Category Archives: Writing Tips

Contest for Aspiring Romance Writers

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The Heart to Heart Contest, sponsored by the San Francisco Bay Area Romance Writers, is a great conduit for professional feedback on your romance manuscript. I am a first-round judge for the Heart to Heart whenever my schedule permits, and love discovering new talent and helping aspiring authors hone their craft. Final judges are editors and agents.
Here is the scoop:

6 CONTEST CATEGORIES: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, Erotic Romance, Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance, and Young Adult Romance

WHAT TO ENTER: Send us that magical scene in which your protagonists meet for the first time, maximum 15 pages. (An optional one-page set-up may be included, but will not be judged). This is the moment that really brings readers into the story and encourages them to keep reading.

DETAILS:

Electronic submissions only — Rich Text Format (.rtf) only

Cost: $15 for SFA-RWA members, $25 for non-members

Eligibility: Open to all writers unpublished in novel or novella format as of the announcement of the Final Round Winners on November 6, 2017. Non-finalists may publish after the announcement of the First Round Finalists on October 5, 2017. Published is defined as having an ISBN and/or ASIN number on any work of novel or novella length.

Scoring: Scoring is based on 20 key areas.

Top three entries will be forwarded to the final judges.

DATES:

August 31, 2017 – Deadline for submissions

October 5, 2017 – First-round finalists notification

November 6, 2017 – Final round winners announced

FIRST ROUND JUDGES: All entries will be judged by three judge volunteers. Our first round judges include RWA PRO and PAN members. Each entry is matched with at least one published author. All entrants will receive written feedback on their entry from all three judges.

FINAL JUDGES: Three in each category: one literary agent, one traditional publishing house editor, and one e-publishing editor.

TOP PRIZE: Certificate

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Please visit https://sfarwa.net/contests/.

FINAL JUDGES AND PAST WINNERS: https://sfarwa.net/contests/contest-winners/

For questions, email our contest coordinator at heart2heartcontest @ gmail . com

Crafting an Elevator Pitch

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An elevator pitch, known in the film industry as a log line (or logline), is a succinct explanation of your manuscript or screenplay’s central conflict. A well-honed pitch will include the story’s emotional hook.

No writer should attend a writing conference without first crafting an elevator pitch. You never know if the person standing beside you in an elevator, or sitting next to you at the hotel bar is an agent, editor, publisher, or producer.

Equally important, writing an elevator pitch is an excellent way to test your manuscript or screenplay. If your plot is too convoluted, your conflict too weak, or your protagonist too unremarkable, these flaws will surface while you attempt to craft your log line.

As you will see in this video by Rocket Jump Film School, a log line should answer 4 questions…plus one more. https://youtu.be/r0Fj_H9Q73k

If you find it difficult to distill your work down to a sentence or two, remember these questions:

  • Who is the main character?
  • What does he/she want?
  • What is keeping them from accomplishing their goal?
  • How do they overcome the obstacle?
  • Where does the story take place?

In the video, Will Campos breaks these questions down further, helping you reveal the critical details in your story that will help your elevator pitch or log line soar.

Write an awesome novel or screenplay. Then write a compelling log line to help you sell it.

~Ariella Moon draws upon her experiences as a shaman to create magical Young Adult fiction. Her series include The Two Realms Trilogy, a medieval fantasy adventure, and The Teen Wytche Saga, a series of sweet contemporary paranormal romances. http://www.AriellaMoon.com

Great Opportunity For Aspiring Authors

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Why should you enter a writing contest?

  1. To gain valuable feedback.
  2. To gain access to acquiring editors and agents.
  3. To improve your craft.

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Toronto Romance Writers is accepting entries from unpublished writers for The Catherine 2017* from December 1, 2016 to January 31, 2017. Permission to forward is granted and encouraged!

Grand Prize

The Gold Ticket Round winner and runner-up will receive a three-month mentorship with a published author.

Mentors:  Molly O’Keefe and Eve Silver

Judge:  Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary Agency

Finalist Round

The top three entries in each category from the preliminary round will advance to the Finalist Round. Each entry in the Finalist Round will be judged by one acquiring agent and one editor.

Each first place winner in their category will receive a critique by a published author prior to advancing to the Gold Ticket Round.

CONTEMPORARY

Agent:  Shira Hoffman, McIntosh & Otis

Editor:  Deb Werksman, Sourcebooks

Published Author:  Stefanie London

CONTEMPORARY:  SHORT

Agent:  Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

Editor:  Piya Campana, Harlequin

Published Author:  Mary Sullivan

EROTIC ROMANCE

Agent:  Courtney Miller-Callihan, Handspun Literary

Editor:  Brenda Chin, Entangled Publishing

Published Author:  Christine d’Abo

HISTORICAL

Agent:  Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency

Editor:  Jennie Conway, St. Martin’s Press,

Published Author:  Ann Lethbridge

MAINSTREAM WITH STRONG ROMANTIC ELEMENTS

Agent:  Janna Bonikowski, The Knight Agency

Editor:  Allison Carroll, Harlequin, Graydon House Books

Published Author:  Kate James

PARANORMAL, FANTASY, FUTURISTIC

Agent:  Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourett LLC

Editor:  Angela James, Carina Press

Published Author:  Morgan Rhodes

ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

Agent:  Stacy Donaghy, Donaghy Literary Group

Editor:  Elizabeth May, Kensington Publishing

Published Author:  Kelley Armstrong

YOUNG ADULT

Agent:  Vanessa Robins, The Corvisiero Literary Agency

Editor:  Annie Berger, Sourcebooks

Published Author:  Juliana Stone

 

Preliminary Round 

Each entry will receive guaranteed feedback.

Judges: Toronto Romance Writers’ members.

*For the complete rules and regulations, please visit torontoromancewriters.com

Choosing the Best Point of View

Today’s guest post by Brigid Amos on Point of View (POV) brought to mind my own evolution as a writer. Mastering POV was vital to my becoming published. To conquer my head hopping habit, I forced myself to write an entire book, Spell Check, from a single point of view. My writing improved dramatically, and Spell Check became my first published novel. Spell Struck, the second book in my Young Adult Teen Wytche Saga, required alternating points of view. As Brigid explains, there is a way to successfully achieve this. My sixth book, the upcoming sequel to The Beltane Escape has been a challenge. Four points of view! Watch for more details on The Viking Mist.

Now please welcome Brigid Amos, author of the newly released A Fence Around Her, a Young Adult Historical novel.

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One of the biggest decisions a writer makes when she begins a new story is choosing a point of view (POV). There are many ways to define POV, but I like to think of it as the means by which the writer guides the reader through the story and what she allows the reader to see, hear, and know. It is as if the reader arrives at a theater to watch a performance, and the writer is the usher who shows the reader to his seat. But the seat isn’t necessarily in the audience. Sometimes, it’s inside the head of one of the characters, sometimes, it is even inside the writer’s head. Where the reader sits will completely affect how he experiences the story. The usher can move the reader around during the performance, but must do so in such a way that he does not get confused and lose track of the story.

When I first started writing, I gravitated toward an omniscient point of view, or so I thought. I wanted to tell the reader what everyone was thinking and feeling, as if I were a camera floating about a scene, but one that could also dive in and out of characters’ heads at will and somehow record their thoughts. I think this tendency to the omniscient POV is very common among beginning writers. For me, it was probably an effect of being steeped in classic literature. But the problem was that I was not writing in a true omniscient POV. Instead, I was “head hopping,” that is, changing POV from one character to another and completely confusing the reader. I learned early on that if I were going to write in third person, I had to stick to one character for an entire chapter or at least an entire section. In this way, I could write in a close third person POV without getting into too much literary mischief.

When I started writing A Fence Around Her, I so strongly identified with my protagonist Ruthie Conoboy, that I naturally switched my usual close third person POV to first person POV. Ruthie tells her story directly to the reader, and when the reader comes to my theater, I seat her right there in Ruthie’s head so that she can look through Ruthie’s eyes and hear with Ruthie’s ears. When I was writing, I felt that I was Ruthie writing the story as if in a journal or diary. People always ask me if I journal. When I was studying for my Master’s degree years ago, I bought myself one of those cute little fabric covered blank books and dutifully filled the pages every day. Then I stopped, because frankly, journaling wasn’t as fun for me as it is for others. The strange thing is that when I write in first person, it feels as if I am journaling, but I’m doing it in character. And when I’m journaling from the point of view of one of my characters, it is most certainly fun!

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Can a girl break free from her mother’s past?

About the book:

Having a mother with a past is never easy. For Ruthie Conoboy it becomes the struggle of a lifetime in 1900, the year Tobias Mortlock arrives in the gold mining town of Bodie, California. Ruthie is suspicious of this stranger, but her trusting father gives him a job in the stamp mill. Soon, Ruthie suspects that her mother and Mortlock have become more than friends. Can Ruthie stop this man from destroying her family?

Having a mother with a past is never easy. For Ruthie Conoboy it becomes the struggle of a lifetime in 1900, the year Tobias Mortlock arrives in the gold mining town of Bodie, California. Ruthie is suspicious of this stranger, but her trusting father gives him a job in the stamp mill. Soon, Ruthie suspects that her mother and Mortlock have become more than friends. Can Ruthie stop this man from destroying her family?

To read and excerpt and more, please visit Ariella Moon Blogspot.

A Fence Around Her is available on 

Amazon:  getBook.at/AFenceAroundHer

iTunes:   https://itun.es/us/qzAQeb.l

Kobo  Smashwords

About Brigid Amos:

Brigid Amos’ young adult historical fiction has appeared in The MacGuffin, The Storyteller, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Words of Wisdom. A produced playwright, she co-founded the Angels Playwriting Collective and serves on the board of the Angels Theatre Company. She is also an active member of Women Writing the West and the Nebraska Writers Guild. Although Brigid left a nugget of her heart behind in the California Gold Country, most of it is in Lincoln, Nebraska where she currently lives with her husband.

Connecting with Brigid:

Join Brigid’s mailing list: http://www.brigidamos.com/mailing-list-signup.html

Like Brigid on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brigidamoswriter/?fref=ts

Follow Brigid on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Brigid_Amos

Visit Brigid’s website:       http://www.brigidamos.com/

 

 

Women Writers, Listen Up!

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Witches. Ghosts. Paranormal romances. October is THE month for curling up with a black cat and reading the Teen Wytche Saga, especially Spell Check, a Young Adult Halloween romance. But in the midst of immersing myself in all things spooky (I am a shaman, and most of my friends are witches, so spooky is  the norm for me.) I came across this terrific blog post by Kristen Lamb.

Good Girls Don’t Become Best Sellers

The post may scare you. Not in the Things That Go Bump in the Night kind of scary, but in the Oh Crap, She is Right, kind of scary. It was inspired by Kate White’s, I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This.

So women writers, do yourselves a favor and check it out.

The cat will wait.

Spell Check New Cover

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Barnes & Noble

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Kobo Books

iTunes

Amazon UK

Copyright 2015 Ariella Moon

6 Ways to Conquer Writers Block

Every author dreads developing writer’s block. Luckily my guest host, Catherine Bennett, author of Devon’s Choice, offers six terrific ideas to kickstart your writing. Welcome Catherine! 1045235_10153069845085122_261005835_n copy 4Hi Ariella! Thank you for having me on your blog to discuss one of our favorite topics – writing. As an author, one of the hardest things to work through is writer’s block. It’s happened to me many times (nearly every time I sit down in front of the computer). The following are some suggestions that have helped me to break free! Help, I’m Stuck! (Or Free Yourself of Writer’s Block) According to Wikipedia, the definition of Writer’s block is as follows: “Writer’s Block is a condition, primarily associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task at hand. At the other extreme, some “blocked” writers have been unable to work for years on end, and some have even abandoned their careers.” pen and notebook MF This dreaded “condition” seems to affect every writer at some time in his or her career. Words may pour forth easily for a while and then the mind shuts down at the very thought of writing. If the condition lingers too long, panic can ensue. From there, the writer might experience a feeling of failure and doom, especially when friends or even worse, your agent, asks what is in the hopper. The following are some suggestions that have helped me in the past to get out of a slump and move forward:

  • Write everyday. If you have an idea for a story, now matter how         unrefined, write it down. One simple phrase can begin a story or keep it moving.
  • Pictures can lead to an idea. I often look through photographs or drawings and will save my favorites. Using them as visuals can trigger an idea.
  • Think of the movies you’ve seen or books you’ve read and re-invent parts of them. I’m NOT advising plagiarizing, but there are seldom completely original plots in books or movies.
  • Don’t become overwhelmed. Thinking that “I’ve got to write a book” is certain to induce anxiety. Instead think, “I’ve got to think of some really cool characters names” which is more fun to play with.
  • Indulge in a good book. Many times reading can re-ignite the imagination.
  • If desperation sets in, walk the dog. Walking can free the mind and the dog won’t think you’re crazy if you talk to yourself about an idea.

For more ways to give your writing a boost, visit my website at www.catherinebennett.org devons-choice jpg copy About Catherine: I grew up in Ohio where I currently live with my husband and our two rescue Labradors. Some of my favorite things include reading, shopping, pepperoni pizza, Hershey bars and hanging out with my two grown sons. I also love dogs, so going to the dog park is cheap entertainment for my husband and I! Growing up an only child, I had many imaginary friends. I believe this – and a love of books – fueled my desire to write. It was many years later that my dream of becoming a published author came true. You can find my newest romance, “Devon’s Choice” on the following sites:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1AMhNfY

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1xkWZaw

Smashwords: www.smashwords.com/books/view/510322

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/devon-s-choice

Related Postshttp://catherinebennett.org/welcome-author-ariella-moon-with-her-five-secrets-to-becoming-a-better-writer/

Research Tips

Have you ever meandered down the research road and found yourself distracted by every offramp? Whether you write historical or contemporary, fiction or nonfiction, research will be part of your writing life. I offer 3 Tips to Rein-in the Research Beast. http://www.mariaanngreen.com/blog/guest-post-by-ariella

Happy New Year and Happy Writing!

~Ariella Moon

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