Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Assignment Four - Prepare a One-Sheet

Diana Flegal

When you attend conferences and meet with agents and editors, you need to prepare a One Sheet to offer them at your appointment time.

This one sheet should fit on ONE page.

The title of you book, it's genre and word count, should be placed at the top of your page, along with your name.

A second Chance for Family
55,000 word Middle Reader
by Diana Flegal

Next: Think query letter.

The first words under the heading should be your 'tag line'.

Single mother meets tragic end, leaving 7 yr old Christy Miller orphaned with no living relatives.

Following your tag line should be one to two paragraphs defining the story's plot and conclusion. (Yes, you must reveal the end of your story. Agents and editors do not want to be left guessing the ending.)

When a tragic accident leaves 7 year old Christy Miller an orphan, an overloaded foster care system looses track of the girl. Resourceful, she manages to live off the street until a bag lady takes her under her wing, and introduces her to Sister Clarisse. Clarisse volunteers at the soup kitchen and lost her husband and son in a way similar to how Christy lost her mother.

Christy is quickly drawn into this loving soup kitchen's misfit family by Sister Clarisse's warm, funny and joyous spirit. She accepts the invitation to sleep on Clarisses couch. After all, winter is on it's way and the streets have lost their adventourous attraction. Clarisse considers what God's plan might be while gently guiding Christy back toward a God that might just still love her after all. After a few months pass, Clarisse asks Christy if she would like to become a permanant member of her 'family' through legal adoption. Christy flies into her loving arms, accepting the offer that answers her nightly prayers.

Follow this with a short bio.


Author Diana Flegal lives in lovely Asheville NC where she writes from a deck overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her dog Molly drags her from her office periodically to explore the mountain paths and clarify her thoughts. She is a member of ACFW and belongs to the Christian Writers of Black Mountain, a critique group.

Note: You may add appropriate graphics to your page as well as a small personal head-shot at the bottom beside your bio. Just be sure not to over do it. You want the story to be the main emphasis, not your artistic talents or ability to cut and paste a lot of clip art. Use bright color with restraint.

We have attached a few example's of books that have been sold or are under consideration by publishers at this time, with the permission of the authors.

Simple is fine if that is what you are comfortable with. I would rather you have the content correct. Do not be afraid to try this assignment, just do your best.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

How to Write a Synopsis - Cindy Sproles

Writing a synopsis is the most difficult part of writing a novel. Why? Primarily because we try to write the novel again rather than summarize it.
What is a synopsis? A synopsis is an abbreviated summary of the story. It should contain major characters, major plot points, conflict, a hook and how the story ends. Think of it as “Cliff notes.”
Writing a synopsis should not be hard. The story is already written (or should be).  Well versed writers can whip out a synopsis on an unwritten story due to their extensive skill in plotting a story and knowing where and how they want their story to begin and end. But for the inexperienced writer, the new writer, a synopsis can be a pothole.
Start with the basics.
1)      1-2 pages in length
2)      Single spaced
3)      Written in 3rd person, narrative
4)      Primary Character’s names CAPITALIZED AND BOLDED the first time they are introduced
5)      1” margins all around
6)      Justify left
7)      Author name and contact, agent contact, word count, genre information in a HEADER
8)      Center the title, drop 4 lines (or hit enter 4 times) and begin
9)      Start with a hook
10)  Set up the conflict quickly
11)  Introduce most significant character first
12)  Highlight pivotal plot points that move the story
13)  Don’t explain the entire novel, just tell what happens.
15)  Don’t interject long strings of dialogue

1 & 2) As a general rule, and remember…rules all have exceptions so you should ALWAYS check submission guidelines, a synopsis is 2 pages in length, single spaced.  Depending on the novel or non-fiction book you are writing, this may vary.  The rule of thumb for intense, heavily plotted and sub-plotted works is one synopsis page per 25 novel pages. However, most of us aren’t writing that type of book. So remember, the shorter the better. It shows you can write concise and sum up the story.
3) Most synopses are written In 3rd person, narrative, present tense.    i.e. Mercy, the daughter of THE PASTOR and TILDA MAE ROLLER, stands on the river bank watching the Pastor baptize a crippled man. She listens as he rants the man’s sin then buries him under the water again and again, holding STANLEY FARMER beneath the icy current until he drowns. Church members try to stop the drowning but by the time they pull the Pastor off Stanley, it’s too late.
4) Main characters are capitalized and bolded at the first mention of their names. i.e. MERCY ROLLER was the daughter of a circuit riding pastor in mountains of Appalachia.  Only bold and capitalize PRIMARY Characters as they enter into the story.
5 & 6) Set your margins 1 inch on all borders. Justify left. Do not center your paragraphs. However, double space between your paragraphs.
7) HEADERS…learn to use them. Microsoft Word allows you to set a header that will run continuously from page to page. It should contain your personal contact information on the left (name, address, email and phone numbers) , agent information on the right along with word count and genre. The center should have your last name a slash (/) and the title of your piece  i.e. Stanley/Rushing Waters
John Stanley                          Stanley/Rushing Waters                  Lou Stowe, Agent
1011 Rock Road                                                                        Stowe Agency
Booster, NV   37001                                                                 100 Main Street
000-000-0000                                                                           Rochester, MN 00000 Stanley@yahoo.com                                                                   lstowe@stoweagency.com
                                                                                                  Suspense/70,000 words      

8) Drop down four lines (or hit enter 4 times), center the word synopsis, double space and center your title.

9 - 12) Just like your novel, start with a hook. A synopsis is your “pitch.” Continue to think of that as you craft it. Sell your characters with their attributes, attitudes and motivations. Draw your reader into the summary and keep them there.  Move through your novel picking key plot points and showing how the character works through them, the impact they make and their conflicts.

Agents, editors and Publishers need to know the route the story is going. They will read your synopsis long before they read the first page of a chapter. If they can’t get a good plot line, strong characters and conflict out of your synopsis, then they’ll toss it over their shoulder  into the trash. It’s a hard fact, but it’s true. Writing is subjective and regardless what you write, if you cannot present a solid story that holds the reader, it won’t be published.

13) Don’t rewrite the novel. Here is where the skill comes into play. SUMMARIZE the most important parts of the story. Drop a line of dialogue in (but only if it’s valuable). SELL THE STORY.

14) Reveal the ending. This is no time to leave an editor hanging. They aren’t looking for the cliff hanger. They want to know how the story starts, how it moves and HOW IT ENDS.

15) Don’t interject long strings of dialogue. Only use dialogue if it is a changing point in the story. It must be IMPORTANT. Otherwise, remember, you’re the narrator telling the story, showing tempting bits of actions and making the reader hungry for more.

Every synopsis will vary. Every publisher and agent will require your synopsis to be tweaked to their guidelines. Before you write it be sure to do your research.                                                                                                                          

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

There Are No Excuses - Carolyn Underwood


Because I am arriving late to the process of preparation for Boot Camp, upon receiving yesterday’s email of our assignments, the temptation (into which I must not be led) was to crawl into either my bunk, bedroll or duffle bag and cry, “I can’t!” “I can’t!” “It’s too much!” And then, I remembered WHOSE I am and this is not about me, but about HIM. I laughed out loud. I was prompted by HIM and the email to see clearly once again the sign of brightly colored poster board and BIG letters I had posted in a junior high classroom where I once taught. Deciding I apparently was teaching adolescents with hearing disorders (not), I resorted to a powerful visual aide which read:


I emailed Cindy that I was going to remake that sign and post it this time for me in my work room/study/quilting room/woman cave to remind me there really are no excuses and to spur me on.

We all have them (excuses) and they are wasteful, useless and unworthy of us as God’s kids. If I spent as much time in purposeful, creative projects for God as I spend trying to fantasize reasons why they can’t be done, the task would already be done.

Excuses are tools of Satan especially if I am about God’s business. The minute they arrive, I’m sending them off to Headquarters for God to deal with while Jesus and I keep on working.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Why Do We Write? - Ann Tatlock

As I write this, my heart is broken. Two days ago, I felt it crack and splinter into a hundred hurting pieces.

You see, there was a little boy named Sam. I met him when he was seven years old, just after we moved into a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. His mother became a very dear friend of mine. His little sister became my daughter’s friend. The kids would come over to our house to play. I’d take them to the pool, the park, the lake, all the while savoring that unique joy of watching children have fun. After we moved to North Carolina, they came to visit us here. The last time we saw them was when we visited Minnesota in the summer of 2010. The years had gone by and the children had grown into teenagers.

Thursday of last week, Sam went missing. On Friday morning, he was found in a field of snow, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He left a note, but no reason. He was 17 years old.

When his mother called me, we wept together for more than an hour. For as long as I live, I will never forget her anguished cry, “Where is God in all this, Ann? Where is God?”

Why do you write? Why do I write? Is it so that we might experience what the world calls success? Is it for recognition? Awards? Money? Is it so we have a means whereby we can measure our own self-worth?

There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to succeed. There is nothing wrong with wanting remuneration for the work we do. Nor is there anything wrong with longing for the satisfaction of seeing our words in print. But it is not these that are at the core of our calling. Not if we are Christian writers. Not if we have been called by God.

We live our lives within and daily move through a world of hurt. We’re knee-deep in suffering and surrounded by voices crying out, “Where is God?”

We write to tell them that He is here with us. We cannot always tell them what He’s doing because we very often don’t know. But we do know Him. We know His love. We know His mercy. We are sure of His goodness, even when our hearts are crushed.

As writers, we are one small part of God’s voice answering the cries, telling men and women to hold fast because there’s hope. This world doesn’t include the entire story because the ending isn’t found here. The ending lies somewhere else. And in that final place, the broken will be mended, the senseless will make sense, and we’ll know that God is with us and always has been because we ourselves will be with Him.

If you believe this, make it the reason you write. When you go to your desk, your laptop, your computer today, let it be with the purpose of telling the world about our blessed hope.

**Ann Tatlock is a Christy Award winning author and serves as faculty at Blue Ridge Mountians Christian Writers Conference. Ann has taught special writing classes at Taylor University. Visit her at http://www.anntatlock.com/

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Writing What You Know - Kimberly Rae

Sometimes I have wondered why God sent me overseas for so many years, then brought me back. I spent so much time studying and adapting to different cultures, learned a new language - I was ready to give my life to overseas missions.

Then my health problems brought my entire family back to America. As far as we can tell, back to stay. I would be lying to say I haven't wondered why. So many people are not willing to go. We were willing, so why keep us here?

God does work in mysterious ways, and some questions will never get answers until heaven (and by then likely they won't matter anymore anyway!). Then again, sometimes God lets us see glimpses of the answers here in this life.

I think my glimpse has come in the form of a book--my book on human trafficking titled Stolen Woman. The setting is Kolkata, a place I've visited twice, next to Bangladesh, where I lived for 2 years. Writing it was like going back for a visit. And the main character's experiences - being young, idealistic and desperately wanting to do something of significance - all of that was written more from memory than imagination.

They (whoever they are) say you should write about what you know. I did. I wrote about a girl who appears competent and confident but is really insecure, and wants to make a difference to show herself and God she is worthwhile. I wrote about arriving into a world that has too much evil, too many orphans, too many trapped women, and the painful realization that she cannot save the world, no matter how much she cares.

I wrote about learning worth does not come from what we do for the Lord, but from who we are in the Lord, and His value of us is based on the extent of His love, not the extent of our abilities or achievements.

All of this I know. I know about Asia, about the street kids in my book, about the missionaries who have their own faults and inconsistencies, about the color and life and noise and all the things that make up a foreign culture.

I'm certain that my years in missions were not for the sole purpose of being able to write a good book, but I see being able to write from memory, from real experiences and thoughts and feelings, creates a much more powerful essence than I could have created from research. This is clear to me because in the second book of the series, there is a whole section in a setting I am not familiar with. I have researched and researched but I'm still putting off writing that section because I can't feel it - I don't know what the culture is and how they react and what they do in certain settings, which makes me all the more thankful for the things I do know from my own life experiences.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Assignment Three

Optional pre-assignment for
Advanced Editing seminar:
Chris Yavelow

1) Familiarize yourself with the Word’s Preferences window and it’s many panes. If you use Word for Windows, this is likely called “Word Options.”

Accessing your Preferences is easy on a Macintosh (press command+comma in practically any program, including Word), but this may not be the case if you are using Windows. In Word for Windows 2007, click on the orb in the upper left corner of the frame. Next, click on the 'Word Options' button that appears. In Word for Windows 2011, click the File tab and choose “Options” from the menu that appears.

Hovering your cursor over a Preference option will usually display an information popup about that option. Nowadays, many versions of Word have a “Description” field at the bottom of each Preference Pane to provide more detailed feedback.

Here’s one example of why you should make sure your Preferences are set correctly. I was recently handed a manuscript and noticed that the first pages had sentences beginning with the word “On” in which the “O” was really a zero. I asked the author if he had run the manuscript through Word’s grammar/spell checker. He assured me that he had. It turned out that he had left the “Ignore words with numbers” preference enabled. You may be surprised to discover that Word comes with that option enabled. The time wasted to repair this mistake could have been better spent on writing. This seminar will teach you how to avoid such potentially costly errors.

2) If you want to experiment with the examples that will be covered in the seminar while they are being presented, bring your laptop and a backup copy of your manuscript file (the longer, the better). Note that it is not necessary to follow along with your computer during this seminar because you will be provided with detailed step-by-steps as additional handouts for all the material presented at the seminar. However, if you can apply a few of the techniques right away, it can help you comprehend just how much time you can truly save using the simple steps you will learn.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I Was Rejected! Now What! - Diana Flegal

Writers receive hundreds of rejections over their career and though they are dishearting at times they also serve as a badge of courage.  The industry is tough and new writers must strive above and beyond the status quo for their work to be recognized.

Diana Flegal, agent with Hartline Literary Agency, offers a few tips and reasons for when you receive a rejection. Diana's class at Boot Camp will cover these things in greater depth. - Boot Camp Staff

Reasons you are getting rejected:

      Your work is not ready for submission
            Critique Group

      Your Query was not properly submitted
            Market accuracy
            Direct contact with publisher
            Content appropriateness

      Uncontrollable factors
            Timing, comparable sales (books) and audience size

Suggested Reading Material and Links to visit:

Honing your fiction writing skills:
      Write Great Fiction- James Scott Bell
      Bird by Bird- Ann Lamont

Building Your Platform for your nonfiction title:
Links to read on a regular basis:
http://www.amarketingexpert.com/blog/, http://www.publishingtrends.com/, http://janefriedman.com/, http://www.livewritethrive.com/2011/, Cec Murphy's Writer to Writer Blog and last but not least, Hartline's blog which received the Writers Digest 2011 Best Website for Writers Award. 

Assignment Two

Learning to flesh out characters is one of the most important things a writer can do. Characters who have depth and a "real" life, connect the reader to the story...make them care...make them keep reading. Below you'll find a practice writing assignment to help you learn how to build deeper characters. - Boot Camp Staff

Writing Assignment
Ann Tatlock & Yvonne Lehman

Go to the obituary page in your local paper and choose one person listed there. Your assignment is to turn this person into a character in a novel. (This doesn’t have to be a novel you’re actually working on at present.) After reading the highlights of his or her life, feel free to use your imagination to fill in the blanks. Write a paragraph fleshing out this person, making him three-dimensional.

Your character description should include but is not limited to:

* Age and physical description at the time of the story

* Occupation, if applicable

* Main strengths

* Main weakness/character flaw

* Strange habits or unusual hobbies

* External problems the character is facing

* Internal problems the character is facing

* What does this character want? What is keeping this character from getting what he wants? (This is the main conflict that creates the plot.)

Let your imagination soar and have fun!

Bring your assignment to boot camp and email a copy to mountainbreezeministries@gmail.com

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Assignment One - THE AUTHOR BIO

Assignment 1
The Author Bio
Cindy Sproles

The author bio is the most important thing, bar none, you will write and it is important the appropriate bio is posted or sent to the proper place.
There are three types of bios: 1) Friendly 2) Working 3) Professional

The Friendly Bio:
The Friendly Bio is one that finds itself on your blog or friendlier environments. This bio can contain your name, tidbits about your family, hobbies, and your writing. Generally, this bio is a one page bio or 350-500 words. It should be up-to-date, accurate, and well-crafted so it doesn’t read like a beginner’s piece of work. Think it through. Weave your sentences together in a neat and orderly fashion so they tell a nice story about you. It should contain your email, website address, and/or blog URL.
Post a friendly picture of yourself in a relaxed environment.

The Working Bio:
The Working Bio is short; 25-100 words. It lists your name, writing credits, and education. It can also list groups or ministries you work with. It contains your website address and/or blog URL. A working bio is what you might submit to magazines, websites, and when you are a guest blogger.
Post a casual to professional headshot. DO NOT post your family or send a photo of your children or grandchildren. Always send your photo as a JPEG file attachment. Do not paste it into the body of an email or document unless instructed to do so.

The Professional Bio:
The Professional Bio is meant to be included in submissions to agents and publishers. The professional bio should be constructed with your name and your professional credentials. Your writing credits, along with teaching and speaking credits, must be here. Publishers do not care about your family life or fun things you enjoy. They are interested in you and your marketability, not how many pets you have or that you like to crochet in front of a fire. So make yourself marketable. Craft this bio and make it tight! Highlight your talents.

For example, my professional bio might read:
Cindy Sproles is an author, speaker, and cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries. She cowrites the popular syndicated He Said, She Said Devotionals.
Cindy is the Editor of ChristianDevotions.us, managing the website and writing staff. She is the Office Administrator for Comfort Keepers, Kingsport, TN. In the past, Cindy has served as Editor for PLM Enterprises, a national company specializing in training upper management in leadership skills. She is a contributing writer for CBN.com, Common Ground Christian Newspaper, Tri-County News. and is the coauthor of He Said, She Said: Cultivating a Life of Passion. Cindy is a sought-after speaker for women’s conferences and retreats, as well as a faculty member serving and teaching at Christian Writers Conferences from coast to coast.
Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com or email her at mountainbreezeministries@gmail.com
Your assignment

Write a friendly bio, a working bio, and a professional bio. Return your WORKING BIO along with a JPEG photo to Cindy for the Boot Camp Roster.

Bring all three with you to Boot Camp!
Send to Cindy at mountianbreezeministries@gmail.com.