Gift Ideas That Embrace the Senses – a TGNA Post



It’s List of Five Friday over at The Great Noveling Adventure and since my husband never knows what to get me for my birthday (which is next week) I thought I’d take the opportunity to drop a not so subtle hint about what he could get me.

If you’re tired of the same old “writerly gifts”, maybe you’ll find these ideas inspiring.

TweetAlso, for those of you participating in NaNoWriMo and needing to meet your word count goals, I run writing #sprints on Twitter every week day morning over @Novel_Adventure. Feel free to join me!


Take Your Imagination Out for a Spin – a TGNA Post



For this Travel Tuesday over at The Great Noveling Adventure, I’m sending everyone to a few fantastic sites that will help ignite their imaginations and get those idea engines cranking.

Looking for some new story generating sites? I’ve got some great suggestions for you. Stop waiting for that next big idea to hit you upside the head. Find it yourself, today.

Have some fun and play with your imagination. After all, that’s what it’s for.

Stop on over and join in the conversation!


TweetRemember, when you start working on that next big idea, I host AM #sprints every weekday morning on Twitter over at @Novel_Adventure. Join me if you need some motivation to get started or if you just need some companionship as you work on your own great novel.


My Top Five Things for Friday – a TGNA Post


It’s my turn to post over at the newly relaunched group blog, The Great Noveling Adventure. Since we now have set themes for each day, this is List of 5 Friday. I decided to give everyone a sneak peak at my top five favorite things I learned from the SCBWI LA Summer Conference. For those of you following along with my series of posts here, it’s a nice preview into some of the things I’ll be sharing more in-depth on this blog, coming very soon.

TweetDon’t forget that I’m also hosting AM #sprints every weekday morning on Twitter @Novel_Adventure. Join me if you need some motivation to get started or if you just need some companionship as you work on your own great novel.

Christmas in July Pitch Contest Entries are Up Today! (That Means Mine, Too!)

Xmas in July post headerA quick post today to encourage everyone to stop by the two blogs hosting the Christmas in July Pitch contest, Ruth Lauren Stevens and Michelle Krys. If you’d like to read my entry, here’s the link directly to it here. Please save your comments on the contest site until the 20th. Only agents are allowed to comment for the next two days. Instead, show your support by posting comments here or by following the Twitter hashtag #XmasinJuly. I’ll try to keep everyone updated on how I’m doing as much as possible. Thanks!

May #writemotivation begins! Let’s get some motivation up in here!

bake sale
One of three tables filled with tempting treats. All sold out by the end of the day.

April was incredibly busy for me. What with the massive amount of work I put into the pre-conference days – Pitch Clinic, Twitter activity on the conference hashtag, escorting speakers with plane delays to the hotel (helping Jerry find his speaker that he lost), competing with Jerry for best nerd shirt (I won, of course) –  juggling a fund-raising event for our autism team at the same time was pushing it. Why stop there? Let’s throw a fund-raiser for our fund-raiser! Bake sale time. Nothing like wading through frosting-covered counters and rows of chocolate delights you aren’t allowed to eat. TORTURE! What I do for you people! (I may have done some taste-testing on a rather wonky-looking chocolate/raspberry filled cupcake. It passed inspection.) I still found time for writing, critiquing, and revising, but I almost didn’t survive the month.

Okay, SLIGHT exaggeration.

I had an amazing time at the conference, met some new writers, and received an excellent critique on a new project I can’t wait to get into. We also raised more money than ever for our autism team AND had more out-of-towners walk with us than any other year – score! So all the craziness was worth it.

My body did rebel against the unusually high level of activity and stress, coupled with the constant weather shift provided by Mother Nature’s crap shoot where we vacillated between bright sunny skies and brooding thunderstorms, mixed with hail and maybe some ice and snow just to freak people out a bit. Well played, Mother Nature, well played. My sinuses experienced some sort of implosion/invasion/infection. Not pretty. I was down for about a week, making very ugly bodily noises and whiny demands of my family, who somehow still took care of me and still loved me. If the roles had been reversed, I may have been tempted to apply the pillow over the face therapy. Hold firmly until breathing and complaining cease.

But I digress…

photograph by Hugh Lee and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. April was a very busy month for many others in our #writemotivation gang, several of whom participated in either Camp Nano or the A to Z challenge or both! (Those crazy kids.) It was a good thing I was mistaken in thinking that April would be another #writemotivation month. No one had the time! Our fearless leader and brand new mommy of the cutest, cheekiest baby, KT Hanna, used April as a test month for getting back on her writing schedule and juggling the youngling’s needs. (Oh, those cheeks! So schmooshy!)

Although she’s back in the writing saddle, it looks like we’re still going to do #writemotivation every other month for awhile. If you didn’t make the deadline for May, you can still set goals for yourself and join us on Twitter at the hashtag #writemotivation anytime to ask questions, ( about good names for characters, history of dinosaurs, etc.) or if you need help with motivation, ( maybe you want someone to join you in a writing challenge for the evening to keep you on track for your own personal writing goal or maybe you just need to know that someone else out there is banging their head against their keyboard in frustration, too), or for whatever you need, we’ll be there to help push you through. That’s what #writemotivation is all about. Try it out and then you can sign up in July and join us for the complete #writemotivation experience.

(Just FYI, Camp Nano will also be up and running again in July if you missed it or were too busy for the first camping experience.)

My goals for May? Why, so kind of you to ask. Here they are:

1. Complete latest draft of Museum Crashers (MG mystery) and prepare for submission.
2. Research more literary agents for submission of Institutionalized (YA contemporary) and send out to five of them.
3. Make some progress on first draft of Pretty Vacant (YA contemporary). Develop main character fully and decide which way story arc will go.
4. Exercise 3 times each week.


Let’s hear from you. Got any goals?

Pitch Perfect? Oh, That Ain’t Easy!

If any of you follow me on Twitter (I’m @litbeing) you may be aware that I’m attending the SCBWI Oklahoma Spring conference here in Tulsa this weekend and that I’m hosting a pitch clinic for our attendees on Twitter this evening.

I used to hate writing pitches. I hated it as much as I used to hate writing queries and synopses. I don’t know many writers who embrace these bits with enthusiasm, but they are part of our reality.

And really, it’s so much handier to be able to coherently and briefly explain to someone what your story is about – especially in a way that intrigues them and makes them ask you more about it. I always review my pitches before a conference so I don’t end up staring blankly at a new acquaintance, my brain buzzing with panic because I can’t figure out how to condense my magnificent labor of love into a few sentences. Or worse, trap them in an uncomfortable discussion about the back-story of each character because I’ve begun to babble incessantly trying to make sure this person understands every important element of my tale, when maybe they were just being polite and making small talk and have no interest at all in hearing another word. It’s much more preferable to get them to say, “Oh, that’s sounds fascinating. Tell me more!”

That’s the purpose of a pitch. To intrigue.

To get the agent or editor to say, “Tell me more!” and request manuscript pages.

So how does one write a pitch?

After much research and studying, the consensus is to give the essence of your story without getting bogged down in the details and it should be done in one to three sentences.

Oh, is that all?

Carly Watters, literary agent with P.S. Lterary, says that a pitch is “a focused angle introducing the heart, high stakes and conflict of the story.” (From her blog post “Hook. Synopsis. Pitch: What’s the Difference?” See the full post here.)

Carly discussed pitches further in another post where she asked some probing questions that should help you when you think about writing your pitch:

“Who is your main character? What is their situation? What are they trying to overcome? How are they going to do it? What are the themes that are important to the main character and to us as readers? What is the essence of your book?

Those are the overall questions to focus one when crafting your pitch. We don’t need to know about subplots and details.

Rachelle Gardner, literary agent with Books & Such Literary, says to start with the plot catalyst, the event that gets the story started, then give the set up that drives the reader into the rest of the book. You should include the pressing story question or major story conflict. Simple, yes?

For a more direct example, Rachelle says:

“In the words of my friend the Query Shark (agent Janet Reid), your pitch needs to show”:

1. Who is the protagonist?
2. What choice does s/he face?
3. What are the consequences of the choice?

(Taken from Rachelle’s blog post “Secrets of a Great Pitch”. See the full post here.)

Now take all of these ideas and practice, practice, practice with your own manuscript until you can get the essence of your story down to a few coherent  sentences. Try them out on your critique group. Use them the next time someone asks you “Oh, you’re a writer? What do you write?” If you get that coveted response, “Tell me more!” You’re on the right track.

When you’re ready to test out your pitch, great contests come up fairly frequently, like the recent Pitch Madness Twitter Pitch Party. If you’re still unsure what a good pitch looks like, Carissa Taylor put together a comprehensive list of all the pitches that received requests from agents from this successful event. It’s a great list to review to get a good feel for what works. View her list here.

Feel free to join us at the Pitch Clinic this evening from 8-9pm CST. You can share your own pitch or give some feedback to others. Use the hashtag #SCBWIOKSpr13. You can always view the conversation later if you missed it.

Whatever you do, I hope you have more courage to develop your own pitch and put it into practice. After all, if you can’t get someone excited about what you’re writing, how is anyone else supposed to?

Goals Goals Goals #writemotivation Monday Check In

Header image and thumbnail photograph by Hugh Lee and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Welcome to another edition of  “How are we doing with our goals?”  It’s the beginning of week two. Are we crying in our beer, yet? Scarfing down the New York Super Fudge Chunk by the pints? Hopefully not. We at the #writemotivation gang are well-known for our supportive nature, and I am more than willing to share some of my ice cream. (Thankfully, I am not at the beer-swilling stage.) And so far, it’s been just a one pint week. (Of ice cream.) I made it into the first stage of yet another frantic contest. I know, I know, right after I just finished with one. The last one had positives and negatives; I didn’t get a request from the agent, but I did win a critique of my first 30 pages. Not a bad secondary prize. After receiving some great feedback, I reworked my query for the bazillionth time. I think that was the lucky number. In this latest contest, my freshly scrubbed query (plus the first 500 words of my manuscript) will be up against 300+ other entries and only 30 will be accepted to continue to the ultimate agent fighting round. We won’t find out our fates until Friday. I may be up to two pints by then. (Maybe not just of ice cream.)

Wheee! So exciting this writer’s life. Actually there’s been a lot of anxiety-driven humor quipped about in the Twitter feed today. Glad to know it wasn’t just me. #xmasinjuly was even trending for awhile today the movement was so intense. Feel free to check out the action any time this week. Friday should be especially exciting.

For those of you who missed this opportunity, remember, there is another contest coming up next week with

better stock up, it’s gonna be a long month.

Entangle Publishing. See this earlier post here for details. Also, our very own#writemotivation leader, K. T. Hanna, just celebrated her one year blogiversary and is offering an opportunity to win a query critique with her agent Judith Engracia of the Liz Dawson Literary Agency. You have through Tuesday to enter. See K.T.’s blog post here for details.

On to the GOALS!!!!

1.Write full rough draft of new WIP. Barely started, but at least I did get started so let’s say “Eh, not bad. Not great, but not bad.” on this one.
2. Continue to submit current YA project out to agents. YES! YES! YES! Sent out five brand new, fully researched submissions. “Rock star!”
3. Keep up with my blog posts, commenting on blogs, etc., but also keep a limit on this time so that my writing comes first. Dead modem helped me limit my time better than I would have on my own. I was shaking like street hustling junkie by end of the third day. This will continue to be a challenge. We’ll say. “You squeaked by with a pass this week, Lawson.”
4. Exercise three times a week. Done and done! A hearty “You can do it!”here. I may be freakin’ sore all over, but I have plenty written in my exercise journal for the past week and this week is already looking good. Just someone tell me when the aching muscles subsides and I can have more ice cream. Please?

Hope you all are having a fantastic time wrestling with your goals. Hang in there!