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Learn more about my books at ShoshannaEvers.com

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Paranormal Writing (Happy Halloween!)

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I spent hours obsessing over my synopsis for "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant." I was able to shorten the synopsis considerably by taking out all mention of the villain, but that just didn't feel right. So I decided, hey, I have 2 single spaced pages of synopsis - I'll just double space them to make it easier for the editor to read, and leave it at that. According to eHarlequin.com, they want all of the plot points spelled out, so it doesn't seem like a good idea to not even mention my main subplot.

Today is Halloween so I took my baby out in a cute little giraffe costume while DH and I were running errands. We stopped by the Barnes and Noble at the Cortlandt Town Center and said hi to Vinny Dacquino, who taught my Advanced Writing Workshop. He signed a copy of his book "Hauntings of Hudson River Valley" for me, writing: "To Shana, May the spirits be with you, and may I be receiving a copy of your signed books soon! Best Wishes, 'Vinny' V.T. Dacquino." From his mouth (pen) to G-d's ears!

In honor of Halloween, I am posting the writer's guidelines for Silhouette's short ebook program, Nocturne Bites, from eHarlequin.com.

Length: 10,000—15,000 words
Senior Executive Editor: Tara Gavin
Associate Senior Editor: Ann Leslie Tuttle

Silhouette Nocturne books is looking to acquire paranormal editorial with strong sexual, fantasy and danger elements for its new eBook program, Nocturne Bites.
We’re looking for fast-paced novellas that hook the reader early on by establishing a paranormal world and its conflicts. We are looking for stories of vampires, shape-shifters, werewolves, psychic powers, etc. set in contemporary times.
Many of the elements that make a Silhouette Nocturne book successful remain true for the Nocturne Bites series. Stories should deliver a dark, highly sensual read that will entertain readers and take them from everyday life into an atmospheric, complex world filled with characters struggling with life and death issues. A strong alpha hero is of utmost importance—he should be powerful, mysterious and totally attractive to the heroine.
While action-packed and mission-oriented, the scope of these stories should be more contained, with additional focus placed on character development. All stories should be capable of standing alone; all loose ends need to be tied up, and the relationship between hero and heroine should resolve itself in a satisfying manner.
For published authors, this line is a great way to build their miniseries with Harlequin and Silhouette books. Unpublished authors are welcome as well.
Only complete manuscripts submitted electronically will be considered from unpublished authors; no partials or queries, please. Submissions should be sent as a Word-compatible attachment. Submissions should also follow standard formatting guidelines and should be double-spaced and typed in a clear, legible font on numbered pages. Author name and title should appear as a header or footer on each page.
Nocturne Bites e-mail address: nocturnebites@harlequin.ca

That sounds like so much fun to write! I may consider giving it a shot - but not for another month. Today I'm going to print out my plot outline for "Snowed in With a Millionaire" - because NaNoWriMo starts at midnight! Join me and write an entire 50k word novel in one month! I can hardly wait for the official beginning of November 1st! In the meantime, I'll be handing out candy to any little ghouls who happen to knock on my door.

Happy Halloween!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Perfect Synopsis

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I did the revisions (major revisions, actually, on the point-of-hopelessness in my novel) for "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant". I want to try and get that wrapped up because starting on November 1st I will be concentrating solely on "Snowed in with a Millionaire."

But that darn two page synopsis - that's still killing me. So today I will be trying to fix that - it needs to be perfect. The query and the synopsis are what editors are going to judge my whole novel on. Scary thought, huh.

So on that note, here are ten tips on how to write the perfect synopsis, by Andrea Semple, from http://www.andreasemple.com/:

Ten ways to write the perfect synopsis

1. Keep it short.
Two pages maximum. A single page is often enough.

2. Be brutal.
Edit like you've never edited before. Avoid baggy language. Make sure each sentence is no longer than it needs to be, especially in the first paragraph.

3. Tease.
The trick to a good synopsis is to give a flavour of your novel without giving the whole game away. Don't detail everything that happens. Don't over explain. Just provide the central premise, and a few of the juicier events.

4. Go for the present tense.
Consider the following two phrases: 'Josie's marriage was falling apart' and 'Josie's marriage is falling apart.' The second one is instantly more immediate, and involves you, because it is happening right now.

5. Read book covers.
As I've said before, the blurb on the back of a novel is exactly the style you should be going for. After all, this is how publishers sell their own books.

6. Do something a little different.
The top agents can get as many as one hundred submissions a month. Clearly it helps if you can stand out. You've got to reach out from the page and grab them by the throat (or whichever part of the anatomy you'd prefer).

7. Experiment with the voice.
Matt often uses the second person voice when he is writing a synopsis. So instead of writing 'the novel is about a man called James Smart. He has six days to save his marriage with Josie', he'd go for 'You are James Smart. You have six days to save your marriage'. Obviously this approach doesn't work for every type of novel, the point is that by doing something a little different you will stand out.

8. Don't introduce all the characters.
Don't bombard agents with thirty characters. Stick to the two or three main ones. Otherwise it will be too much for them to take in.

9. Proof read like crazy.
I know I've told a lot of you this already but the first time I sent out my synopsis I spelt the word synopsis wrong. Having synpsis at the top of the page is not a good way to start. . .

10. Finish on a great sentence
Make sure you finish on a great sentence. Something that gives enough, but leaves them itching to read the novel. The classic way to do this is to close on a question, or a series of questions that draws on the main theme of a novel. Such as 'can someone ever recover the person they've left behind?'
Today I will be trying to put these tips to good use. I don't think writing my synopsis in the second person is going to work, though. And would you believe I still haven't had a chance to watch the DVD I rented on Wednesday? This is why I have no television.

Wish me luck, and good luck to you too!

Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Getting Paid to Write

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I had my last writing class. The teacher, Vinnie Dacquino, said I was a wonderful writer. That made me feel pretty good. Of course, he also said that self-publishing counts as "being published", which is a statement I know most people strongly disagree with. I don't know why he said that, since he was published by Dell. Strange. The other women in the class and I are going to continue to meet up and share each other's work for critique, which I'm looking forward to.

In class we discussed how my heroine in "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant" needs to tell her secret to the hero sooner to make her more moral, and then have a different conflict as the final showdown. I totally agree so I'm going to rework that today. I need to get it done before Sunday because when NaNoWriMo starts I will be busy on my next novel, "Snowed in with a Millionaire." Hopefully I'll get more words out of this as well to bring my word count up!

I wanted to share this inspirational video from writer Stacey Cochran. After 15 years of writing, and 2000 rejections (yes I said 2K), he finally gets a check in the mail for the very first time. $1500. I literally almost cried when I watched this video because you can just tell how getting this check for his work is an affirmation to him that he wasn't wasting his time all those years.

I never did get to watch that DVD yesterday, but I doubt I'll have time to watch it today since I will be adding a scene and rewriting another for "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant." Also, I'm making my hero tall, dark, and handsome, instead of blond -I read that readers don't like blond heroes. Oh well.

Wish me luck and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Writing a Synopsis

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I worked on my synopsis, getting it down to two single spaced pages, as Harlequin requires. Unfortunately, I don't think it's quite right. Or maybe it is. I don't know and I'm going crazy thinking about it.

I'm currently reading NY Times bestselling author Nina Bangs' book "My Wicked Vampire". I love vampires, so I'm having fun reading it.

Here is what former literary agent Vivian Beck has to say about writing a synopsis. The Vivian Beck Agency, while it no longer exists, has a lot of good writing tips on the website here.

Step 1: Start With A Hook. This should be a paragraph or two similar to the blurb on the back of a book. Mood and tone is important here, use special adjectives.
Step 2: Introduction of Characters. Introduce the main characters in your book. Tell their MOTIVATION, CONFLICT, and GOALS. Stay away from detailed physical descriptions unless this information is pertinent to your story.
Step 3: Construct the Body of Your Synopsis. Here, using paragraphs, write the high points of your story in chronological order. Keep these paragraphs tight, don't give every little detail. Remember, each scene should include, ACTION, REACTION, and a DECISION.
Example: Sam kisses Mary goodnight. (ACTION) He makes her forget she does not want to get involved in a relationship. (REACTION) He's dangerous to her hard-earned peace of mind. (DECISION)
Step 4: Use Three or Four Paragraphs to Write the CRISIS and RESOLUTION of Your Story. Keep this simple, but make sure you show your main characters' reactions. Don't keep the editor/agent guessing. Your synopsis must include the resolution to your story.
Step 5: Rewrite your synopsis until each sentence is polished to the point of perfection. Use strong adjectives and verbs, and always write in the present tense. Make every word count.

Today I have my last writing class. I'll be sad the class is ending but I think I got a lot out of it. I know my novel "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant" is better for it. The other women in the class and I are going to keep in touch about our writing and hopefully meet up as well. Since I had some dental work done today, I'm thinking about taking a day off from writing to veg out in front of a DVD on my laptop. We'll see. I usually end up tinkering with something, it's just how I roll.

G-d knows I won't have the luxury of a day off when November 1st rolls around (on Sunday!) and NaNoWriMo begins!

Wish me luck and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Do's and Don'ts of Query Letters

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I worked on my query letter for "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant". It' s tough to do it! I also worked on my two page synopsis. That went pretty well except for the fact that it's a 2 1/2 page synopsis, and they want 1-2 pages. So I need to work on that some more.

While reviewing how best to write a query letter, I looked on eHarlequin.com for their article on query letters. Click here to read the full article on their site, as this is just an excerpt.

The Do's and Don'ts of Querying
See revision/rejection letters as an opportunity to enhance your writing by utilizing constructive comments.
Revise your project following the revision letter and resubmit ONLY if asked by the editor.
Vent to your friends, not your editor (aka Don't hit the send button on that unhappy email!).
Take advantage of the support, feedback and guidance offered by the RWA.
Research the best person to send it to in the line.
Demonstrate enthusiasm for your project.
Keep your cover letter professional and one page long.
Remember a SASE.
Remember to give all the information in a synopsis — no cliff-hangers, please!
Help us help you.
Ignore the constructive comments in rejection letters. They are intended to help.
Depend on spell check.
Forget that today's editorial assistant may be tomorrow's acquiring editor — treat all EAs and editors with respect.
Disregard our guidelines.
Ask the editor to decide what line your book is for.
Query on an incomplete manuscript.
Send the same project to multiple in-house editors simultaneously.
Send more than one project in at a time.
Include irrelevant information or materials in your letter or your synopsis.
Pick up the phone and call to ask if your manuscript has arrived. DO re-query and/or send a self-addressed stamped postcard and/or use postal tracking.
Try to guilt the editor or "trick" them into calling you back.
Call when a project has been rejected.
Send bound material.
Put all your eggs in one basket. DO work on other stories while you wait for a response.
Handwrite anything.
So there ya have it. Today I may tinker with my synopsis. I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo, so I may do some character studies for "Snowed in with a Millionaire" to get ready.

Wish me luck and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Monday, October 26, 2009

Stephanie Meyer talks about writing, publishing, and queries

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I went to the Poughkeepsie Region NaNoWriMo kick-off at Panera Bread. It was five women including me - but it was so much fun to be able to talk to other people who are as crazy about writing as I am! I found it fascinating to listen to the sorts of stories that other people are compelled to write.

I tried writing a synopsis of "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant", but I found it very difficult to get the feel and tone of the novel across in such a bare-bones medium. It's not good enough, so today I think I will try to write a query letter and work on the synopsis some more. I'm thinking that "Movie Star" is done now.

I watched a video on YouTube with Stephanie Meyer talking about how she was just a stay-at-home mom, and she never really wrote until one day she just had to start writing and out came "Twilight". Arrgghh. I love her and her books, but I am more than a little jealous. You hear of all of these other authors writing and perfecting their craft for years and years, getting tons of rejections - and Meyer writes a novel and it not only gets published, but it completely reshapes Young Adult fiction. Have you noticed that every YA novel that gets published lately is about vampires?

Today I plan on writing a query letter for Harlequin. I also plan on re-reading some of Chris Baty's "No Plot, No Problem" to help get me geared up for NaNoWriMo. I'm very excited - I can hardly wait for November 1st!

Wish me luck, and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Elements of Novel Writing

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I bought a laptop. I got an Acer notebook, which was ridiculously inexpensive, and it has the new Windows 7 and I added Microsoft Office 2007. Finally, I have Word! Not just Open Office! I'm slowly figuring out how to type on this new keyboard. I'm all thumbs. I feel like I just learned how to type! I have to press the delete key every few seconds as my fingers hit the wrong button. I'm sure after I write for a couple of hours my fingers will learn the new smaller keyboard. I need to get used to this new laptop before NaNoWriMo begins on November 1st. I can't be wasting time on typos!

Today I am going to a NaNoWriMo kick-off at Panera Bread in Poughkeepsie. It will be cool to meet other writers who love challenges. I got no writing done yesterday. I suppose it was because my mother in law is in town, and we went out and DH and ran errands, etc, but ultimately there was a time after everyone was in bed that I could have written and instead, I read. "Shutter Island" by Dennis Lehane is amazing.

I found a video from Andrea Rains Waggener, the author of a novel entitled "Alternate Beauty". She spells out the elements of novel writing. While the concepts are simple, they are not easy - at least not as easy as Ms. Waggener says! Still, her video is worth the 6 1/2 minutes it takes to watch. This is her website: www.writinghelppartnership.com

Today I will write a bit before I head out to Poughkeepsie for the NaNoWriMo kick off. I'm a bit stuck, I think, and that's why I didn't write yesterday. The problem is I feel like I have a finished novel with "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant," but I'm coming in at just over 45K words and I need 50K words. What to do?

Wish me luck and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dennis Lehane - How he did it

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I put my additional chapter into "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant," weaving it in so it fits seamlessly. The problem now is that I have 45K words and I need 50K. Arrgh. Since my mother-in-law is visiting, she watched the baby while DH and I went out to see "The Stepfather". It was a good thriller, there were just way too many noisy kids in the theater.

I'm reading "Shutter Island" by Dennis Lehane. I'm really enjoying it. The first couple of pages I was going, uh oh - is this book going to be boring? But nope. Within a few pages I was absolutely hooked and I stayed up late reading. They made the book into a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Here is an excerpt from an article by Linda Richards about how Dennis Lehane became a writer.
Read the whole article here because it's so interesting.
There was never any doubt in Dennis Lehane's mind that he was going to be a writer. It wasn't so much a matter of "if" as much as "how" and "when." Lehane wrote his first novel while he was still in college as "a goof, as a fluke, as something to do because I was bored. And to entertain myself." The overworked creative writing student felt he needed a break from all of the "really literary, avant garde short fiction" he'd been writing. He says he wrote that novel in three weeks and tossed it into a box. He was 25.
About a dozen drafts later, while Lehane was at grad school, the novel was accepted for publication and saw print in 1994 as A Drink Before the War, the first book to feature Lehane's dynamic Boston duo, private investigators Angie Gennaro and Patrick Kenzie.
Lehane says now that he understood exactly what he was doing when he signed his first book contract: he understood the course he was allowing his life to take. "You're leaving one camp and stepping into another. Why mess around?" He knew that the publication of A Drink Before the War would label him, perhaps forever, as a genre writer: "And there's no way out of that, so let's just go all the way. And I'm so glad I did. Oh! Thank God. It's been the greatest accident of my life."
Accident or not, Lehane has kept a firm hand on the professional aspects of his writing as well as the creative, understanding as he does the reverberations that a small thing can have on an entire career. "Where you enter the ladder," says Lehane in relation to a writing career, "I think, indicates how far you're going up it." With that ladder in mind, Lehane resisted going the paperback original route as well as manuscript changes to A Drink Before the War that he didn't agree with because, he says, he didn't really have a lot to lose. "What were you going to do to me? Make me poorer? I didn't think that was possible." The idealistic young writer stuck to his guns and stepped onto the ladder on a fairly high rung. He has, he says, no regrets.

Lehane says "That's the fun of writing. Flannery O'Connor called it 'happy accidents.' That moment when, all of a sudden, your character does something that you didn't intend him to do and you realize it had been oddly inevitable since the first time you introduced him. And you go: Yeah! That's why I write. That's the high."
I totally get that same 'high' from writing. Today I'm going to buy a new laptop so DH has computer access next month during NaNoWriMo since I will be writing pretty much nonstop. I will also be having my parents over for dinner. Still, I hope to figure out a way to add a few thousand words to my WIP.
Wish me luck, and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Friday, October 23, 2009

Is Your Manuscript Ready for Submission?

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I got a ton done on my new chapter(s) for "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant" while everyone in the house slept. No further work was done on my plot for "Snowed in with a Millionaire". I think I'm going to just let it rest until it's time to start writing it for real on November 1st, when NaNoWriMo begins. I'll just have to figure out how it ends when I get to that point!

As I work on my WIP, I know I am improving it because, well - it just wasn't long enough to be submitted to Harlequin. By adding another chapter I am helping move the story forward as well as making it more submission-ready. But when is it time to stop revising and actually send it out?

I found this article entitled "When to Stop Revising" by 'amyallgeyercook' (sic). Click the link to read the whole article, it's wonderful. Here is an outline of the article, based on the five points the author made and then embellished on:

  • You've changed something back to an earlier version.
  • The revisions you're working on make the book 'different' but not necessarily 'better'.
  • Your critique group opens your submittal and groans, "Ugh. Not this again."
  • Your heart isn't in it.
  • You can't figure out what else to do with it.

She says "Remember...one-hundred percent of shots not taken, don't score. Your book will never be published if it remains hidden on your hard drive. Take a chance. Send it out!"

That is such a good point. My novels will never get published if I keep them hidden away.

Today I will be working on finishing up another chapter for "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant" and I will be incorporating that into the rest of the novel.

Wish me luck, and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Thursday, October 22, 2009

To get Published, Know the Market!

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I wrote a very long love scene for "The Movie Star's Personal Assistant" - so much fun! I also reformatted my manuscript based on something I read on eHarlequin.com, which basically said 1 inch margins all around, double spaced, and Times New Roman. Since I had it in Courier New, when I changed the font my page count went from 206 pages down to 158 pages. Yikes. The new chapter I just wrote added another 15 pages and 4000 words, so it looks like I'm going to have to write another chapter. I plan to work on that today, although my mother-in-law just arrived from Florida this afternoon. At least our bathroom renovation is complete, so that's one less thing to
take up my time.

I found a good article on the Nebraska Romance Writers website, although their information applies to all genres. You can read the whole article by clicking above, this is just an excerpt of "How to Submit Your Manuscript" by Kathy Marks. Please note, however, that while the article on their site says that editors are looking at word count as 250 x # of pages, Harlequin is using computer word count as per Kimberly Lang, an author who has recently sold five category romances to Harlequin.

Know the Market

No piece of advice is more valuable. You may have written the greatest category romantic suspense ever penned, but if you send it to a house that only publishes historical single-titles, you are going to get a rejection letter in the mail. (If you're not sure what some of these terms mean, keep reading; I'll try my best to explain.)
Research the publishers you're thinking about submitting to. Look up their listing in The Literary Market Place, which is updated annually and available in all libraries, and in other market guides (see our chapter on Markets). If the publisher has a web site—and most large ones do—check it for information. Some publishers announce what types of manuscripts they're currently looking for. Many publishers have tip sheets, which they'll send to you if you write and include an SASE. Never call a publisher and ask what they're acquiring these days or if your manuscript is appropriate. Editors are busy people, and they won't appreciate the interruption.

Of course, the very best way to get to know if a publisher is buying the type of book you've written is to read what they're currently publishing. That cannot be emphaSIZEd enough. Before submitting to a publishing house—Read, read, read.

That's key, I think. Read in the line you want to be published in. That's easy for me to do since I always read romance novels anyway!

Today I will work on my extra chapter for "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant", and I will try to get some wrapping up done for the plot of "Snowed in With a Millionaire." It's possible that I may start NaNoWriMo November 1st with most of the book plotted out - but not the ending. We'll see.

Wish me luck and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Getting Published

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I worked on my new chapter for "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant". I didn't get to actually sit down to write until about 10:00pm, so I didn't work on my plot for "Snowed in with a Millionaire".

I am going to review another writing book off of my shelf: "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Published".

I had bought and read it back when it was in the second edition, however now there is a fourth edition that includes a CD-rom with document templates. If you're going to buy a book about publishing, then the latest edition will definitely be of more help to you. I nearly laughed out loud this morning as I was flipping through the second edition (from 2000) when I saw them say that barnesandnoble.com is a new website.

That said, the basic information is the same (how to query, how to get an agent, how the publishing process works, etc). The book, like all "Complete Idiot's Guide" books, is extremely thorough and helpful. I love how they put the information in an interesting way. Part of me wants to buy the fourth edition, but I probably will end up getting a different book about publishing instead since I've already got the second edition.

Today I will be re-papering the shelves in the linen closet in our newly renovated, almost completed upstairs bathroom. I also will be working on my chapter for "Movie Star" - and since NaNoWriMo is coming up fast, I need to finish my plotting for "Snowed In". My mother-in-law is arriving tomorrow for a nice long visit, so I need to clean up a bit as well.

Wish me luck and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jodi Thomas - how she did it

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I was feeling stuck on my plot for "Snowed in with a Millionaire" so I went through the 38 pages of plot that I had so far with my husband, who said (in not so many words) "Just add your point of hopelessness and then your happily ever after." And I'm going "oh yeah. Duh." I also worked on my new chapter for "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant."

Jodi Thomas, a bestselling romance author of dozens of books, wrote for years with no luck before she finally got published. This video tells how she did it.

It's all very inspiring, but I can't help but to hope I'll be like Stephanie Meyer, the author of the Twilight series, who published her very first book. I know that's not going to happen to me though for two reasons: 1. the very first book I wrote is awful and will never see the light of day and 2. the second book I wrote, while good, has an actor as the hero and I've heard that's a no-no for romance novels.

Today I will be working more on that chapter for "Movie Star" and, if time allows, my plotting for my NaNoWriMo book "Snowed In with a Millionaire."

Wish me luck and good luck to you too!

Yours truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Monday, October 19, 2009

Debbie Macomber - how she did it

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I did manage to work on both of my WIPs (Works In Progress) despite spending most of the day at the movies and at my parents for DH's birthday. We saw "Law Abiding Citizen" and we really like it. Gerard Butler is positively dreamy.

I want to share with you the story of Debbie Macomber, bestselling author of over 100 romance novels. The full article is available at eHarlequin.com.

When Debbie first decided to write a novel, people called her a hopeless dreamer. She had only a high school degree and was dyslexic. She was also the very young mother of four active children. No one believed she had what it took to write a book—except Debbie. She eventually saved enough money to rent an old typewriter, and every night when the children were asleep, she would sit down to write.
She wrote—for years. But each time she completed a story and mailed it off to a publisher, the manuscript was returned, stamped "rejected." As tough as it was to keep her spirits alive, Debbie never gave up. Five long years and thousands of pages later, she received a letter in the afternoon mail. The letter was from Silhouette Books—and they wanted to buy her story. Her first novel, Heartsong, was published as a Silhouette Inspiration in 1984, and it became the first romance novel ever to be reviewed in Publishers Weekly.
Today, Debbie is the internationally acclaimed author of more than 100 novels. Popular around the globe, she receives approximately three thousand letters from readers every month. And she responds personally to each one.

The moral of the story is Don't Give Up. I can't even imagine spending five years writing and submitting and getting rejections. But they say that the difference between a published author and an aspiring writer is that the published writer never gives up.

Today I will be working on both of my WIPs - the plotting for "Snowed in with a MIllionaire" (my NaNoWriMo novel) and the new chapter for "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant". Wish me luck and good luck to you too!

Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tips on Writing a Novel in a Month

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I worked on my plot for "Snowed in with a Millionaire" along with the chapter I am adding to "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant." The plotting is going slowly still. I'm dying here. As for the chapter for "Movie Star", I am trying to write it in the same way that I will be doing NaNoWriMo next month - by writing without stopping to edit. Normally I edit quite a bit as I go so this is a huge deal for me, to turn off my inner editor.

Right now I'm reading a Silhouette Desire book by Emilie Rose called "Bedding the Secret Heiress". It's part of a series she wrote called "The Hightower Affairs". I'm enjoying it even though I'm not super interested in planes and the heroine is a pilot who thinks and talks about flying pretty much non stop. Even her inner dialogue has her comparing everything to her flying experiences! Either Ms. Rose is also a pilot or (more likely) she did a bunch of research for this book, which is cool. I'm still having a hard time figuring out if I should be targeting Silhouette Desire or Harlequin Presents for my books.

This young lady participated in NaNoWriMo in the past and is kindly sharing her tips with us. note, THIS IS NOT ME. I don't even know her name other than it's probably Blythe, going by her YouTube name. Still, her tips make sense. Let's Go, NaNo!

So, to recap:
  • Don't delete anything - save that for revisions
  • Jump around - you don't have to write your scenes in order if you don't want to
  • Dares and prompts - visit NaNoWriMo.org for challenges to help you write
  • Plot ninjas are your friends - add a twist to keep you going
  • Be competitive - try to beat a friend's daily word count
  • Let it be a first draft. It doesn't have to be perfect, that's what revising is for.
Today I will work a bit on both books again, at least for an hour or so while DH continues the upstairs bathroom renovation. We're leaving the house in a few hours to have my parents watch the baby so we can go see "Law Abiding Citizen", which stars Gerard Butler. I loved him "Phantom of the Opera" and also "The Ugly Truth" with Katherine Heigl. Yummy, huh.

Wish me luck and good luck to you too!

Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Saturday, October 17, 2009

How to Pitch Your Novel

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I got a lot done - I started the new chapter that I'm going to have to put into "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant", plus I worked more on my plot for "Snowed in With a Millionaire", the book I'm going to write for NaNoWriMo starting November 1st. The plotting is going verrry slowly - but I'm worried that if I don't plot the story out to the end that I'll lose steam during NaNoWriMo and not finish writing my novel! Then again, I'm also thinking that maybe if I write my story up to the point where my plotting ends (I have 36 pages of plot right now) that maybe I'll be able to figure out what needs to happen as I write.

Today I will share with you a very informative video from authors Christie Craig and Faye Hughes of WriteWithUs.net. This video is filled with advice for aspiring authors about making the perfect pitch to an editor or agent about your manuscript.

So, to recap:

  • Don't think you have to tell every detail
  • Talk about your Hero and Heroine's goals.
  • Always act professionally
  • Be confident in yourself and your work
  • Let your passion shine
Today I'm going to work on both my plot for "Snowed in with a Millionaire" and my writing for "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant", depending on time - because we are still renovating that upstairs bathroom (a home renovation that takes three times as long as you planned, who woulda guessed? jk) and we're going to a barbeque this afternoon.

Wish me luck, and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Friday, October 16, 2009

To Outline or Not to Outline?

Hello Fellow Writers!

Last night Kimberly Lang, the author of the Harlequin Presents book I just finished reading ("The Millionaire's Misbehaving Mistress") stopped by The Writer's Challenge to chat! That's her picture to the left. Her book is really enjoyable - such a fun read. With her permission I am putting our conversation her for you, dear reader.

Kimberly Lang said...
So glad you're enjoying Will and Gwen's story. I had a lot of fun writing it. (And you might be happy to hear that Evie will be getting her own story in 2010!) Good luck with NaNoWriMo and your submissions to Harlequin. Kimberly Lang www.booksbykimberly.com

Shana Brodsky said...
Wow! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and comment! I just finished your novel and it's wonderful - I can't wait to read Evie's story in 2010! -Shana Kimberly Lang said...
I don't normally offer unsolicited advice -- in fact, I rarely offer solicited advice -- because I believe every writer has her own process and that it should be respected. However, I've been scrolling through your blog, and I notice you're actively reading books about writing, so here's my .02. I'm not JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer or Stephen King, but I have sold five books to Harlequin (and that's who you're targeting) in the last 18mos. A 40-page synopsis!?! That's two chapters. 10k words. On a 50k book, that's a fifth of your novel. Are you writing it because *you* need to walk yourself through your novel or because someone told you that you should? If you need to do that, go ahead. There are lots of people who do detailed outlines. (I'm not one of them, and frankly the thought of investing that much time and that many words on my synopsis would kill my soul. But that's me. I'm a pantser.) If you're 26 pages in and you know enough about your characters to know you're going to go way over 40 pages, why not go ahead and just write? (That's kind of the purpose of NaNo -- to let yourself write.) You never know; you might get started and find that you could take the book in a whole different direction. And you might like that direction better than what you planned. :-) I made the mistake of marrying myself to a plot point in book #4. I wanted X to happen and I knew it would be great when it did. I closed myself off to all other possibilities, and that book ended up going through two rounds of hellish revisions before I got it straightened out. Looking back, I wonder if I hadn't been so committed to that one plot point happening at that particular moment... Your teacher is right -- writers write. But pre-writing isn't exactly writing. Pre-writing is important (and it feels like writing!), but it can also be a trap. At some point, you gotta get those words on the page and tell the story to the reader. I offer this simply as an alternative viewpoint. Your mileage may vary, of course. Don't let me or anyone else tell you the process of how books *should* be written, because everyone's process is unique. Good luck with this book. I hope the words fly off your fingers and that you love the result!

Shana Brodsky said...
I love advice - especially from an author who is doing exactly what I want to be doing (writing for Harlequin)! Thank you for taking the time! I'm curious as to how you came across my blog (I'm so glad you did) :) The reason I'm plotting this next book out so much (I've actually got 36 pages so far) is because I am queen of writing the first three chapters of a book, getting stuck, and giving up. I must have twenty starts of novels in my desk drawer! So this time, going into NaNoWriMo, I want to make sure that I don't get stuck halfway through. I figure I can use my plot outline to keep me going - but I will definitely take your advice and if it feels too contrived or if my characters want to move in a different direction, then I will let them take the story where it needs to go. I have a technical question that maybe you can answer for me and my readers (all 6 of them, lol). Does Harlequin go by computer word count or 250 x page #? Silly I know but it's been bugging me because I can't find a definitive answer online! Also, do you think for series romance it's a good idea to get a literary agent first, or to submit straight to Harlequin? Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts! I checked out your website and it's lovely :) -Shana

Kimberly Lang said...
I found your blog because I have Google alerts on my titles. I get an email with a link from Google whenever it finds a mention. It's always nice to find someone saying something nice about my book. It makes facing the current WIP much easier! :-) And I'm procrastinating tonight -- probably not a good idea since I have a deadline looming! I'm doing my own mini-NaNo right now to get the book done on time. Feel free to ignore my advice -- in fact, ignore any advice from anyone unless it really resonates with you. Getting words on a page is a mystery; no one thing will work for everyone. (Except BICHOK -- Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard. That works.) Do what feels right for *you* and don't let anyone tell you "that's not how to write a book." (But, yes, you must finish the book. :-)) Technical questions: To the best of my knowledge, all Harlequin lines are now using computer word count. Yes, I know. It's very tough on those of us who write lots of dialog. You don't need an agent to submit to Harlequin, and I'm not sure an agent will get you read any faster or do much good with your contracts this early in the game. My .02. I don't have an agent, and, in fact, an agent from the Bookends Agency just blogged about not needing an agent to sell to Harlequin. I don't have the URL handy, but google Bookends blog and take a peek. It's a recent entry and will probably be better than anything I can offer. And, wow, writing with an infant at home? I'm impressed! Mine's eight and I don't get anything done unless she's at school or asleep. Good for you!

Shana Brodsky said...
BICHOK - I love it! May I use your post in my blog tomorrow? I'd love to share your insight with my readers (I'm not sure people read these comments as much as the daily blog). Coincidentally, I was just perusing the BookEnds blog since I was thinking of querying them. I found the blog entry you mentioned: http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/2009/10/category-romance-authors-and-agents.html It's cool that you've sold 5 books without an agent! Maybe it's a sign I should just try and go straight to Harlequin. It's a bit terrifying because then if it's rejected... Did you sell to HQ the first time you queried them, or did it take a while? It's midnight here in New York, way past my bedtime :) so I'm gonna hit the sack (one benefit of having an infant is I'm becoming accustomed to sleep deprivation). Thank you so much for taking the time to respond - I'm really glad that you found my blog and I hope you keep in touch! -Shana

Kimberly Lang said...
Sure you can use my comments. I don't claim to be an expert on anything, but if you think it's helpful, go ahead. And I have a large stack of rejections from Harlequin. ~shrugs~ But it only takes one "yes"...

Shana Brodsky said...
Wow - so you just kept writing romance novels and submitting them until one got accepted? That's awesome. And anyone who has sold five novels to Harlequin is definitely an expert! Thanks again and stop by The Writer's Challenge anytime! -Shana

So there ya have it! I think the key points here are:

  • Don't let an outline keep your story from going where it needs to go.
  • Don't even write an outline if you don't think you need one - it's okay to make it up as you go
  • BICHOK - Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard. That's how it gets done.
  • You don't need an agent to submit to Harlequin.
  • Harlequin uses computer word count (Darn! I need to add some scenes to "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant" then).
  • The BookEnds blog is filled with interesting tidbits of information.

Today I am going to work on my plot for "Snowed in with a Millionaire" before I add the entire chapter I need to add to "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant" to make it 50k words by computer word count. I know if I start writing on "Movie Star" I'll never get to my plot for "Snowed In" - because as Kimberly Lang said, it's prewriting, not really writing, and that's just not as fun so it's easier to procrastinate on it.

However, since I'm officially signed up for NaNoWriMo, I have to wait until November 1st before I start actual writing on "Snowed In With a Millionaire". That's okay, it gives me time to work out any plot holes before I dive in.

Wish me luck and good luck to you too!

Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers