Elizabeth: How do I Find an Agent?

2014-guide-to-literary-agents1-230x300In last week’s post I talked about how to decide if you need an agent. The answer to that question depends on what your personal goals are, how much control you want to retain, how comfortable you are with the publishing industry, and where you want to focus your time and energy, among other things.

The answer won’t be the same for every writer and may not even be the same from one book to another.

If you’ve decided that working with an agent is right for you at this point, then the next step is to find one. Before you start looking, it helps to know exactly what it is you’re looking for. Continue reading

Justine: The Evolution of an Elevator Pitch

eight ladies writing, elevator pitch, RWAWell, it’s nearly conference time (I’m likely en route as you read this…or getting ready, anyway) and I’m eagerly looking forward to RWA Nationals. In preparation for my agent appointment on Friday (and the inevitable question from strangers, “What are you working on?”), I’ve been honing my elevator pitch (also knows as “describe-your-book-in-about-45-seconds-or-less”).

The (dreaded) elevator pitch (also called a log line) is a short blurb about your book that you can spew out in the time it takes you to go from the 35th floor to the lobby, and that’s not talking like a radio announcer who does all the legal jargon at the end of a car commercial. Your elevator pitch should be short, descriptive, and include the basic GMC for your main character, as well as setting and, if you have time, what sets your book apart from others. Save the discussion of your other characters and subplots for when your new elevator friend invites you to join them for a drink at the bar.

While my pitch may not be perfect, I thought it’d be helpful to show you its evolution. (Ya’ll know I’m not afraid to show you my work in progress — see Continue reading

Nancy: Interval Training for Creativity

High-Intensity Workout

The early months of 2014 were not ideal fitness months for me. I wasn’t working out as regularly or intensively as I should have been. For the summer, I’ve made a commitment to get myself back into physical shape, which includes using interval training.

Interval training involves adding periods of higher  intensity at certain points throughout a workout. For example, runners might run at a measured pace for fifteen-minute intervals, run at top speed for two minutes, then return to their trotting pace for another fifteen minutes, etc. Weight lifters might alternate between heavier and lighter weights, and add extra repetitions for certain exercises to push their muscles to the limit for brief periods of time.

Since I am also working on toning up my flabby creative muscles this summer, this past week I experimented with applying interval training to my writing sessions. Continue reading

Jilly: Dreaming Big, Planning Small

Dreaming Big, Planning SmallFor me, RWA National is a natural time to take stock and set a plan for the next twelve months. A year ago I’d almost completed the McDaniel Romance Writing Program and had decided that my manuscript needed re-writing rather than revising. In Atlanta I was thinking about the changes I planned to make, and I charged my batteries by attending lots of great writing craft workshops and inspirational talks by my favorite authors.

I also went to a Spotlight presentation by St Martin’s Press, and I made a particular note of the introductory remarks by Jennifer Enderlin, who said: “Dream big. Have unrealistic exectations. Think as big as you possibly can.” I took that advice to heart, and it’s locked in there. After all, if I don’t believe in my abilities, why should anyone else?

The last twelve months have whizzed by more or less according to plan. On Friday morning, I’ll Continue reading

Michaeline: A Magic Pill

Magic pills are not always what they seem. The Conjurer, Workshop of Hieronymus Bosch, c. 1450-1516, via Wikimedia Commons

Magic pills are not always what they seem. The Conjurer, Workshop of Hieronymus Bosch, c. 1450-1516, via Wikimedia Commons

Writers, especially speculative writers, are very fond of the magic pill – the potion that’s going to solve all the problems, create everlasting youth, and give one the psychic powers to predict the ponies or win big at the stock market.

And, through the ages, we’ve been told, “There is no magic pill.”

That said, The Atlantic Online has an interesting article about a precursor dopamine  pill for Parkinson patients. And some neurologists are noticing that their patients are more creative than average elderly person. Could there be a pill for creativity?

Continue reading

Jeanne Estridge: The Fault In Our Stars

Hi Ya’ll, Kat here! I’m at a day job conference in Tennessee this week (getting in the southern swing for the Texas conference next week). Jeanne E is subbing for me today (thanks Jeanne) and since this isn’t her first rodeo here at 8L I’ll just say, take it away Jeanne! 

“‘The Fault in Our Stars’ was brutal,” a friend of mine wrote on Facebook recently. “I saw the movie and have no desire to now read the book–couldn’t go through it twice.”

Last year I read that book straight through, cried for two hours and immediately picked it up again. I loved it and couldn’t wait to see the movie.

Why is it that some of us revel in the emotional pain we experience through fiction (and drama and cinema) and some of us find it nearly intolerable?

Studies using functional MRI’s show that the brains of people experiencing vicarious pain light up in the same areas as people experiencing first-hand emotional pain. This suggests that, to our bodies, the grief we experience when a beloved character dies on-screen or in a book feels similar to what we feel when we lose a real loved one.

So if that’s the case, why would anyone sign up for that? It’s not like we don’t each have plenty of opportunities for loss in our daily lives without going in search of more misery. Continue reading

Michille: Archetypes

archetypesThe course I recently took at McDaniel was Jungian Psychology and the Hero’s Journey. I went through the Hero’s Journey over the last couple weeks so it’s time for the psychology of Carl Jung as it relates to fiction writing. According to Miriam Webster online, an archetype is “an inherited idea or mode of thought in the psychology of C. G. Jung that is derived from the experience of the race and is present in the unconscious of the individual.” Jung looked at myths and legends in many cultures over time and space and found that there were nearly identical tales present in all of them. He believed that these archetypes reside within the collective unconscious of man and therefore the unconscious of each individual human.

In literature, archetypes are typical characters, situations, themes, images, etc., that represent the universal patterns in human nature. Continue reading