Monthly Archives: March 2013

Thursday Teaser – Errand Girl of the Undead

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Gah! Sorry this is late kids. I was so caught up in Pitch Madness that I forgot to do a post in advance! So unlike me but….I had pages requested and several agents interested! So excited! Hopefully it leads to things even more exciting.

As a treat I give you the next chapter from Errand Girl of the Undead. Click here to read the first chapter, previously posted.

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Chapter Two

 

The late bell was ringing when I finally slid into my seat in room 201. Homeroom. Junior year. I’m not sure how the summer passed so fast and led me back to the classroom, but there I was.

“Elvira Weston?”

Hearing my full name always made me cringe, not to mention my classmates snicker.

“She goes by Ellie,” a familiar masculine voice corrected. I flashed Jon Mars my best heart stopping smile of appreciation. The resulting blush was adorable. I made a note to sit closer to him tomorrow, should I get to school early enough.

A half-hearted wave that I was in attendance had the teacher nodding in my direction and making notes on her roster. Damn new teachers and them not knowing never to call me by my real name. My guardian had a bit of a twisted sense of humor to go naming me after the Mistress of the Dark. I’ve heard all the jokes and started going by Ellie as soon as I was old enough to realize what a pain in the butt being named Elvira was. Thankfully the honeyed-blonde hair, green eyes and my affinity for bright colors kept most of the ribbing at bay these days. There were still breast comparisons though.  Teenaged boys were disgusting. Except maybe Jon Mars. I haven’t caught him trying to take a peek down my shirt. Yet.

The teacher droned on making sure all her charges were there. I fingered the card tucked deep into my pocket. Should I read it? Covertly looking around I saw that my classmates were all involved in vapid conversations not paying me any attention. Should be safe enough.

Laying the folded card on my desk, I looked over the outside. The paper was heavyweight and my name–Ellie that is– was scrawled across the pristine surface in flowing black calligraphy.  It was perfectly creased and there were flecks of papery pulp.  Obviously it was expensive stationary. That was a clue in itself. No one used the expensive stuff like that to ask me to walk their dogs.  The calligraphy was another tip off. In an age of computers and texting, people hate writing, period. Script in any form was kind of a dead art and the only people I found who still used it were dead themselves. Well, undead if you preferred.  Then there was the seal. Only some crazy LARPer would go through the trouble of melting a blob of wax and pressing a signet into it and even that’s doubtful. Nope. All clues pointed to this card coming from someone very old and someone very dead.

Sighing, I picked at the wax, trying not to rip the paper as I pried the edges open. Red flakes fell onto the desk top. A sweep of the hand had the specks fluttering to the hideous puke colored carpet below. Checking again that no one dared to read over my shoulder, I opened the card just enough for me to see the beautiful writing inside.

It didn’t say a whole lot: My name, a request to meet with me at the shop after sundown and a signature, Tomas Abbate.

A giggle slipped out and I slapped a hand over my mouth, glancing around to see if anyone heard me. Thankfully they all seemed self-absorbed, as usual.

Abbate, variation on Abbà, meaning priest or abbot in Italian. Funny surname for one of the “damned.”

When the bell signaled us to move on to our first class I shoved the card back into my pocket and followed the flow of students upstream. Why all the theatrics of getting Samson to deliver the card? Why have a card at all? People who desired my services knew where to find me. I didn’t require appointments–although they were always nice–so folks simply stopped by when they could. Something was fishy about the whole thing, but I’d be lying if I said my curiosity wasn’t piqued.

 

 

 

Build Your Writing Portfolio

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We’re all anxious to get our work out to the world, but we also know how long of a process it is to write, edit and publish a novel. That’s not to mention the time it takes to promote the work and get people to read it.

What if you want your name out there before that? What if you want to start building a fan base? Great! Check back blog posts for information on building your platform. If you are looking for things to do other than expand your Twitter audience, how about picking up some freelance writing jobs?

There are several sites out there where you can find work, experience and some green. You probably won’t be rolling in the dough (especially not in the beginning) but if you can learn to best use keywords and build a loyal following of fans and folks who will help re-tweet your links, you could make some decent scratch that might at least cover your Starbucks addiction.

It’s not fiction (although some of it is first person experience) so you will probably have to spend some time researching and some of the sites offer online tutorials on how to write your articles for the best Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  Good SEO results are especially important if you get paid per page view and want people other than friends and family to find your work.

Some of the articles will carry your byline while others will contract you to write under their name/site.  Both are helpful to your writing career. Those without your name may not get you the recognition from the outside world but if they are continuous and well written, more work will be sent your way, which means more money.  The ones that you can claim as yours are good to post on your blog or website and it’s helpful to put on your queries that you are published/work as a paid writer.

Freelancing will help keep you writing and allow you to develop new skills, new contacts and a fan base. If you’re being paid for your work you can put it on your resume which is handy if you’re between jobs or a stay at home parent who will be wanting to get back into the workforce when the kids are older.

I will admit, it takes away time from your fiction writing, but if you can work it into your schedule, it’s definitely a plus to have published articles under your belt.

Have you done any freelance work? Do you think it helped any with your fiction writing career?

Here are some sites where you can look for freelance work:

Textbroker

Yahoo Contributor Network

Demand Media

Don’t Forget Formatting!

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I’m still in the process of prepping Heavyweight to go out to agents and a good friend of mine, Bobby Mathews was kind enough to look over the first couple of pages for me.  While he had a bunch of great things to point out to me, the one that surprised me the most was “you need to format your manuscript.”

I scratched my head. I knew he wasn’t talking about e-book formatting and agents list how they want their excerpts to come over: 12 pt Times New Roman font, double spacing, no indentations, etc. I had all that down. When I asked, he pointed me to William Shunn‘s site that showed proper formatting for manuscripts and short stories.

Oops. I had no idea things needed to be set up in that manner. Odd, that I knew scripts needed specific cover pages and whatnot, but not once did it cross my mind that my manuscript did as well. I guess as an Indie author it’s just not something that ever came up.  This is why research is important folks. They could have very well thrown my stuff in the trash (or ya know…deleted the email) when they saw it wasn’t properly formatted. Or maybe they would have sent back a snarky response. Or I could have gotten a nice person who would have gently informed me of the correct way.

I’m glad I found out before queries were sent. It’s such stiff competition out there that any little thing is liable to get you pushed off the slush pile and into the “no thanks” bin. Better safe than sorry. Do your research people!

Anyone have any other bits of important info for the querying author?

Non-Traditional Ways to Get Your Work in Front of an Agent

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If you’ve decided to go the traditional route for publishing, you’ve probably researched and know all about the good ole query routine. Write the letter, tailor it to each specific agent, follow the rules to snail mail or email the query along with your first five pages or the dreaded synopsis. But there are other ways to get your work in front of the eyes of agents, and no I’m not talking about stalking them and shoving your work in their home mailboxes or sliding them under windshield wipers.

One of the perks of social media is you get to follow a wide range of people, be it other writers, bloggers, agents, etc. and many of them want to help you get your work out there. I’m talking about pitch contests! I’ve found Twitter is especially handy for finding these kinds of things. Besides holding chats that can answer your questions and help you polish your pitch, you can often find tweets and re-tweets about contests being held where the prizes can range from having pages reviewed to asking for partials. That means you skip that big slush pile the agent’s assistants are scouring for talent. Okay, maybe there’s a smaller slush pile you have to go through in order to win, but hey, nothing worthwhile is easy.  The great part about these contests is that there are often several agents participating so if one isn’t interested in your work, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out.

Give the Pitch Madness Twitter Party a try! You've got nothing to lose.

Give the Pitch Madness Twitter Party a try! You’ve got nothing to lose.

Brenda Drake is a YA and MG author who often holds contests these kinds of contests. They’re called Pitch Madness or Twitter Pitch Parties (140 characters to pitch your work is hard but great practice, even if you don’t get chosen!). She has a great following and works hard to set things up, bringing in great agents and dedicated slush readers.  It’s a really great experience for an author with a complete manuscript looking to maybe get their foot in the publishing door.

The downside to entering contests such as these is that it’s unlikely you’ll get feedback on why you were rejected. I participated in one of the Twitter Pitch Parties several months ago and caught an agent’s eye.  He requested a partial (which I squealed over) and then told me he was going to pass on it.  He was kind enough to let me know the voice wasn’t right for him, which was more feedback than I expected to get so definitely not a failure in my eyes.  I also took place in the most recent Pitch Madness contest and found I made it to the second round. I’m hopefully but trying not to hold my breath. Again, the learning experience and possibility alone will be worth it. We learn from every failure, right? Got to think positively about it all!

Conventions are also places where you may have the opportunity to pitch agents. I haven’t tried this yet but I’m not sure I could handle the face to face rejection. I’m sure I’d babble and stumble over my short pitch, but I know others who have gotten requests thanks to in person pitches.  Couldn’t hurt to try!

Just keep in mind that even if you “win” that doesn’t mean your book will be published, it just means the agent is interested enough to want to read more. Perhaps it’s not your ultimate goal, to merely have some pages read , but it’s a step in the right direction and that’s a pretty damn good prize in my opinion.

Have you entered any online contests or pitched in person? How did it work for you?

Also, if you’d like to give a contest a change, there will be a Twitter Pitch Party on March 29th from 8 AM to 6 PM. Prep your pitches and use the hashtag #PitMad . Also, Miss Snark’s First Victim is holding a contest starting next week as well. Stop by and check out the requirements.  Best of luck to everyone and if you decide to participate, please come back and let me know how it went!

Thursday Teaser – Errand Girl of the Undead

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Thought you guys might like a little taste of what I’m working on at the moment.  Remember though, what I’m posting is very much a rough draft so ignore any typos or grammar issues I may have missed! Ha!   Enjoy.

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A mountain of blood bags fell at my feet making a sloppy sound. Good thing none of them broke. I’d be seriously late for school if I had to stop and clean up that mess.

I suppose I should know better than to throw open the fridge door. It’s hardly the first time it’s happened, but I’m running late, dammit, and unlike others in this house I need to eat real food before starting my day.

Besides, I figured Josiah leaves them on the door, where it’s easy for them to slide, as a reminder. A sick kind of joke so I wouldn’t forget O negative–which just happened to be my blood type–was his favorite. He probably thought it a sweet gesture: “Look Ellie! I love you so much that I will drink this cold dead blood rather than you. Isn’t that nice of me?”

Shaking my head I bent to pick up the mess, tossing the squishy bags into the crisper–Where else would you have me put them? At least they’re kind of out of sight there–and grabbed a bag of apple slices and a peanut butter cup.

“Well that’s a view I’d love to wake up to every morning.”

That sudden annoying voice had me snapping to attention, smacking my head on the handle of the freezer above me. Curses in several languages escaped me.

“Dammit Samson, must you be such a letch so early in the morning? You darn near gave me a concussion.” My head was throbbing and it felt like a horn was going to sprout from my brow. Thank gods for bangs.

Before I could blink he was in front of me, in all his blue-skinned glory, brushing my bangs aside to check out the damage.  It was a surprisingly tender gesture from a demon who wanted to ravage me one day and slay me the next.

“Sadly, you’ll live,” he said, putting on a ridiculous pout. My knee itched to come into contact with the space between his legs–even demons have family jewels folks, and I’m not talking the sparkly kind–but I planted my hands on his chest and gave him a push.

“Quit invading my personal space.” There was a breathe of relief when I was able to step around his formidable form. Keeping my back to him–which probably wasn’t the smartest idea–I rummaged in the drawer for a breakfast bar. Missing dinner last night had made me ravenous this morning. Turning, I addressed him.

“What are you doing here anyway? Shouldn’t you be tucked away in demon slumber land after a night of debauchery or something?”

He smirked and grabbed his tail–yes, I said tail–twirling it around like a Dandy would his cane. “So sassy early in the morning. Perhaps I should stop by at this time more often.”

Irritation levels were rising. A vein throbbed an angry beat on my forehead. Grabbing my bag from the back of a chair, I threw it over my shoulder.

“I don’t have time for this, Samson. I’m going to be late.”  Angry stomping led me out of the kitchen.  There was a faint crackling sound and the scent of sulfur wafted my way. A clearing throat had me looking towards the front door. Where Samson was casual lounging. Blocking my way. Damn demons and their teleportation bullcrap.

He must have sensed I was nearing my breaking point because he stuck an arm out. A thick creamy white card appeared between his gloved fingers.

“A job for you,” he said, standing perfectly still.

My brow furrowed but I couldn’t help but reach for the rich looking paper.  This wasn’t how I typically got my jobs, hand delivered to my home, and certainly not by Samson who had ridiculed and rallied against my profession from day one.

The paper was thick and smooth under the pads of my fingers.  I looked up at Samson, questioning his part in it without words.  He had an expression I couldn’t decipher but before I could ask, there was the telltale cracking and cloud of stink announcing his departure.  Very strange indeed.