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Picture via crinklecrankle.com

Okay, are you ready for Part 5?

Good, because today’s mission is to jot down a jolly good log line.

Huh?

A log line. You know, that one sentence you scream at an PEA (publisher/editor/agent) as they whizz past you at a writers conference.

Oh, that. But I can’t tell anyboy what my story is about in one sentence.

Well, suck it up because you have to. Hey, you do it on Twitter all day long.

Right, I’ve already explained it but for the benefit of the few sitting at the back of the room playing ‘Angry Birds’ on their i-phones, a log line is one short, sweet, grab you by the seat of your pants, sentence that explains your whole story. Simple :D

Easy. Now for the hard bit.

But why do we have to do the log line thing now? I want to plot.

We do the log line now because it will help you stay on track when writing your novel. Plus, if a PEA asks what your current work in progress is, you’ll be able to tell them minus the ‘..and then this happened’ or ‘..oh, I forgot to tell you about so-in-so at the beginning’…. See how it all makes sense? You need to hook them and quick. A good log line will do that.

Would it surprise you if I said PEA’s really do want to know what your novel is about? The problem most writers have is they just cannot get the right words out quick enough. In some instances you have a mere ten seconds to hook your listener. Choosing the right words is vital. Get it right, and you are on your way.

So, how can we do that?

Basically, a log line consists of four things. Seems simple doesn’t it?  Think again. Nothing in life worth having is simple. *Cheesey grin*.

Lets take a closer look at what these three things are.

1.     A main character, who
2.     Has a mission or a goal, but
3.     Must overcome an obstacle or some kind of opposition
4.     Before all hell breaks loose.

First, our protagonist is our main character or ‘hero’. The goal is what he/she wants and the obstacle is what is stopping he/she from reaching it. All hell breaking loose is what happens if he/she fails in their quest.

For example:

In the first of the ‘Twilight’ series, (the aptly named ‘Twilight’), the protagonist is school girl, ‘Bella Swan’.
Her goal is to find out more about mysterious class mate, ‘Edward Cullen’.
Her obstacle is that he is a vampire and vampires like to drink humans dry.
All hell breaking loose is that Edwards vampire enemies want to kill her.

Now we have that down, is there anything else we need to create a great log line?

Hell, Yes!

First, we must be perfectly clear. We may understand what is going on in our story, but the PEA reading our log line doesn’t know squat and has absolutely no idea what it’s about.

You need an example? Oh, alright, I’ll tell you my very first ever log line. No laughing.

An American socialite witnesses a murder and goes on the run from the MOB and FBI, but an attempt on her life leaves her with selected memory loss and it is up to a London police officer to uncover her past before they’re both assassinated.

And breathe. No choking. Excellent, lungs refilled? Then let’s continue.

There are so many things wrong with this log line, it would be easier to tell you what’s right with it….absolutely nothing. It’s too long – another ten words and I’d have a completed novel. It has too way too much back story, and blah, blah, blah.

So what went wrong? I followed the rules. I have my protag and antag. I have the goal and all hell breaking loose.

Well, yes that’s true, but then I just threw everything on the page and hoped the words would sort themselves out while I grabbed a cuppa and watched NCIS. Let me explain – Writing the words is only part of the processes. The order in which we place them is a whole different ball game.

Thanks to the awesome Kristen Lamb, the format for a log line should be something close to this:

An ADJECTIVE NOUN (protagonist) must ACTIVE VERB the (Antagonist) before  SOME REALLY HORRIBLE THING HAPPENS (stopping the protagonist from reaching her goal).

Now, if I’d presented my log line correctly the finished product may have looked something like this instead:

‘A quiet museum curator suffering from amnesia must uncover her secret past to unlock the real reason the mob has put out a contract for her life.

One thing to remember: The main logline is one sentence.

And please bear in mind that squeezing ten commas and a couple of semi-colons between one hundred and fifty words doesn’t constitute as ONE sentence….more like a splitting headache and a weekend recovering at the Priory. So, one sentence = 30 or less words.

Ok, I’ve embarrassed myself enough (something I seem to do a lot on this site), and now it is your turn. Be brave and mirror in the comment box your first vs current  log lines. Alternatively, if you have a log line you need help with, add that too. Everyone will be kind, I promise :D

Have you had a novel requested off the back of a log line? Do you find writing log lines hard or easy? Come on, don’t be shy….you know how I love talking to you guys.

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This weeks competitions that have caught my eye:

FICTION: Via First Writer

Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest
Category:   Fiction
Closes:   2nd April 2012
Fees:  $20 for one entry.
Prizes:   $1,000 for first place.
Details:   For fiction up to 5,000 words.
Country:   United States
Website:   https://www.pshares.org/submit/Emerging-Writers-Contest.cfm

Write Place Open Writing Competition
Category:   Fiction
Closes:   31st March 2012
Fees:   £5 for one entry.
Prizes:   £100 for first place. £75; £50.
Details:   For short stories up to 1,500 words on the theme of A Modern Fairy Story.
Contact:   Elaine Everest, 8a Oliver Road, Swanley, Kent BR8 7DY
Country:   United Kingdom
Email:   elaineeverest@aol.com
Website:   http://www.thewriteplace.org.uk/page9.htm

Du Maurier Short Story Competition
Category:   Fiction
Closes:   31st March 2012
Fees:   £5 for one entry.
Prizes:   £100 for first place. 2nd prize £75.
Details:   Short Story. No minimum count – maximum 1500 words. Any genre. The theme is based on The Rondezvous. Postal entries as printed typescripts. Online entries welcome. Fee payable by posting a cheque.
Contact:   11 Pentreath Close Fowey Cornwall PL23 1EP
Country:   United Kingdom
Email:   lesleymccartney@btinternet.com
Website:   http://www.dumaurierfestival.co.uk

Writer Advice Flash Prose Contest
Category:   Fiction
Closes:   18th April 2012
Fees:   $12 for one entry.
Prizes:   $200 for first place. $100; $50.
Details:   For flash fiction, memoirs, and creative nonfiction up to 750 words.
Country:   United States
Email:   Lgood67334@comcast.net
Website:   http://www.writeradvice.com

Fantays Short Story
Category:   Fiction
Closes:   20th March 2012
Fees:   $0 for one entry.
Prizes:   $20 for first place. Publication in our magazine with a bio and link to your work.
Details:   We are looking for strong fantasy/medieval fiction short stories up to 6000 words. Entertaining stories that leave the reader asking for more is a must, but strong grammar and spelling is just as important.
Country:   United States
Email:   adam@tavernsvault.com
Website:   http://www.tavernsvault.com

Cheshire Prize for Literature
Category:   Fiction
Closes:   1st September 2012
Fees:   Ł0 for one entry.
Prizes:   Ł2,000 for first place. Ł750 additional prize money and chance to be published in an anthology.
Details:   Awarded for an original short story not exceeding 1,000 words. The writer must have been born, live or have lived, study or have studied, work or have worked in Cheshire, Wirral, Warrington or Halton. Entrants must be over 18. Three typed non returnable copies should be entered. A cover letter with name, address and telephone number should be submitted with the entries.
Contact:   The Cheshire Prize for Literature, University of Chester, Parkgate Road, Chester, CH1 4BJ
Country:   United Kingdom
Email:   cheshireprize@chester.ac.uk
Website:   http://www.chester.ac.uk/literatureprize

CONTEST num.1 by Caligae Travel Files
Category:   Fiction
Closes:   30th April 2012
Fees:   $0 for one entry.
Prizes:   $500 for first place. $300 and $200 for the second and third winner respectively and publishing.
Details:   Topic: Friendly and humorous typology of modern society in your country. Describe and illustrate the most representative, emerging or curious social groups and strata. Material: 1 article (up to 500 chars.) plus at least 1 illustration (of any style) per social type. Number of articles and illustrations is unlimited. Submit only original texts and author’s artworks of your own creation.
Country:   Spain
Email:   editor@caligae.info
Website:   http://www.caligae.info

Toulmin Prize 2012
Category:   Fiction
Closes:   31st March 2012
Fees:   £0 for one entry.
Prizes:   £500 for first place.
Details:   For short stories up to 4,000 words, concerned with some aspect of life in North-East Scotland, and written in Scots (including Doric) or English or a mixture of the two.
Contact:   Professor Ian Russell, Director, The Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, MacRobert Building, King’s College, Aberdeen AB24 5UA
Country:   United Kingdom
Email:   elphinstone@abdn.ac.uk
Website:   http://www.abdn.ac.uk/elphinstone/events/toulmin/toulmin-prize2012.shtml

ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA Via RWA

29th Annual Orange Rose Contest
Sponsor: Orange County Chapter
Fee: $25–35.00
Deadline: April 14, 2012
Eligibility: RWA members in good standing, not contracted/published in book-length fiction in last 5 years.
Entry: 50 pages including synopsis – electronic entry only to save printing and postage costs!
Categories: Contemporary Category Romance, Erotic Romance, Historical Romance, Inspirational Romance, Mainstream w/Romantic Elements, Paranormal/Time Travel/Fantasy Romance, Romantic Suspense, Single Title Romance, Young Adult Romance.
First Round Judges: Published authors.
Final Judges: Acquiring editors and agents.
Top Prize: $100.00
FMI, www.occrwa.org/contest.

21st Annual Duel on the Delta
Sponsor: River City Romance Writers
Fee: $25.00
Deadline: April 15, 2012 *extended*
Entry: electronic entries only; first twenty pages.
Judges: trained, published and unpublished.
Final Judges: Historical – Deborah Nemeth, Carina Press; Inspirational – Sarah Long, Bethenay House; Erotic – Angela James, Carina Press; Young Adult – Liz Pelletier, Entangled Publishing; Contemporary – Aubrey Pope, Sourcebooks; Romantic Suspense – Liz Bass, Carina Press; and Paranormal – Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.
FMI, www.rivercityromancewriters.org; duelonthedelta@yahoo.com.

SCRIPT WRITING OPPORTUNITIES Via ISA:

WANTED TWO COPYWRITERS IN ENGLISH AND HINDI 
Wanted 2 copywriters in English and Hindi with excellent command in their respective languages for writing scripts for various corporate films, TV shows, documentaries, and TVCs. Send in your detailed resume with a sample writeup and a passport size still photograph to Amber at contact@qedcommunications.com. Only for residents of New Delhi & NCR. FREELANCER CANDIDATES NEED NOT APPLY. THIS POST IS FOR PERMANENT JOB.

WRITING PARTNER WANTED 
I’m a writer with contacts in Los Angeles looking to break into TV. I’m currently developing TV pilots to pitch to friends from my AFI days, who have lately become executives in the industry. I have several pilot ideas that need development, and need a partner to speed the process. If you have pilot ideas of your own, all the better (but not essential). We could pool our efforts and attack it as a team. My sensibilties are comedic but not broadly so, and satirical. Influences include Alexander Payne, Mike Judge, and shows like Enlightened, All In The Family, Downton Abbey. Please send me (Charlie MacNamara) a writing sample and resume at charliemcnamara@mac.com if you’re interested, and I’ll send you some of my work.

SCREENWRITER SEEKS PARTNER TO HELP FINISH SCRIPT
I have a screenpay based on a true life story that has caught the interest of an established actor, he’s been in mulitple movies and had his own tv show. He likes my concept, writing and main characters but still feels the script needs more work. This is the first script I’ve ever written and could use a 50/50 partner to help me bring it to completion. Email me (Jarrod Miller) at jarrod.miller03@gmail.com for more information.

SEEKING SCREENPLAYS BY CANADIANS FOR LOW BUDGET FEATURE 
New production company seeking screenplays by Canadians that can be made for under $1M. Writer-director submissions ok. All genres welcome. Please email a full outline to us at adamdwyer1@gmail.com. If we like it, then the script will be requested. Pay will be 2% of total budget.Thank you.

SEEKING EXPERIENCED SCREENWRITER IN NYC AREA FOR COLLABORATION 
I have written a wonderful story for a full-length movie that features many different sub-plots. I’ve been able to blend all these plots into an easily understood story by using a unique and different concept. I need a proven and experienced screenwriter that can work with me in re-writing my story into a screenplay. I am especially looking for someone with experience in the terrorist/espionage genres. I will share appropriately whatever is to be made from our work. If interested, please email your bio and contact info to me (Anthony Diffley) at mondiff@aol.com. Thank you.

SEEKING WRITER FOR SCI-FI FILM PROJECT 
I really need to find my partner in crime. You don’t need experience as much as enthusiasm and willingness to work on an awesome film project. Specifically, I need a writer (ideally a sci-fi/independent film lover) for development of a truly unique and new sci-fi film project that I am currently developing. I have the story outlined and have the first half of the film (approx 25 scenes) visualised and storyboarded. I have experience editing and have been learning to composite various SFX that might be needed including the development of various rigs and electronic props. If this sounds like its for you and you think you can help feel free to contact me via my email at zombiesatepurplenick@yahoo.com.

LOOKING FOR FEATURE LENGTH ROMANTIC DRAMA OR COMEDY 
I am searching for a feature-length romantic drama (in the vein of “Cairo Time” or “The Eclipse”-Irish film 2011) or romantic comedy (ala “A Touch of Class”) for two amazing actors in their 50s. The piece must be set (or be adaptable to) in a remote and isolated area (preferably a hotel). Adaptations of plays are welcome. Please send logline (in the body of the email, please) to sarah@jofilms.com. Many thanks.

LOOKING FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER SHORT FILM SCRIPT 
We are looking for short film script in the pyschological thriller genre. The story should be set in just one flat or room. The film will be made by us and it will be self-funded. Due credit will be given to writer along with some pay. However, as the project will is self-funded, the money will not be great. Contact us at bharichinmay@hotmail.com.

WRITING CLASSES AND CONFERENCES Via ScreenwritingU

Advanced Dialogue Screenwriting Class
ADVANCED DIALOGUE is about taking the best dialogue you’ve ever written and making it irrestible to actors, agents and readers.  
In the course, we’ll cover:
Day 1:  What Makes Great Dialogue Great?
Day 2:  Expressing Character Fully
Day 3:  More Character in My Dialogue, Please
Day 4:  Colorful Language that Entertains
Day 5:  Dialogue Contrast and Twists
Day 6:  Dialogue Structures that Match Real Conversation
Day 7:  Suspenseful Dialogue
Day 8:  Subtext in Dialogue, Part 1
Day 9:  Subtext in Dialogue, Part 2
Day 10:  Applying “Advanced Dialogue” to Your Scripts.
PRICE:  $90
DATES: March 13 – April 13, 2012
WHERE:  Online.
MORE INFO
To register, go to http://www.screenwritingu.com/enroll2.htm.

Teleconference: “How To Get An Agent ”
Sign Up for the Conference! t’s FREE! If you want an agent or manager,
you need to know the rules of that business relationship. You need to know the rules, the reality, and the roadmap that will get you in the door and to the point of being a represented writer. “This call changed my whole vision, plan, and focus.” –  Audrey Jacobs
In this 90 minute teleconference, you’ll learn…
REALITY:
*Strategies that came from over 100 interviews with agents and managers.
*The fundamentals of landing an Agent or Manager.
*The four mistakes everyone advises writers to make with agents!
RULES:
*The Rules of Engagement with Agents
*How to be a Great Client
ROADMAP:
*8 Strategies for Landing a Manager or Agent.
Sign Up! 

DFW Writers’ Conference 2012
Registration is now open for agent/editor consultations.

You can find out which agents are coming here, and which genres the agents are interested in here. Each agent will have a finite number of slots available so register now!
May 19, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Hurst Conference Centre, 1601 Campus Drive, Hurst, TX 76054  –  Register Now!

 

Please remember to check out legitimacy of all contests before you enter, and to copyright all your work.

Good luck and let me know how you get on.

If you want more of me, you can also find me on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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Many people often wonder whether to copyright their work, and the best way in which to do it. So I’m going to help you.

Okay, first of all, what is copyright?

Nice and simple. Like a patent, trademark, and any design that can be copied, copyright is an intellectual property; also known as ‘IP’, and gives you all ‘rights’ to your work and protects it from copyright infringement.

Now I could go on and on explaining all the different avenues, but as this is based at writers, I will stick with novels and screenplays.

You’ve written a novel (fiction or non-fiction), short story, or poem, and you want to send it off to an agent, manager, or publisher. What should you do first? That’s right, copyright it.

Who with?

Whoa there fiesty one. First check you live in a Berne Convention Country. 162 of the 190 countries are signed to it, so chances are, you are.

Now you can register your work with an organisation. Now there are various ones both in the UK and US that I use.

US pilots and screenplays I use WGA (Writers Guild of America) West. I also register my synopsis here. I have never had a problem and the service is very prompt and efficient. There is also some cool information on their website.

For my UK pilots, screenplays and novels, I use the Intellectual Property Rights Office.

N.B. If you are a subscriber to firstwriter.com you can benefit from a 10% discount when you start the registration process through their site. If you are already a Firstwriter subscriber, click here. If not and want to, click here first.

There is usually a charge, approximately £20/$40, to register work and you should be issued with a certificate, although these can take up to six months to be delivered.

Although I’ve never registered a novel with a US copyright organsisation, more information may be obtained at the US Copyright Office.

I’ve tried to keep this post as simple as I can, but if there is something you don’t understand, put your query in the comment box. Likewise, if you’ve had any dealings with any of the organisations listed here, good or bad, let me know. Maybe you use other companies. If so, let me know them too.

If you want more of me, I can be found on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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Passive voice. It’s proving to be a ball and chain for writers new to the fiction game. In fact, it remains a problem for some of the more ‘experienced’ authors, too. I should know – I was one of them.

So, what exactly does passive voice and active voice mean?

Basically, writing in ‘passive’ voice not only sounds awkward, it means more words are needed to make your sentence. Active’ voice, on the other hand is clear and will keep your writing tight.

But how can I tell the difference between the two?

When writing in active voice, the subject is doing the action to the object (and no rude comments please – Nigel). For example:

“Tracey made the bed” is active. Tracy (subject) made (doing the action) the bed (object).

“The bed was made by Tracy” is passive. The bed now becomes the subject and the focus of the sentence, but it isn’t doing anything. It has now become the recipient as it’s being made by Tracy. The whole sentence is reversed.

Another example, and one I love, is:

“The door was kicked in by the officers.” This is passive writing. We have our subject (the door) not doing anything but being on the receiving end of the officers boot. Wouldn’t it sound better if it was worded, “The officers kicked in the door”? – Subject (officers) doing the action (kicked) to the object (door).

Get a post stick note and write SUBJECT is DOING THE ACTION to the OBJECT.  Now pin it to your computer

So is passive writing a big ‘no-no’?

‘Hell No!’….if you are a politicians or news reader and don’t want relay certain information to their public, either because you don’t know it or you are just secretive.

But, as we are talking fiction writing, my answer would have to be a ‘Hell Yes!’ It is a sure way and agent or publisher can tell if you are a novice writer or not.

But how do I know if I am writing passively?

Well, look at your sentence. First, is your subject doing the action? Have you mentioned the object?

Another indication that you are writing passively is your choice of words. Was, were, are, is, am, being, been all denote passive writing. Also, how many words do you have ending in ‘ing’? Too many I bet.

‘Water was poured into the jar.’ – ‘Jessie poured water into jar.’
‘The bone was being eaten by the dog.’ – ‘The dog ate the bone.’

I was a classic passive novelist when I first started writing. I had a friend point it out to me and voila. Now I’m an active girl. If you stick to SUBJECT – DOING ACTION – OBJECT, and watch your verbs, you’ll be fine.

Trust me 🙂

So, are you a passive writer or an active writer? Did you even notice you were writing in passive voice? Do you have any other tips for new writers? Let me know your thoughts….you know I like to chat.

If you want more of me, I can be found on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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This week’s competitions that have caught my eye:

Up to 6000 words of engaging and unique fantasy/medieval adventure, written in english. The short story must trap the audience, leaving them begging for more. The standard dungeon crawlers are ok, but winners bring out the emotions of the readers as they escape reality and explore your world. Grammar and punctuation must be epic.

http://www.tavernsvault.com/

To win this competition, all you have to do is to create a story surrounding the woman in the photo published on the website and write a summary about your story. Make your summary as informative and concise as possible as you only have 300 words to make your entry stand out.

http://creativecompetitor.com/competitions/new-competitions/free-writing-competition/

Using the picture for inspiration, write a one page entry in a journal. Remember this is fiction so it can be written from any character viewpoint and be about any subject or written in any tone i.e. confidential, angry, revealing, reflective etc. Must be written in the first person style.

http://creativecompetitor.com/2011/08/27/the-journal-fiction-competition/

RWA

2011 Heart to Heart

Sponsor: San Francisco Area RWA
Fee: $15.00
Deadline: August 31, 2011 midnight *extended*
Eligibility: unpublished
Entry: the first 15 pages where your hero and heroine meet for the first time. All electronic entries – no paper submissions. No synopsis required.
Categories: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Erotic, Young Adult
Judges: PAN and PRO members, trained and unpublished members.
Final Judges:
Laura Bradford, agent from Bradford Literary Agency
Leis Pederson, editor from Berkeley
Jay Austin, ePub editor from eXtasy Books and Devine Destinies
Kimberly Myers, ePub editor from Omnific Publishing
Tera Kleinfelter, ePub editor from Samhain Publishing
More to be announced
Top Prize: Certificate
FMI, contact contest coordinator at 2011heart2heart@gmail.com or check for submission guidelines on www.sfarwa.com.

2011 Unpublished Beacon Contest

Sponsor: First Coast Romance Writers
Postmark Deadline: August 31, 2011
Eligibility: Not published in last three years.
Entry: First thirty pages, including optional synopsis.
Judges: Experienced, published, unpublished. We offer detailed feedback.
Final Judge: We’re lining up excellent judges, check out http://www.firstcoastromancewriters.com/ for more details.
Top prize: Lapel pin, all finalists receive certificate.
FMI, visit our website at: http://www.firstcoastromancewriters.com/. Email questions to contest coordinator at beaconunpub@firstcoastromancewriters.com.

2011 Melody of Love Contest

Sponsor: Music City Romance Writers
Fee: $27.00 (PayPal accepted)
Electronic Deadline: September 1, 2011
Eligibility requirements: Not published or contracted in category entered. Email or check website for specifics.
Entry: Electronic. First chapter (up to 25 pages) of unpublished novel-length manuscript (40k+) including prologue, if applicable. See website for tips.
Judges: trained, experienced, published.
Categories/Final Judges: Contemporary – Latoya C. Smith, Grand Central Publishing; Paranormal – Angela James, Carina Publishing; Historical – Barbara Poelle, Irene Goodman Agency; YA – Leah Hultenschmidt, Sourcebooks Fire.
Top prize: $50, certificate.
FMI, e-mail Jody Wallace at contest@mcrw.com or visit our website at www.mcrw.com.

2011 Reveal Your Inner Vixen Contest 

Sponsor: Maryland Romance Writers
Fee: $20 MRW members, $25 non-members
Opens: July 1, 2011
Deadline: September 1, 2011
Eligibility: Published and Non-Published writers
Entry: Up to 20 pages that showcase sexual tension between hero and heroine, plus unjudged 1-page set-up (optional).
Categories: Series Contemporary, Single Title, Historical, Alternative, Erotic Romance: Young Adult.
Final Judges: Editors, to be announced on http://www.marylandromancwriters.com
Top Prize: $50 and gold Vixen pin
FMI, visit www.marylandromancewriters.com or contact Jackie Gray, contest coordinator, at mrwvixen@live.com.

21st Annual Hold Me, Thrill Me! Contest

Sponsor: Southwest Florida Romance Writers
Fee: $25.00
Deadline: September 1, 2011
Entry: First 20 pages. New This Year – All Electronic. Five Separate Categories Judged.
Categories and Final Judges: Contemporary – Amanda Bergeron, Avon; Historical – Elizabeth Bistrow, NAL; Paranormal – Meredith Giordan, Berkley; Romantic Suspense – Alex Logan, Grand Central; YA – Kristin Rens, Balzer & Bray, Harper Collins.
FMI, visit our website at www.swfrw.org or email contest@swfrw.org.

Hot Prospects Contest

Sponsor: Valley of the Sun RW
Fee: $30.00 US
Deadline: September 1, 2011
Eligibility: Any RWA member in good standing.
Entry: First 25 pages of any uncontracted work and 5-page synopsis (not to exceed 30 pages total).
Judges: Trained judges, both published and unpublished.
Categories and Final Judges: Historical/Regency – Editor Katherine N. Pelz, The Berkley Publishing Group, Agent TBA; Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal – Editor Deborah Werksman, Sourcebooks, Inc., Agent Jenny Bent, The Bent Agency; Romantic Suspense – Editor Amy Pierpont, Editorial Director, Grand Central Publishing, Agent Paige Wheeler, Folio Literary Management; Contemporary Long/Single Title – Editor Jennifer Enderlin, St. Martins, Agent Michelle Grajkowski, 3 Seas Literary Agency; Series Contemporary – Editor Johanna Raisanen, Associate Editor, Harlequin, Editor Leanne Morgena, Senior Editor, Sweetheart Rose, The Wild Rose Press
Top Prize: The winner can choose between a book trailer, static banner and active banner from Firebird Web Designs for the book of their choice (a $300.00 value) or $100.00 USD.
FMI, http://www.valleyofthesunrw.com/vos-hot-prospects.htm.  

Good luck and let me know how you get on.

You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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There are different types of writers, and I would hazard a guess that you are one, too.

Am I right?

So, what do I mean when I say ‘absent author’?

Well, clearly I mean an author who is not present during the writing of their book.

What? How can you write a book if you are not present? It’s damn right impossible. Trust me, I’ve tried. One night, I told my computer to finish chapter four and when I checked it in the morning, nothing had been done. I know. It’s unforgivable. I spend hours sitting at my computer and it couldn’t even manage a measly few paragraphs for me. I promptly sent it to the naughty step and left it there to stew for a full sixty minutes.

As writers, whether you write fiction or non-fiction, we spend hours and hours researching, plotting, crafting, devising arc’s, editing, character backgrounds, re-writes……well, you get the idea. We work damn hard.

But, what is the absent author?

Hold on, I’m getting to it.

Let me throw a few names at you. Actually I think it’s easier to show and not tell 🙂

Left to right - Kardashian, Snooki, Loren Conrad

Okay, are we on the same page? For those of you still scratching your heads, I’m talking about ghostwriters – and not the supernatural kind.

Jordan (aka Katie Price), Hilary Duff, Nicole Richie, Lauren Conrad, and Snooki have all produced novels with the aid of ghostwriters.

They market the book via press and television, leading their young fans to believe they have in fact either picked up a pen, or tapped endlessly at their keyboard and written every word themselves. And, guess what? They get angry if questioned about it.

According to website ‘Jezebel’:

“Ms. (Nicole) Richie promoted her second novel, “Priceless,” in an interview last year with USA Today, describing her writing routine: write early in the morning, before the rest of her family wakes up. “I write all my own stories,” she said.

But Ms. Richie’s publisher, Judith Curr of Atria Books, indicated otherwise, saying that a ghostwriter did most of the writing of Ms. Richie’s book. (Ms. Richie did not respond to a request for comment.)”

Hilary Duff, who when quizzed as to why she didn’t credit her co-writer, basically replied with a ‘why should I? It’s my idea.’ (That is my edited version)

But is this right?

Agents and publishers know there is money to be earned off the back of the celebrity’s name. They also know if they market the product correctly, they can often secure the sale to the movie/TV rights as well. The publishers earn a stack of cash, and the substantially wealthy celebrity extends their ‘brand’….everyone’s happy. Or are they?

What about the writers who ACTUALLY wrote these books.

It is almost non-existent they are ever mentioned on the cover. Doesn’t the publishing industry owe the ghostwriter a little more credit?

Doesn’t the publisher have an obligation to let the reader know their beloved celebrity had (a lot of) help with writing the book they are about to read?

Shouldn’t the publisher have a conscious and clear their desks of celebrity endorsed stories? Maybe make a little room for the talent of up and coming novelists?

Then again, publishers and agents are in this game to make money. It’s probably the main reason they get up in the morning. They’d be nuts if, for instance, they were to choose first time and unknown novelist Sissy Smith from Ramsbottom, Kent over, say, Cameron Diaz.

If you read Kristen Lamb’s blog, you’ll see that social media plays a massive part in a novelist’s road to sales. However, you’d have to be dancing with the fairies and sprinkling magic dust to think you’ll ever create a name bigger than an A-list celebrity. Not even marketing 25 hours day will get you that kind of notoriety.

So, as always, I would like your comments.

Do you think publishers have a moral right to print the co-writer or ghost writers name on the cover of a novel? Should readers know whose writing they are reading? Or is it just a business and they are right to earn their money anyway they choose? Are you a ghostwriter? Would you want to be one?

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I want to ask a question. 

You’ve written a book. What direction should you take? Should you concentrate all your energy into querying literary agents and wait for months with bated breath in the hope one asks for a nibble? Or should you take the plunge and go it alone down the e-book road?

I am a book lover. I love holding a book in my hands, to feel the paper rough between my fingers. I love my book case. I love dust jackets….oh God, I love books full stop. Doesn’t everyone?

Up until now, I’d never considered owning a Kindle or Nook and, as an author, I couldn’t imagine my books being in any other format other than paper. I never thought the Kindle would ever take off. After all, how do you ask an author to sign a computer screen?

But, am I behind the times?

A couple of days ago I read a story in the Evening Standard newspaper which kind of got me thinking. I reiterate ‘kind of’. I’m not totally convinced, yet.

Most of you have probably already heard of Louise Voss. She was a struggling UK writer who couldn’t find an agent, took matters into her own hands, and published her novel on Amazon’s Kindle. She is now selling 50,000 books per month and has been offered a six-figure, four-book deal by publishers HarperFiction.

This also seems the case with writing duo Sarah Griffiths and Mark Williams, who write under the pen name Saffina Desforges. Their success on Kindle has led to discussions with a top New York agent.

We, as writers, already enter our stories into competitions and dedicate hours a week to social media so we can proudly boast our conquests to agents. Being able to brag at e-book sales is just another plus point, isn’t it? As author Linda Regan told me last year, “Agents have to sell you as well as the book. You have to be interesting.”

This all sounds super cool and easy, but is it? Going it alone sounds a mighty bit scary if you ask me. But, as I am the curious sort – and probably the only writer on planet earth that hasn’t looked at e-book (or indie) publishing – I had a nose around the Amazon web site.

So, let’s look at what I found.

Marketing.

If I was considering the e-book route, and let’s just use Amazon for this example as it’s the only site I looked at, I’d have to market the book myself. Okay, this I don’t find scary. It’s 2011 and I have Twitter and Facebook. Oh, and my good friend Kristen Lamb’s social media book ‘We Are Not Alone’ to guide me through – it should be a doddle. Plus, I have Kristen’s phone number and I know where she lives. She also taught me how to shoot a gun. There is nowhere she can hide 🙂

A big fat tick can go next to marketing.

What’s next?

Formatting.

Huh? I saw something about an rtf file and as I save all my work that way, I think I can tick that one too. Moving on swiftly.

Cost.

Books sell for as little as 96p on Amazon. How can anyone make any money from that?

Well, from what I can see, Amazon’s cut is 30%. I’ll round my book off at a £1 to make things easy, and because it’s late and I can’t be bothered to go fetch my calculator. I’ll earn 70p from each sale. Hmmm, that’s about the price of a chocolate Snicker bar these days, isn’t it?

Right, so unless I sell a hundred thousand copies, I’ll never be rich. Then again, writers don’t write for money. They write for the love of it, so that doesn’t matter.

(N.B. There is another plus point to this 96p Kindle e-book downloading, which is – I’d have saved a fortune on the rubbish Vampire Diary books).

Another tick.

Other bits worthy of a mention.

I retain the rights to my novel and, as the author, I’ll have full control of the book cover, pricing, and well, absolutely everything.

Tick, tick, tick.

I’ve tried to find some horror stories on the web regarding e-publishing on Kindle, but there really aren’t any out there.

So, that is why I am turning to my trusty followers. Have I missed something?

What do you think of e-publishing? Do you know anyone who has published on Kindle? Would you consider publishing your novel on Kindle? Have you already published on Kindle? What are your experiences? Do you know of any successes or, more importantly, have you heard any horror stories? Let me know.

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