Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Trouble with Blurbs and Pitches

~Sia McKye~

I’ve only gotten serious about my writing the last couple of years. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a lot of writing in my professional life for articles, seminars, radio, newspapers, and industry styled periodicals--that's work. While I’ve told stories all my life and written down many of them, it’s only been a recent thing for me to consider fulfilling my dream of writing novels and having them published.

I have several friends who are authors and who have been a big encouragement to me. They’ve taken an interest in my writing and try to help me improve. One asked me to give her a brief blurb about one of my stories. I’m thinking, brief? You see, me and brief, we have problems and we’re not exactly close friends. I thought, hey, I can do this. After all, I wrote several 90,000-word books, so how hard can it be? I hunkered down and got to it.

Three days and seven drafts later I gave her what I thought was brief. Ahem, need I say it was in need of a major blood transfusion when I got it back? Then she added the word “concise”, sigh…I thought two pages was concise.

She then gave me a helpful clue; think of the back cover of a book. Two days and twelve drafts later I hand her the blurb. Her response? Sia, just how big do you think a book cover is? Oh-oh. The next day and we won’t mention the draft count, I handed it back to her. Good word count, however…then came all this stuff about character goal, motivation, conflict, word choices, and yeah, it was still bleeding to death.

My friend is tough and has pushed me to be the best I can be and not to give up. She also thinks one should always practice pitches—who knows when you might meet an acquiring editor? I have a lot of respect for her. So, you know whom I went to when I was preparing a 50-word pitch for an editor. This time it only took me one day and four drafts—I had been practicing. I got it back, “close but not quite.” I growled—hey it impressed my dog. I went for a walk, did the dishes, polished my nails and sat down, determined to get this thing right.

My final draft? “Wow, you got it!” Shock, followed by the wet noodle thing, and then elation.

If an editor does more then just read the manuscript, and offers me a contract?

I’ll tell you what it feels like to win a lottery.

Sia McKye has spent over twenty years in marketing and promotion. She's written and published various articles on writing, marketing, and promotion. She's a Marketing Rep by profession and also writes fiction.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Writing Amid Chaos and Coffee Shops

My guest today is Christie Kelley, award winning Historical Romance author with Zebra Books. When Christie and I first spoke of visiting Over Coffee, she mentioned that she had written her lastest release, Every Time We Kiss, in a coffee shop. Being a writer myself I could appreciate the difficulty with writing to a deadline in a coffee shop, or anywhere public. I thought it a wonderful story to share with my readers.

Thank you, Sia for having me today!

I have a dear friend who tells me she writes so much better when she is out in public at a coffee shop or café. I have admitted that I never understood her reasons. The idea of being in public where people are always walking in and out, plus the conversations and the general distractions would make me crazy.
Or so I thought.

In the fall of 2007, my husband and I decided to do a major renovation to our 60’s split-level home. I don’t think we really knew what we were in for. I was just starting to write my first deadline book, Every Time We Kiss, and my husband worked from home. Within a month, we had no choice but to move into our 12x14 living room with our two boys. Suddenly, I had no place to write.

I started going to Atlanta Bread or Panera every morning once I had my youngest off to school. I quickly discovered one plus of writing in cafes: Free refills on coffee! I was in heaven.

The first few days were a little stressful. The mornings were usually quiet but then the lunch crowd would come in. Big groups and much more noise. I tried the library one day but found it was actually louder with all the little kids who didn’t know how to use their library voices. Determined to make this work and with a deadline I couldn’t miss, I went back to the cafes.

I discovered the joy of Internet radio and headphones. Thank goodness for the Internet! I would plug in a classical station (I can’t listen to music with words when writing) and start typing. The hardest part about writing in the cafes is writing a love scene. I kept feeling like people were trying to look over my shoulder, even though I knew they weren’t. But by getting into the café early, I could usually pick a seat where no one would really look at my screen.

The only other problem I found was one I couldn’t get away from: Friends. While I live in a big metropolitan area, the section I live in is very “small town.” Inevitably, I would run into someone I knew while I was writing. Most people didn’t know I was published so then they wanted to sit down and talk about it.

But in some ways, I think the experience made me a better writer. I can focus more when my son has a Nerf battle going on his room with two friends. Or when my oldest wants to come in and talk. I always stop typing for a 16-year-old boy who wants to talk to his mother.

I just finished book 3 in my Spinster Club series and that book I was able to write in my new office, which even has a door! Although, some days, I was tempted to pick up my laptop and head to the café. Maybe I just wanted the free refills.

So for the writers out there, where do you write? And for the readers, I noticed many people coming into the coffee shops with books, where is your preferred place to read?
Christie Kelley was born and raised in upstate New York. As a child, she always had a vivid imagination and the bad dreams that go along with it, or perhaps the dreams were caused by the five brothers and three sisters she lived with. After seventeen years working for financial institutions in software development, she took a leap of faith and started her first book. Seven years later, her first book, Every Night I'm Yours was bought by Zebra books and won the New Jersey Romance Writer's Golden Leaf Award for Best Historical.



Christie now lives in Maryland with her husband and two future romance heroes. Come visit her on the web at or

Monday, March 9, 2009

Refilling the Well—Caution: Don’t fall in!

Today my guest is Magdalena Scott, author of several anthologies, and The Blank Book, her first single title Romance. Today she talks about how she recharges her creative spirit.

If you’re a writer, maybe you’ve been there. It seems as if you’ve used up all your words. You’re empty. You need to refill your "well" so you have new images to work with. Julia Cameron, in The Right to Write, encourages writers to take Artist’s Dates. Those are great—but I do Artist’s Dates solo. For a recent Saturday’s trip to the well, I had help.

More than anticipated, actually.

My husband and I drove the hour or so to Kentucky Flea Market in Louisville. The serious shoppers were pulling wheeled carts brought from home, to fill with new and exciting stuff. (One lady was pulling hers along with the wheels in the air and the metal screeching along the concrete floor. That was pleasant.)

I mostly watched people. The one purchase I considered for myself was a sign that said, “AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.” I bought my cousin’s birthday gift, then called her immediately and told her. She gave me some grief over that, since her birthday is in December. Now she'll wonder all year...

When we finished the flea market, we did some other shopping. It was a nice outing—saw interesting people and stuff, had a yummy meal.

That night, the dog and I went out into the yard so he could take care of business. I thought business was finished, and was ready to head back to the house. But he saw a rabbit, and took off. Although he only weighs about forty pounds, when he moves like that, suddenly extending the retractable leash to its full length, it's all I can do to stop him. And this time I hadn't seen the rabbit in time, so I wasn't ready. Off he (and the leash) dashed for the rabbit, and down I went into the iris bed. One knee definitely collided with a geode. (These are knobby round rocks.) The rest of me was splayed all over a four-inch PVC pipe, other geodes, and the limestone cistern cover.

Do you know that a cistern is another type of well? Yep. I was so fortunate that:

A) No bones were broken, and as I’m writing this a few days later, the soreness is almost completely gone; and

B) I didn’t fall into the well.

I wonder if the dog heard my stated plans for the day—refill the well—and was trying to help out?

He’s just that sweet.
Magdalena Scott lives in Southern Indiana, where she does a marginal job of being a wife, mother, and writer.

She’s in the process of reinventing herself (results: marginal), and blogs about that, and whatever else comes to mind, at (Sometimes her dog also blogs there.) Her website is

Magdalena has written an anthology, Ladies of Legend: Finding Home, where four women from different backgrounds find purpose, love - and their future - in a town intent on preserving its past. She has published her first full-length novel; The Blank Book--What would you do if you could write your future? Her work is published through Resplendence Publishing and is available in paperback and e-book format available on Amazon and Fictionwise.