Editing Tip Tuesday

25 buttonRecently I heard an author describe his book to a potential reader. And then I watched the reader’s face glaze over. It happened more than once. No one bought a book. What went wrong?

I’ll tell you. He never told the reader what his book was about, but he went on and on for several minutes. This may not be a traditional editing tip, like how many words you need for a thriller novel, (around 90,000 – 110,000) but once your book is published you have to sell it. No matter which publishing road you take. The author is always selling. And even before you sell it, you might be pitching to an editor or agent. You have to be able to tell others what your book is about.

In 25 words! Okay, I’ll give you one or two more, but it needs to be in one sentence. Have you heard of the elevator pitch? That’s what this is. Thirty seconds to tell someone what your book is about. Not five minutes like my author friend from earlier.

Here’s mine from my first book, Welcome To Kata-Tartaroo: A thirteen year-old boy was catapulted to the scariest place imaginable and has twenty-four hours to collect three mystical objects to save him and his two new friends.

That was twenty-eight words. Now, if I have a chance to explain more to my reader I can, but if I can’t, you get an idea what that book is about. It’s middle grade (thirteen year-olds), probably a fantasy (mystical objects and catapulted to the scariest place imaginable), has thriller like elements (twenty-four hours ticking time bomb), friendship (two new friends) I’ve told you a lot without making your eyes glaze over.

Ask yourself what the core of your book is about. Write it down. Or do you already have back cover copy? Does that truly reflect the essence of your story? Cut that down. But if you’re doing this for the first time write down your core message. Don’t worry about the word count yet. Then you’re going to put your editor hat on and you’re going to cut that message down. Keep the 25 word count in mind. Aim for that. Bounce it off your critique partners. Or other writer friends. You’ll know when you’re ready.

Any questions? I love to hear from you. Drop a line. Twenty-five words or less. 😉

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Favorite Things

Favorite Beach - Aruba
Favorite Beach – Aruba

I miss Oprah’s show were she gave away all those cool things at Christmas. How awesome would it have been to win some of that stuff? Of course, the flip side was you had to pay the taxes on all that stuff, (probably before you walked out of the studio, not that I know this), and taxes are gigantic mood killer. Just saying.

Recently,  I was at a book signing event, Enrichment Through Literature, with five other authors and we were each asked to speak about our favorite books. Basically, the ones that made a difference or shaped our writing lives in some way. I included Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White in my list. Charlotte’s Web was my introduction to talking animals that were main characters. Talk about cool stuff!

I read that book for the first time in the fourth grade. I loved it so much I carried it around everywhere with me. That was right around the time my parents split up. It must’ve been my comfort blanket. One day, the book went missing. I searched in every corner, closet, under the sofa, and couldn’t find it. None of the adults still living in my house, (Italian family equals grandparents live with you) knew where it was. I never found that copy. I often thought little elves came into my room at night, that explained the mess my mother yelled about, and  ran off with it. Or maybe it was talking spiders.

The blog was nominated for the Sunshine Award. sunshine-award1-e13921416365171I’m not entirely sure what the Sunshine Award is, but anything with the word Sunshine in the title can’t be all bad. Plus, I think it’s an attempt to get others to find your blog out there in the gigantic blog world and I can use all the help I can get. And not just with the blog. Ba da ump bump.

In order to accept this nomination, I must link back to the person who nominated me. A big thank you to Karen Lynne Klink. (I guess she finds the rantings of an Italian writing mom pleasant. Thank God!) Nominate other bloggers, which I’ll do below and list 10 things about myself. I promise to try and make things interesting.

1. Book Two, Welcome to Bibliotheca, in the Gabriel Hunter series is now available. Yeah!

2. There’s a book launch party at Cocco’s Café, 52 Main Street, Flemington, NJ on Friday, May 16th, 6:30pm.

3. I’m always cold, which is why Summer is my favorite season.

4. I drink green tea all day. (To stay warm.) Tea is my favorite drink, hot or cold.

5. My favorite jeans are from White House Black Market.

6. I have two ear piercings in my left earlobe. My left earlobe is my favorite.

7. My favorite picture of me is the one taken with a rock and roll band.

8. My favorite color is red.

9. I can drive a stick. Which isn’t my favorite thing to do, but driving a stick makes me cool for a girl.

10. My favorite place to be, besides a warm climate, is home.

There. How’s that? So, faithful reader, what are some of your favorite things?

 

Nominees for the sunshine award:

http://joannaaislinn.wordpress.com/

http://mkatequinn.me/
http://zampettilw.wordpress.com/

http://redsaidwhat.com/

http://theflexifoodie.wordpress.com/

I only nominated five because that’s all I read.

 

Would You Want to Be Immortal?

One of the trends on Facebook and other social media sites is “Throw Back Thursday” or “Flashback Friday” where your friends post pictures of themselves or their families from a long time ago. It’s cute to see some of the old pictures, but really, do we need to be reminded of plaid polyester and oversized collars? I guess, if only to make sure we don’t repeat history.

I haven’t posted any old pictures, because frankly, I’m too lazy to dig them out, scan them, file them in a new folder in the picture gallery on my computer and then upload them. Nobody cares that much about the yellow, red, purple, and orange flowered pant suit I wore in the 4th grade except my mother and Mrs. Owens my fourth grade teacher. May she rest in peace.

But this week “Throw Back Thursday” had me thinking of long ago events like the first time I ever went to a concert. Van Halen, April 3, 1984. That was 30 years ago and 30 is a very large number. Wasn’t it only yesterday I pulled on my white jeans, red sweatshirt, and tied a red bandanna around my thigh as a testament to my loyalty as a VH fan? How can it be that my own children are now asking to see their favorite artists in concert? (Let me just say the price of concert tickets today do not resemble the price of my VH ticket in 1984.)

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Not exactly Alex Van Halen’s drum set, but you get the idea.

How about friendships? I have friends I’ve known for more years than my Van Halen concert anniversary. I’m grateful for those friends and in my eyes they will forever be 14. I can only hope they see me the same way and not the middle-aged, lined face individual I have morphed into like a demon character in a sci-fi novel. I’m also grateful for my Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick in Warm Beige. Just saying.

The alternative to having large numbered anniversaries is having small ones or worse, none at all. Even though many days I want to believe the date on my driver’s license is a lie, I still feel like that kid going to her first VH concert. There is so much I still want to accomplish like learning to play the drums or speaking Italian (the real Italian and not the dialect of my crazy family) fluently. I haven’t hit any of the best sellers lists yet and that goal might take me well into my golden years. Hopefully, air brushing technology will continue to improve so my author photo will resemble me and not that demon character I’m fighting off with my foundation stick.

Honestly, I’ve thought I might like to live forever like Dorian Gray, but minus the magic picture business. (Maybe just drink an elixir) Then I’d have all the time in the world to slay dragons while speaking Italian. And if I can’t live forever than 150 years would be good as long as I could still do yoga. If I could make it to that age, then I wouldn’t be mid-life but heck, maybe still a toddler with lots to learn. I’d want the people I cared most about to grow really old with me too otherwise, I’d have no one to go to Van Halen concerts with.

So, what about you, faithful reader, would you want immortality? Why or why not? What would you be willing to do to get it?

Did Someone Say Cover Reveal?

Not the high resolution image, but it works.
Not the high resolution image, (one is on its way) but you get the idea and you’ll know what to look for.

Things are heating up around here and I don’t mean the weather, though I wish I did. I’m getting ready to launch book two in the Gabriel Hunter series, Welcome to Bibliotheca. I thought you might like a sneak peek at the cover. It’s not the high resolution image, so please forgive me, but I still think you’ll like it and you’ll know what to keep your eyes open for when it’s available.

I don’t have an exact date for release yet, as there is still much work to do, but by the latter half of April all systems should be a go. In the meantime, I’ve included a small portion of Chapter One to hold you over while you wait. Enjoy!

Chapter One

            My friends and I are in big trouble. Staring down an arrow head ready to slice open a hole in your face is never a good thing.

“You crossed the border into Bibliotheca. You are under arrest.” A short, pointy eared, fur covered dude wearing a helmet low on his eyes and some kind of metal chest protector with a gold letter B in the center holds us at bow and arrow point. Jeez, already.

We were supposed to be going home. Our long, dangerous adventure should have ended.

But instead of climbing the stairs out of Kata-Tartaroo and planting our feet on familiar soil, we landed here. And this place is no picnic either from what I can tell. The wind and snow push, shove, and bite at our bare skin. Ripped up T-shirts and jeans don’t cut it in temperatures that feel forty below. A coat about now might be nice. Spruce trees line the edge of the field behind us and the smell of burning wood floats under my nose. Corinna shakes beside me either from the cold or because she’s freaked out. I don’t blame her. I am too. And Owen’s eyes – well, let’s just say he’d make a pretty good bug.

When we escaped Kata I was kind of hoping for some food. The only thing we’ve eaten for the past two days is berries.

The cold air whips around us giving me a brain freeze and making my Fornax Chip ache in my right temple. The stupid thing implanted at birth so my parents can locate me. Obviously, it doesn’t work or we wouldn’t be lost in a blizzard. I wish I could yank it out of my skull.

Finally, I find my voice. “Under arrest? You can’t arrest us. We didn’t do anything.”

“You will be imprisoned for stepping foot on the soil of Bibliotheca. Entrance into our land is forbidden by anyone other than a Yug.”

“What’s a Yug?” I say.

“Silence, criminal.”

Not helpful.

Owen turns and points to the hole in the ground. The wind blows the door hatch shut and the snow covers it like a blanket. “I’m sorry, Mr. Yug, sir. We came through that door back there. We weren’t trying to commit any crimes. I promise.” Owen’s voice sputters like a cold car engine trying to start. Owen teeters beside me and yanks on his shirt. He stopped doing that back in Kata when he faced down the bully Blimey. Looks like old habits don’t shake.

“We made a wrong turn. We’ll just get out of your way.” Owen shuffles back the way we came.

“Stop.” Fur Ball lunges forward with the arrow, but doesn’t release it from the bow, and Owen jumps back just getting out of the way of having a new nose piercing. “Intruders go nowhere. Anyone crossing into Bibliotheca is subject to punishment and death.”

Punishment and death? Shorty over here has his fur out of whack. I bite down on my lip not to laugh. The three of us escaped from the scariest place imaginable. I think we can take one fur brained Yug with an arrow. I’m not dying. Not today.

Why Would Anyone Want to Cook?

I only use the ones with the word "cake" in the title.
I only use the ones with the word “cake” in the title.

The other day I was at the nail salon and the young lady helping me says, “I love looking at recipes. Cooking relaxes me.” I had to control the eye roll because I hate to cook. Yup. That’s right. And my comment is usually followed by “what kind of an Italian are you that you don’t like to cook?” Pop-Pop would often ask me that question especially because I also hate tomato sauce. I will have you know I am a perfectly good Italian who likes garlic, olive oil and sharp, stinky provolone cheese. And of course, cannolis!

My husband realized when he married me he chose the only Italian woman who can’t and doesn’t cook and I married the only poor Jew. The first time I tried to cook for Husband, back when he was just Boyfriend and I still wanted to impress him, I wanted to make macaroni. What else? Well, who knew you had to wait for the water to boil BEFORE you put the macaroni in? Pop-Pop came into the kitchen yelling and waving his arms, “What are you doing? Move out of the way. Let me fix it.” And so he did, which was a good thing because Boyfriend returned. And now I know to boil the water first. It’s all good.

Baking is my thing. Just like Pop-Pop. Since Pop-Pop was my most important male role model (Ma, did you see I added “male”?) and my favorite person (sorry, Ma) it only stands to reason I would want to be like him. And cannolis are way more fun to eat than liver. Not that anyone ever made liver in my house. More like stuffed peppers.

Nope, I don’t understand why anyone would want to cook. I also don’t understand why anyone wants to jump out of airplanes, skydive, and ride rollercoasters. I wonder if I equate cooking with reckless activities? Cooking can be dangerous once knives and fire are involved.

Then there’s Nan. She walks around with spatulas strapped to her hips. She equates feeding you with love. The more you eat the more you love her. And in reverse, if she cooks your favorite meal for you she loves you. Which is why she always makes eggplant parm for my husband and nothing for me. That’s no joke. She used to make stuffed peppers for my sister’s old boyfriend. He was Italian. I haven’t seen a stuffed pepper since they broke up. Sixteen years ago. I think Nan is still in mourning. Don’t tell my brother-in-law. And no, he’s not Italian, but we don’t hold that against him. Well, I can’t speak for Nan.

Tell me, faithful reader, do you like to cook? Why?

Are We Having Fun Yet?

A friend of mine recently said to me, “It’s about having fun, isn’t it?” Of course, the answer to that is “Yes!”  Then I started thinking, yes, I know, I’m thinking again, are we having enough fun?

As a mom, I’m always worried about who did their homework, who needs to be taken where, who has clean clothes to wear, when was the last time someone showered, brushed their teeth, their hair, did they eat, did they do their chores, okay, the list goes on and on. But how come I’m not worrying about who has had fun? Note, worrying and fun don’t belong in the same sentence.

Shouldn’t childhood be about having fun? How often have I told my daughter she can’t wear makeup because she’s too young. Don’t grow up so fast, you have plenty of time to be an adult and wear makeup. If I’m telling my kids to enjoy their childhood how come I’m not telling them to have more fun? I mean, does anyone even have time for fun?

I have to schedule my fun in. That’s not so fun, but if I don’t somehow my week has consisted of a lot of responsibility. And don’t get me wrong, being a writer is fun, but it’s hard work too. Way harder than I ever thought and there are plenty of days I think I could scrap this writing thing and get a job at Starbucks, which would be way more fun! At least I’d have people to talk to besides my characters.

I’m teaching my children to schedule their fun in too. Gone are the days of calling a friend in the morning and they can come over by lunch time. I tell my kids, plan it for next weekend. Plan fun? Really?

So how do we have more fun? Do we toss away our calendars and our planners and… get ready for it our phones and live in the moment? That’s what yoga teaches us. Live in the moment. I’m always having fun when I’m doing yoga. Hmm…I’m seeing a connection here. Make my kids take yoga. Yeah, okay…no.

I don’t have all the answers. If I did I’d write a book and make millions. (Are we laughing yet?) I do know this much. I’m going to have more fun and I’m going to see to it my children have more fun too. Right after they finish their homework.