Friday, September 30, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

           Tips when meeting an Agent

As I mentioned last week; in preparation for the writers' conference I'll be attending next week, I have gathered a collection of helpful tips to share with you. Today's post focuses on how to prepare for meeting an agent.

Just because we're unknown and unpublished doesn't mean we can't make a great first impression. Treat the meeting like a job interview, even though it may only be a time to have your work critiqued.

Dress neatly and professionally - Even if the venue is casual and the agent is wearing a college sweatshirt - don't you! This is your time to make a great first impression, so wear at least a business casual outfit.

Be Confident - Shake hands and greet her in a friendly , but professional manner.

Be Prepared to Answer Possible Questions- This is a tough one. Since you aren't a mind reader, all you can do is think intelligently - what would she want to know? Possible questions:
How long have you been writing? Be prepared to have an honest and thorough answer. No embellishments.
Can you tell me about your story? This is where you would choose a pitch, I plan on using my thirty second variety.
What books are you familiar with in your genre? This is why we need to read, read, read!
(You may have some other great questions, if so please leave a comment - I'd like to know!)

Have Your Own List of Questions - Remember I mentioned this should be treated like a job interview? Any applicant worth their salt will have a multitude of questions rattling around in their mind. Don't be desperate or wimpy; this is your time too. You may have specific questions about a scene, a character, a setting, or any number of other things. If it is a meeting further down the road, you'll have specific questions about the agent and her agency.

After the Meeting - Be prepared for the possible chance she may ask for a printed synopsis of your story - (one-sheet). Wow! How exciting, probably far-fetched, but you never know. If you're able, have a few printed off with your contact information, the title of your book, the synopsis, and even a head shot of yourself so she'll remember who you are later on. Be sure and ask her for her business card, and definitely have your business card ready if she should request one. Again, shake hands - thank her for her time, and possibly for something specific she said that was meaningful to you. I would add, don't gush. I haven't had the opportunity to meet an agent yet, but I read a lot of blogs. Gushing won't impress, it will just give a desperate signal.

Send a Thank You Card - In this day and age of texting, e-mails, and direct messages it is still expected that you take the time to thank this person for their time and expertise with a hand-written note through the mail. Even if your meeting was less than you had hoped for, find something positive to say. I know difficult critiques are hard to accept; but it just may be the bit of advice that makes the difference someday.

I hope these posts have been helpful to you. I encourage you to do your own research as well - you may find some information that is even more valuable to you. Leave me a comment if you do - I'm just a storyteller on a journey like you!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

The Trumpeter of Krakow
by Eric P. Kelly

Flap Copy description:
For well over thirty years, Eric P. Kelly's Newbery Award winner has brought the color and romance of ancient times to young readers. Today, The Trumpeter of Krakow is as absorbing and dramatic as it was when it was first published in 1928.

Filled with mystery and excitement, the book is much more than a rousing adventure story. Out of his great love of Poland and its history, Mr. Kelly painted a vivid picture of the political and social life of Krakow in the early Renaissance.

My thoughts:
It has now been over eighty years since The Trumpeter of Krakow was first published. Although the text bears the mark of an older writing style, this historical fiction is intelligent and intriguing. The MG novel is still considered a national treasure in Poland, where Mr. Kelly did relief work during World War I, and later returned to live for a time. I would highly recommend this book to the sophisticated youth, or an adult as well.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Incredible Inspiration




Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.



Wolfgang Von Goethe

Friday, September 23, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

What to do before attending a
Writers' Conference

Once I realized I would be attending a writers' conference this fall I began diligently researching any helpful information in preparation of that opportunity. Numerous on-line sites have valuable advice; however, I found I had to piece them together to suit my needs. This week and the next, I will share that collection of helpful tips with you. Today's post contains ways a writer should prepare long before it's time for a conference.

Being a writer is one thing, being a published author is another. Understanding that if you're serious about being the latter there are many things to consider, such as:

Create your writer's platform - This is how well you are known as a writer. Blogging, Facebook, and Twitter are all great ways to help get yourself known. There are various other ways as well, volunteering and teaching are just a couple.

Be familiar with your genre - Read and be familiar with books that are similar to your manuscript. Winnie the Pooh may have been your favorite as a child, but writing styles change.

Flap Copy - Write a synopsis of your story in flap copy style. This will be useful to have in a possible query letter; it also forces you to really know your story, and present it in its best light. Notice: a flap copy is written, a pitch is verbal.

Pitches - There are elevator pitches, thirty second pitches, and two minute pitches. Hopefully you will have one of each polished before you attend a conference. Depending on the situation, we need to be prepared to share our stories verbally in a confident and relaxed manner. A good pitch has three parts: the opening conflict, the obstacle, and the quest.

Purchase Business Cards - You never know when you'll meet a fellow writer, but also, these we'll be definitely needed at a conference!

Be Smart - If you are hoping to meet a specific agent, be prepared. Familiarize yourself with the type of books she prefers, and also some of her actual clients and their books. There is no need to waste your time, or hers, when the two of you may be on different pages. You may even choose to attend a specific conference because she will be there - that's what I did. This also may be helpful if in fact you do meet that special agent - you will have something valid to talk about besides yourself.

Next week's post: Tips when meeting an Agent.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Whimsical Word of the Week



Irenic-

Tending to promote peace or reconciliation.



On this, the International Day of Peace; may this word not only be in our vocabulary...but in our heart.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner


The Daring Adventures of Penhaligon Brush
by S. Jones Rogan

Book Cover description:
Penhaligon stood at the edge of the dark gaping hole. The sea, in foamy turmoil below, promised a watery grave. How he longed to be bored back in Ramble-On-the-Water.
       "Any final requests?" Captain Dredge asked with a smile.
       "Just a question," said Penhaligon.
       "What?" said Dredge.
       "Do you always smell like a rotting seagull carcass?"
He never heard the answer, as Dredge, roaring in anger, pushed him into the hole.

My thoughts:
Animal fantasy has a special place in my heart; so it is not a surprise that I would enjoy S. Jones Rogan's, The Daring Adventures of Penhaligon Brush. Ms. Rogan is a gifted storyteller; she invites the reader into a magical, whimsical world. Issues of prejudice are subtly woven into the text - with the realization that things are not always what they seem. This is a delightful tale for all young readers.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sentimental Serendipity

Recently we visited a commercial farm in northwest Oregon; I enjoy writing in natural settings while my husband paints en pleine air. This is a favorite spot for families to visit in autumn to purchase their Halloween pumpkins. Inside the barn is a variety of farm animals - so cute!
(Unfortunately, they were difficult to photograph.)




The market, and the farm, are only open from June through October. Inside they sell a wide variety of produce, baskets, and fresh cut flowers. Visiting this setting was like stepping back in time; the farm is located on an agricultural island - they don't even sell gasoline locally.




My husband, Michael, got so excited when he saw this vintage truck. (He is hoping to paint another composition of the old vehicle in his studio.) It is full of miniature pumpkins that were loaded while we were there. Everywhere you turned nostalgia was there to greet you.



This is part of the bucolic scene we looked out onto for much of the day. As Michael painted, I was busy writing and reading. It is amazing how much beauty is only a day trip away from our home. As summer gives way to fall, it was good to spend a few hours in the warm sunshine before the rains of the Pacific Northwest arrive!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

With only three weeks remaining until I attend the SCBWI Fall Retreat - the butterflies are starting to set up shop in my stomach! If I was only planning on attending the conference I would be fine. The fact that my work is being critiqued by a well-respected agent is what has me apprehensive. This morning I viewed a blog by an award winning author who publicly declared that she had doubts about how good her new novel would be. If she is concerned, given all the skill and talent she possesses, where does that leave me?
One thing is for sure, whatever the outcome next month, I will have had a professional's feedback which will give me a sense of where I'm really at as a writer. From that point I will be able to proceed with some valuable information, regarding exactly what I need to work on to improve my manuscript. This isn't only about the destination, it's about the journey; my storyteller's journey.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Potpourri of Poetry




















                                           Summer Afternoon

                    Cool summer breezes lacing through the trees,
                    rushing, rippling waters heading out to sea.

                    Sitting in the shade watching an eagle in its flight,
                    hypnotized by grasses waving in the light.

                    The wispy shadows lengthen as the sun moves west,
                    soon it will be time to travel home to my rest.

                                                                                                                                                     V.L.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

Guardians of Ga'Hoole
The Capture
by Kathryn Lasky

Flap Copy description:
Soren is born in the Forest of Tyto, a tranquil kingdom where the barn owls dwell. But evil lurks in the owl world, evil that threatens to shatter Tyto's peace and change the course of Soren's life forever.
Soren is captured and taken to a dark and forbidding canyon. It's called an orphanage, but Soren believes it's something worse. He and his friend Gylfie know that the only way out is up. To escape, they will need to do something they have never done before - fly.
And so begins a magical journey. Along the way, Soren and Gylfie meet Twilight and Digger. The four owls band together to seek the truth and protect the owl world from unimaginable danger.

My thoughts:
Kathryn Lasky's, The Capture, is the first book in her Guardians of Ga'Hoole Series. In this first installment we are introduced to a quartet of quirky owls that band together to help save the magical and whimsical owl world. Ms. Lasky's writing is both beautiful and authentic. She is somewhat of an expert on owls having done extensive research on the birds and their behaviors - her knowledge is wonderfully woven into the text of this animal fantasy. I would highly recommend this book to all young readers.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Incredible Inspiration

Shawn Lindstrom - FDNY
    Remembering Sept. 11, 2001

Like all Americans we remember what we were doing that September morning ten years ago today. For our family it was personal. Michael's younger brother, Shawn, was a NYC paramedic at the time, as was his girlfriend Doreen - we were frantic. As it turned out, it had been Shawn's day off and he had been out of the city. Doreen (now Shawn's wife) had helped triage the injured with so many other medical personnel. Unfortunately, Shawn's dream of becoming a NYC firefighter happened all too quickly. He was called up sooner than he expected, because so many went down sooner than God intended ... We Will Never Forget.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

Recently I joined Facebook and was confronted with a myriad of questions varying from insignificant to thought provoking. One question asked for my profile was: "who inspires you?" After answering the question with a quintet of extraordinary women from the past and the present, it dawned on me that they all had two things in common. The first, they had all written at least one book that had then been published. The second, and more importantly, they had all contributed in an extremely positive manner to showing the world how to overcome obstacles with grace. Suddenly my day to day struggles to become a published author seem insignificant. Those inspirational women are: Anne Frank, Helen Keller, Emily Dickinson, J.K. Rowling, and Oprah Winfrey. Who inspires you?
By the way, I'd love to have you visit me on Facebook, the link is on the right.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

Because of Winn-Dixie
by Kate DiCamillo

Flap Copy description:
     When ten-year-old India Opal Buloni moves to Naomi, Florida, with her father, she doesn't know what to expect - least of all , that she'll adopt Winn-Dixie, a dog she names after the supermarket where they meet.
     Right away, Opal knows she can tell Winn-Dixie anything - like the fact that lately she's been thinking a lot about her mother, who left when Opal was three. And that her father, the preacher, won't talk about her mother at all. An that she's lonely. But with such an unusually friendly dog at her side, Opal soon finds herself making more than a few unusual friends. And ultimately, Opal and the preacher realize - that while they've both tasted a bit of melancholy in their lives, they still have a whole lot to be thankful for.

My thoughts:
Because of Winn-Dixie, is a down-home type of novel, set in the South, a true classic for young readers. The author, Kate DiCamillo, won a Newbery Honor Award for this beautiful book in 2001. Her storytelling skills are so finely tuned that she hypnotizes the reader into thinking the story is fact, instead of fiction. It reminded me of the way a gifted actor convinces you that he really is the character he portrays. Ms. DiCamillo is one of the most preeminent authors of children's literature of our day; this book is a true treasure.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Incredible Inspiration




How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence.



         Benjamin Disraeli

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Writer in the Woods


I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of Lake Quinault and its rain forest valley; this completes the tour. The old dilapidated dock actually found its way onto the pages of my novel, The Tale of Willaby Creek! I hope you have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend - and thanks for visiting my blog!



This last plant is probably familiar to everyone: the hydrangea. Although it is not native to the Olympic National Forest you see these beautiful blue blossoms everywhere this time of year. The story goes, that they were brought over by visiting Europeans long ago, and have flourished. Whether or not that story is true, I'm not sure, but I love hydrangeas.