What the BLEEP is a Book Proposal???

Writing Song of the Day: “One Step Closer” by Linkin Park

Hey! You guys remember this post? The one where I was so excited that I got an agent? I was ready to delve into the next step. Getting published! I  mean, that’s every writer’s goal, right? We want someone besides our family and friends to read our words and love them. And believe me, after you write the book, there’s so. Much. More. Work. To do.

Hence the title of this post. After I got my lovely agent, Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary, I was so excited to sit back and wait for her to sell my book. But then I asked, what do we do next? And I got this response: Well, now we get some historians to check the historical validity (okay, that makes perfect sense), and then you need to start working on the book proposal.

My response: HUH? What even GOES in a book proposal? And do I HAVE to write it??? I mean, that’s a nonfiction thing, right? RIGHT? Please say, right!

Well, it turns out–no, it is not just a nonfiction thing. And my agency prefers for their fiction writers to pen a book proposal, as well. They feel as if this will persuade the editor to want your book even more.

So, back to the question at hand. What IS a book proposal??? Jennie directed me to the book, Write the Perfect Book Proposal by Jeff Herman and Deborah Levine Herman,  to help me figure this out. From flipping through this book and visiting various sites, I found out there are a couple of key elements that need to go into a book proposal.

Elements:

Overview: I pretty much used my query letter–just spruced it up some.
Author Bio: Speaks for itself 😀
Competition: Find books that publishers may be able to compare your book to. Then tell why your book would fly off the shelves.
Promotion: How will you promote your novel? Editors like to know that you’re going to put in some leg work to sale your novel as well. So, what kind of print media can you use to your advantage? What about online media, giveaways/contests, conferences, and appearances. Think about all of the ways that you can help sale your book.
Synopsis: We all work on these at some point when we’re writing our novels, anyway. I used the same one that I worked on for a year and changed a bit of it.

I know, right? After I read that, I looked like this:

Then I figured. What the hell? I’ll just go for it and see where it takes me. After I finished the first draft and sent it off to Jennie, I got a revised version from Jennie and Dawn Frederick (owner of Red Sofa Literary Agency). And then I looked like this:

But then I sat down and spent two days working on revisions and I think it’s A LOT better. Now I feel like this:

And my draft is in the capable hands of my agent. Now, I wait and see if there’s anything else to change.
I have to say, after I finished two drafts of my book proposal, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but it’s also a good way to show that you know your novel like the back of your hand, and also that you are willing to work on the “business” side of the publishing world as well as the creative. Even if you do not have an agent yet, I’d say it wouldn’t hurt to do your own mini version of a book proposal. That way if you choose an agency that has their authors do book proposals– you’re already one step ahead!

Free Friday: Personality Tests for Your Characters!

Revising Song of the Day: “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour
You know that feeling you get when you bump into an old crush? A part of you is excited to see him–to check him out, see how he’s aged, get those butterflies all in your stomach. However, there’s also the chance you’ll be a bit terrified: Oh my God, why did I EVER check him out? Look how he’s aged! I shouldn’t have had that omelet for breakfast…
Yeah. That’s kind of how I feel about revisions. I’m either going to open up the manuscript and get all giddy like a middle school girl…or I’m going to want to puke all over my keyboard (thankfully, the latter has never happened. Yet.).

As you probably can tell, I’m strapping on the fingerless gloves and diving back into revisions for Project J. I’ve always struggled with plot–so during my first few rounds of revisions, I focused on climaxes and conflicts and resolutions, oh my!

But then I lost my character.
That’s right–I struggled with my main character. I NEVER thought I’d have trouble with character, but when I zoned in on plot, I forgot about letting my protagonist guide the story.
So what did I do? I popped open an issue of Writer’s Digest and read a great article by Mike Nappa, “Skill-Builders for Fiction Writers.” One of his suggestions was to complete personality tests for your characters. I thought: hey, I’m a writer. I’m a counselor. This should be fun!
And it was. I knocked a couple of those babies out, and soon I remembered what it was that I loved about my main character, Jonah. I remembered who he was and what he wanted and how he thought–and the butterflies were still there! So, I thought I’d share some of my faves:
Personality Type: This quiz only has 4 questions, but it reveals if your character is an introvert or extrovert. A thinker or a feeler. A scheduler or a freestyler. Pretty cool.
The Stress Test: Allow your character to pick 3 pictures. The one he/she does NOT choose reveals what he/she is stressing about. Great way to figure out potential conflict.
Driving in a New City: Your character gets lost with his/her partner. How does he react? This is awesome in seeing how your character interacts with others.
I could go on and on and on with all the cool quizzes that can help figure out your character, but instead I’ll direct you here so you can choose more of you own.
So what do you think? Can personality tests help you with revisions?

Say What?

Reading Song of the Day: “Say It To Me Now” by Glen Hansard

Wednesday. Middle of the week. Road Trip Wednesday with the ladies of YA Highway. All the best things. Today they want us to:

Write a dialogue between two of your favorite YA characters.


So. Hard.
This would have been fun if we had the energy to come up with this post in more time than one day. We’re running on fumes that are not quite creative…so, instead, we’re gonna show you what most dialogue in YA novels consists of:

First: Conflict

Second: Conflict solved…people are happy for awhile. Alas, not for long…
Third: More conflict and we’re left waiting for the next book OR dreaming up a happy ending. Unless, of course the book is by Stephanie Perkins or John Green AKA Masters of Delicious Dialogue!

 So, this is what happens when our brains can’t function. We promise to be more creative next time! What do you guys think dialogue in YA novels is like?

Blog Remix

Blogging Song of the Day: “A Change Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke

This post is a lil’ late today b/c we’re kinda scrambling for time. You all know how that goes. Anyway…we wanted to let you know that our blog is going to get a re-do. Not the look of the blog, we know that’s already pretty badass, instead we’re changing our blogging schedule and what we talk about. Mainly because we’ve noticed a decline in comments/views of our book review posts. Because of that we’re gonna blog only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and our topics will fall under the following umbrellas:

Monday: Writing/Reading Tips and Thoughts: In which we share our latest thoughts on writing topics, trends, and tips. We will also discuss books that we’re DYING to share with you, let you know how we’re doing with our Debut Author Challenge goals, and we’ll throw in any publishing news that we may want to share.

Wednesday: YA Highway Road Trip fun: We will participate with the ladies at YA Highway (as we have been) and go road tripping every Wednesday 😀

Friday: FREE FRIDAY: It’s a free for all, you guys! But not that free…here’s an idea of what we might discuss–movies we’re planning to see, books we’re planning to read, writing ideas we’re planning to try, music we’re grooving to (we might even share a playlist or two), and anything that’s on our minds.

What do you all think? Digging the new schedule? Can’t tell the difference? Have something you think we should add to the schedule? We’d love your thoughts and input!

Guest Post: Susan Dennard Gets Messy

Writing Song of the Day: “A Beautiful Mess” by Jason Mraz

Today we welcome Susan Dennard, author of the 2012 debut,  Something Strange & Deadly.  This week the WOA girls are all promoting this awesome debut novel. And of course, giving YOU a chance to read the novel before it’s release date. So, read on and find out about Susan’s writing process!


My writing process is…well…messy.

Initially, I spew out complete and utter drivel, my fingers flying over the keyboard faster than my brain can even process. And then, after about 3-4 weeks of this, I crash. I’m usually halfway or three quarters of the way finished with the first draft when I  hit this metldown-point, and I’ve usually just reached the notorious MY-BOOK-IS-TOTAL-CRAP stage.

Yep. Sounds silly, but it’s true. I spend the next few days alternating between despair (This book is so, so, so bad needs a complete rewrite. WAAAAAH!) and determination (A rewrite never killed anyone, right? You can do it, Sooz! YOU CAN DO IT.).

Ultimately, determination wins (helped along iby its close frenemy: The Deadline). I print out the whole book, get my writing tools out, and then read the ENTIRE thing in one sitting. Actually, if you want a detailed look at how I revise, you can head here.

This reading/planning stage usually takes a few days. Once I’ve got the Book I Actually Wrote solidly analyzed and thePerfect Book (a.k.a. the Story I Actually Want To Tell) all figured out, I dig into rewriting.

Rewriting is a HUGE part of my process. As I talk about here, I don’t always know the whole story. I know the main plot, but I uncover all those delicious subplots and side threads while I’m writing the first draft (or second…or third…). I know the ending (roughly), but I have NO CLUE how all the subplots and side threads will weave together into a SMASH-BANG ending packed full of resonance.

For example, when I was writing the sequel to Something Strange & Deadly (titled A Darkness Strange & Lovely), I wrote the first two thirds of the book in 3 weeks. I spent the next few weeks revising (and researching in Paris!)…and then I reached the end of my revised two thirds and stopped again. I revised those first two thirds AGAIN…only to peter out and stop AGAIN.

My problem was that I had no idea how to get my character from Point A to Point B. I’d sold the book based on a synopsis, and it was easy enough to say, “Eleanor goes with the Spirit-Hunters into the Parisian catacombs.” But actually GETTING her there? Actually giving her a plausible reason to take that as the next step–and more importantly, to have her do so while keeping the tension and excitement high?

As I said here, I rewrote the beginning a few times…then revised it…then attempted an ending (that was TERRIBLE)…and then re-wrote said ending two more times.
Finally–FINALLY–I settled on an ending that was The One. It came out in a flurry of words that were mostly usable since I finally KNEW what needed to happen –since I was finally writing the Perfect Book.

I turned in A Darkness Strange & Lovely on December 15–a little less than 5 months after starting.  It went through two critique partners and my agent before I handed it over to my editor, and by golly, I’m PROUD of what I wrote!

The moral of the story is that ultimately, my “writing” process involves a heck of a lot of “rewriting” because I’m not a particularly good writer…but boy am I one helluva a good REwriter. 😉

So don’t despair when your own writing seems bad–you can always, ALWAYS revise it to perfection. DREAM BIG AND NEVER GIVE UP!


Susan’s Bio:


Susan is a reader, writer, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She used to be a marine biologist, but now she writes novels. And not novels about fish either, but novels about kick-butt heroines and swoon-worthy rogues (she really likes swoon-worthy rogues). She lives in Germany with her French husband and Irish setter, and you can learn more about her crazy thoughts and crippling cookie-addiction on twitterfacebook, or Goodreads. Her debut, Something Strange and Deadly, will be available from HarperCollins in July of 2012, and you will never believe how happy this makes her!



Check out Holly’s review.


Here’s Erinn’s review.


AND here’s an interview Kat had with Susan about what happens AFTER you get published.


Tomorrow’s your last chance! Be sure to check out Alicia’s blog for her post and to enter for your turn with this amazing ARC 😀 AND of course, don’t forget to sign up below!!! 


P.S.: If you can’t see the sign up thingy, click on Read More and then it pops up 🙂 Thanks!


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A Writer’s Guide to A Day Off

Writing Song of the Day: “The Lazy Song” by Bruno Mars

Yesterday was MLK day and not only is it a day to celebrate the legacy of a wonderful man, but it was also time that we got to stay home from the day jobs. Which made us think: How SHOULD a writer spend an entire day off from their day job?

Notice the word “SHOULD“. We actually spent our day at the dentist, working on stuff for part time jobs, and driving around Virginia Beach/Norfolk, VA. If we had our way though, these are the top five things (in no particular order) that we would’ve done with our day off:

1.) Sleep: You can never get enough of this. And sometimes, writers get a lot of ideas from their dreams. *coughs* Wants *coughs*

2.) Play on Scrivener/Outline New WIP Ideas: Scrivener is full of amazing. And we’re getting a lot of outlining done on new WIPs with this program. All we need is the time to actually use it more.

3.) Revise previous manuscripts: The work doesn’t cease after getting an agent. We both have revisions to work on with In Limbo & Project J.


4.) Read: We’re pretty sure this doesn’t need an explanation.

5.) Watch TV/Listen to Music for Inspiration: Believe it or not, we get a lot of ideas from watching TV shows and movies. Also music helps us get into our characters’ heads and allows their voices to come out on the page. It may seem like we’re wasting time–but no matter what we’re doing, we’re always thinking like writers.

What do you think? Is there something else a writer should do when they have time off from the day job??


Psst…hey, you…yes, you. Make sure you stop by our blog Thursday January 19th. Susan Dennard is guest posting and you can enter for another chance to read her ARC of Something Strange and Deadly. Check out Holly’s post from yesterday for more details!

2012 Debut Author Challenge: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Reading Song of the Day: “A Cinderella Story” by Mudvayne

Will you look at that? I’ve completed my first book of the New Year! Not only that, but it’s the second book I’ve read for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge. And this is one that I’m sure many of you will enjoy. First, let’s see what Goodreads has to say about Marissa Meyer’s Cinder:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

In this thrilling debut young adult novel, the first of a quartet, Marissa Meyer introduces readers to an unforgettable heroine and a masterfully crafted new world that’s enthralling.

Interested yet? Well, let’s see if this will do it for you:

The Top 3 Reasons You Should Read Cinder:

1. Not Your Average Fairy Tale Retelling: Let’s be honest. Fairy tale retellings are pretty hot right now. I’m surprised that I’ve been so into ABC’s Once Upon a Time. And the new Snow White and the Huntsman movie? Quita and I will be in theaters opening night (and not just so Quita can drool over Chris Hemsworth). But Cinder is MORE than just a retelling. Meyer creates new characters, new legends…hell, a new story. Sure, I saw traces of Cinderella a few times, but I’m impressed with how much Meyer didn’t rely on the tale we all know and love. You better believe there is no fairy godmother to save the day.

2. Cinder is no Disney princess. Nothing against Disney. I mean, I still try to sing like Ariel in the shower. But Cinder isn’t some damsel waiting for the prince to notice her. If anything, she has a goal beyond falling in love with the prince. In fact, the prince comes to her for help. How kick ass is that? As Destiny’s Child would say: All the woman who are independent…

3. Likewise, there’s no Disney ending. Now, I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say that I was relieved that no one was riding off into the sunset. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good love story…but only when it fits with the story. Meyer created a layered character with Cinder. Sure, she’s charmed by the prince, but there are bigger issues at hand…and I’m curious to see how she’ll tackle them in the future.

If you like…

Book: Girl Parts by John M. Cusick, or

Movie: Ever After

then you’ll like Cinder!!

Have you read Cinder yet? What kind of fairy tale retellings would you like to see or read?

Note: Ahem, a contest MAY occur at the end of the month…and commenting on this post can increase your chances to win. 🙂