Archive for September, 2008

The Touchy, Subject Fiction i.e. Women’s Fiction

Ususally I hate defining things because it’s the fastest way to pigeon-hole yourself. Yet today I’m wondering how do others define Women’s Fiction. I think a lot of things come down to perception.

IMHO, Women’s Fiction are stories that deal with women’s issues and the heroine’s journey during one of the most trying times in her life.


Jennifer Weiner’s Little Earthquakes. That story is about what it’s like to be a mother. Also, a mother’s worse nightmare–when your child dies.

The other end of the spectrum can is Sophie Kinsella’s Can You Keep A Secret?. This story is about a women who has basically been overlooked her whole life and how she’s dealt with it. This book is funny as hell, but it still deals with the heroine’s journey.

The middle ground in this genre is Jennifer Crusie’s Tell Me Lies. This story deals with infidelity, abuse, mother/daughter relationships, and old flames with a dark humor. I know it doesn’t look any “lighter”, but you have to read the book to know difference.

I’ve been pondering this since I’ve written my BBW novel. Weight issues just seem to be the biggest taboo to write about in women’s fiction (or romance for that matter). I’m curious as to why. Weight is a woman’s issue. (I’m aware men also deal with it to, but I’m talking women’s fiction. Go ahead, call me a sexist.)

Or maybe you have a totally different definition of women’s fiction. Tell me, I’m curious to know.


Lucienne Diver of The Knight Agency has defined it.

Women’s Fiction (chicklit, lady lit, general women’s fiction)

There’s been some argument about whether or not women’s fiction is a genre separate from romance. I think it is. The term women’s fiction, like mainstream fiction, can be pretty all encompassing and therefore hard to define, but I’d describe it as a genre primarily for, by and about women. Not necessarily their loves, though this might play into it, but their trials, their relationships with their families, with each other, how they encounter and overcome adversity and emerge stronger and generally differently than when they began. Chicklit and Ladylit are both women’s searches for self, at different times in their lives, and generally told with a wink and a nod. Other women’s fiction would be family sagas, Southern women’s fiction, like that of Joshilyn Jackson, or simply mainstream fiction told with a feminine bent. (Think Jodi Picoult and Rosamunde Pilcher).

Not sure if I disagree or agree, but it’s food for thought.


September 29, 2008 at 6:12 pm 24 comments

Music and Novels: Understanding Voice

I kept thinking about music and how it ties in so easily with writing books. I’m going to tackle for the hundreth time, voice. My rule of thumb is don’t think about. It’ll be there as long as you don’t stiffle it. *which I’ve been known to do.*

Now how does voice tie into music?

Voice is as simple as hearing a song on the radio and knowing the singers identity. It goes past tone right to the infliction of words and the notes a singer holds.

Why I don’t think voice really involves tone?

You can have a light tone to a story vs. a dark tone and still voice will shine through.

Here are two examples of singers who write their own lyrics *80 percent of the time anyway*. First up is Alicia Keys *You Don’t Know My Name*:

From the day I saw you
I really really want to catch your eye
There’s something special ’bout you
I must really like you
Cause not a lotta guys are worth my time

Now one of my favorite singers at the moment, Chrisette Michelle *Like A Dream*:

His sticks was pounding on the drums
When I caught his eye
You know, my gosh, he looked at me
And he smiled at me
And he played to me
And I imagined that he spoke to me

They are both talking about the first time meeting a man. Along with the fantasy they’ve woven around this experience. Yet just looking at the word choice you can tell these are two different writers. They are approaching the same subject in a different angle.

I think that’s what voice is really about. It’s why Faking It is completely different from Homeport. *people frauding the art world.* It’s why so many writers say you can give a room of authors the same premise to a story and get a different execution of this premise from each author. It’s how YOU see the world. It’s why YOU are the only one who can tell the story. I completely agree voice also boils down to world view i.e. word choice.

But what I want you to take away from this post is to tell your story. Who cares if the boy meets girl story has been told a million times already. It’s what how you tell it that counts.

What other ways can music teach you about voice?

September 28, 2008 at 7:27 am 6 comments

Music and Novels

Here’s a small confession: Every now and then I dream of becoming a D.J. I’ve got cassette tapes where I’ve made my own mixes, but since I was a poor teenager at the time it’s recorded off the radio. *Hence becoming a writer instead* My collection ranges from R. Kelly, Otis Redding, Lil’ Wayne, Dixie Chicks, and Aerosmith. It’s safe to say I have an obession with music.

Now how is this related to writing?

Like many authors I create book soundtracks. But sometimes I just have songs that makes the words fly from my fingertips. *The only downside to my writing computer. It doesn’t have any of my music.* But today’s blog I’m showcasing the songs that no matter how many times I’ve listened to them, they just make me want to write. *I somehow was able to write this post after spending hours at Youtube*

The above song is what I listened to while writing See Megan Run. *Sarah Rose is really Donny Hathaway. You’ll understand once you read the book, because of course you’re buying it, right?*

Gone In 60 Seconds they have a song they listen to before stealing cars. This song is the one I prefer to listen before I write. *above*

And this last song, you have to know me to understand why I love it.

What songs can you listen to over and over and over…well, I think you get the point.

September 26, 2008 at 2:32 am 23 comments

Gearing Up for Promotion

My second novel

My second novel

See Megan Run will be out in 34 days or so. Not that I’m counting or anything. And it’s time for promotion. You shouldn’t be surprised when I say this aspect of publishing involves liquor and chocolate. And since I’m so freaking fond of lists this is what I’ve done:

1. So far I’ve lined up two guest blog post and one interview. *no, I haven’t forgotten about it. you know who you are.*

2. I’ve been watching a movie that I will use for my ten-day count down type of contest. It’ll be the trivia to end all trivias.

3. I’ve written down a hit list of all my friends who I’ll shall beg to mention me on their blog.

4. I’ve gotten the angle I want to write my next press release on. Took me days of discarding ideas, but I hit one that I’ve also written one of my guest blog post about–mother/daughter relationships.

5. I’ve realized my bank sucks. Not necessarily promo, but it kind of makes buying things toward promotion with my ATM card a headache.

6. Bought some fabulous wine and chocolate. *Refer to the opening line for how this relates to promo.*

Not a lot, but a whole lot more than what I did last time. I also plan to contact the local radio station to see if they want to do a live interview with me. *pray for me folks, I’ve finally lost ALL my marbles*

Now I know I mentioned there are only so many ways to say, “Buy my book”.

So, you know go buy my book.

Really you should see that coming by now.

September 25, 2008 at 5:01 am 12 comments

I Lied, Last Submission Post

This is the one most important things to do when you are submitting: READ THE GUIDELINES.

You scoff at my suggestion, but nothing irritates an agent or editor faster than YOU, the writer, IGNORING the guidelines. If they are well written guidelines you know what to expect so why would you ignore them?

Now why do I care about the guidelines so much?

There is nothing worse than standing in the post office and you can’t remember if you are supposed to send a #10 standard size envelope or one that can fit your materials in.

Another thing, guidelines are not created equal and each one is set to an agency or publisher’s specification. Here’s some examples:

from the website of Folio Literary Management:

The Letter should:

  • Be no longer than one page.
  • Have a catchy but professional introduction (how you heard of agent, great plot idea, etc.)
  • Detail your experience (credentials for writing the book – can be professional and/or personal experience). Your credentials are crucial for nonfiction, and may be less important for fiction, but sell yourself. Nobody thinks it’s bragging.
  • Include details about the project in a short paragraph. If fiction, one- or two-line “log line,” plus word count and genre, if appropriate; if nonfiction, a brief description of the project, plus finish this sentence: “My book is the first book that…”
  • This is only one component that they offer to potential clients. Under the submissions tab on their website they have four sections of how you should submit to them. “How to Submit to Us”, “Basic Info on Query Letters”, “How to format your Manuscript”, and “Non-fiction Proposals”.

    I can’t begin to tell you how priceless this information is. Here’s another:

    from the website of BookEnds, LLC:

    To query BookEnds, please e-mail only one agent directly at:

    • Jacky Sach
    • Jessica Faust
    • Kim Lionetti (Please note that Kim’s computer coughed up its last breath while she was on maternity leave and unfortunately she’s lost all e-mails sent between June 27th and September 5th. If you sent a query during that time, please resend. We apologize for the inconvenience.)

    and include the word “query” or “submission” in your subject heading.

    They also have a page on what they consider a proposal. (3 chapters, up to 50 pages) Even that little detail is helpful. I know some agents who want the first 100 pages or only the first chapter. Little details that can eventually drive you insane if you don’t have them by hand when submitting.

    Now how can it get any different. Here’s the general guidelines from Harlequin:

    Unless otherwise noted, we do not accept unsolicited complete or partial manuscripts, but ask instead that you submit a query letter. The query letter should include a word count and pertinent facts about yourself as a writer, including your familiarity with the romance genre. Please indicate what series you think your project is appropriate for, if it is completed, what you think makes it special, and previous publishing experience (if any). Also include a synopsis of your story that gives a clear idea of both your plot and characters and is no more than two single-spaced pages. A self-addressed envelope and return international postage coupons will ensure a reply. Should your manuscript be requested, please note the following information.

    And it goes on and you should read it. The thing is, once you start looking at the individual guidelines you might get a different song and dance. This is from the Kimani Line still in the Harlequin family:

    If you’re ready to share your vision of contemporary African-American romance, send a detailed synopsis and three sample chapters (published authors) or a detailed synopsis and a complete manuscript (unpublished authors)

    Let’s not forget since you are submitting to a publisher they have word counts you need to know about and trust me the list goes on.

    Has your head exploded yet?

    It’s okay. Every time I get on the hamster wheel called submitting I feel this way.

    Back to the point of this post–read the guidelines, because those little rules are just as important as writing a good book.

    September 24, 2008 at 4:09 pm 6 comments

    The Makings of a Query

    Note: I went to school to become a secretary


    (2 spaces)

    Literary Agency or Publisher’s Name

    Address and such

    (2 spaces)

    Dear Agent/Editor(,) or (:) (greeting)

    (2 spaces)

    *Now this is where things get sticky, because you can start off your letter in a million ways and it really comes down to preference*

    Story Hook: Phoenix Lyons doesn’t believe in fate.


    Introduction of story: I SAID NEVER is a 76k word novel about…


    Introduction of self: My name is Melissa Blue and I’m currently a member of…

    *I prefer the story hook*

    Next is the Blurb of your story.

    Last, if you can give your writing credits. Personally I prefer to tell the agent/editor the type of stuff I write. I believe this little paragraph gives the agent/editor a heads up of what to expect. If they absolutely hate these authors I’d rather get the rejection now then later. *you know once my hopes are up.*

    Now once I have this rough draft, I cry and whine and tell myself the world is coming to an end. There is no way an agent/editor will like this. Or my favorite is that I have to cut out spaces because I’ve rambled on too long. Or I sound too much like a crest commercial.

    So, what do I do?

    I revise and rewrite this letter a hundred times. Until my story is summed up with the main conflict and plot. But if that doesn’t ring any bells for you think Goal, Motivation, Conflict and you have your blurb. *It did for me when one of my writing associates pointed out that is how she wrote her queries. I think her idea is brilliant*

    Hope that is now clear as mud. If your head hurts just hit the chocolate aisle.

    September 23, 2008 at 3:44 pm Leave a comment

    Prepping the Proposal

    Getting ready to submit is one of the most nerve wracking experiences for a writer. By this time you should know who are you submitting to whether it’s an agent, editor,  or a publishing house. What you probably don’t know is the amount of liquor and/or chocolate you will consume once your proposal is out the door.

    The steps I take:

    1.  Print off first three chapters and read again, because I KNOW there is at least ten typos I’ve left in the ms.

    2. Print off my synopsis and lookfor sentences I can cut or if anything doesn’t make sense.

    3. Apply eye drops because seriously I just read my synospsis.

    4. Smile at my brillant query letter.  *the one things I do very well are queries*

    5. Read first three chapters once again on the computer screen, because after fixing said ten typos I’ve probably created five more.

    6. Print everything.

    7. Breathe into brown paper bag.

    8. E-mail online or send off in post office.

    I’m sure you’ve realized I left a huge gap from finishing the book to sending it off. I did that on purpose. By the time you get here your book should have been rip to shreads, rewritten, revised again, and again, spit shined within an inch of it’s life so that the only thing you are looking for is typos.

    Never, ever, ever send out a book that isn’t ready. There is a huge difference when you think “if I revise it one more time there won’t be a story left” vs. “I hope it’s ready” or worse “Since I don’t have a critique partner I’ll send it off to a publisher to get feedback from them”

    That was a death knell you heard with the last example. Learn from me, you only get one time to make a first impression. That’s not saying you’ll never get another chance to get published, but always put your best foot forward. I stand by the theory an agent/editor would rather wait for a good, CLEAN, story than a crappy one sent to them quickly.

    What this post boils down to is having a group of readers and writers you can send your book to, because once you hit this step you should be ready.

    Tomorrow I shall talk about how to write a query letter. Funny that process also involves liquor and/or chocolate.

    September 22, 2008 at 5:37 pm 7 comments

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