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Posts Tagged ‘Hook’

ListWell, now that the editing is nearly complete — my editor was vacationing in Maine all last week, which allowed extra time for fine-tuning –and the cover art is a done deal, it’s time to provide the remaining cover details.

1st… The Story Blurb… this is unbelievably difficult to create! It’s more or less the same as the elevator pitch. The wording needs to hook the potential reader and encourage them to purchase the story. Several versions have passed through my writing group, and it finally reads as concise and captivating as we can make it.

2nd… Author Bio… keeping this relatively simple: name, retired, first novel, where I was born, and my general location now with cat and husband.  My publisher thinks there will be room for the professional photo I had taken a while back.

3rd… Acknowledgement Page … need to be sure I thank everyone who was involved during the writing of my novel, including research sources, writing group members. and assorted friends and relatives.

Gotta go dig into my files to be sure no one is overlooked… more later!

 

 

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hands on keyboardThis past weekend, I attended Crime Bake in Dedham, MA. Sponsored by Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, this conference is always inspiring, but not without its disappointments to a budding author.

First, there was the ‘First Page Critique’ session after lunch on Saturday. When my first page was read, only one agent defended my efforts because she has seen my progress. But neither she nor the other four agents raised a hand to indicate they would read further.

Second, my pitch to an agent, hoping to hook her into asking for my first three chapters, fell on deaf ears. This could be my fault, because I decided to change my genre from mystery to romantic suspense after the pitch practice session on Friday night. I’m going back to mystery genre.

Third time was a charm! My manuscript evaluation was provided by Ray Daniel, a Boston author. He pointed out that although my writing is good, and my verbs are strong, I’m asking my reader to hang in with me for a third of the novel before we find out that there is a body. Over the months, I’ve changed my opening scene too many times to count, but Ray’s words made sense to me. I finally got it!

So I flew out of bed early on Sunday morning, rushed to my computer and opened a new file. I pulled Chapter 12 forward, did a bit of tweeking and printed off a new page one. When I arrived at the Dedham Hilton for the final day of the conference, I bumped into Ray within minutes and asked what he thought of the new first page. He gave it a thumbs up…yea!

My writing days will now include not only regular revision, but a re-sequencing of my chapters to move my suspects into the middle.

But, oh,  how exciting this is!

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three women sepiaAn email arrived inviting me to choose my top three agents for the pitching session at the Crime Bake Conference, sponsored by Sisters in Crime New England and Mystery Writers of America during the weekend of Nov 8-9-10.

This year, the organizers are offering eleven agents and editors for our selection process. Bios for them all are provided on the Crime Bake website.

And so my analysis began! I read each bio to discover what sub-genre that agent is seeking at the moment, and their experience in the publishing industry. A follow-up exploration of each corporate websites with a browse through their most recently published authors solidified if they seem to be a good match for my mystery/romance story.

I settled on my top three, registered my picks via the online form, and will now wait until I register at the conference to find out which one is my assigned agent.

The pitching session will take place on Saturday afternoon during the conference weekend. Those authors who are participating will be collected outside the pitching room, and herded in as a group to spend our five minutes in front of the pour assigned agent. If all goes well, and my pitch includes enough of a hook, the agent may request more of my story. Wouldn’t that be encouraging?

Cross your fingers!

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imagesWell, today was the deadline to submit 15 pages for a manuscript evaluation at the upcoming Crime Bake Conference, sponsored by Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

After several revisions, I managed to condense the first 13 pages of my story to end with Chapter 2 where the initial hook hopefully sinks in. The first page was a cover sheet, and the second a one-page synopsis. How difficult was that to write??? All the broad strokes on one page!

My submission will be assigned to an agent, an editor, or a published mystery writer for evaluation. I’ll find out who when I register on November 8.

The two of us will find a quiet corner in the Hilton Hotel and spend fifteen minutes together. She will tell me what she thinks of my story and my writing. It will be a nerve-wracking experience, but a necessary evil. After sending my story through two separate writing groups, eliminating my original opening chapters and many unnecessary scenes, plus rewriting the first page a gazillion times, I can only hope that my evaluator thinks my story is in pretty good shape.

During this conference, I will also pitch my book to the attending agents. Maybe I’ll finally get a bite!

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sketch of question personThis past weekend, I attended the Malice Domestic Conference in Bethesda, MD. Although this mystery gathering is more an opportunity for fans to meet their favorite authors, a writer can also glean valuable information from the various panels.

In addition to author breakfasts, interviews, and the Poison Lady, I chose these panels: When Secrets and Lies Descent into Murder, Mysteries with a Touch of Magic, How Seasons Effect Story, Sleuthing with the Dead, When Music and Painting Lead to Murder, and Cozy in the City.

Carolyn G. Hart, one of my favorite authors who is publishing her 50th novel this year, spoke with me about writing, and not letting anyone try to change my words into their own.

On the other hand, when I asked a panel of published mystery authors when their body drops, here are their answers: first sentence, first chapter, first paragraph, and prologue. Another author on a different panel said it has to drop no later than the last chapter you submit to an agent, which is usually the first three. That beats the crap out of my body drop 1/3 of the way through my story. So now I need to decide whether to tackle a major rewrite and move it forward…sigh.

Not sure I will attend this particular conference until my own novel is published. That could be next year or a decade from now…who’s to know?

 

 

 

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In my inbox this morning sat an email from an agent I recently queried. She represents another cozy mystery writer in the Sisters In Crime organization, and was recommended to me by another agent.

My fingers paused above the file, not sure if they wanted to open it or not. Would I be lucky and get a hit on nearly my first try? Or would she tell me ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ ???

After several minutes of debate, I hit the enter key and zoomed in on her words like a starving writer…only to be disappointed. Her rejection said my hook was not sufficient to interest any of the editors she knows.

Big sigh.smiley face maybe next time

I’ve been told by both my writing groups that I’ve written a good story, so I’ll be pulling down my how-to books about query letters and improving this one paragraph description by echoing the tension and frustration of my main character.

On a positive note, the only way is up!

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…to send it out!!!

After many, many revisions, my story finally begins in the right place…I think.

My stronger protagonist encounters the “inciting incident” by the end of page seven.

I’ve moved evil back story into future chapters.

I’ve eliminated narrative that interrupts the plot.

I’ve eliminated duplications and replaced weak verbs with stronger ones.

I’ve been mindful that my internal and external character arc mesh and mingle.

I’m hopeful that readers will be hooked and not put it down until page 309…The End.

So why am I petrified to enter it into a contest for first time novelists!

Where do I find the nerve to JUST DO IT? …no idea.

My calendar is marked with a deadline of mid-October… will I push the button? Stay tuned.

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