Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lens on: Pitching

Writer's Digest Conference Pitch Slam 2011

Lens on: Pitching
By Brad R. Cook

I wanted to focus The Writers’ Lens on pitching to literary agents, publishers, and editors. In 2011, I had the great privilege to attend the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City. After returning I wrote an article for The Scribe, St. Louis Writers Guild’s Literary Magazine, titled The Mechanics of the Perfect Pitch. I’ve updated that article so I could include it in the Lens On: Series, but what I learned still applies.

The Mechanics of the Perfect Pitch
By Brad R. Cook from the Spring 2011 issue of The Scribe

            The Missouri Writers Guild Annual Conference is a month away, are you ready for your Agent Pitch? No. Calm down, breathe, it’s going to be okay. Pitching is easy when you know what you’re doing.

            I had the pleasure of attending the Writer's Digest Conference in New York. It is famous for the Pitch Slam, a two-hour event held on Saturday where a writer has two hours to pitch to as many agents as possible. It was the craziest thing I have ever been a part of, every three minutes a bell rang and you had to get up. When I attended in 2011, 55 agents and 650 writers filled the room. Now that is the Super Bowl of pitching, there won't be anything like that at the MWG Conference.

            So what makes a great pitch? If you were at the November 2010 St. Louis Writers Guild workshop with Chris Richman of Upstart Crow Literary you would have heard about the various types of pitches. Chris helped everyone master the Elevator Pitch, a short 25 word sentence that describes the book. It is often called a Log Line. At the MWG Conference you’ll have seven minutes but what do you do with them?

Here are a few tips I picked up, I hope they help.
 1 – Do mention The Hook
                                      Is it complete,
                               Word Count,
                               Genre,
                               Main Character,
                               Main Plot,
                               One or two subplots, but only if important,                                                      Elevator Pitch (25-35 words)
                               Log Line ([Book] meets [Movie])
                        This is exactly what the agent will be listening for.

2 – Generalities and Clich├ęs will kill a pitch  
            Say what’s different rather than why it’s the same as another book.

3 – Don't use all your time
            You want time to talk about your book, but you also want to give the agent a chance to ask questions. Half for pitching, half for discussion.

4 – Be positive - remember you're trying to sell yourself.

5 – Practice, practice, practice 
            Say it in the mirror, tell a friend, write it down. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Heck even if you’re not ready for publication, practice pitching in front of agent anyway (just make sure you tell them when it will be done)

6 – It is the work that sells not the writer  
            Focus on why the book is good, not yourself. Unless you’re writing non-fiction then it’s all about you and your platform.

7 – Don’t ramble or get bogged down in the details  
            Be specific but be concise.

8 – Don’t giveaway the ending or get tied up with back story
            Make the agent read your book to learn the juicy tidbits, and you only have a few minutes so focus on the story – unless you’re writing non-fiction.  

9 – Don’t expect the agent to take a proposal or query letter
             They have limited suitcase space

10 – Rejection isn’t about you; it’s about the writing or the industry
             Maybe the agent just picked up a similar book, or maybe they don’t represent that genre. The point is that the agent isn’t putting you down. They are just not the right agent for that material. If you are rejected, remember, there is always another agent – so get ready to pitch to them! 


            The goal is to hear those glorious words – send me a partial, I want to read that, but remember, publishing is long road and this is just the first step. Good luck with your pitches!

Do you have any tips for writers agonizing over their pitches? Add to my tips, can I get an 11, 12, and 13… Let us know in the comments.


Brad R. Cook is a historical fantasy author and President of St. Louis Writers Guild. Please visit www.bradrcook.com or follow me on Twitter @bradrcook https://twitter.com/bradrcook

To learn more about St. Louis Writers Guild, visit www.stlwritersguild.net, Saint Louis Writers Guild on Facebook, or @stlwritersguild on Twitter.com
For information on Missouri Writers Guild and its conference, visit www.missouriwritersguild.org or follow them on Twitter at @MoWritersGuild 

Monday, February 25, 2013

The 2013 Missouri Writers Guild Conference


The 2013 Missouri Writers Guild Conference
By Brad R. Cook

Conferences are the backbone of the publishing industry. It’s the best place to meet a literary agent or publisher, the best place to learn about current industry trends, and they are the best places to learn from professionals about where this crazy industry is going to be in five years.

There are several great national conferences held by organizations like Writer’s Digest, Romance Writers of America, Romantic Times, Bouchercon, SCBWI and many more, but a there are also some amazing regional conferences, and one of them happens to be right here in Missouri.

So what is the difference between a regional and national conference? In a word, people. The national conferences easily attract over 500 attendees, but regional conferences have about that half that attendance. Now, I’m certain some people would argue that the bigger conferences bring in bigger names and they’re kinda right. But that isn’t always the best way to learn. When you’re one of 300 people in a banquet hall it can be hard to get your questions addressed. The regional conferences have breakout sessions of 50 people or less. Just like with class sizes, the smaller crowds allow for more specialization.

The other differences are things like cost to attend, travel expenses, contests, critiques, and the specific services offered, but these vary for all conferences. I suggest thoroughly researching each conference you wish to attend before deciding.

There is another secret I’ll pass along… the regional conferences still attract the industry leaders. Top agents, publishers, and authors don’t just go to the big conferences; they attend many of the regional conferences. So if you can’t afford the big conferences, or if you’ve never been to a conference and want to see what they're all about – may I suggest something like the Missouri Writers Guild Annual Conference.

Allow me to showcase one of the best regional conferences I have attended.

Missouri Writers Guild
2013 Annual Conference
Bringing Writers Together!

April 26-28, 2013
at the
Sheraton Westport
Lakeside Chalet
191 Westport Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63146

Here are some of the speakers listed to attend.

Kathleen Ortiz, New Leaf Literary and Media
Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, Larsen Pomada Literary Agents
Carly Watters, P.S. Literary Agency
Jita Fumich, Folio Literary Management
Joan Lynch Luckett, Assistant travel editor, Midwest Living
Kristina Blank Makansi, Publisher and Editor, Blank Slate Press
Lela Davidson, author, Blacklisted from the PTA
Grant Clauser, poet and poetry teacher
Janet Cannon, Technology Instructor
Geoff Morrison, freelancer and e-publishing expert
Sarah E. Fine, author and psychologist
Robin Colucci Hoffman, Get Published Coach
Steve Yates, author Morkan’s Querry

With
Banquet Keynote Speaker, Jane Henderson, Book Editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
and
Early Arrival Seminar “The Shy Writer Reborn” with C. Hope Clark, editor of Funds for Writers Inc.


Plus, David Lucas and I will emcee the Open Mic on Friday Night!

If you want to learn more about the speakers, schedules, contests, pitch sessions, book signings, and more please visit - http://www.missouriwritersguild.org/Conference2013v9/index.htm
or visit their blog and hear directly from the speakers – http://mwgconference.blogspot.com/

If you are interested and want to know more, St. Louis Writers Guild is having a workshop this Saturday to help prepare for the conference.

Sit Down and Pitch
Saturday, March 2, 2013
10am to Noon at the Kirkwood Community Center
For more information visit www.stlwritersguild.net


Brad R. Cook is a historical fantasy author and President of St. Louis Writers Guild. Please visit www.bradrcook.com or follow me on Twitter @bradrcook https://twitter.com/bradrcook
St. Louis Reflections http://www.stlbooks.com/B009271-1211-51/Review.aspx

Friday, February 22, 2013

Reading Guilty Pleasures

A book that's a coffee table, did I mention I like coffee table books!

Reading Guilty Pleasures
By Brad R. Cook

We all have them… though we may only admit it to certain people. They’re the novels we can’t stop reading, the books we keep buying more of, and the covers we rest in our laps so no one will see. Guilty pleasures, the dark chocolate of the book world.

Some, like comic books, have moved from hidden pleasure to mainstream literature. Others, like erotic novels, became some of the bestselling titles of last year. Maybe, these secret, guilty pleasures are really everyone’s favorite books, and we shouldn’t have to hide their covers when waiting at the doctor’s office. There are many cover avoidance tools from the book within a book, to the paperback fold over.

But…

E-readers have made the consumption of guilty pleasures so much easier. No one needs to know what we’re reading, and there is no cover to give us away. Plus, the lower price point means we can snatch up more of this brain candy without so much of the guilt.

The beauty of the guilty pleasure is that they allow our minds to have fun. We call on our brains all day long, but when we read something just for the fun our minds get recess. It’s universal everyone loves recess – ask any kid. Yes, this means that fanfic is the recess of literature.

I read a lot of books that are not within my usual genres. I love it, from friend’s books, novels to review, as research for author interviews, magazine articles, essays, and more, it’s one of the joys of being a writer. We all read what we want, but I’m not referring to a favored genre, a guilty pleasure is genre you like but don’t want everyone else to know you like.

So, what is your favorite guilty pleasure read? Let me know in the comments or use tell us on Twitter using @writerslens

My guilty pleasure reads – I have two… that I’ll admit too  
Really Old Books (I recently reread The Three Musketeers)
and
Coffee Table Books (I stalk the oversized bargain racks at bookstores)


Brad R. Cook is a historical fantasy author and President of St. Louis Writers Guild. Please visit www.bradrcook.com or follow me on Twitter @bradrcook https://twitter.com/bradrcook

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ripley Patton answers WL questions, offers free GHOST HAND ebook

Happy Valentine's Day! Today's guest author, Ripley Patton, is offering free ebook copies of GHOST HAND as part of Kindle's Book Love event from today (Feb. 14) through Feb. 16 at http://amzn.to/Vhsb9y

GHOST HAND: Olivia Black just discovered that her ghost hand, a rare birth defect, can do more than light up a room. It can reach into people and pull things out. Things from the darkest depths of the human psyche never meant to exist in this world. 

Olivia can pickpocket the soul. 

But she can’t control her ability, or the strange items it extracts, and the only thing between Olivia and the men bent on taking the power of her hand is a boy she barely knows and doesn't trust.

AND NOW...a little about the author, Ripley Patton. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with one cat, two teenagers, and a man who wants to live on a boat. She is an award-winning short story writer and author of Ghost Hand, a YA paranormal thriller and the first of a three-book series known as the PSS Chronicles. To find out more about Ripley and her fiction, visit her Website, or find her on Facebook or Goodreads

What brings your writing into focus? For me, writing has always been about creating meaning. From the first poem I wrote at age thirteen when my mother died, to book two of the PSS Chronicles I'm working on now, I write to make sense of life, and ideas, and the world. When things are confusing, or hurt me, or seem random, I need to write them into story because only through story do they suddenly become whole and sensible to me. 

What inspired GHOST HAND? Ghost Hand is about a girl who can pickpocket people's souls. She can reach into them and take out a token of their deepest darkest psychological issue. And I suppose that idea originally sprang from the fact that my husband is a therapist who works with troubled teens. Teens have a lot going on in their psyches these days, a lot of hurt, and baggage, and inextinguishable light. So, I sort of jumped off of the question, "What if someone could just reach in and pull that out?"

What's the highest compliment someone could make about your writing? Your writing touched my soul. That would be amazing, but nobody's said that exactly. I've had a few people say, "Your writing made me cry," and I hope they meant cry in a good way. And I wouldn't feel too bad if other writers said, "Damn, I wish I'd written that."

What do you think readers will like about your book? Well, I've been told it is a page-turner, the kind of book you can't put down until you've read the last page. And that is actually what I was going for. I also think that the paranormal aspect is really unique. I've never read or heard of a book with a premise even close to Ghost Hand's. Finally, I hope they'll love the characters as much as I do. I tried to create the kind of characters I love to read; flawed, sympathetic, complex, and realistic. Oh, and the ending is nice and round. It doesn't leave you hanging, but it does leave you wanting more.

If you could meet one of your characters, who would it be and where would you meet? Of course, I've met all my characters. I've met them on a daily basis for the last three years in my head. But if I could meet any of them in this world- the world outside my head- I think I'd meet Olivia sitting next to her dad's unmarked grave. And we wouldn't talk. We'd just sit, and that would be enough.


________________
This is T.W. Fendley. Thanks for reading and commenting on The Writers' Lens.You can find out more about me at www.twfendley.com.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Kristi Petersen Schoonover: Characters bring focus to her writing

Welcome to Kristi Petersen Schoonover, whose most recent novel, Bad Apple, is a Pushcart nominee. Her short fiction has appeared in Carpe Articulum, The Adirondack Review, Barbaric Yawp, New Witch Magazine,Toasted Cheese, and others, including several anthologies such as Dark Opus Press’ In Poe’s Shadow. She has received three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and has served as a judge for New York City Midnight's short story competitions. She lives with her husband, occult specialist Nathan Schoonover, in the haunted woods of Connecticut and still sleeps with the lights on. You can find out more at www.kristipetersenschoonover.com.

Connect with Kristi
Website/Blog: www.kristipetersenschoonover.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/kpschoonover
Twitter: @KPSchoonover
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kristipetersenschoonover
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/kpschoonover

The Writers’ Lens is about “Bringing fiction into focus.” What brings your writing into focus—the characters, the stories, the love of words? I’d have to say the characters. The inspiration for each of my stories is usually an odd item—a dollhouse crammed with bird bones, preying mantis-egg wedding favors—or situation: a chionophobic who can’t afford to move south, a church that charges $25 a word for broadcasting prayers above the pollution to guarantee they get heard and answered. From there, the characters just tell me who they are and what the significance of that item is in their lives, or how they respond to the situation—the plot, pacing, theme, motif, point of view and everything else is dictated by them. They define what each of my fictions becomes. And I’m perfectly happy to let them: when I’m writing that very first “vomit” draft, it just doesn’t feel like work.

How much fact is in your fiction? I put the greatest attention on setting, because writing has always been an escape to me. I want to see, smell, taste, touch, and hear that world that I’m in, and in order to do that, the setting has to be meticulously accurate—for example, one scene in my short story “Charlotte’s Family Tree” was set in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in 1979. Once the initial draft was done, I spent countless hours researching what was there that particular year: which attractions were there and what they were called (because some names have changed over the years), which entertainment was going on, what the ticket system was like, every single detail—and that was exclusive of simply describing the smells and temperature of Florida during the season of the year in which the characters were visiting. I always try to set a story in a real place and be very conscientious about those details. Other than that, I make certain I fact-check the same things other writers do: what’s the procedure for bandaging a wound? For planting a tree? You know, the usual.

What’s the highest compliment someone could make about your writing? An artist in any medium can be easily discouraged, I think, by rejection, lack of recognition, and other things of that ilk which are inherent in our profession. That said, I’ve always held that “if I reach one person, I’ve done my job.” So I take joy when I get a Facebook comment, an email, anything that notes someone really enjoyed a particular story, or it moved him, or it spoke to him on some level. The best reaction I’ve ever gotten came today, in fact. I just sent out my “Holiday” chapbook. My Aunt Delores, who has always encouraged my work, called me and all I heard on the other end of the phone at first was laughing. “I wanted to call you tonight, but I couldn’t wait!” She could barely breathe. “Oh, I just finished your story and I loved it! That ending is incredible! You got me again!” Yes, it’s a family member. But she doesn’t love everything I write, and sometimes she flat-out tells me she didn’t care for it. So this was a pretty huge deal for me, that I had her in such fits of laughter she couldn’t even talk. A visceral reaction, therefore, is the best kind of compliment I could get—it’s not just, ‘that was good,’ it’s ‘look what you did to me.’

What’s your favorite writing accessory or reference? Really sharp pencils with great erasers, a good movie score (The Perfect Storm, March of the Penguins and Gettysburg are a few favorites), the awesome Brookstone coffee cup heater my brother Chuck bought me several Christmases ago, and Yankee Candles (wondering? My favorites are Treehouse Memories, Christmas Cookie and Vanilla Lime).

If you could borrow one person’s zest for writing and/or life, whose and why? Hands down, Anais Nin. She was so passionate her words just pulse with it, and she has such a vibrant clarity it’s hard for me not to read something of hers and scream, “yes, yes, yes, you read my mind!” She cared nothing of what others thought and everything about what others thought of herself and her work; she was on the edge but amazingly in touch with her own tenuousness, and was so comfortable with what was in her own broken soul that she wasn’t broken at all. She worked hard, she partied hard, and when she didn’t have a pen in her hand, there was one scribbling in her mind until she could get one in her hand. I aspire to be like her: Writing is not what I do. Writing is what I am.

Read Kristi’s Work
A Sampling of Published Short Stories: http://kristipetersenschoonover.com/where-to-read-me/
Bad Apple:
Bad Apple (Direct from the Publisher, Vagabondage Press Books): http://bit.ly/BadAppleVagabondagePressDirect
Bad Apple (Print, Amazon): http://bit.ly/BadAppleKPS
Bad Apple (Kindle, Amazon): http://bit.ly/BadAppleKindle
Bad Apple (Nook): http://bit.ly/BadAppleNook
Bad Apple (Smashwords, All E-formats): http://bit.ly/BadAppleSmashwords

Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole: Tales from Haunted Disney World:
BAD APPLE: After an unfortunate incident on a Maine apple orchard, precocious teen Scree is left with a father she’s not sure is hers, a never-ending list of chores and her flaky brother’s baby. In a noble move to save the child from an existence like her own, Scree flees to a glitzy resort teeming with young men just ripe for the picking. But even as life with baby becomes all she’d dreamed, Dali-esque visions begin to leach through the gold paint…

Fans of THE HAUNTNG OF HILL HOUSE, THE LOVELY BONES, and CARRIE shouldn't miss BAD APPLE--a dark, surreal ride that proves not all things in an orchard are safe to pick.

50% of the author's royalties from the sale of Bad Apple are being donated to the American Association of Caregiving Youth, a non-profit organization for the support of children who are caring for ill, injured, elderly, or disabled family members.
_____________________ 

This is T.W. Fendley. Thanks for reading and commenting on The Writers' Lens.You can find out more about me at www.twfendley.com.
 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Katherine Lampe: Putting magic "into the living room"


Welcome to Katherine Lampe, who was  featured on the December Broadly Speaking podcast about Magicians & Shamans, which I hosted for Broad Universe. 

Professional Tarot reader, student of the arcane, and musician, Katherine lives in rural Colorado, where she hides under a rock and watches the community with a bemused smile on her face. Over the course of her life, she has done everything from hosting a radio show to working in an occult bookstore, and many things in between. In addition to her Caitlin Ross series, she has also published a book of original and re-imagined fairy tales, Dragons of the Mind.  

What do you think readers will like about your book? Other than that it's incredibly well-written and well-plotted, with beautiful language and characters who leap off the page and take up residence in their living rooms? (smirk) The comment I've heard most from fans is how *real* the world is. I deal with people the reader can believe in. One person said, "I can believe your protagonist goes to the bathroom." (You can repeat that or not.) I call what I write contemporary supernatural fantasy, but it crosses over into magical realism quite a lot. Most fantasy, when it talks about magical systems and experiences, you get it's fantasy. You think it's neat, but there's still a distance--a sense, even among the people who are experiencing it, that this is out of the ordinary. In my books, the magic and the experiences related to it are just another thing, like taking out the trash. My characters don't spend a lot of time agonizing over it; they just cope. It's part of their lives. As one fan said, I "take magic out of the stratosphere and put it in the living room." Which makes reading my books a powerful and affecting journey. 

How much fact is in your fiction? I’m really glad this is one of your questions, because I wanted to get into it on Broadly Speaking but we didn’t have time. The simple answer is: a lot. I’ve been interested in different systems of thought, different interpretations of spirituality, magic and reality almost since birth. So I’ve studied them. Now, when something interests me, my impulse isn’t to read about it. I want to do it, experience it. That means that most of my “research” is “living the life.” I know about the systems I write about, not as an intellectual, but as a participant. It’s in my blood and bones, and when I talk about it, I use that as my starting point.

But it is only a starting point. Because, face it, my experience may be wide, but it’s not universal. Also, I tend to relate to the world and my experience of it on a kinesthetic level. Now, this gives me an edge that maybe some people don’t have, because I’m not limited in my senses. I can describe how something feels in my body, how it sounds, smells, tastes. However,  as interesting as it might be to stick to that, I realize my readers will want something more. What I add is detail, mostly visual and direct experience. When I mediate, I don’t actually go anywhere. When I pray or interact with deity, the gods don’t show up in my kitchen. My characters do go places not in this world and they do have gods showing up in their houses in a way that isn’t common to most mundanes coming from a first-world, Western culture. And that’s where my fiction takes off.

What other genre would you like to write? Epic fantasy. I love those huge worlds with zillions of characters and cultures and all kinds of intricate political maneuvers. I have half a dozen beginnings of that kind of novel in various places, old discs and whatnot. That’s what I started out to write when I started writing seriously in eighth grade. But I’m no good at it. I love world-building, and I can do that fairly well. But my mind just doesn’t seem to be able to encompass the kind of plots that take place in that setting. I hate politics. I hate it when people are stupid and don’t communicate and that’s what advances the plot. I don’t do the sweeping kind of themes that epic fantasy thrives on. I’m good at personal relationship and small venues and personal challenges. So I don’t think I’m going to be putting out an epic anytime soon.

What movie star would be perfect for (your main character) and why? I try to avoid this, because in the past when I’ve cast my stories I end up writing about the actors as I perceive them and not the characters. And I have a horrible time thinking of anyone for the Caitlin Ross books. The closest I’ve been able to come for my protagonists is Miranda Otto (although she’d have to put on about 25 lbs) and Gerard Butler. They’re not perfect, though.

What’s your favorite writing accessory or reference? Thesaurus!!

Where can readers find you?
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/wysewomon
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KELampe
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2707900.Katherine_Lampe
http://www.facebook.com/KELampe
Under Construction: http://www.katherinelampe.com



THE UNQUIET GRAVE: For Caitlin Ross, every day is a struggle. Born a witch, she renounced use of her powers out of fear of what they might bring to her and the people she loves.

However, a ghost’s plea and a series of strange events at the bar where her Irish band is playing prove too much temptation for even her strong will. When she discovers that the bar’s owner is a magician bent on raising a demon with the power to destroy her home, she chooses to take up her powers once more, no matter what the consequences. 

In challenging the magician and ending the threat of the demon for all time, Caitlin will discover there’s more to the world, and to herself, than she ever imagined.

_____________________ 




This is T.W. Fendley. Thanks for reading and commenting on The Writers' Lens.You can find out more about me at www.twfendley.com.




Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Lens On: Dialog Tags


Lens On: Dialog Tags
By Brad R. Cook

Do we read tags, or do our brains just absorb them and focus on the next line of dialog?

I do know this, there isn’t one answer, there isn’t even a right answer, but there are some suggestions.

Today I am focusing The Writers’ Lens on Dialog Tags, those pesky little sentences that hook on to our characters speeches. Most are short, some are overly wordy, but all are packed with information. Do we even need them, though?

For those who are uncertain what I am talking about, Dialog Tags announce who is speaking in the text. They most often are identified as: I said, he said, she asked.

When Should A Dialog Tag Be Used?
            Anytime a new character speaks on a page. Dialog tags are there for the reader, as the writer we know who is talking, we can hear them clearly in our heads, but the reader might be a little confused especially when there’s a crowded room of people talking over each other. A few tags can go a long way.

            It is essential to tag dialog when two or more characters are on the page. Think of a movie, they way the director jumps from one close up face shot to another when people are talking, they are visually tagging the conversation. It’s no different for writers. Identify who is speaking and the reader won’t have to reread to clarify.

When don’t you need dialog tags?
            When you only have two characters. If there are only two people talking on the page then after you have established the order you no longer need the tags. The conversation becomes a back and forth that is easily followed. It helps if the characters have different voices.
           
            When the context of the surrounding paragraphs describes the character. If you just got done writing about the character stepping up to a podium, then you don’t need a tag, the reader will know who is speaking.

            If you are Ernest Hemingway.

Said Brad vs. Brad Said
            Does order matter? No. Just use one and stick with it!

Which Dialog Tag Should I Use?
            Said, always use said. Most readers expect to see said, so the brain doesn’t even register it, we simply read the tag and move on. Because of this it can actually be distracting to use different tags.

            But what about asked, whispered, shouted, agreed, or any of the other descriptors? Here’s where the rules get murky, you can use them, sometimes you should use them… BUT you need to ask, should you just use said and move on, or do you need to use a different descriptor.

Which Dialog Tags Should I NOT Use?
            Telling Tags. “What a day.” I lamented. This says nothing, one could argue that the writer needs to mention the character’s feelings in the tag because “what a day” could mean anything without context, and they’d be right. But show the lament, or else you’ve missed a great chance to explore the character. Always show.  The same goes for declared, regretted, bragged, or… you get my point.

            Unneeded Tags. “Damn You!” I screamed. Readers are smart; an exclamation point is universal for screaming, shouting, or any number of similar emotions. Save the white space and add two words to some other description.  

Can I Conveying Action With Dialog Tags?
            Yes. But…be careful, you don’t want to slow up the pace of the conversation. So use when it is necessary. Here is also where you find two differences of thought. Some say you shouldn’t use action tags like laughed, smiled, or frowned. That action cannot be spoken and should not be in the dialog, but I would disagree. I would say that a sentence could call for action between the dialog. “That’s funny.” I chuckled. “But we really should get back.”

And since we’re on the subject,

Where Should I Put The Dialog Tag? Before, After, or In-between?
            Before or after – that’s up to a personal preference and how you identify characters. Some would say to identify the character before they speak to help the reader, others would argue that it should go at the end because it is the conversation that is more important. You decide, but only use one.

            In-between – yes! A great way to break up long monologues is with actions tags. People rarely stand stiff as a board and talk. We are animated creatures, usually performing multiple tasks at once. Only politicians like long speeches.

Well, I hope that helps everyone understand Dialog Tags. If you want a fun exercise, check out how your favorite authors tag their books. It’s something I notice now and I always get a kick out of it.

What is your favorite place for a Dialog Tag, or how do you feel about the said only world we now live in? Let us know in the comments.



Brad R. Cook is a historical fantasy author and President of St. Louis Writers Guild. Please visit www.bradrcook.com or follow me on Twitter @bradrcook https://twitter.com/bradrcook

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tax Tips for Writers


Tax Tips for Writers
By Brad R. Cook from a Workshops for Writers presentation by Faye Adams

Taxes… no anything but taxes…
Too many receipts, ever changing rules, and complex math… *rips out hair*

But… with just a few simple steps I can save money and so can you… YEAH!

This weekend St. Louis Writers Guild held its February Workshop for Writers: Money Saving Tax Tips for Writers presented by Faye Adams.

Faye gave a wonderful workshop to a packed-room, and has given these tax workshops for writers for several years. I wanted to share some of her words of wisdom, because they are so valuable for any writer.

I assembled some of the tweets from the workshop. If you want to read all the tweets from the workshop check out the hash tag #slwg or check out @stlwritersguild on Twitter.





Faye Adams is the two-time Missouri Senior Poet Laureate, and a wonderful children’s author. She was a tax professional for a number of years. For more about Faye Adams please visit www.fayeadams.com

I would also recommend attending the “Artist as Bookkeeper” workshop hosted by the Volunteer Lawyer and Accountants for the Arts (VLAA) on Monday, February 11, 2013. For more information about the workshop visit www.vlaa.org 

Many thanks to Faye Adams for such an informative workshop, and to St. Louis Writers Guild’s Workshops for Writers for providing excellent programming. Also a thank you to @Rockets2Writing for the tweets.



Brad R. Cook is a historical fantasy author and President of St. Louis Writers Guild. Please visit www.bradrcook.com or follow me on Twitter @bradrcook https://twitter.com/bradrcook
To learn more about St. Louis Writers Guild, visit www.stlwritersguild.net Saint Louis Writers Guild on Facebook or on Twitter @stlwritersguild