Friday, January 9, 2015

The Trouble with Blurbs and Pitches

I’ve mentioned that I dusting off my written manuscript files. I’m going over correspondence and blurb and pitches that I’ve put together and getting feedback on what I've done. 


I’ve only gotten serious about my creative writing the last few 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?


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 blurb/query and the first chapter, and offers me a contract?

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

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


There’s a lot of dust flying in the McKye household.
No, I’m not cleaning, although I’ve done a bit of that, but I have been dusting off some manuscripts. I about choked on some of the dust that accumulated since I last opened them. I’m looking them over to see which are viable and which aren’t.
I’ve written some experimental stories and tried out different genres and POV.  I’ve learn much about what works and what doesn’t in my writing with those experiments.  Alas, I still suck at first person. Okay, maybe not suck at it, but I don’t particularly like writing stories in first person, or reading it for that matter. I know there are writers that adore first person and I’ve read a few stories well enough executed to make me forget it’s in first person. My husband loves to read and write in first person and does a good job. Personally, I prefer third person. Hey, I’m nosy and I want to know what another is thinking and what’s going on out of sight of the main character. I do, however, use first person in working through a problem scene to create a sense of immediacy. I write it in first person and then go back and write it in third.
Why do I do that?
First person narrows the scene, increases the pace, gets rid of excess/unnecessary verbiage, and helps me work out the kinks in a scene or with characters in the scene. When I use first person I focus on tenses such as the moment of speaking or utterance (Yeah, it’s a real term in grammar. Much thanks to my ninth grade teacher, retired army sarge, Mr. MacDonald for those lessons).  Moment of utterance strips the scene to the moment of action and with the use of immediate action verbs. It’s precise and it doesn’t like adverbs. It’s the same with the time of completion—very specific and spare. I actually learned to effectively use those tenses in college and points of view switches when doing observational reports and case studies or for short stories when I’d get stuck. For me, it’s a great tool.
  • How do you work on a scene that’s giving you fits?
  • What tools do you like to use to make your writing better? 

    The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

    Let me take a moment to also wish you all a happy and productive 2015!