Saturday, March 22, 2008


Happy Easter everyone. May the blessings of God be on us all.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Attention Unpublished Writers

The Southern Louisiana (SOLA) Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, Inc., a nonprofit literary organization, kicks off its 3rd Annual Dixie Kane Memorial writing contest this week with a deadline date of May 17. Entries should not exceed five double spaced pages set with one inch margins. The entry should also contain a one page single spaced synopsis. Genre categories are: short contemporary, long contemporary, single title contemporary, romantic suspense, historical romance, paranormal romance, inspirational romance and novel with romantic elements. Top prize in each category is a reading by literary agent Pamela Ahearn. For more information and entry form, go to or email the contest coordinator at

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Agent Jessica Faust

Jessica Faust, literary agent and cofounder of BookEnds, LLC was the guest at the SOLA meeting this last Saturday. She talked about different topics important to the writer. Here are a few of her comments.

Marketing: As important for the unpublished writer as the published author. Why the unpublished? It gets your name out there. Then when your book is on the self and someone is walking the isle, she'll say, wait, I've heard that name. Same for the published author. How many times have you stopped to pick up an author's book, even though you've never read them, just because the name rang a bell?

The Query: This is your first introduction to the agent. And we've all heard about the importance of first impressions. Don't blow it.

One page only.
Your job is to NOT bore the agent.
This paragraph is your back cover.
Make it a grabber.
Make it professional.
What is your genre?
Not sure?
Who do you compare it with?
My books are similar to... Side note: Do not compare yourself with the dead clasics. No one wants another Falkner or Poe.
Don't get over complicated.
One paragraph hook.
A bad qauery is like going on a job interview with a great resume dressed in ripped jeans and a dirty T-shirt.
List memberships: Being a member of RWA or Sister N Crime,etc, is important. This is your first book, it can be the difference between request for more or rejection. It shows you are serious about your work and know the importance of marketing yourself.

Writing a great book is important, but not enough. What can you do to call attention to your book? Why should anyone pick up yours and not some New York Times best seller?

Look at the bigger picture. Work in a group--knitters, cops, fire fighters, hockey player--as a hero/heroine. (Note: Faust loves bounty hunter stories.)

Generate business:Myspace is useful. Websites: Faust doesn't care if you have one or not. Can be useful for the unpublished author. Make it different, unique, interesting. Keep it updated. If you can't, don't have one.

Bio: No one cares how many kids you have or how wonderful your hubby is. This is business. Keep your bio in that style.

Blog: Keep it either professional or personal, not both. Update at least twice a day. Do not blog if it cuts into your writing time. Be careful what you say about other authors, editors, agents. If could come back and bite you. Don't do reviews of books in your genre. You could offend other readers.

You are the CocoaCola of your own company. Don't ruin your brand with a big mouth.

Don't be a contest whore. Sometimes the winner is just the best of the worst. Don't mention awards on a manuscript older than a year. Agent may think it's been sitting around for so long, something must be wrong with it. Or that you've not written anything else between that time and now.

Never miss a deadline.

Most important thing: Write the next book. Don't sit and worry about what is happening to the one out there. Get started on another. You are a writer. Write.

Faust Likes:ContemporariesRomantic suspenseLoves Dark stories
Non Fiction: No memoirs

She covered a lot more topics, but this blog entry is getting too long. She was a wonderful speaker, kept this writer's attention. She's very personable. Would I like her to be my agent? Silly question. But she's not into my genre. Just my luck.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Moment of Clarity

I heard an announcement that caused my skin to raise with goosebumps. One of my favorite authors will be in town to do a signing at B&N on the 19th. I'll be able to meet Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire novels. Whoo hooo. It was like I was a teenager again and about to meet a god of sorts. I was thrilled. Then a flash of clarity hit. She is not unlike me. She's an author trying to sell her books. I'm an author trying to sell mine. She has a lot of them. I have one. But even she had to start with one. Did it dampen my excitment? Nope. I'm still looking forward to meeting her, but maybe it did dull the childish "author worship" edge.

The whole thing got me to thinking. Did I become a writer to feel that thill of knowing someone else was reading my work? No. I write because it gives me satisfaction. It's who I am to a point. Yes, I'm someone's wife and daughter. Yes, I'm friend to a few people. But take away my writing and I feel as if I've lost a large part of me. The part that is different than anyone else. There are other writers, but none like me. My grandmother always told me there would always be someone better, but not someone just like me. My writing makes me me. I find contentment when I place my butt in this chair and let my words go from my head to my fingertips. I listen to each character's voice as he/she talks to me. I argue with them when they don't agree with a twist or turn in the story. Sometimes they win, sometimes I do. Okay. Most of the time they win.

When I was young and first starting to run sentences together, I used to think the characters were long gone souls telling me their stories. I was just the one with the pen and paper, taking down their words. I loved the stores of the old west and gunfighters. I fell in love with Wild Bill Hickok and many of my stories were about him. Then I heard my first ghost story. Sorry, Wild Bill.

I started writing of ghosts looking for revenge. I wrote of girls with special abilities who could talk to the ghosts. I look back now and realize they were silly stories. Most didn't even have a real plot. Hey! I was twelve. What did I know about plots? I started reading anything I could find in the library on the subject of the paranormal. Not a hot topic back then, but I found enough to keep my imagination fed. Over the years real life took over and I had to find a job and make a living. I married. We worked hard to have the American dream...a house of our own with the picket fence and a dog. Turns out the picket fence was a six foot privacy fence, and A dog turned into three. Then one day I came home from work, burnt out, fed up and angry about one thing or the other (again) and my hubby said, "You always say you want to be a writer, do it. Quit that job and write. We don't need the money from your job any more."

Silly me, I took him up on it.

Back to the beginning of this post: I wonder, Charlaine, did you grow up writing silly stoires in the beginning? Did the stories grow and take form as time passed? Do your words burn in your soul until you have to turn them loose?

Are we that different?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Beautiful Day

It's a beautiful day in New Orleans. The sun is shining. It's warm (in the 60s). Hubby and I spent the morning working in the yard. Well, he did most of the work. I'd work for a while, then sit for a while. The back yard is beginning to look like someone cares.

During one of my setting sessions, I brought out the shrimp for dinner tonight and began to peel the shells. A hawk flew circles over my head a few times then settled on one of the patio chairs and stared at me. Made me wonder who he had been in another life. Then I realized what he wanted. I ran my fingers through the pile of shrimp and found a few small ones. One by one I handed them to him. The bird ate out of my hand. A hawk ate out of my hand!

Richard gave me a hard time about it when the hawk finally decided I wasn't going to give him any more shrimp and flew away. Richard said "that "damned bird" could have bit you." Yeah, he could have, but he didn't. And, I can't tell you what it felt like to have a wild hawk trust me like that.

Maybe on another nice day in the future (supposed to storm tonight and in the morning) I'll take a few shrimp out on the deck and see if my hawk comes back.