Writing Craft

RWA 2011 – Bright Lights Big Stories

by Lynette Eason

Today we are pleased to have a guest post from Lynette Eason, author of the bestselling “Women of Justice” series published by Revell. She also won the 2011 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award for romantic suspense. Last week Lynette attended the RWA (Romance Writers of America) convention and we asked her to share her experience.

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“Bright Lights Big Stories” was the theme of the RWA conference this year. My very FIRST RWA conference. What an experience!

The conference was held at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. My hotel room was on the twenty-first floor. My husband came with me and we had a corner king room. It was HUGE. And so comfy. I could have just stood at the window looking down at all of the excitement on Broadway the entire week, but I knew there were other fun things to experience. The first day we got there, we walked all over, exploring. We ended up in Central Park, 5th Avenue (hubby would not let me go in any of the shops.) and then finally St. Patrick’s Cathedral. What a gorgeous place. So serene and peaceful. And air-conditioned, thank goodness. But what a wonderful place! Sights, sounds and smells to die for.  And then there was the Statue of Liberty and Battery Park.

And Ground Zero. Where people did die. Very sobering to stand there and remember what happened that September day. But so encouraging, too, to see it being rebuilt, to see Americans exhibiting that indomitable, undefeatable spirit, that “never give up or give in” attitude that bought the freedom we have today.

And then there was Chinatown. One word. Wow. Okay, four words. Wow! Lots of People! Busier and more crowded than Times Square.

That afternoon we experienced a bomb scare in Times Square (someone left an unattended bag on the street and law enforcement cordoned off that section). Then we had a lovely dinner in the famous Rockefeller Center at the Rock Center Café. Expensive, but yummy!

One of the highlights of the conference for me was the Readers for Life Literacy signing. On Tuesday night from 5:30 until around 8:30, 500 authors gathered to sign books to raise money for charity. That was a sensory overload experience, but so much fun and for a great cause.

Overall, if I had to rate the whole NY experience on a scale of 1-10, I’d give it a solid 15. Next year, the conference will be held in Anaheim, CA. And yes, I’m making plans to attend. Hope to see you there!

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True Words

Several months ago someone challenged me to read an article by Marilyn McEntyre entitled “Letting Words Do Their Work.” Because I respected the editor who made the recommendation, I hopped right on over the the link.

It’s not easy reading. Nor is it a “quick read.” But I’ll tell you what it is:

Powerful truth. If you’re a writer, speaker, agent, reader, or simply one who loves–truly loves–words, you’ve got to read this article. A few salient points that resonated:

“It is hard to tell the truth these days, because the varieties of untruth are so many, so pervasive, and so well disguised.”

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Book of the Month – July 2011

by Steve Laube

Small Message, Big Impact by Terri L. Sjodin is this month’s “Book of the Month.” I recommend that every veteran and aspiring writer read this book and glean from it.

The key to this book is in the subtitle: How to Put the Power of the Elevator Speech Effect to Work for You. Sjodin defines the elevator speech as:  “A brief presentation that introduces a product, service, philosophy, or an idea.  The name suggests the notion that the message should be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride, up to about three minutes.  Its general purpose is to intrigue and inspire a listener to want to hear more of the presenter’s complete proposition in the near future.”

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The Care and Feeding of … WORDS!

“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”
Pearl Strachan

“By words the mind is winged.”
Aristophanes

“The turn of a sentence has decided the fate of many a friendship, and, for aught that we know, the fate of many a kingdom.”
Jeremy Bentham

Amazing, isn’t it? Something so small as words can have such huge impact.

The right word in any circumstance can bring peace, comfort, laughter, tears. It can elicit emotion, stir action, deliver forgiveness, change lives. For generations, words have moved and motivated. Writers, steeped in the wonder of words, have poured their hearts out on stark paper, only to have those pages come to life in ways they never imagined, and to have their words live on in the hearts and minds of readers long after they’ve been read.

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Print: A Thing of the Past?

by Karen Ball

Remember the musical Oklahoma? Gordon MacRae singing to, of all people, Rod Steiger: “Poor Jud is daid, poor Jud Fry is daid…”

Well, the way folks have been talking lately, I’m waiting for the new musical, “Digital World,” where a Gordon MacRae-esque editor will stand next to a book and sing out, “Poor print is daid, poor print books is daid, they’re lookin’ oh, so tattered and passé…”

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The Fear of Rejection

Randy Ingermanson recently interviewed author Mary DeMuth in his “Advanced Fiction Writing E-Zine” and the topic of rejection surfaced. I thought it was very insightful and, with permission, am posting their conversation.

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My friend Mary DeMuth recently published an e-book with the title The 11 Secrets of Getting Published.

Given that the price is only $2.99, I assumed the book would be about 50 pages with a few simple tips on breaking into publishing.

When Mary sent me a copy, I was astounded to find that it ran to 229 pages of solid information on breaking in. Developing your craft. Learning discipline.

Learning to accept critiques. Writing a query and a proposal. And tons more. Mary packed this book.

The chapter that hit home for me was titled, “Overcome Fear and Rejection.” You’d think I’d be good at that after 23 years of this writing game, but I still hate rejection and I still battle fear.am posting their conversation.

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The Myth of the Unearned Advance

by Steve Laube

A common myth permeating the industry is that a book is not profitable if the author’s advance does not earn out. I would like to attempt to dispel this myth.

First let’s define the term “Advance.” When a book contract is created between a publisher and an author, the author is usually paid an advance. This is like getting an advance against your allowance when you were a kid. It isn’t an amount that is in addition to any future earnings from the sale of the book. Instead, like that allowance, it is money paid in advance against all future royalties, and it must therefore be covered by royalty revenue (i.e. earned out) before any new royalty earnings are paid.

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A New Agent Joins Us!

We are thrilled to announce that Tamela Hancock Murray is joining The Steve Laube Agency as a new literary agent for the firm. For the last ten years she has been with the Hartline Literary Agency representing a number of successful authors.

She interned on Capitol Hill and at the U.S. Department of State before graduating with honors in Journalism from Lynchburg College in Virginia. Tamela brings significant writing expertise to the agency as an  author of twenty novels, novellas, and nonfiction works. When she’s not working as an agent Tamela spends time with her husband and their two daughters.

She will be working out of her office in Virginia, giving the agency a specific East Coast connection.

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Count Your Many Phrases

We all have our pet phrases and they can inadvertently sneak their way into our manuscripts. Yesterday I came across a marvelous web site that can help you discover how often your repeat a particular phrase in your article or manuscript.

Using the Phrase Frequency Counter online, you can actually track what phrases you overuse. It is also a great way to pick out those clichés that can creep into your writing.

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Hints for a Great Cover Letter

Here are a few suggestions for you to consider when approaching an agent. Remember to use these as hints…do not follow them slavishly as if a literary agent is going to spend their time critiquing your cover letter.

By the way, we make a distinction between a cover letter and a query letter. A cover letter is what goes on top of a longer proposal and sample chapters. The query letter is a stand-alone letter that goes by itself to the editor/agent without a proposal or sample chapters. We happen to prefer the cover letter along with the rest of the package. Why? Because a query only shows that you can write a letter. A proposal begins the process of showing that you know how to write a book.

Address the letter to a specific person. If sending something to The Steve Laube Agency, simply address the appropriate agent. Every proposal will cross the desk of the designated agent eventually.

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