Writing, promotion, tips, and opinion. Pour a cuppa your favorite poison and join in.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Online Writing Resources

Today I want to share some of my favorite links with you. These are places I go to when I have writer's block or just need to procrastinate. Some are excellent resources for learning about the craft of writing and the publishing world.


Great Resource Links:

Write or Die, a great way to shut off the inner editor and just write.

Writing Prompts—found on http://writingfix.com/index.htm where they have over 500 prompts!

Seventh Sanctum is a name generator for almost everything.

TV Tropes is a wiki about the tricks of the trade for writing fiction.

Technovelgy is the site where science meets fiction. As in real life science you can use (or just keep straight) in your novel.

http://www.suite101.com/writingandpublishing/ Writing tips and techniques for emerging and established writers.

Squidoo--How to write a fantasy novel is a step by step guide to writing your first fantasy novel--world building etc.


http://www.oneword.com/ will give you a word and you write about it for 60 seconds.

absolutewrite.com and Forums Excellent place to research agents, publishers and get questions answered about the writing world.

The Bookshelf Muse has an emotions thesaurus to help you show not tell. There is also a setting, weather and other thesauruses to get your brain working again.

http://www.365tomorrows.com/ has a new 600 word speculative fiction story each day.

American Night Writers Association blog about Life, the Universe, and their place in the World of Writing and Publishing.

Find music to fit the mood of your book at Pandora.

Create soundtracks for your novels at Grooveshark.

Vision for Writers a quarterly ezine about writing.

And just for fun, here's a workshop post on creating book trailers from Vision for Writers.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Free Online Writers Conference

It's no secret that I would LOVE to attend some writing conferences. Most of us spend time reading about conferences and drool over the agents and publishers that are going to be there and wish we had a money tree in the back yard so we could attend.

If you're like me, that money tree hasn't started to bear fruit. You wait patiently and wonder if you've missed your chance to learn something amazing or make connections that will eventually lead you to that goal of being published.

Well, there is a conference just for us! Last year I attended the free...yes FREE!...Muse Online Writers Conference. It was a wonderful experience.
No matter where you live, what you write, at what point you are in your writing career, you'll find a workshop that fits your needs during our week long conference.
There are even pitch sessions with agents and mid-sized publishers. This experience is priceless! Last year I pitched to three publishers and learned so much from their feedback (on the pitch and the partials they requested). That feedback gave me direction over the last year and my writing has improved.

The conference will be October 3rd-9th, 2011. Registration is now open but will close on September 25th, and sign ups for pitches will start in September.

I've already signed up and I'm polishing my pitch! Check it out and see if you can fit it into your schedule.

Monday, August 29, 2011

What do you really want? A look at Publishing options.

That's the question of the day, week, year isn't it? What do you REALLY want when it comes to your writing career. Sometimes its hard to know.

For instance, do I write because I must to stay sane? Yes.
Do I want to see my name on the cover of a book? Yes.
Does that book have to be published by one of the big publishers? I dunno?

The last question is where the soul searching begins. The publishing industry has changed a lot over the last few years. It's going to keep changing. This means self publishing, e-publishing, small to mid sized publishing is all good now. It's a valid way to get your work out there and into the hands of readers. But is the outcome the same?

There's still a lot that I need to learn about these options, but the one thing I know for sure is that if you put the work into the editing and marketing any of these options can bring success.

So what is the level of success you want? What will be enough?

Indie Publishing (or self publishing)--There are so many ways that you can do this now days. Indie Publishing gives you complete control over the publishing process. You foot the whole bill so you choose the cover, the book size, formatting, fonts, how many books to print, or if you want just e-pub, where/how you market. The only down side to this is you still need to pay an editor to go over your book. You need to make sure you are putting out the best product you can.

  • Don't self publish simply because you don't want to go through rounds of revisions with editors or because you can't handle rejection.
  • Do self publish if you have polished your novel until it shines but it isn't quite right for the mass market. There's a market for every book, but sometimes great writing is turned down simply because agents and publishers aren't sure they can sell it.

Small to Mid-sized Publishers--Here you get the advantage of having professional editors and others round out your Team to put out a quality product. They help with all the formatting issues, have artist to provide covers and help you come up with a marketing plan. The great thing is since they are smaller than the biggies, there is a family feel. You get more attention.

This idea is looking better and better all the time. You don't need an agent, you still play a big part in the process but aren't solely responsible for everything. That sounds good to me.

  • Don't go this route first if you really want to be the next JK Rowling or Stephanie Meyer.
  • Do go this route if you've gone through a hundred agents with no luck.
  • Do go this route if your novel appeals to a certain niche group of readers. Just make sure you do your research and find the right niche publisher.

The Biggies (New York Publisher, the ones we all recognize...)--Generally need an agent to go this route. You still have to play a big part in marketing yourself and your novel. You lose a lot of say in the process, but that doesn't mean you will be unhappy about the choices made (I'm thinking book covers and such).

The biggest problem with this route is it is so impersonal. Do we even have an idea of how many people are writing books now? Agents are wading through hundreds of queries a day and so its hard to catch their eye. After you get the agent you have more waiting as they try and sell your book to a publisher.

  • Don't go this route if you are faint of heart. There is a lot of rejection involved.
  • Do go this route if you are patient and can take being told no.
  • Do go this route if you feel this is what will validate you and your writing.

Whatever it is that you want right now, work hard for it. And don't be afraid to give something a year or two before re-evaluating your goals.

Which brings me to my question for you.

What is it that you want to accomplish over the next year and how can Unicorn Bell help you reach that goal?

Please be specific so we can serve you better.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Here is our last - scifi - submission for the week. My comments are in purple. Please add yours :)

Chapter 2
      “Spaceship Fryola class, state your name and destination.” The harsh voice echoed across the bridge. I'm not sure if I like this dialogue tag. Part of me would like to see it cut, but then again...
      Talia’s eyes grew wide as she stared at Landry, her lips a straight line.
      “What are we going to do?” She breathed. You might be able to get rid of this one, too. I can tell she's worried from her body language. Good show, btw.
      “Well, they recognize the ship. Let’s pretend we’re returning from one of the more distant planets in Jaron’s journals.” Landry pulled up information on the planet ____ .
      “Spaceship Fryola class, you are not authorized to land on Orek. State your name and destination, or prepare to be boarded.”
      Landry hit the intercom button. “This is the spaceship Sendek, requesting permission to land on the northern continent, coordinates thirty-four degrees thirteen arc by eighty degrees fifty arc.”
      “Hold.” A minute passed before the speaker continued. “Why do you wish this location?”
      “It’s my home. Can you tell me why communications went down? I’ve been trying to contact my parents for months.”
      Landry spoke into Talia’s mind. We’ll act as if we’ve never heard of the Draguman.
      “How long have you been away?” The voice questioned.
      Talia quickly worked out the math and the numbers showed up on the screen in front of Landry.
      “I left for _____ a year ago. Why, what’s going on?” Are these spaces going to be filled in? Or are they purposely blank. Just curious.
      “Sir, reroute to the capital city of _____. Bargoron Kalto will wish to speak with you personally.”
      “Proceed to coordinates thirty-two degrees forty arc by eighty degrees fifty arc. If you deviate from those coordinates you will be shot down. Out.” Well, that was a nice place to leave us!

Aside from my purple comments, I really liked this.I haven't read chapter one but I get a sense that Landry's the calm one, more sure of himself. Not that Talia's a panic button, but she worries more. I also like how this small bit sets up all kinds of questions in my mind, like who are these people and where have they been and who are the trigger happy guys? Nice.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Here is the next submission for this week, a near-future scifi/action adventure, called Opening. My comments are purple.

MISTER ROMANO WAS FURIOUS. He felt disgraced. (Instead of telling us that Romano is furious and disgraced, show us.) Humiliated. Cheated. Deprived from what he believed rightfully belonged to him. He tried to suppress his anger as he walked back and forth across the plush carpeted floor of his lower Manhattan hotel suite. He looked at photos, newspaper clippings, online printouts, and personal notes clipped to fishing line strung end-to-end across the living room. He had constructed a timeline of the past month and the participants involved with the discovery of wormholes. I think you could show more and tell less in this paragraph, convey Romano's feelings through action.
            Romano hadn’t slept in over twenty-four hours. He needed a break to clear his head. Get control of his emotions. He walked to the open bar and tossed a few ice cubes into a Waterford crystal glass. Then he poured a generous helping of Glenfiddich one-malt scotch. He took a large gulp, set it on the counter, took a deep breath, and rubbed his forehead and eyes with both hands. Like this.
            Romano took a second gulp, then spotted the menus on the bar counter. Steak and potatoes. That’s what I need. He pulled out a stool to sit down and opened a menu. Just as he was about to pick up the phone to order, his cell phone rang. He pulled out his iPhone and looked at the caller ID. Well, it’s about time you called. “Hey Jake, what do you have for me?”
            “Good to hear from you, too. Hey, what’s it been, like three months since I seen you at mom and dad’s for Christmas, big bro?”
            “Sorry. But I’ve been under serious stress lately. And it’s great to hear from you again, too.” He finished his drink in one large gulp.
            “So bring me up to speed. What exactly is happening? I’m here for you. You know that.”
            Romano sighed deep. “Listen, Jake, I don’t want to bring you into this any more than I have to. That’s why I’ve been ignoring physical contact with you and mom and dad.”  The phrase 'ignoring physical contact' seems awkward. How about this: 'That's why I've been avoiding you and mom and dad.' ?
            He poured another drink and swallowed it, (the whole thing?!) then walked over to the full wall window view of lower Manhattan from fifty stories high. Suddenly, the big open world he called his playground just became dangerously small. He felt trapped.. Ready to be exterminated. Romano abruptly closed the drapes with a loud snap on the famous skyline.
            “I’m already in too deep. So is the rest of our family. Our brother-in-law is dead. (I think one would name the brother in law rather than refer to him this way. I know I refer to my bro-in-law as Bill. Just sayin')Whoever you’re dealing with, they’re real mean bastards. By killing Brian in the manner they did, they’re sending a clear message. They’re not messing around. I understand they’ll come after everyone in our family. Our sister Ellen. (Same thing here. Is it necessary to say our sister?) She’s already scared half to death. Mom and Dad. Me. Then you. They won’t stop until they get what they want. Which reminds me, what exactly is it that they want from you?”
            “Listen to me, Jake,” Romano snapped. “I won’t let that happen. I won’t let them hurt any of you. I promise you that..”
            “Then help me help you. Explain what’s going on?”
            Romano took a deep breath and poured another drink. He sat down in an over-stuffed chair, took a slow sip and composed himself. “Okay. I’ll level with you. Two weeks ago I was to meet Doctor Gloria Newcombe, a top research scientist from Globalized Dynamics. Newcombe oversaw cutting edge partnerships with M.I.T. and other leading technology centers along the East Coast.”
            “How did you come across these people?”
            “I used illegal spying software and data mining processes. I scouted scores of research facilities and renown scientists, looking for new technologies I could steal and sell.”
            “Your standard MO. What did you find?”
            Romano stood up and paced across the room, his nervous energy not allowing him to stay still. “I discovered she and this professor named Nicholas Fischer at M.I.T. had made a breakthrough in wormholes.”
            “Wormholes? Like in StarTrek?”
Romano set his glass down and rubbed his forehead. “Listen, and please don’t interrupt. I have contacts at Banca di Renaissance Florentine, one of the oldest banks in Europe. Their stock price plummeted during the recent global credit crisis. Executives are desperate to find something, anything, that will bring value to their shareholders and secure their positions on the...

the author was having computer trouble. I'm sure he meant to send me the rest of that sentence because I'd really like to read more. Like the part that came before and what comes after. Wormholes are interesting, don't you think?

ok peeps, your turn. Tell the author what you think of this excerpt.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

POP Travel

submission #2 is a scifi thriller whose query you might remember. My comments are in purple...
Atlanta, GA.
Tuesday, July 23, 2080.
In a matter of seconds, Representative Dawson popped out of Detroit Metro Transport and arrived at a first class platform in the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Transport Center (ATC). Dawson The Representative was no stranger to pop travel. (Just a suggestion) As a politician he had to use it to keep up with the competition and be able to go anywhere in a moment’s notice. Like his brother, (insert name here, maybe?) he preferred to use traditional modes of travel. He kept the popping to a minimum and rode around town in his compact limo as often as he could to promote his Smart Car Revolution.
Cooper’s little brother, Richard Dawson Cooper, led a charmed life. (I'm confused. Who is Cooper? Is this the Dawson guy in the first paragraph or his little brother? If there are two brothers with the same last name in this story I'd try to distinguish them by using their first names only after their initial introduction. Of course, you may have made this crystal clear before this page...) His innovative idea of limiting city travel to Smart Cars and public transit flew through legislation, given his connections. Millions of jobs were created. Dried up oil companies converted gas stations into fast-charging stations. It was an historic accomplishment launching Dawson’s political career.
As a liaison between city officials and the automotive leaders, Dawson had come to Atlanta to assist Mayor Athawan with his current fleet of Smart Cars. He and his two man entourage proceeded through recovery at the transport center and went downstairs to find their private car as their luggage, being inanimate, had been popped directly to the hotel. 
 Aside from my confusion as to which brother we're with I find this interesting and well-written. There's nothing terribly exciting going on but the author may well have ended the first chapter on an exciting note which is going to make me very curious about what happens next. Plus I remember the query and know I'd probably like this :) 
Ok peeps, now it's your turn to offer the author your comments and suggestions.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hero Games

Today we have the first page from the second chapter of Hero Games. But before we get to it I'd like to remind everyone I still have one slot open. If you have something else you'd like critiqued, by all means send it along and I'll post it on Friday. Also, don't forget the Star Trek blogfest which you can access through my blog (the link is at the very top of the page) in which Star Trek lovers post their five faves. It should be lots of fun so check it out!

Hero Games – YA scifi

Paul let the door hiss shut behind him as he looked around the Hero Headquarters. It was an oddly shaped, angular room, bulging out at the near end and narrowing toward the far end. There was another pit of the silvery-blue liquid in the center. On the edge of the metal that rimmed the pool was inscribed "Hero Portal." (In the sentence before you used the word pit, but now you use the word pool. There is definitely a difference between a pit and a pool - at least in my my mind - just sayin') The right hand wall, from his perspective in front of the Training Room archway, was covered in a huge map of the city. In front of the map was a pedestal, similar to those in the Hero Creation Chamber. There were several lighted points on the map. The opposite wall, on Paul's left, held a computer station with a large, dark monitor and various high-tech looking apparatus. The section of wall that angled away from the computer was a giant mirror. It ran from floor to ceiling and was several feet wide. Immediately to Paul's right, in the angled wall section between the Training Room archway and the City Grid Map was an ornate oak door labeled "Arcane Item Store." On his right side, in the wall section before the computer station, was a shiny silver door labeled "Tech Item Store.." (Both these doors seem to be in the same place, to Paul's right.) Beyond the mirror and map, the room angled in and then continued into another, smaller section. I think you could shorten this description up a little and get rid of some of the 'map' words, maybe something like this:

Paul let the door hiss shut behind him and looked around the Hero Headquarters. It was oddly shaped, wide at the near end and narrow toward the far end. There was another pool of the silvery-blue liquid in the center and the words "Hero Portal" had been inscribed on the rim. In front of the Training Room archway, a huge map of the city covered the wall. There were several lighted points on the map and in front of it, a pedestal, similar to those in the Hero Creation Chamber. To the left was a computer station with a large, dark monitor and various high-tech looking apparatuses. The section of wall that angled away from the computer was a giant mirror, which ran from floor to ceiling. To the right, in the angled wall section between the Training Room archway and the City Grid Map was an ornate oak door labeled "Arcane Item Store." Opposite this, in the wall section before the computer station, was a shiny silver door labeled "Tech Item Store.." of course, I haven't read what came before so this might not work...

Curious, Paul stepped to the silver door. His boots clomped a little on the metal floor as he walked. Under the sign beside the door was a microphone set into the wall. The screen above it read "Voice Recognition Lock" with a sound modulation display below.
    "Paul Granados."

The screen buzzed and read "VOICE-PRINT NOT RECOGNIZED."
    Oh, of course. Paul straightened his shoulders and raised his chin. He cleared his throat.

"I am the Peace Keeper." His voice was firmer, deeper, more commanding. Or at least he tried his best to make it sound that way.
    The screen blinked colors and changed its script. "PEACE KEEPER RECOGNIZED. HERO LEVEL 5 REQUIRED FOR ENTRY TO ITEM STORE." Interesting.

"Oh." Paul's shoulders dropped slightly, disappointed, but hardly discouraged. He'd get to level 5 and then check out the Item Store. It shouldn't take that long. He walked past the computer to the mirror and looked again at his reflection, still amazed by it. The blue and green armor covered him completely. Even his face was hidden by the dark full-face visor. This was the visage of The Peace Keeper. His form was athletic and a little on the tall side. He carried his quarterstaff casually in one hand. Paul grinned. He was certainly enjoying this game and he had only just gotten out of the tutorial! He used both hands to collapse the quarterstaff down into a foot long shaft and then clapped it onto his right forearm, where it stuck as if magnetized. Who knows, maybe it was magnetized. Trainer wasn't very detailed on that part. Paul struck a couple of daunting poses, trying them out. He put his hands on his hips, facing the mirror. He dropped his hands casually to the side and turned slightly away. He crouched down and brought up his fists. He laughed at himself in the mirror, stood up, and shrugged. Ha! I can imagine myself doing the same thing.

Overall, interesting, although like I said, I think that first paragraph could be shorter and more succinct. And I'm very curious as to whether this is just a game (and what kind, exactly)...or something more.  

Now it's your turn to offer the author your comments and suggestions on how this passage might be improved.

Friday, August 19, 2011

submission request

As you may remember, last time it was my week we had the first page of people's second chapter. I know some of you thought it was strange but like I said, not only does your first page have to be good, but all the rest of the pages, too. After all, once you've sent your query and first five or whatever the guidelines call for, sooner or later an agent is going to request more. It might be the first fifty, or it might be the entire manuscript. Now is not the time to scramble to make it all better, to polish til it shines. You want your whole manuscript ready to go when that request comes. Hence the first page second chapter submission request.

For Monday I have Hero Games, which I hope you will all come and check out and give some feedback on. But I have zip for the rest of the week so if you'd like to send me your first page second chapter please do! My email: marcy@tidewater.net and please put unicorn bell in the subject line and paste your submission along with any other relevant info, like title and genre.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Two *Very* Different Novels

A Dead God’s Wrath

Rusty Webb put together a novelette that is timely, combining Western with Sci-Fi. An incredible accomplishment.

With Cowboys and Aliens in the movie theaters, Mr. Webb must be physic.

This tale is horses, guns, and dust. With a little of the Wow factor thrown in the mix.

Bad Taste in Boys

CarrieHarris loves zombies, creepy ones at that. This YA gives us a taste *shiver* of her mortal obsession.

Set in a high school, this novel combines coming of age with an outbreak of zombies. After Kate barely escapes an attack, she rolls up her sleeves to follow the clues. She must discover how to control the contagion before zombie-ism overcomes someone she loves.

A rockin’ good time, kinda gross but very satisfying. *erp*

Monday, August 15, 2011

Professional Writers

Many writers follow the market. Bad idea.

When vamps were hot, that was not the time to start a book on them. It takes time to formulate a storyline, edit, beta, query, then connect with an agent, a publisher, and finally print. By that time, the bus has left the station and the audience looks at romantic vampires as yesterday’s 8-track tape.

Well, um, present company excluded but you get what I mean.

Write the genre you love and forget the markets. Write what makes the Slinky tumble down the stairs for you.

For me it is Fantasy, in every form. Epic to YA, I don’t care. Sci-Fi is a close second.

I’ve given examples of great self-help books about writing and plot conception. But here is another tip that is nearly as important: Read.

Read books that you love and note how an experienced author creates a scene, the flow and cadence of words. Note the writer’s use of nouns and verbs.

Take a favorite book and dissect it. It might point the way to the road of success.

For me it is The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. I look at it with the eye of an editor and analyze the method that so captivated me from the start, the whys and hows to good writing.

Use experience as your base. What books do you use as examples of writing?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dialogue Submission #2

My comments or suggestions for wording is in blue. Please chime in with your thoughts on the piece in general and specifically on how the conversation flows for you. 

Genre: YA contemporary fantasy

“Cassie, will you play a game with us?” Mitch peered at her hopefully.

She straightened up from tying her laces. “You can’t wait until Sam gets home?”

A mischievous look came over his face (this was great because it led me to read the following with a certain tone of voice in my head). “She’s with Joseph. She’s going to be gone for hours.”

Cassie laughed. “I’m sure you’re right. I already had a run today anyway. What are we going to play?”

“Truth or dare,” he plopped down next to Tilo. Cassie sat on the floor, not even attempting to sit on the mattress.

She pressed her feet together, holding them close with her hands. “So who goes first?”

“You of course,” Mitch bounced.

“Okay. Tilo, ask me truth or dare,” Cassie looked up at the big boy.

“I will ask, but I do not understand the game. (I'm guessing Tilo speaks more formally and that's why you didn't use I'll and don't?) ” For being so young, his voice sure rumbled.

“You didn’t explain the game to him, Mitch?”

He squirmed under her disapproving look. “No. Didn’t know I needed to.”

“Then we’ll let Tilo go first to demonstrate.”

Mitch popped right back up. “Can I ask?”

“No, I’m going to so I can explain.”

“I could explain just as well,” he mumbled.

“What was that?” She suppressed a smile.

“I said, that’s good. You explain things good.”

“Right. Now, Tilo, I’m going to ask you truth or dare. When I do, you pick either truth or dare.”

“What is a dare?” He asked.

“A dare is like,” she searched for the right explanation. “If I dare you to lick the floor, you have to lick the floor.”

“A command,” he nodded.

“Sort of. Now—”

“Truth,” he cut her off.

“A question then,” she took in a breath and held it, thinking. “Is the story you told us true?”

“What story?” He tugged at his pant leg.

“The one about the Giants,” she watched him closely, trying not to look too eager for the answer.

“Yes, it is true. What else would it be?” A troubled expression crossed his face.

She stopped herself from pointing out the obvious. “Are you sure you didn’t just make it up?”

“Make it up? Is that like pretending? Pretending is when I act like I have friends when I play in the forest. It makes my mother sad,” his shoulders slouched.

Cassie opened her mouth, but Mitch started talking first. “You only get one question, Cassie. Now it’s my turn. Tilo, ask me.”

Tilo’s lips parted and Mitch shouted, “Dare.”

Cassie leaned back against the floor and wondered what she was going to do with the boy until she drifted off to sleep. (So she fell asleep while they played?)

General Comments:
I don't really have a lot to say. This conversation flows naturally and I loved that you didn't put a tag on each and every comment. You gave good clues so that I always knew who was talking so you didn't need a tag for each.

Dialogue Submission #1

Ok, I tried to focus just on the dialogue, but noted a few other spots because I couldn't help it. My comments or suggestions for wording is in blue. Please chime in with your thoughts on the piece in general and specifically on how the conversation flows for you.

Dystopian Paranormal Romance

“What is it, everything alright?” (I think it should be written: What is it? Everything alright?--note about alright, traditionally that is a misspelling of "all right", but "alright" is gaining more acceptance in British English and so who really knows anymore. Source) He asks her softly with wide puppy dog eyes (this is a cliche--just drop puppy dog and it will be fine).

Ignoring the way her fingers go numb just by touching the bare skin of his forearm, she simply shakes her head as she releases him.

“You know that I don’t really hate you right? I mean after everything...I just, I just couldn’t.”

Her voice is so soft, and she hopes she really did speak out loud, because she doesn’t know if she could say it again. Having to glance away from his swirling lavender eyes, Moira lowers her head in guilt. What shocks not only her mind, but also her senses, is when he lightly touches her chin and lifts her head up so their eyes meet. (Something about the current order of this last sentence is confusing for me. I think you could reword this as well--He lightly touches her chin and lifts her head up so their eyes meet, sending a shock through her mind and senses. Or something.)

“I know, but thank you for saying it.” He tells her no louder than a whisper.

As her skin breaks out in goosebumps from his gentle touch, her persona make(s) her body hum a tune that she knows he can hear. The cinnamon scent of him wraps around her like a long missed friend, and she has the urge to burst into tears. She doesn’t understand how she can miss someone so much, when they are standing a breath away from you (her, not you), but she does. But then he is dropping (drops) his hand, and takes all that feeling away again when he starts for the door once more.

“And Liam? You shouldn’t hate yourself either. Things have been out of our control since the day we met.” She calls out softly, before his hand reaches for the door handle.

Even though his back is to her, she can see the way his shoulders tense at her words. She can feel his persona vibrating off of him, and its tendrils stretch out to her and tickle her own persona. If it wasn’t so gentle, she knows her persona would have rushed through her with a vengeance; but it is and it doesn’t. How he can make her so worked up and then calm her down like this (work her up and calm her down), she’ll never know. Maybe she could, but she doesn’t have the courage to bring it up to him. (This last sentence doesn't make any sense to me.)

“Your right, Mo, and I think now is the perfect time to take some of that control back.” He tells her so softly, but she can see the effects of his words as the muscles play (play what?) across his back.

“I think so too.”

General Comments:
If I take out all the exposition between the dialogue, I think it sounds natural enough. There is a lot that I don't understand, but I'm assuming that's because I haven't read what came before.

I think you could tighten all the information between the dialogue. Right now it is moving slower than I think you want simply because as a reader I have to stop and read all the body language and inner thoughts. You want to keep some of it, but not so much that I forget what they are talking about because I'm trying to see the stage directions. 

This was also hard for me because of the present tense. I'm just not used to reading it, so all my comments might be useless. On the whole though, it flows pretty good.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dialogue and Call For Submissions

Natural dialogue or conversation between your characters can be hard. Does it come easily to you? How can you tell?

The best way to perfect the dialogue in your novel is to read it out loud. Does it flow smoothly from your mouth? Is it something you would actually overhear in a conversation? I love to sit in doctor's offices, playgrounds, and restaurants by myself so I can listen to the conversations around me. That is a great way to get the natural flow of dialogue in your head.

Once you get the words flowing between the quotation marks, you have to look at your tags. There is a fine balance between tags that are clear enough to keep the reader from getting lost and tags that are simple enough that they don't interrupt the flow of conversation.

Let's have a look at some of your dialogue.
Submissions are now open for a dialogue heavy section of your WIP.
Send up to 400 words to: charity.bradford@gmail.com with Unicorn Bell Dialogue in the subject line.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Muse is a One-Trick Pony

Muse is an unfaithful lover. She whispers honeyed words then leaves us when the pen hits the paper.

However, the storyline and voices in my head is one thing. Skillful writing is another.

Stylistic Advice, Quick and Clean:
  • Use simple nouns, simple verbs especially in the hook stage.
  • Limit adjectives/adverbs and echoes that describe the same event again in different words.
  • Pronouns, a love-hate relationship. Overuse can bog a sentence down.
  • The dreaded “to be” verbs. Stronger verbs are out there. Use them instead.
Books on writing:
  • The First Five Pages – Noah Lukeman
  • Hooked – Les Edgerton
  • Writing Tools – Roy Peter Clark
  • The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need – Susan Thurman
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers – Renni Browne & Dave King
  • The Breakout Novelist – Donald Maass

Have I missed your favorites?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Hook Paragraph

Send the first paragraph of your query to cdcoff@gmail.com.

With many contests and pitch opportunities available this month (Savvy Author continues Pitch Your Book this month), it is important to polish a logline or first paragraph.

These are examples of ‘hook paragraphs’ courtesy imdb.com and Amazon:
When Captain Barbossa sends his pirate crew to kidnap Elizabeth Swan and the last remaining piece of Aztec gold, a blacksmith called Will Turner joins a recently captured pirate named Jack Sparrow and goes off searching for Elizabeth.

Harry Potter, an ordinary 11-year-old boy, learns that he is a wizard and the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry invites him to attend their academy.

Oskar Schindler is a vainglorious and greedy German businessman who becomes an unlikely humanitarian amid the barbaric Nazi reign when he feels compelled to turn his factory into a refuge for Jews.

A tornado sweeps Dorothy away into a magical land and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home.

The chaos unleashed by an anarchist mastermind known only as the Joker drives Batman, Gordon, and Harvey Dent to their limits.

A young girl watches over her family – and her killer – from heaven

A young girl joins a survival contest in order to save her community in a dystopian future.

Look on book covers, movie trailers, and headlines for examples. Sometimes excruciatingly bad ones turn up. For instance, ‘and life will never be the same'. Or 'and it will turn her world upside down'. And let us not forget the dreaded question hated by so many agents: 'What if you could live forever?'

What catches your eye? What hook made you look twice?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Agents, Summer, and Contests

Not to morph into Dr. Obvious, but summer is flying by.

As temperatures rise, many agents whimper ‘no maas’ and close their doors to submissions until fall. They take this time to connect with family, watch the ice melt in tall glasses, and give priority to signed authors.

Not a problem. It gives us time to crack our collective knuckles and polish queries, first pages, and finish that wip. And the summer contests can provide different venues for creativity.

July was a good month at Savvy Authors. Several agents including Emmanuelle Morgen, Vickie Motter, Laurie McLean, and Tamar Rydzinski took 3-line pitch submissions and asked for more pages.

WriteOnCon will sponsor their second annual online writer’s conference August 16 – 18. The sheer number of participating agents, editors, and authors is jaw dropping stupendous.

Today (yes, right NOW!) Operation Awesome holds the Secret Agent contest. One-line submissions only. Truly, um, awesome.

This month, let’s prepare for the agents that return in the fall from their well-deserved break from wild-eyed writers.  

It is the first paragraph of your query, a combination introduction, hook, and storyline that needs to grab their eye. Those 25 to 30 words don’t give much time to snare the reader with much of a storyline but a word of two can make it fresh.

Critique for Hook, Introduction, and Flow. Submit that all-important first paragraph of your query for critique by our followers to cdcoff(at)gmail(dot)com.