Monday, July 25, 2011

The Work Begins

Okay, after all that pre-conference pitch talk, it's over. And it was a fantastic conference. Next year, plan to attend the Ozarks Romance Authors' Conference. You'll be glad you did. BTW, it's not just for romance writers.

Agent Louise Fury with L. Perkins gave great advice and was hilarious. Avalon editor Lia Brown was encouraging, warm and also had several publishing gems to share.

Amazingly, I had two pitches. I thought I had only wrangled one. Turns out, I found out about my second pitch at the exact minute it was to occur. Upon discovering this, my eyes bulged, my stomach lurched, and Cecily, the conference chair, asked if I wanted to reschedule. I knew I'd just get nervous so I went, even though that meant showing up a couple of minutes late (and if you only have ten minutes, that's precious time evaporating quickly) so I walked fast to the room.

I knew enough about Avalon that they didn't accept long works, and my women's fiction is 90,000 words. Lia asked if I had anything else. I told her aobut my romantic suspense and she liked the story! Hooray!!! I told her it's about half finished and she asked for a partial whenever it's ready. Yippee. I'm excited to roll up my sleeves and work on it.

My original pitch (the one I knew I had) was with literary agent Louise Fury. I didn't think she represented women's fiction but I still had that pitch in my head (since it's a completed ms), as well as a pitch for a picture book series I'm co-authoring with my daughter. We're about 75 percent finished. Happily, Louise liked my women's fiction premise, asked me to send a partial, AND she wants to see the picture book when it's finished. She also gave me advice about my upcoming project.

That's three separate projects. Plus, I have another one that I haven't yet announced but will soon. Whew. I'm tired just thinking about it but I'm excited, too.

I'm so proud of all my writer friends who got up the courage to pitch. Fingers crossed that many of us will have success. How did your pitch go?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Face Your Fear of Pitching

Several of us are pitching this Saturday during the annual Ozarks Romance Authors' conference Writers from the Ozarks will pitch to either literary agent Louise Fury with the L. Perkins Agency or Avalon editor Lia Brown. And we're nervous.

Whether you're a virgin pitcher, a semi-pro or a pro, let's face our pitch fear head on. What exactly are you afraid of? See a list of possibilities below, then add your own.

I might forget my name, or worse, my plot.

It's highly possible that I'll cry, pee my pants or faint.

What if my book isn't good enough?

I can't figure out how to boil 300 pages of perfect prose down to a sentence or two.

I'm afraid I'll stutter throughout the entire conversation. And turn red.

I just don't have that author "look."

I don't know HOW to pitch.

If I get a book deal, I don't know the first thing about marketing.

I just want to sit in my office and write. Leave me alone.

I've written several books. Which one should I pitch?

I don't like the business side of writing.

What if I get a three-book contract (we can dream!) and I can't meet the deadlines?

I self-published. Will that hurt my chances?

I'm afraid the agent or editor will love my pitch, publish my book (which will sell millions) and I can't handle the success.

Do you relate to any of these? What are your fears? Please chime in. Let's face this pitching thing head on--and good luck!

Friday, July 15, 2011

It's Pitch Season

Batter up! Well, not exactly. While it is baseball season, it's also pitch season for writers. Many of us are getting ready to pitch to agents or editors at upcoming conferences and our nerves are a bit, well, frayed.

Yesterday, I read about a YA author who had a unique take on pitches. He writes a one-sentence pitch before he writes his novel. By doing so he stays true to his premise and he doesn't go through the agony of trying to boil down 300 pages to just one sentence. I think it's a great idea and it has already helped me come up with a pitch/premise for another novel.

Of course, that won't help with my current, finished women's fiction. I have to pare it down for my pitch. Luckily, Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner just blogged about pitching. Below is an excerpt from her post. You can find the rest at I'd encourage you to read the comments section as well. You'll hear some pitch horror stories and won't feel so alone.)

From Rachelle: Too often, people sit down and nervously launch into some kind of story and I find myself dizzy with confusion. I sit there like a deer in the headlights and then I say something like, “Let’s back up. What’s your name? And is this fiction or nonfiction?”

Here are some guidelines:

→ Don’t try to tell the whole story. Start with the plot catalyst, the event that gets the story started.

→ Then give the set-up, i.e. what happens in the first 30 to 50 pages that drives the reader into the rest of the book. Include the pressing story question or the major story conflict.

→ Fill out your pitch with any of the following: plot elements, character information, setting, backstory, or theme. You want to include just enough information to really intrigue your listener.

→ Finish by giving an idea of the climactic scenes and the story resolution.

→ Try not to tell too much of the story in the pitch. The pitch is supposed to get somebody interested, not tell the whole story.

→ Include only a couple of characters.

→ Include one plot thread, or two if they’re closely intertwined. You can hint at the existence of other characters and plot lines.

Be prepared to answer questions that could include things like:
→ How does your story end?
→ What published author’s style would you compare your writing to?
→ Who are your favorite authors in your genre?
→ Is this a series? And if so, what are the subsequent books about?
→ Have you worked with a critique group or a professional editor?
→ Have you pitched this to publishers in the past? If so, what was the response?

Again, this is just an excerpt, and I encourage you to hop over to Rachelle's blog and read her entire post.

Have you ever pitched? Are you going to pitch soon? Tell me about your past pitching experience or how you're preparing for one now.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Last fall, I was published in my first anthology! It was exciting. My poem entitled "A Country Drive" appears in ECHOES OF THE OZARKS, Vol. VI, published by High Hill Press. This anthology features a great selection of Ozarks' stories and poems written mainly by authors from Missouri and Arkansas. It's a great read. Check it out. If you'd like an autographed copy, let me know. They're just $10.

Do you read anthologies? I've always enjoyed them. What better way to sample several authors' work at once. If you're a writer, I encourage you to submit to anthologies. If you're a reader, then, by all means, please read them.

Reminder: The Storm Country Anthology to benefit the Joplin school libraries has a deadline of July 15. Google for more info.

What is your experience with anthologies? Do you read them? Have you been published in any?