Pitch Madness vs The God Tier


god-tier

Phreak Show is having it’s coming out party. Maybe.

Hot off the presses, it’s up for the grabby hands of the self-identified Slush Zombies over at #PitchMadness. If you’re oblivious, check it out here:  http://brenleedrake.blogspot.com/

The announcements for the pitches which level-up to Round 2 won’t be made until 3/26. In the meantime, I’ll query an EXTREMELY small selection of god-tier agents. I’m doing a short-window-exclusive-of-sorts during this time. Then, should the need arise, I will step down to the next rung of the Echeladder. [If you get the god-tier & Echeladder references, I totally heart your face.] Also, there is this magical nexus where PM & the GT converge…

For more info on Phreak Show:

  • Check out it’s dedicated tab right here on the blog.
  • Like its Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/PhreakShowNovel
  • Peruse its Pinterest Boards: http://pinterest.com/gypsyluc/
  • Peep in on the #PhreakShow hashtag.
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Making Flash Fiction Your Bitch


Get it? "Flash" punching a dude into submission? :: ahem :: Anyway...

Get it? “Flash” punching a dude into submission? :: ahem :: Anyway…

Ever on the lookout for blogging inspiration–no matter what bush it peeks out of–this Facebook exchange with my writerly friend, Brittany Larson, has a good feel to it. Blog-worthy, I believe. From a random interaction amongst the social media bushes: Making Flash Fiction Your Bitch.

Brittany: HEY! I need some advice on some writing!

Lucas: Ok. I’ve got a few minutes. What’s up?

Brittany: Well I have this story idea swirling around my head about the 3 Archangels Micheal (The Angel Of Mercy) Gabriel (The Messenger Angel) And Azrael (The Angel of Death) And they are all fallen. And Iwas thinking Gabriel and Micheal stay faithful to God while Azreal goes rogue. He makes a deal with the devil that’s simple Bring me Rachel (My girl protagonist) and I will make you more powerful than God. God appears to Micheal and Gabriel and says stop him and you’re back in heaven. And I am thinking that Micheal will be my main male protagonist (Gabriel more as support) so what happens when Micheal falls in love with Rachel and doesn’t wanna go back to Heaven. Something along those lines. So the first question is: sound good? And also I don’t know if I wanna just start writing now or save it for NaNo.

Lucas: Is this a story you will try to market to agents/publishers? I only ask because a few months back many were groaning about the massive amount of “Angel” stories: fallen ones falling in love with a human. There are a lot of those on the market already. So, it’s a trope the pros don’t much care for anymore.

Brittany: Yeah…see I am not too sure. I am thinking. Truly I have never made it even far enough to think about sending it to publishers.

Lucas: A twist would be good. Can they be fallen gods instead of angels? And love triangles are always sellable. Maybe one naughty god in love with your mortal, Rachel, but a second god in love with the first & fighting the matchup? Or, make them aliens, or zombies, or any other creature. Then you could go with the same basic plot without stepping into the Angels theme. If you’re not going to shop it, then just go with whatever the heck makes you happy as a writer!

Brittany: True…true. That would be interesting. And yeah…see I am still debating whether to just write it or save it for NaNo…because I mean I have it written down so I don’t forget it.

Lucas: You’ll have more ideas before Nano! It’s always good to keep writing. Like flexing your muscles to make you stronger.

Brittany: True true. And I sure hope so. This is the Biggest Aha! Moment I have had in a while. My Nano idea wasn’t this solid.

Lucas: Here’s a cool trick for discovering ideas that are novel worthy: just start with a flash fiction of your story. Write out a key scene in 1000 words or less. Focus on using as little words as possible to convey setting, character, conflict.

Brittany: Thanks That really helps

Lucas: Still have the story arc of intro, conflict, climax, closure. This helps me weed out ideas as either long-running or short lived. If the idea feels “done” or exorcised, then cool. You have a flash fiction story. But, if you find the character’s voice and keep thinking about his/her life, then it’s time to plot for a longer work: short story, novella, novel.

Brittany: Yeah. Thanks for the advice

Lucas: You’re welcome, yo. Mind if I post this interaction on my blog in a few days? “I’d rather not” is an acceptable response. 😉

Brittany: Oh that’s fine. I really don’t care…I mean it wasn’t personal or anything:)

Lucas: I can keep you anonymous or remove/summarize your novel idea if you’d like.

Brittany: No it’s fine…put in as much detail as you’d like. I’m not shy.

Lucas: Done! Do you have a blog or Twitter account I can link to? Such things often bring you new followers.

Brittany: https://twitter.com/thegirlonfire16

So, let’s get Brittany some new followers.

And, let’s get to using Flash Fiction as a test-run for those awesome ideas we keep coming up with. It tests their mettle, and keeps us flexing those writing muscles. Better to weed out the losers before we invest a half a novel’s worth of time before discovering they suck. Also, our writerly friends are awesome sounding boards for our new concepts. They can often spot holes, provide useful feedback, and tune us in to stuff they’ve stumbled upon in the publishing world but we have not.

Now, you know one of the secret tools I use to tame my overzealous ideas. What do you think? Is it worth slipping into your own bag of tricks?

Reporting from the bushes, this is Lucas, signing off.

I’m Just a Bill


I am quite thrilled to say that the agent/publisher response to my third novel, FREEBORN, has been far and away better than for my first two novels. That tells me I am learning more of what it takes to grab and hold their attention through pitching and actual writing craft.

That last statement sounds like agents & publishers are my market, my audience. They are not. The buying public is.

But agents are pivotal in the process of getting my words to that market. Agents are partners and advocates. They’re often called gatekeepers–those who hold the keys to the magic portal through which a manuscript must pass in order to become a book. (I’ve noticed some agents don’t like that term for some reason???)

That thought dredges up a random song from the depths of my lyric-infested head. An old Schoolhouse Rock tune. Sing its catchy educational glory with me.

I’m just a bill.
Yes, I’m only a bill.
And I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill.
Well, it’s a long, long journey
To the capital city.
It’s a long, long wait
While I’m sitting in committee,
But I know I’ll be a law someday
At least I hope and pray that I will,
But today I am still just a bill.

In this sense, I suppose agents are a lot like Congress. My manuscript will remain just a bill until an agent decides it is worthy to become a law.

Since I’m having more fun than you can imagine with this analogy…I suppose that would make the head of each agency the Senate. Even if Congresswoman Agent likes my manuscript, she will have to pass it through Senator Agency Head for a second approval. If all is a go, then my lowly manuscript will be on its way to becoming a full-fledged book.

It’s a long, long wait while I’m sitting in committee.

Then there is President Publisher towering over the paperwork with a veto stamp in hand. My poor little bill can get rubber-stamped, kicked back, and remain an unrealized idea. Damn bureaucracy!

Like Bill, I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill.

I know I’ll be an author someday
At least I hope and pray that I will,
But today I am still just a bill.

 

With complete contrition for getting this song stuck in your head for at least a day, here is the YouTube link to help you dig out the earworm.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7266360872513258185

Be sure to check out all the Grammar Rock subgenre of videos, too. Chalk it up as “an online writing course”.

What is it about Schoolhouse Rock? I just dig it. Yes, part of it is the artwork, but mainly it’s the songs. Let me tell you about one of my favorite musicians. Mike Doughty. He is solo now, but I was initially introduced to him when his old band Soul Coughing opened for Dave Matthews waaaaay back there in the past. My frinds hate him: his voice, anunciation, music–all of it. Too bad. Suck it up. BTW, he has a remake of Schoolhouse Rock’s “Three is a Magic Number”. When I’m feeling capricious, I can put that song on and just watch the shoulders tense as eyes roll with disdain in there sockets. Not that I would ever be capricious…

Two More Publisher Requests


Image

So many creative possibilities to draw from for a post today. It’s funny though. When a health concern pops up, everything else turns into scatter noise on the radar. Yes, I’m nervous about something. Yes, I am being intentionally vague. This is a public blog, not a private journal.

Now that I have gotten that out of my system…

I have two new full requests for Freeborn to announce!
– Jo Fletcher books upgraded from 3 chapters to a Full
– Entangled Publishing requested a full via Brenda Drake’s ‘Entangle an Editor’ contest

That’s as much excitement as I can muster at the moment. Stay tuned, though. I’ll be back on track soon enough.

Bad Writing Tips Immortalization Project – #BadWritingTips


This is a random pic of a Barn Owl. It has nothing to do with the actual post. I have been sitting on it for a while, and decided today is the day to use it.

I suppose tweets are meant to be temporal. Apparently, I am adverse to letting that happen. I’m not the only one. After a world-trending day of #badwritingtips, many writers & authors have salvaged their witty remarks from the wastelands. I am one of these determined bloggers working on the [unofficial] #BadWritingTips Immortalization Project.

Here are the others on the growing list:

@IbecameMyDad – http://ivebecomemyparents.com/2012/06/25/barmys-bountiful-bag-of-bad-advice-for-writers/
@nimbuschick – http://www.amyleighstrickland.com/2012/06/the-best-of-badwritingtips/
@BenMyers1 –  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2012/jun/25/twitter-bad-writing-tips-improved-writing?CMP=twt_fd
@saphirablue84 – http://thiswritersworldplotbunnies.blogspot.com/2012/06/i-tried-to-find-something-with-bad.html
@BookRiot – http://bookriot.com/2012/06/25/the-best-badwritingtips/

If you know of more, please post a link and Twitter handle in the Comments. I will be sure to add them to the list.

My #badwritingtips are immortalized below. If you are a writer, you may enjoy these. If you are a bad writer, you will most likely hate them. Fix it.

Let’s kick things off with an homage Tweet to the originators of the idea. Then, we’ll roll gently into the @gypsyroots version of sarcasm.
 

1)      All hail the almighty @MeganWhitmer & @andimjulie. Goddesses of the #badwritingtips hashtag phenomenon.

2)      Every chance you get, use a big-ass word: e.g. Bunyanesque, fecundity, preposterousness #badwritingtips

3)      Short sentences. Pop. Staccato lines good. Fragments rock. All the time. All the way through. Keep em short. It is good. #badwritingtips

4)      Your first 3 chapters should be 100% backstory. No action. No dialogue. Readers love that. #badwritingtips

5)      Kill your MC halfway through the novel. Once you establish a new one. Kill her, too. #badwritingtips

6)      Run-on sentences and wordy paragraphs show readers you can hold long thoughts in your head so they should learn how to do it #badwritingtips

7)      Similes and metaphors should be so convoluted that your reader has no idea what you were actually trying to convey. #badwritingtips

8)      Put your climax in the 2nd chapter, then let the final 48 chapters slowly f a d e a w a y . . . #badwritingtips

9)      Each and every amazingly lovely noun & deliciously simple verb should have a minimum of 2 modifiers. To make them sparkle. #badwritingtips

10)   Every word has at least one synonym. USE ALL THE SYNONYMS. #badwritingtips

11)   Writers know best. Especially new ones. Editors and agents are stupid. #badwritingtips

12)   There are no original ideas. Regurgitate what has already been written. #badwritingtips

13)   Your surreal poetry is highly marketable. #badwritingtips

14)   Long-winded titles are best. It works in the music industry. http://www.listal.com/list/ridiculously-long-song-titles #badwritingtips

15)   Subplots are like seeds. Plant 10x more than you actually need. If they spring up, good. If not, don’t dig them back up. #badwritingtips

16)   All your characters should possess the same personality. This makes it easier for readers to keep up. #badwritingtips

17)   Three-dimensional characters are for movies. In novels, they should be as flat as the page they’re written on. #badwritingtips

18)   Uber-Niche markets are the key for non-fiction. “Holistic Skin Care for Manx Cats” will definitely hit the bestseller list. #badwritingtips

19)   Chapters of 10k words or greater are highly desirable. #badwritingtips

20)   Agents prefer phone calls over email submissions. Never relent. Keep trying until you get through. #badwritingtips

21)   All agencies really prefer snail-mail queries. Their guidelines lie. Perfume, stickers & glitter are all highly recommended. #badwritingtips

22)   Chapter breaks should end with a whimper, not a bang. #badwritingtips

23)   Absolutely! Include your 1960’s band and movie references. Your YA readers won’t get it, but who cares? #badwritingtips

24)   Continuity of storyline is overrated. Mix it up. Non-linear is good. Confusion is great. Keep it up. #badwritingtips

25)   Semi-colons and exclamation marks change things up; use them often! #badwritingtips

26)   Commas are like confetti. Toss them into the air and let them fall where they will. #badwritingtips

27)   When you get stuck, abruptly end the scene. Then, fast-forward to your character waking up the next morning. #badwritingtips

28)   Invented words will help get your complex points across. Include them on every page. #badwritingtips

I have no doubt that this hashtag will continue to reappear. Kudos to the creators for sparking a new meme—even if it is short-lived and only breathes within our writers-on-Twitter subculture. Hopefully, the positive peer-pressure of the #BadWritingTips Immortalization Project can make a difference.

An Agent’s Clarification on High Concept


Thanks to the Twitterverse, I now have a better understanding of the publishing term “High Concept”. Agent Michelle Witte of Mansion Street Literary Mgmt was kind enough to stop by the blog, and then engage in a little conversation via Twitter. As with all Twitter communication, we had to condense our discussion into spurts of 140 characters or less.

Consider this post as an addendum to Pub Talk: High Concept, Very Nice Deal and Pre-empt .

Did you note that little red box? Of course there had to be a typo since I was chatting with an agent. Alas, Twitter doesn’t allow second drafts.

Much thanks to Michelle for taking the time to unpack the “High Concept” term for me (and my readers). I have found her to be very open and willing to connect in intelligent conversation about writerly things. 

Speaking of which, Michelle Witte is not only an agent; she is also an author. I totally ganked this from the agency’s website.

In her spare time she writes on a variety of topics and genres, though her great love is young adult fiction. Her first book, The Craptastic Guide to Pseudo-Swearing, will hit stores on June 26, 2012.

Swan in a Ditch! That’s only three days away!

Buy the book
Visit the websites
Buy the fonging book
Follow Michelle on Twitter @michellewitte [that’s 2 “l”s, 2 “t”s, but only 1 “h”]
Did you buy Craptastic yet?

I could be wrong, but that sounds like a High Concept title to me.

There are a few lit agents I DM with on Twitter from time to time. Being an aspiring author, it is great to have contacts I can hit up with my questions and curiosities. Unless they bring it up, the conversations are never about my own writing. We discuss the industry in general. Well, that, and random crap that has nothing to do with anything other than two people chatting. I like that. 

Pub Talk: High-Concept, Very Nice Deal and Pre-empt


Come on in. Sit down and order a drink. There you go. Slam back that margarita, baby! It’s time for us to talk about some stuff we’ve been avoiding.

A list of seemingly important–yet undefined–terms has been slowly scribbling itself in my head. Maybe I’m just daft, and everyone but me knows what they mean. I keep seeing these words tossed around in various places, but they’re like gibberish. Correction: they were like gibberish. Now, they’re more like freshly learned cusswords in a foreign language.

Finally, the clinking of these mysterious phrases and words rose to a crescendo. Their insistent clanging and clashing moved me to do a little e-search to connect an understanding to their syllables. So, if you have ever wondered what the hell they mean, order another round, (you lush) and sip while you read.

“High Concept”

I have come across interviews and agents’ want-lists where this term is used as though everyone should know what it means. It had me scratching my head. Like, does it mean the underlying premise of a story is fathoms deep & riddled with emotional and/or psychological complexity? Apparently, no. The term comes from the much shallower seas of movies and screenplays.

The most prevalent definition is this: The book can be sold by the title or tagline alone.

These elements speak for themselves and make folks want to buy into the idea.

In rebuttal to this definition, one blogger argued that, actually, this aspect makes the book sound more “low concept” since the meat of it can be summed up in so few words. In fact, he complained, aren’t all books “high concept” since they can all be condensed into a tagline? He sounded bitter. 

“Very Nice Deal”

I kept seeing odd terms like this on the sale announcements over at Publishers Marketplace. “So-and-so sold Awesome Book to Amazing Publisher in a very nice deal.” Some deals are just “nice”. Some are “good”. What’s the damn difference? There HAS to be one, right? Yep. There is. Here’s ‘The Key’. [Honest, I didn’t make this crap up.]

“nice deal” $1 – $49,000

“very nice deal” $50,000 – $99,000

“good deal” $100,000 – $250,000

“significant deal” $251,000 – $499,000

“major deal” $500,000 and up

Now, you too can be in-the-know and translate the  m.y.s.t.e.r.i.o.u.s.  phrasing. You’d think an institution in the writing industry could have come up with more descriptive terminology. Who am I to judge? As long as I end up in one of the listings, they can call it whatever the hell they want. Although, I do have my [dreaming] eye on a “good deal” or better.

“Pre-empt”

More PM confusion. “Sold such-and-such to whats-his-name in a pre-empt.” As in…? What is this trying to tell me? The book was bought before war broke out? The editor struck first before the agent could attack her? Kinda.

Apparently, manuscripts can go to auction. (I’ve e-searched this concept a bit, but don’t have all my questions answered yet.) Editors/Publishers throw out a number of what they are willing to pay. They also include other incentives such as foreign rights clauses [or something?] and bonuses based on the book selling X number of copies in the first year, or for it hitting the bestsellers’ list, etc.

The Agent serves as the auctioneer, accepting offers, and passing them on to the author. Together, they decide which publisher and offer is the best fit. That decision is not solely based on who throws out the highest dollar amount, but also takes into account the marketing plan, rights retention, bonuses and other intricacies.

A pre-empt is a pre-auction offer from a publisher. Its purpose is to keep the book from going to auction where that publisher might lose out in a bidding war. Not all pre-empts are accepted. It depends on whether or not the agent/author team feel they can snag something better.

Wow! You drank 6 margaritas already? But we only discussed three little terms. No, no. Put your money away. I invited you here. I’ll pick up the tab.

I am quite open to further explanation and correction if my understanding of any of this is wonky. Authors, agents, editors: feel free to fix my errors.

If I’m wrong, I’ll blame it on the booze. If, however, I am right–and especially if I land a major deal–I will be dead chuffed! <—That’s another term I e-searched this week. I’m not giving that one to you in a salt-rimmed glass, though. You’ll have to look it up yourself.