Pictures from Read Across America Day

jackiemaeauthor

First and foremost, thank you to our State Senator, Senator Edward Reilly and his staff, for inviting Alison and I to join in the festivities at the State House. Arriving early in the morning, Alison and I were warmly greeted by Senator Reilly and The Cat in The Hat.

After introductions all around and group photos we were given a tour. Everywhere you looked there were impressive views. The stairs were magnificent for goodness sake; so I knew the rest of the tour would leave me awe struck. I think I stepped where General George Washington once walked. My hands were on the marble railing that many former senators lightly touched as they descended for an important meeting that would ultimately move our great state forward.

We were given the chance to sit in on a legislative session. During the session, Senator Reilly announced our names and we received a…

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When critique groups go bad…

I’m passing this along because it is the only article I’ve seen on this topic. Thank you, Shelley Koon, of SCBWI MD/DE/WV!

As the Eraser Burns

critique_groupsI talk quite a bit about the usefulness of critique groups and why both artists and writers need to seek them out.  From getting feedback to hone your craft, to forging strong relationships with your peers, the benefits of a good critique group are truly endless.

But what if you find yourself in a group that’s not assisting you in your growth? Or maybe you have a great group but have one member that, despite loving nurturing and support, continuously presents work with the same issues? How do you gracefully bow out? How do you let a member know they are not a good fit  while still remaining supportive and positive?

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To All Book Reviewers – A Thank You

Suffolk Scribblings

Thank you

Writing book reviews is tough. It doesn’t matter whether it is a couple of lines and a rating, or a well thought out essay, it takes effort for a reviewer to translate all the emotions and experiences they’ve just felt and translate it into something concise, considered and heartfelt. Many authors complain about how difficult it is to write a plot synopsis or promotional blurb, but it can be just as difficult for reviewers to condense everything they’ve experienced, complete with explanation and reasoning, into a few paragraphs. And then there is the worry about the reaction. Every author understands the anxiety of letting their work go, wondering if people will love or hate what they’ve written, but it is exactly the same for a reviewer, especially if they didn’t enjoy the work they are reviewing.

Some, lucky few, get paid to review books, but most book reviewers do it for free. And this is important for authors to remember…

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You READ – but do you leave REVIEWS?

Some more great thoughts from Chris The Story Reading Ape….

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

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If not, why not?

I don’t have time

The author probably spent a heck of a lot more time writing the story than you took to read it, no matter how slow you think you are, so why not take a few minutes to record your feelings about it.

I can’t write long fancy reviews like those I see on book review blogs

You don’t have to, Amazon, for example, only ask you to use a minimum of 25 non repeating words.

I can’t express myself very well

No-one is asking you to produce a literary masterpiece, start off with things you liked, didn’t like or a mix of both about the book, e.g.,

I liked this book because –

it reminded me of –

it made me think about –

it made me so scared I couldn’t sleep for –

it made me feel homesick for –

it made…

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Working with a Small Publisher

I thought this was the single best article I’ve seen about working with a small publisher. I’ve published both my books with a small press, J.B. Max Publishing, out of Vancouver, BC. I agree with many of the points in the article by WritersDigest.com editor Brian Klems, but here are my top three:

1. A small press can take on projects that don’t conform to the mainstream commercial market.

2. A small press cares about the success of a book beyond its initial release. To quote: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

3. Small press authors can expect to have a personal relationship with small presses, or as one small press publisher cites it, “Tender, loving care.”

Thank you, Writers Digest, for covering this subject. For the full article, please see the following:

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/the-pros-and-cons-of-publishing-with-a-small-publisher?et_mid=670988&rid=240171765

The Synopsis and its Friends

This post sponsored by Grammarly. Use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker because you want to write right (Has anyone said that before? – No!)

© Chasbrutlag | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Chasbrutlag | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Image

When I am asked what my books are about, I try to respond with one sentence. That answer is not a synopsis, but what I would consider one of the synopsis’ “friends.” Books descriptions serve specific purposes. And just to make it easier, not everyone agrees on the rules. I’ve pulled together some thoughts and resources on what I consider the three most common forms of synopses.

Three Forms of Synopses

The Synopsis

What it is:  Tells the entire story, particularly the conflict

Length:  One-page single spaced or two pages double spaced maximum

Purpose:  To interest an agent or publisher to request manuscript

Tip:  Convey emotion

Example:  Spoiler alert! This synopsis includes the ending of “The Way Way Back.”

The Book Blurb

What it is: The 30-second elevator pitch normally seen in advertisement copy or on a book’s back cover or inside jacket flap

Length:  100 – 200 words

Purpose:  To tell potential readers enough to get them interested or used by sales representatives to pitch titles, post on retailers’ websites, and post in catalogues

Tip:  Make a connection with readers and book buyers

Example: Distributors’ book blurb (advertisement copy) for “Believing In Horses, Too”

The Super Short Synopsis

What it is:  My term for the short answer to describe the book in conversation or to append to a biographical line in a written post

Length:  One sentence

Tip:  Not much written on this one, but it’s the one I use most

Example:  A girl in a military family overcomes fears through her work with therapeutic riding programs (“Believing In Horses, Too”)

Additional Resources

Following are some additional useful resources I’ve found, with a brief description of each.

Back to Basics: Writing a Novel Synopsis (Jane Friedman) – Outstanding advice, and many useful links.

Five Tips on How to Write a Novel Synopsis (Chuck Sambuchino) – This article and links to other articles on the synopsis; the author also provides freelance services for synopsis writing.

Query Shark  –  Blog providing advice on how to write query letters that work – much based on synopses. Writers may submit their queries for critique.

How to Write the Back Blurb for Your Book (Joanna Penn) – Advice on back cover blurbs, and a little more.

Conclusion

Now you try – at the very least, ensure you have a super short synopsis ready to describe your writing, your business, or whatever it is that you do. Feel free to share here!

New National WomenVeterans Speakers Bureau

Hello all,

Some of you are aware that I’ve been working with some amazing women to form the first National Women Veterans Speakers Bureau. I wanted to share with my friends in the Accokeek Women Writers Group that the speakers bureau has officially launched.

For anyone interested in the “back story,” here’s a story for you.  http://believinginhorses.com/blog/2013/09/21/its-not-just-a-job/

See everyone in a few weeks!