Monday, November 28, 2011

So, one more opening hook to go. Let's review: a hook should be the single most exciting thing you can write about the subject that makes your book sound...


* Exciting
* New
* Needed
* Timely

With that in mind, here's my hook for The MotherHeart of God: Biblical Evidence for the Femininity of the Holy Spirit...

My favorite line of all time is from The Matrix. When Neo (Keanu Reeves) meets Trinity, a beautiful woman and one of the leaders of the revolution, he’s momentarily sideswiped and blurts “I just thought ummm…you were a guy.”
 Trinity replies, “Most guys do.”

Of course, when it comes to the Christian Trinity we’re all expecting a bunch of guys. This is because God is Father and Jesus is Son, but what about the third person of the Trinity—the Holy Spirit? Should the Holy Spirit also be aligned with the male image? According to my shocking spiritual experience and according to the teachings laid out in the Bible, no she should not.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Book Publishing Goes Furturistic!

Ok, I had to share this new publishing house with you...because it is amazing! However, they only want to see material sent through an agent... go to http://eastindiapress.com and see what the future holds for books.

"Enhanced Books" are here. Read the blog...
http://blog.eastindiapress.com/

Read an interview with author David Farland...
http://remarkablereads-sandra.blogspot.com/2011/11/guest-post-with-new-york-times-best.html

Monday, November 21, 2011

THE HOOK

When writing a hopefully great hook for a memoir just remember to stick with the same tone and voice that your manuscript is written in and remember make sure your hook is:
* exciting
* new
* needed
* timely

For my possession memoir I decided to start, not with a statistic (such as "the number of exorcisms performed in America has risen drastically over the past 50 years") but with an anecdote. After all, I'm not writing about the state of exorcism in America. I'm writing about how I felt about and dealt with (or refused to deal with) my own possession. Here's my hook:

They say every girl dreams about getting married, but I don’t ever recall dreaming about marriage…wait a minute, that’s not quite true. There was that one dream I had where Satan appeared to me in flames and married me in front of an upside down cross. Being married to Satan—what a bummer

We’ve all seen the horror of the Exorcist; we’ve experienced the drama of Emily Rose. We’ve read Malachi Martin’s fascinating collection: Hostage to the Devil and Michelle Smith’s creepy memoir Michelle Remembers.  We’ve watched heads spin, bodies contort and we’ve seen holy water sprayed as young girls scream and thrash about. But what we haven’t been offered is a candid account of possession from a first-person perspective. Travel with me into the mysterious world of spirits, ghosts and demons. Awaken yourself to a world that isn’t supposed to exist, a world that’s as intriguing as it is sinister. And then emerge as a new person—invigorated, aware and intent on living in the light. Saving Mary: Not just another story about a girl and her exorcist.

From this hook I'm hoping the agent will get a sense of my character and my attitude toward possession---being married to Satan is creepy and serious, but I see the irony in it. (F.Y.I --I became possessed when I was sixteen, during a channeling session. I joined the channeling group hoping to get divorced from Satan and instead became possessed--more irony!) The second part of my hook is to show why my manuscript is new and timely: there are lots of books on possession (people love a good possession story), but mine is different!

Friday, November 18, 2011

START WITH A HOOK

The overview, our mentor M says, should start with a brief hook, "A quote, an event, an idea, a joke, a cartoon, or a statistic--the single most exciting thing you can write about the subject that makes your book sound new, needed, and timely."

Did you get that?
* Exciting
* New
* Needed
* Timely

These few sentences are important, so spend time coming up with a great hook--have fun with it! IF YOU ARE EXCITED YOUR READERS WILL FEEL IT. If your book is fun make the hook fun. If your book is informative find a great statistic. If your book is a memoir then, well...I don't know. Let me check with our mentor and get back to you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Overview (what's an overview?)

Saving Mary: The Possession and Deliverance
The MotherHeart of God: Biblical Evidence for the Femininity of the Holy Spirit
So now that I have two titles that are both clear, concise, commercial, emotional and informative it's time to move on to the Overview.

The overview's job (according to our mentor M) is to prove that our idea is both practical and marketable. In addition to this we must also prove that we are the right people to write about our idea and (if that weren't enough) we must prove we are the right people to promote our idea.

The overview can be written in numerous ways. (Typically 1-3 pages.) You can, of course, submit all this information in a few paragraphs, or you can break it down (see the "proposal example" under Resources). I'm going to break my overview down.

The overview starts with an opening hook. The best piece of advice that I read in M's How to Write a Book Proposal was: "Your overview sets the standard for the tone, style and quality of what follows."
I think my initial problem when writing overviews in the past was I had it in my mind that a proposal was necessarily boring. But after reading M's advice, I now see that the proposal is not merely a mundane list of what I have to offer, rather it is an example of the way I write. I found I had to remind myself, "Remember, you are a writer--you know how to write for emotion, excitement and interest. So do it. Come up  with a great hook by using your talent as a writer. DO NOT BE BORING.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Titles...

So after consulting my dad through Skype and hearing from friends these are the titles I have:

The MotherHeart of God: Biblical Evidence for the Femininity of the Holy Spirit
MotherHeart of God: A Life in The Spirit
The Unveiling: Discovering the Hidden Person of the Holy Spirit

That being said, I still don't know which title is best. I am keen on the first.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Does This Title Make me Look Phat?

I was thinking about all the books that I bought based solely upon their titles. Here are two examples:
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt and The Strange Theory of Light and Matter by Richard P. Feynman.

What drew me to these two titles? In the first instance it was definitely emotion as Angela's Ashes sounded so melodiously sad (not to mention there was a picture of a very sad looking Frank McCourt on the front cover). This emotion "sadness" made me pick up the book. I wanted to know why Angela was in ashes and why Frank was so gosh darn sad looking.

The second book (The Strange Theory of Light and Matter) did not evoke an emotion in me (except for maybe curiosity). Rather, it startled me with a desire for knowledge: I don't know anything about the strange theory of light and matter --maybe I should know something! Actually, the word strange is really what attracted me to the book. Without that wonderful word "strange" the book would have been The Theory of Light and Matter (boring). Strange sold the book to me.The word held just the right amount of emotion to attract me ... I CAN RELATE TO STRANGE (maybe this book is for me!)

So there you have it. Our mentor M is right. Emotion and interesting information do sell books. But what does this mean for our book titles? Let's take my book titles as example works- in-progress, Saving Mary: The Possession and Deliverance and The MotherHeart of God: Unveiling the Mystery of the Holy Spirit.

Do my titles evoke both an emotional response (emotion belongs in the main title) and an informative response (information can be delivered in the subtitle)?

Are my titles:
* clear
* concise
* compelling
* commercial


My first title Saving Mary does evoke emotion: "Oh, poor Mary is in trouble and needs saving!" The sub-title then delivers the appropriate information: The Possession and Deliverance. Now we know exactly what type of saving poor Mary needs...she's possessed, and we also know how she will be saved--through deliverance. Even though this is a memoir about my life, notice I did not title it Saving Deidre (my name just doesn't flow). Saving Mary, however, is reminiscent of Mary Magdalene of the Bible (the one who was possessed) and  because of this link it becomes commercial.



I am quite happy with this title. It is both emotional and informative. It is also clear "someone is possessed and needs help."  Originally I called it Saving Mary: the Possession and Deliverance of a Modern-Day Mary Magdalene but although this title is even clearer, it is not concise ... so I changed it. And I think I have a winner.

My second book, however, is more difficult. I'm not happy with the title. Of course, I could just leave it as is and hope if someone buys the manuscript they will come up with a wonderful title. Or, I could just fix it. Let's fix it based on M's advice.

The MotherHeart of God manuscript is about all the evidence in the Bible that reveals the Holy Spirit to be our spiritual mother (as opposed to a "he" spirit). But the book is also a journey of discovery as I embark on getting to know the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is not just a straightforward list of scriptures. So how do I show both these qualities in the title? I don't know. Any suggestions?


Thursday, November 10, 2011

First Step in the Proposal: The Title

I write to learn. Which is kind of weird because you'd think that writers write in order to entertain or to teach others, but not me. I look at a subject and go "Gee, I don't know anything about this. Maybe I should write about it!" The process of writing then leads me through the learning process. (Which is why I am blogging my journey to learning about the proposal.) In writing my memoir about my possession and deliverance (that's right I said possession) I wrote in order to learn about me--what exactly happened to me? (How did I get so mixed-up spiritually and how exactly did I then become so normal?)

Writing the MotherHeart was no different. After I became a Christian (which happened during my deliverance) I then read the Bible and while reading I noticed something interesting there about the Holy Spirit. After this I had a spiritual experience which then led me to question if the Holy Spirit really did have a feminine personality--from here I went "Gee, I don't know anything about the femininity of the Spirit--maybe I should write about it and learn!" So there, I write to learn. Which brings me to the process of how to write a great proposal.

I've made the decision not to send out another query until I know my proposal is absolutely perfect. This means of course re-working my proposal so it conforms to my mentors' guidelines (sounds like work ugghh). Obviously, my first step is the title.
The Title, agent M says in How to Write a Book Proposal, "should appeal to the heart as well as to the head." Therefore, we must provoke an emotional response with the title and an informative response with the subtitle (maybe not for fiction). M says our titles must "tell and sell." Titles should be:
* clear;
* concise;
* compelling;
 * commercial (as the subject allows).
M has a whole chapter on titles (so go buy the book). I will cover a few points using my manuscripts as examples.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tips From the Agents!

So, as I was browsing through the big book of agents this morning I noticed some wonderful words of advice under the agents' "Tips" that may be prudent for us to burn into our memories:
*"Read at least 2 books on how to prepare book proposals before sending material. An extremely well-prepared proposal will make your material stand out."
*  "Please do your research so you won't send me books/proposals I specifically excluded."
* "Be professional in your writing."
* "Submit only your best work for consideration."
* "Be complete, forthright and clear in your communications."
* "A writer should only begin to get 'interested in getting an agent' if the work is polished, literate and ready to be presented to a publishing house. Anything less is either asking for a quick rejection or is a thinly disguised plea for creative assistance ..." (see pg 198 for the rest of this helpful tip).

This being said, the word for us author-wanna-bes is PATIENCE.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Make Your Proposal Shine!

Okay, time to move on. Let's assume we all have wonderful, creative and fabulously interesting words to share. The proposal is simply our means of exhibiting, to agents, what we want to share with our target audience. The proposal makes or breaks the deal. (We'll talk about queries after the proposal.) Whether we write fiction or non-fiction the proposal is still our means of presenting our work. M's book How to Write a Book Proposal really is a fab book--TONS of GEMS in there that will help our proposals do their job.

Let's remember who gets to see our wonderful proposals:
* the agent
* editors
* marketing
* finance
Our proposal must speak to each of these people. (Not just the agent!)
Our proposal should make everyone's job easier.
The proposal (I now understand because I read both my mentor's books) is HUGELY important. This blog is about making our proposals CLEAR, CONCISE, ENGAGING, INFORMATIVE and MARKETABLE.

Monday, November 7, 2011

#1 Reason Your Book was REJECTED ... crappy writing.

I spent a bit of my weekend wondering about whether or not my writing is crap. I didn't dwell too much on this subject, though. After all, the answer is just too easy--Yes, sometimes my writing is doo-doo. Let me prove it: below is my first piece of writing that I remember constructing (I offer this if only to make my friends Jodi and Courtney giggle). It's a poem ...

"When the beast of burden calls your name,
Offer him a kiss, but don't lend him your tongue.
Each to his own and all to none."


(Please take into consideration that I wrote this poem in grade twelve--while I was possessed.)

My next piece of writing came after I made the discovery that I wanted to officially "Be a Writer!"(Keep in mind this was just AFTER my deliverance.) It's a children's book: Calli Coe and the Golden Armor of God ...


"Calvin the Warthog lives in a big city, where many other Warthogs live." (Need I go on?)


Realizing I wasn't a great children's author, I gave up on this particular children's book and went back to poetry ...


"It swept across my mind, drifted in like snow during fall;
Landing upon warn grass.
The Northern wind just carried it in;

Cold whispers of the chilling darkness that only it has seen." (A little better, I think.)


But then there was my first novel where I introduced the greatest character ever ... 

"I can vibrantly remember the moment I first met Emry Turlington. Intense, dramatic and colorful like fireworks is she. A devil of a woman you might say ...."


I think this adequately proves my writing is crap. But, really, I can't be too hard on myself because it represented my BEST writing at the time. Then one day--after I read Angela's Ashes--I made the marvelous decision to go back to school to learn to write. (Good idea.)

Well despite my start, I eventually published a poem in a magazine; I eventually received a phone call from a big publishing house in Canada asking me to send in my work for a children's book. I eventually signed with an agent and I eventually sold a novel. But, truthfully, through all this my writing was still doo-doo. How do I know my writing was doo-doo? Because, first of all, I don't write poetry (I have never studied poetry, or even read poetry and I have never written a poem since getting that one poem published.) Second, I did not get a contract from the big publishing house in Canada--because they went with a more mature writer. Thirdly, my agent couldn't sell my children's book (I have a wad of rejections). And lastly, when I sold my first novel--I knew there were serious issues with it--but I was hoping the publisher would fix them for me! (I didn't know fixing my doo-doo was my job.)

In the end, I don't think it matters if your writing is crap or if you sell crappy writing--as long as you are in the process of studying your genre and aiming to do your very best. But this is where the problem lies ... sometimes we send out material that is not our best. When we do this--and we writer's are aware when we do this (when we're so excited that we can't hold back, when we refuse to take time to edit our work one more time, when we're banking on our massive query mail-out to bag at least one completely desperate agent) we pretty much know the odds are against us. Sending out work that is not our best, is crappy writing. As our mentor M says, "'Good enough' is never good enough. So don't hope that it is and then send it on its way."
 So, is my writing crap? Yes, sometimes it is. Sorry to all agents out there who have received my crap. I will now aim to send only roses.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Reason # 1 Why Your Book was Rejected

#1 Your Writing is CRAP.

Author Mike Nappa says his goal as an agent is to reject you in 60 seconds ... or less. This means as I write this sentence Mike is busy rejecting (ouch) one more poor pathetic writer. Of course, M doesn't want to reject everyone. He wants to say yes to someone. But the sad truth is he rejects most everyone. (Mike, as a writer himself, has received more than 2000 rejections.) Mike's goal (as an author)--77 Reasons Why Your Book was REJECTED--is simple: "Learning why we fail--and then turning that knowledge into success the next time around."

So, that being said I delve into M's book of wisdom starting with the number one reason he rejects queries: crappy writing.

Is my writing crap? This of course is the question us writers simply don't want to ask ourselves or anybody. After all, it takes a certain amount of denial and delusion in order for us to become writers in the first place. (We must convince ourselves that "yes, we can write" and "yes, someone will love what we have to say.") But still let's make our mentor happy and ask ourselves, Is our writing crap?

I'm not sure. Maybe my writing is crap--how do I know? Follow the checklist:

-I have studied writing by attending school, by reading books, by joining a writer's group, by going to writing conferences;
-I read tons of stuff, especially my own genre;
-I have written before: articles, short stories, pen pal letters (something!);
-I think (or obsess) about word choice, as writing is NOT putting words on pages--it is putting THE RIGHT WORDS on the page;
-I edit my own work until it shines--I don't write and then immediately start the query letter process (I have patience).

Now, let's take the rest of the day to think about whether our writing is crap or not. Let's think about our sentences as we pick up our Starbucks this afternoon. Let's think about our metaphors as we finish that last meeting of the day. Let's think about "show and don't tell," about useless adverbs, and weak characters and unnatural dialogue. Let's ask ourselves, what have we learned since we began writing?  Is my wring crap because I don't take it seriously?