things I learned right away is that you don’t want a slew of posts, one after another (which can put people off when you dominate the feed).  The other thing is that I get far more impressions for a post with an image than one without.  My favorite tool –Buffer –helps me with both of these issues. 

Whenever I visit a web page with an article and an image I want to share on Twitter – I right click my Mac’s track pad (using two fingers) and Buffer shows up in the menu.  I select Buffer, and it creates a post and let’s me pull the image in and even add additional images from the article by scrolling through them in the Buffer post window.  I can then edit the text if I choose and select which of my Twitter accounts to post it to (it works with other social media like Facebook or Instagram too).  It is so easy!

Buffer lets me share my post right away, add it to a queue, or allows me to schedule it in the future by date and time.  I pay $10.00 for the service monthly, but you can also use it for free with a limit of 10 posts per day in your queue (vs. 100).  I tend to fill my Buffer for the week on Monday (9 posts per day), and then each day, I can check in on Twitter and reply to comments, retweet others posts, and find timely new posts that I want to add to the days offerings.  It’s a great way to ensure you consistently tweet every day even when on vacation.

Using a queue saves me hours of time every day when I would otherwise get on for a few posts and get sucked into the vortex of random social media that would lure me to a sad video of an octopus coveting a teddy bear on a fishing line that gets yanked away.  As the credits would roll, I would realize another day of writing time – squandered away.  Time to pick up the kids.

My favorite tool to help me follow the users who are right for me, and to unfollow the rest is: Statusbrew.  It is a free service that lets you follow up to 50 users a day, and unfollow up to 100 a day.  You can copy another users following, or find users by key hashtags/keywords that are important to you.  You can easily see who unfollowed you, find your fans that you are not yet following, and a lot more.  While this service is free, you can opt to pay a monthly fee starting at $10 for fewer limits.

One of my own guidelines is to keep my followers equal to or at a greater number than those I follow.   If someone doesn’t follow me back, I unfollow them.  If they are an expert in a field or a newsource that I want to follow and that isn’t going to follow me back – I make and add them to a list.  I never follow spammers or marketers who follow me.  I am here to build a real community, and not just numbers.   

Here’s to finding your space on Twitter.  Find me there and I will follow you back! 

Helpful Links


Sue Ganz-Schmitt is the author of Planet Kindergarten, and it's soon to be released sequel Planet Kindergarten - 100 Days in Orbit. She also wrote. The Princess and the Peanut and Even Superheroes get Diabetes. She is my Superhero because she showed me how to better use Twitter.