QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Product Funnel

Why do readers buy books? Someone who picks up your book, after all, is agreeing to invest hours of time in your universe, your language, and your vision. Most of us are short on time, not even to mention money, and there are millions of books. How to bring readers to your work?

I've been reading Write. Publish. Repeat. (which, by the way, I'm enthralled with. I love their approach) and the authors have an interesting proposition: the product funnel.

Most of us have heard of "loss leaders." In retail, that's when your local grocery store drops the price of milk below cost so they can lure you in the doors to buy overpriced hamburger meat and overpriced butter. The loss leader is commonplace in retail because it works: people will travel to get a perceived bargain, and then while they're in the store, they pick up a few extra things to save time. The store is happy because it has your money; you're happy because you saved a few dollars; you're happy because you saved a trip to another store where you would presumably have had to pay full price for your milk.

A product funnel is similar to a loss leader in that you the author put it out there to get your reader in the door. Then once you've gotten the reader to look at your work, you've got a chance to convince the reader via your stellar writing and excellent storytelling to stick around and buy your other products.

The way this seems to work in publishing is for a writer to produce multiple books, usually books in a series but sometimes books linked by subject matter (category romances, for example.) The author then lists the first book in the series as a free book and promotes the heck out of the freebie.

Readers who have never heard of you might be willing to take a chance on a free book. Ideally, though, they'll love your free book enough that at the end, when you show a picture of your next cover and a brief description, they'll head over to their favorite retailer and pick up a copy of the next one.

Or, as the Write. Publish. Repeat. guys suggest, you could link them to a bundle of your entire series, available at a discount. See, you liked one volume. How about getting the next five books?

They also advocate running your first novel at $.99, since that's cheap enough for an impulse buy but also is going to self-limit potential readers to people who are already okay with spending money on books.

I've begun trying to leverage this style of marketing for my own books. For example, my publisher for The Boys Upstairs has published a short story about the main character and made it free. (We also have a nifty cover and a cool title, which helps.) Every so often I drop by the forums for freebies and promote it there. I'm still releasing my Seven Archangels novels, but once every few months I try to make one of those titles cheap or free to attract new readers.

(Please note: I haven't been doing this long enough to see an impact on sales. If you have been, let me know in the comments.)

The product funnel is, in effect, the free sample plus coupon combination you'd get at your local wholesale club. You're giving a reader a risk-free chance to sample your work, and in return, the recipient may be giving you a longtime reader.

Speaking of product funnels, Jane Lebak's novel Seven Archangels: Annihilation is on $.99 Kindle Countdown right this second. She has four kids, four books in print, two cats, and one husband. She lives in the Swamp and tries to do one scary thing every day. You can like her on Facebook, but if you want to make her rich and famous, please contact Roseanne Wells of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Seasons Greetings




Seasons greetings from the Querytracker Blog family to you and yours!


~ Pat, Stina, Ash, Mary, and Jane

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Writer's Bookshelf: The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner

Today's edition of The Writer's Bookshelf is from author Marian Pereira. Enjoy!
 Betsy Lerner’s The Forest for the Trees is many things—an editor’s advice to writers (it says so on the cover!), a memoir of working in a publishing house, and a slice of history. I enjoyed reading it, because I love learning about what it’s like on the other side of the desk, but there are plenty of sound tips for writers as well.

My version of the book was published in 2000—partly because I haunt used book stores—but there’s a revised and updated version that came out in 2010, and the book is available on the Kindle as well. A lot of the fears and problems that writers had a decade and a half ago are still the same. If you’re concerned that a good editor at a major house is likely to stifle your voice or request too many changes, this book will help. It explains why determination is so important in publishing, and why agents sometimes find it easier to sell a debut novel than a midlister’s book.

And I loved the fact that even back in 2000, she mentioned “so much industry instability”. Some things never change.

 Betsy Lerner has worked as both an editor and an agent, but like all of us, she was new and inexperienced once. So much so that when a literary agent asked her to deal with a slush pile manuscript, she read it thoroughly and compiled a four-page report on the manuscript despite knowing it was unpublishable. The agent took one look at the report and said four words: “Did you like it?”

 “I lost my publishing virginity that day,” she writes ruefully.

 Another favorite part of mine was the unsolicited gifts she got along with manuscripts or queries. Nothing will ever beat the banana that Jane Smith received, but Lerner got “baby booties… a pair of dice, a five-dollar bill.” No, I don’t know what those were about either.

As Lerner says, this isn’t a book about how to write. It’s more of a step back to look at the bigger picture of publishing, and the many ways writers interact with their publishers: sometimes funny, sometimes inspiring, sometimes depressing (like the brilliant author with the heroin addiction). It’s an insight into how the people on the other side of the desk think, whether those people are literary agents or publicists. If she had included a chapter about cover artists as well, the book would have been perfect.

It's also peppered with memorable anecdotes and quotes about writing and publishing, such as this one about Flannery O’Connor:

When asked whether she thought writing programs in universities actually discouraged young writers, she replied, “Not enough of them.”

For writers who are curious about trade publishing, this is an entertaining, easy-to-read combination of memoir, self-help book and insider look into a business I find fascinating. It’s a long book, but that’s all the more to read. And here’s another four-word quote that I think is excellent advice: “Good writing creates luck.”

The Forest for the Trees is available on Amazon in paperback.
Bio : Marian Perera has three fantasy romances released by Samhain Publishing, with four more due in 2015 from both Samhain and Loose Id. She blogs about writing, publishing and her favorite genres at http://marianperera.blogspot.com, tweets as @MDPerera and has excerpts from her novels at http://www.marianperera.com. She collects books and swords, grows tomatoes, loves writing and reads everything. 

Flights of Fantasy

Friday, December 12, 2014

Publishing Pulse for December 12, 2014

New At QueryTracker:

Since the last Publising Pulse, we've added one agent profile and updated twenty four. That's a lot of motion in the industry, so please make sure you double-check every agent's website or Publisher's Marketplace page before sending your query.

If you're a QueryTracker premium member, then you can be notified whenever an agent or publisher profile is added or updated. If you're not a premium member, you can just check for yourself.

Publishing News:

Always changing is social media. In fact, Facebook is making some changes that may harm authors who use FB for marketing.

Amazon has listed its bestselling books for 2014. Buying off that list is kind of mutually reinforcing, no? Whatever. People liked those books. May we all sell as many. Meanwhile, the NY Times talks about the best book covers of 2014. My thought? Most of those covers would be death in a handbasket for genre fiction. The actual best book cover for a book is the cover that sells a million books.  I don't care if it's artful as long as it moves the product.

In case you weren't sure Neil Gaiman was amazing, he can recite Jabberwocky from memory.

A judge has ruled that you can send books to UK prisons. Apparently they're not dangerous after all.

Microsoft pulled out of its partnership with Nook.

Scholastic recalled a Geronimo Stilton book after it came to light that a map in the book completely erased the State of Israel.

Around the Blogosphere:

Agent Victoria Marini discusses working with a small press.

Identifying your unique brand.

Remember we talked about making an audiobook? Well, now it's time to market your audiobook.

And since we're talking about marketing, more tips for marketing bliss. Tell me that title itself isn't good marketing.

Eight things one author has learned about publishing a second book.

DBW has a survey out, and JA Konrath dissects the hell out of it. Takeaway: read the article and don't take the survey.

Literary Quote of the Week:

"All my life, I've been frightened at the moment I sit down to write." -Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Thanks for stopping by, and keep sending those queries! Oh, and buy someone special all the QT blog members' books for Christmas. Maybe yourself.

Jane Lebak is the author of An Arrow In Flight . She has four kids, four books in print, two cats, and one husband. She lives in the Swamp and tries to do one scary thing every day. You can like her on Facebook, but if you want to make her rich and famous, please contact Roseanne Wells of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Battle Between Manipulation and Believability

What are two of the best ways to kick a reader out of your story? Write a story that tries to manipulate the reader or test the boundaries of believability.

A few summers ago, I took my kids to see the newest Winnie the Pooh movie. At one point in the movie *spoiler alert*, all of the friends (minus Piglet and Tigger) fell into a deep pit. Their only hope of escape was Piglet. At one point my seven year old asked (loudly), “Why doesn’t Owl fly out?” This echoed what everyone else in the theatre was thinking. A few minutes later, Owl did exactly that. He flew up and gave Piglet a motivational speech so Piglet would brave the scary woods and search for Christopher Robin. Owl then flew back into the pit to face the shocked expressions of his friends. Only they weren’t shocked that Owl flew out of the pit. They were shocked at what he had said to Piglet. The friends applauded and the audience laughed.

So why didn’t the audience have a problem with the scene in the Winnie the Pooh movie? Because from the beginning of the movie, it was made clear that the animal friends lacked for intelligence. Due to the sequence of events that happened between the opening of the movie and Owl flying out of the pit, we could easily believe that none of the friends would question why Owl didn’t just fly out and get help. The audience didn’t feel manipulated.

Now contrast this to a book I recently read. In it, the hero and heroine got close to “doing it” several times. But each time they came close to going all the way, they were interrupted by either the phone or the doorbell. The first two times was believable. By the fifth time, half way into the story, I felt manipulated and annoyed. More so after the great build up for the sex scene that I expected to rival all others (maybe even Fifty Shades of Gray) turned out to be nothing more than a fade to black scene. Talk about a major let down.

To avoid the issue of lack of believability, always ask yourself: “Have I given enough set up to the story so my readers are able to believe this event can happen this way?” If you’re not sure if it is feasible, ask someone who knows the answer. For example, if your protagonist is caught with drugs in his school locker, ask a police officer what would really happen to the character. Don’t make things up and hope for the best. And avoid overusing plot devices that will leave your reader feeling manipulated and frustrated. Either of these could result in your reader quitting the book prematurely, never picking up another of your books, and/or telling her friends how bad the book was. If you’ve sent the manuscript to an agent or editor, you’ve increased your chance of receiving a rejection instead of an offer. But if you’ve used the plot devices in a believable and unique way, you’ll increase the chance of an offer.

Has lack of believability or the feeling of being manipulated thrown you out of a story?

Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL writes New Adult and adult contemporary romances. In her spare time, she’s a photographer, loves hanging out on Pinterest, and can be found at her blog/website. Her debut New Adult contemporary romance TELL ME WHEN and LET ME KNOW (Carina Press, HQN) are now available.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Guest Post: Beyond the Basic Questions for “The Agent Call”

Writers who want to take the path of traditional publishing all dream of that magic phone call when an agent offers to take them on as a client. It’s the first of many magical moments en route to seeing your book on a shelf in an actual bookstore.

For me, that phone call happened less than two years ago, and COMPULSION, the first book in my YA Southern Gothic romance trilogy came out from Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse on October 28th.

The two years between “the call” and publication have been a steep learning curve, and there isn’t nearly as much written about any aspect of that period as there is about the process of learning to write a book or craft an effective query letter. Even the questions authors suggest you ask during “the call” don’t go far enough. I have constantly come across terms and issues that are unfamiliar and that I have no idea how to handle.

Having come through these two years, I’d like to share what I’ve gleaned and put that knowledge in the form of additional questions to consider asking a prospective agent. Some of these are questions that I asked myself, some are questions I’ve since heard were asked by other authors, and some are questions that, having gone through the process, I believe would have helped me to manage expectations, smoothed communication, and resulted in less uncertainty on my part.

The Basic Questions

These are the defaults. You’ll find them suggested by almost every author, and you must force yourself to be your own advocate and ask them when the call actually happens. Not all agents will feel comfortable giving you details, and you will want to factor how they respond and communicate in general into your own decision process.

•    What do you like best about my manuscript?

•    What do you like the least?

•    How much editorial feedback do you like to provide?

•    Do you think the manuscript ready to submit to publishers, or does it need revisions before submission?

•    How extensive are the revisions you envision, and specifically what kind of changes are we talking about?

•    Did you have particular editors in mind for submission as you read?

•    What publishing houses do you think would be a good fit and why?

•    Where do you see this book positioned on a publisher’s list? Lead title, mid-list, etc.

•    What authors or books do you think are comparable and where do you see this positioned in a bookstore or categorized on Amazon?

•    Who do you see buying this book at a bookstore or online? How would you describe those people as a category?

•    How many editors do you envision sending it to in the first round of submissions?

•    What does your standard submission packet include and what is your submission process

•    How many rounds of submission are you willing to do before you consider a project “dead”?

•    Are you interested in representing only this project or do you want to represent future work with a career perspective?

•    Is there any work of mine, genre, age range, etc., that you would not be able to handle?

•    What sort of a path would you like to see with my career? How many books per year, what type of books, etc.?

•    Do you use a written agent-client contract?

•    How does your agency handle digital rights, foreign rights, and other subsidiary potentials?

•    How often do you provide updates on submission status?

•    Do you send copies of the editor’s responses?

•    Do you prefer to correspond by email or phone, and how often do you like to touch base verbally?

•    What sorts of things do you want to hear from me about and at what stage would you want to be involved in a new project?

•    What would be your ideal client relationship?

•    What is your standard agency royalty percentage?

•    How, and how often, is money distributed by your agency?

•    What would happen if you decided to leave the agency? Would I be able to stay with you, or would I be assigned another agent?

•    What are your standard termination provisions if either of us decide the relationship isn’t working?

Beyond the Basics

Initially, I thought the above was more than comprehensive. But there’s a great deal to working with an agent beyond the initial submission, and listening to author friends and meeting other authors since I embarked on the publication process, I have discovered that managing expectations for all concerned would have been much easier with additional information up front. The answers we get up front should provide us with a basic foundation of information. Without that, it’s too easy to spend time floundering and wishing for knowledge.

To that end, here are some additional things you might ask your agent and consider:

•    How involved do you expect to be in the editorial process once the book is purchased by a publisher? Do you ask for updates and gauge satisfaction from both author and agent?

•    How would you handle editorial differences of opinion between an editor and author?

•    How would you handle differences of opinion on titles or covers, etc?

•    How and when do you explain the various stages of the publication process or do you leave that to a publisher?

•    How would you handle a request for help if I need additional information, education, or intervention in the publishing process?

•    What do you see as the agent’s role when it comes to marketing or publicity decisions, mine or those of the publisher, and to changes or shifts in marketing or publicity plans for the book?

•    How do you handle foreign and subsidiary rights?

•    What do you see as your role, if any, if the publisher retains subsidiary rights, and what do you see as your role or process for checking/advocating for those rights?

•    If the book sells as part of a multi-book contract, what role do you expect to play in the editorial process for subsequent books?

•    How far in advance of the contractual submission deadline do you want/expect/need to receive subsequent contracted manuscripts?

•    At what point do you want to consider additional work to be submitted for “option” books or outside of an initial contract?

•    What sort of timeline do you envision needing before getting back to me when I submit future projects for potential submission?

•    How would you envision handling the situation if I love a project that you did not feel was salable or that you couldn’t market enthusiastically?


Martina Boone was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English. She fell in love with words and never stopped delighting in them. She's the author of COMPULSION, book one in the Southern Gothic trilogy from Simon and Schuster, Simon Pulse. COMPULSION is an RT Book Reviews ‘Top Pick’ Fall 2014 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Bookstores Alliance, and a Goodreads Best Book of the Month and YA Best Book of the Month, described by Booklist as a “compelling mystery about feuding families and buried secrets, not to mention a steamy romance.” Publishers Weekly calls it an “impressive start to the Heirs of Watson Island series.”

Martina is also the founder of AdventuresInYAPublishing.com, a Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers site, the free monthly First Five Pages Workshop and YASeriesInsiders.com, a site devoted to encouraging literacy and all things YA Series by creating an intersection of different fandoms.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

New QueryTracker Sneak Peek

The new QueryTracker should be going live around February of 2015, and I'd like to show you just a few of the new features that it will include.

There's a lot more new to show you, but it is the holidays after all and I don't want to keep you. There will be more sneak peeks coming soon.

And if there is anything you'd like to see added to QueryTracker, there's still time to make suggestions. Just add any ideas you may have in the comments below.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Publishing Pulse for November 21, 2014

New At QueryTracker:

Since the last Publising Pulse, we've added four agent profiles and updated fourteen, including two who appear not to be agenting any longer. That's a lot of motion in the industry, so please make sure you double-check every agent's website or Publisher's Marketplace page before sending your query.

If you're a QueryTracker premium member, then you can be notified whenever an agent or publisher profile is added or updated. If you're not a premium member, you can just check for yourself.

Publishing News:

This year's National Book Awards sounds like it was a rather … interesting event, with racist jokes (later apologized for on twitter) and an impassioned speech by Ursula K. LeGuin.  Also, awards were given out.

Bono is going to star in a comic book. Because why wouldn't he?

Simon and Schuster has made changes to their library ebook program, removing the requirement to "buy it now."

If you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books, their author RA Montgomery has passed away at age 78. May perpetual light shine upon him.

Oh, and bringing an end to the fun and games we've all been having on the sidelines, while authors lose revenue or else take bitter sides against one another, Amazon and Hachette have reached an agreement.   If you want some commentary about this (and who doesn't?) I recommend Hugh Howey's take.

Amazon updated the look of the author pages. I can't link to that -- just go take a look. (If you can't think of an author offhand, you can take a look at mine.)

Around the Blogosphere:

Smashwords wants you to know that ebook publishing only gets more difficult from here on out, but they have tips to help you succeed.

Goodreads compiled an infographic about reading trends by sex, and how often women read women and men read men.

Agent Janet Reid gives a newly-agented writer advice on mistakes not to make as a client.

New Republic features an essay from a writer either stunned or embittered by the notion that agents are searching for projects that make money. I recommend reading this because once the literary agent community finds it, they're going to start dissecting it on Twitter, and you should know what they're talking about.

Personal news:

This week saw publication of my novel, An Arrow In Flight, so my previous novel, Seven Archangels: Annihilation will be free until the end of today, and my Christmas novella The Boys Upstairs is now listed at $.99. If you love these blog posts, surely you'll love my books too. Right? Right.

Literary Quote of the Week:

"Don't let the fear of striking out hold you back." -Babe Ruth

Thanks for stopping by, and keep sending those queries!

Jane Lebak is the author of An Arrow In Flight . She has four kids, four books in print, two cats, and one husband. She lives in the Swamp and tries to do one scary thing every day. You can like her on Facebook, but if you want to make her rich and famous, please contact Roseanne Wells of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Conquering the Cliche

Editor's note: I'm nose-deep in edits of my latest project... and I'm finding myself in need of some of my own advice. Enjoy the reposting of a much-needed lesson!

Whether a plotter or a pantser, a novice or a pro, every writer will eventually do the same exact thing—and that's stare at the screen, fingers poised over keyboard, planning a character's next move.

How you handle your character's next move will set you apart from the rest of the writing masses. Genre matters not; length matters not. What matters is whether or not that next move is a cliché.

A cliché is any expression, idea, or element that has been overused to the point of losing its original intent or effect. There are the obvious clichés, namely those turns of phrase that get used over and over (whoops, that was cliché).

They are comparisons and references and descriptions that are so overused that they render the very language empty and boring.

While clichés are most often recognized as those annoying catch phrases, they can also relate to larger things like character and dialog and plot. Clichés are wicked little buggers that weaken our writing and writers should do their best to find them—and fix them.

Do The Unexpected

Clichés are often found hiding in plain sight (another cliché) whenever we let our characters act naturally—and these are the clichés that doom us to failure (probably cliché).

By acting naturally, I refer to the character doing what feels perfectly natural to us. I like to call it "First Response Syndrome", an unhealthy story condition wherein the character acts upon his/her first—and therefore natural—response to a situation or stimulus.

When a character does exactly what we expect them to do, remember this—every other reader on the planet (cliché) is expecting them to do it, too. And that's kinda boring.

Say your character is waiting for a bus that doesn't seem to be slowing down for her stop.
  • The natural response is to let her wait safely on the curb so she doesn't get flattened.
  • The unexpected action would be if the woman takes off her shoe and throws it at the bus, cracking the windshield. That's more interesting.
  • More interesting, still, would be if the character jumped into the middle of the street and made the bus driver slam on the brakes (technically a cliché but you know what I mean).
Do the unexpected.

Of course, there's a difference between unexpected and ridiculous. You wouldn't have an arthritic ninety-year old grandma jump into the street to stop traffic. (Unless, of course, we only thought she was a ninety-year old grandma but was instead an escaped acrobat who's on the lam (cliché) and wearing a disguise. That is so not cliché.)

But, as I said—ridiculous is not a good thing and you don't want to pull the reader out of the story. You just want to keep them on the edge of their seat (cliché).

Actions aren't the only things that can be cliché in this fashion. Dialog can be cliché, too, even when it doesn't contain any overused expressions. Any character who says what we expect them to say suffers from First Response Syndrome and is in dire need (cliché) of a rewrite. Don't allow your teen protagonist to be a carbon-copy (cliché) of every other teen you know. Forbid your villain the pleasure of twisting his mustache and howling his favorite mu-hahaha laugh (no matter how cool it sounds, it's cliché.)

Breaking The Habit

It takes effort to break a bad habit (cliché) like writing in cliché. However, the story will reap the rewards (cliché) if you can train yourself to spot them and fix them by doing the unexpected.

For instance, doing the unexpected may cause your character to come to a realization about themselves or someone else. An unexpected response may lead to heightened emotions. An unexpected response may tell the reader something about a character's makeup that would otherwise take pages of description—in short, an unexpected response would show a quality that the writer might otherwise be compelled to tell.

Try this exercise: select a portion of your manuscript and print it out. Using a highlighter, mark everything that seems it might be cliché—look for those expressions that are done to death (cliché), scour your dialog for trite or dull responses, and mark off every reaction to a stimulus.

Then, evaluate each instance of highlighted text. Think of a different way to write over those overused phrases. Add color to dialog using emotion and fresh language. Make your character do the exact opposite of their original response.
Do any of the rewrites heighten tension? Make the character seem more interesting? Take the story in a new direction? If it's more interesting to you as the writer, it's going to be more interesting to the reader, as well.

What a lot of us fail to realize is that sometimes our stories get rejected not because our writing is bad but because our work is clichéd. Good isn't acceptable anymore—our work has to be great.

Our characters need dialog that is fresh and original and our characters have to be ready to do the unexpected. Thinking past the first response will add an element of surprise and excitement to your work—and a reader who has to keep reading to find out what happens next is the reader that stayed hooked.

A hooked reader—that's not a cliché... because that never gets old.

Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction writer who, despite having a Time Turner under her couch and three different sonic screwdrivers in her purse, still encounters difficulty with time management. Visit Ash at www.ashkrafton.com for news on her urban fantasy series The Books of the Demimonde (Pink Narcissus Press). Her paranormal romance WORDS THAT BIND (The Wild Rose Press) is now available.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sleeping with Symbolism

A few months ago, I re-watched the suspense movie Sleeping with the Enemy. The story is about a young house wife (Julia Roberts) who fakes her death in an attempt to flee her nightmarish marriage, only to discover it’s impossible to escape her controlling husband. I still get chills thinking about it.

During one scene, the abusive husband hits Laura and she falls to the floor.  She pushes herself up to a sitting position, her long red hair spilling around her shoulders, legs bent to the side. At that moment, she reminds me of Ariel from The Little Mermaid. When Laura tries to stand, after her husband leaves, her legs are shaking so badly, she resembles Ariel after the sea witch turned her into a human, and Ariel takes her first steps into the new world. In Sleeping with the Enemy, this image is symbolic foreshadowing. What her husband doesn’t know is that Laura has been learning to swim, to overcome her fear of the water. She is a mermaid, so to speak. Soon after, she fakes her death in a drowning accident and escapes to a new life. The "mermaid" scene also symbolically foreshadows Laura moving to a new world (like Ariel did). She escapes from the massive, ocean-front property on Cape Cod to a cozy house in small town Cedar Falls, Iowa. Even the style of furniture is a complete opposite between the two places.

That evening, after Laura’s husband hits her, he gives her red roses and red lingerie. They are supposed to represent his “love”, but they really symbolize the physical and emotional abuse (blood, danger) she suffers at his hands.

After Laura escapes her husband, she takes a Greyhound bus to her new destination. As it arrives, we see Laura looking out of the bus window and the reflection of the American flag waving in the breeze. The American flag symbolizes freedom and the home of the brave. It’s the perfect symbol for Laura’s courage and the new life she hopes to establish in Cedar Falls.

Symbolism works both at a conscious and unconscious level. When we read a book or watch a movie, some symbols will jump out at us, especially if the creators have done a good job drawing your attention to it. With other symbols, you won’t stop to analyze it. For example, if the scene takes place in a room with green walls, you won’t be thinking that the director wanted to reveal the subtext of life. But you can guarantee someone behind the scenes purposely picked that color because of what it symbolized, and not because it was her favorite color.

In the first season of Criminal Minds (spoiler alert), there was one episode (Compulsion) in which fire and the number three were important elements in the show. Among other things, fire represents anger and divinity (Symbols, Images, Codes: The Secret Language of Meaning in Film, TV, Games, and Visual Media by Pamela Jaye Smith). The FBI behavioral profilers eventually figure out that the unsub (i.e. the serial arsonist/murderer) was starting fires based on the need to test her victims. If they survived the fire, they were free of the wrath of God. The number three (or rather the triad of the number three) would set off the unsub. The creators could have randomly selected any number, but three (like other numbers) has a symbolic meaning. In Christianity, it represents the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  As the unsub lined up the three bottles of flammable liquid, before dousing her three victims with them, she made reference to the bottles as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

In the book (and movie) Where the Heart Lies, Billie Letts used a tree to represent life and growth. Pregnant seventeen-year-old Novalee (Natalie Portman) is abandoned by her boyfriend at a Walmart store. With nowhere to go (since her mother ran away with a guy years before), she secretly moves into the store. A woman (Stockard Channing) mistakes her for a young girl she once knew and gives Novalee a Welcome Wagon gift of a buckeye tree. As can be expected, the tree starts to die. Novalee tries to return it to the woman, who suggests they plant it in her garden, but only if Novalee comes by regularly to take care of it. This is the turning point in Novalee’s life (i.e. turning plot point). Ruth Ann’s actions are the first act of kindness Novalee has experienced in a while, and under the mothering of Ruth Ann, Novalee turns her life around. And of course (during the movie), we are reminded of this with regular shots of the growing tree.

In the buckeye tree example, the meaning behind the symbolism was obvious from near the beginning of the movie, and was carried throughout the story. In the Criminal Minds example, it was only obvious at the end of the show, when the behavior analysis unit solved the crimes.

Movies (and TV shows) are a great place to learn about symbolism, since the director, writers, set designers look for ways to insert it. Most of the time, we don’t notice it at a conscious level. It impacts us subconsciously. But when done well, it adds to the emotional satisfaction of the movie. If you apply the same principles to your stories, they will increase the emotional satisfaction your readers will get while reading your stories.

Do you watch for symbolism in movies and books? Do you pay attention to it in your stories?

Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL writes New Adult novels. In her spare time, she’s a photographer and can be found at her blog/website.  She is represented by Marisa Corvisiero, and finds it weird talking about herself in third person. Her debut New Adult contemporary romance TELL ME WHEN and LET ME KNOW (Carina Press, HQN) are now available.

Monday, November 10, 2014

How To Survive Writing Through The Holiday Season

As I sit here, watching the guy crawl along the edge of the roof across the street, I’m reminded that the holiday season is upon us. That’s right, he’s setting up the Christmas lights for the house. And as I edit my manuscript and think about the other project I want drafted by the end of the year, I’m slammed by a daunting thought: how the heck am I going to survive?

Regardless of which holiday tradition(s) you celebrate, our writing time is often the thing that suffers the most. Unlike during the summer when we have to deal with the kids at home, we now have more expectations thrown at us. There are school performances, Christmas party invites, work parties (including those for your spouse). There’s holiday shopping, wrapping presents, cooking, visiting relatives. If you have relatives visiting you, it also means more shopping and don’t forget to clean the house. Plus you’ll need to entertain them. Watching you write isn’t entertainment.

In addition to these above demands on your time, our kids have school off, often for two or more weeks. And maybe you’re planning to travel to a hotter locale or to visit family. All of this will keep you from writing. All of this will also have negative consequences on other aspects of your life, including your health.

Tips to Survive the Holiday Season

1.    Set up a reasonable goal

Writing wise, what do you want to accomplish by the end of the year? Maybe it’s to finish the first draft of your current project. Maybe it’s to finish editing your book so you can begin querying agents in January. Maybe you’re working on a proposal for your agent and want to send it to her January 2nd. Now you know WHAT you want to accomplish, you need to decide if it’s feasible at this time of the year. You’re setting yourself up for failure if you want to write the first draft of an 80,000-word novel (that you haven’t started yet), and you’re not the fastest writer to begin with. This goal might be feasible in February, when you don’t have as many demands on your time. But at this time of year, you’ll want to rethink it and maybe set a goal of 50,000 words by January 1st.

2.    Set up a schedule

Pull out your calendar and figure out all the dates when you know you won’t be able to write. These include school performances, Christmas parties, the kids’ vacation (especially if they aren’t old enough to entertain themselves while you write), vacation time, relatives visiting. Also, pencil in the days when you know your writing time will with be cut short. For example, your in-laws are flying in on November 26th for the Thanksgiving weekend, and you haven’t organized and cleaned your house since their last visit in July. You’ll need to schedule a day or two for house cleaning duties. And don’t forget to schedule the cooking/baking you want to finish prior to their visit.

Schedule in your writing time. This is especially important if you won’t be able to write every day (for example, you tend to write four days a week). You’ll be less likely to forget that you had planned to write that day and fall behind on your goal.

Allow for flexibility in your schedule for unexpected events. For example, your boss moves up the deadline for a big project, and now you have to put in extra hours to finish it. You might need to rethink your priorities so you can make up the writing time. Instead of watching TV in the evening, you can write. Watch only those shows you can’t survive without (like the ones everyone talks about on Twitter as soon as it’s over, and you want to watch it before you see the spoilers).

3.    Reward yourself

For some of us, writing is a reward unto itself. We crave to write and get cranky if we go too long without working on our current projects. We don’t seek a reward for getting in our daily word count. That is our reward. If you’re the type of writer who can easily walk away from your writing without feeling guilty (until you realized you’ve missed the deadline for your goal), set up a reward system to motivate yourself to write on your scheduled days. Have small rewards for your daily goals and larger ones for your weekly goals. If you have a group of writer friends who are also working on their projects, you can update each other on your progress as a form of motivation (some people do this on Twitter and their blogs).

If you miss a day of writing because something unexpectantly came up, don’t berate yourself. Either pick up the slack another day or readjust your expectations. This depends on your goal. If you’re on deadline, you’ll be making up for this setback on another day, and will sacrifice something in your schedule that isn’t as important.

4.    Take time to exercise

It’s so easy to drop exercising from your schedule when you’re busy. Many an author has gained weight when faced with a fast approaching deadline because their exercise schedule was the first to suffer. On top of that, they don’t have time to cook, and rely on quick-to-prepare junk food. And at this time of year, we have enough delicious temptations to mess up our daily caloric intake as it is. The added benefit of regular exercise is that it helps with the stress many of us feel at this time of year, and helps with the creative side of writing. Whenever I get stuck on a plot point, I find running helps me figure things out.

Do you find the holiday season impacts your writing goals? How do you usually cope (or do you)?

Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL writes New Adult novels. In her spare time, she’s a photographer and can be found at her blog/website.  She is represented by Marisa Corvisiero, and finds it weird talking about herself in third person. Her debut New Adult contemporary romance TELL ME WHEN and LET ME KNOW (Carina Press, HQN) are now available.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Publishing Pulse: November 7, 2014

This Week at Query Tracker
Congratulations to this week’s Success! Read J.A. Holton's story.

Ready to write your own success story? If you're a QueryTracker member (membership is free) you can view the database of more than 1200 agent and publisher profiles. Premium Members can be notified whenever an agent or publisher is added or updates their profile, in addition to receiving access to several other enviable features.

This Week In Publishing
How many words are hiding inside you? November is the perfect month for getting them out... it's time for NaNoWriMo 2014! Get started on your November novel today!

For DIY indies: a guide to creating your front and back matter.

Test your Agent IQ…you may be surprised at the answers!

After writing your press release (if you need it, here's a handy reference), top it off with the perfect headline. Here are five tips you need to read.

Curious about Kindle Scout? Victoria Strauss provides a nice explanation with pros and cons.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction writer who, despite having a Time Turner under her couch and three different sonic screwdrivers in her purse, still encounters difficulty with time management. Visit Ash at www.ashkrafton.com for news on her urban fantasy series The Books of the Demimonde (Pink Narcissus Press). Her paranormal romance WORDS THAT BIND (The Wild Rose Press) is now available.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


So, um, I'm juuuuust a little excited about this, but I turned one of my ebooks into an audiobook, and you can too.  In fact, you should.

In September, I came across Hugh Howey's article on Wattpad about discoverability and the indie writer. I paused when I got to the point where he said every writer needs an audiobook (actually, what he said was "Audiobooks make you look like a media empire.")

I'd considered it before but don't have either the tech or the voice to record my own, plus I have no idea how to distribute it. I'd considered podcasting one of my books, but that's as far as it went.

Enter ACX, Amazon's audiobook-making platform. And oh, wow. Once I got over the inital terror of "Aaaah, I'm doing somehing new!"it was kind of fun. If you've retained your books' audio rights, I really encourage you to do it too. I'm going to assume you don't want to narrate your book yourself or you don't already have an ongoing relationship with a narrator.

You create an ACX account, which then locates your books on Amazon. You figure out which book you want to turn into an audiobook and tell ACX a bit about your book, yourself, and what kind of narrator you want for it (gender, age range, style). ACX then makes your project available for audition. If you're impatient (and I was impatient) you can start sorting through voice actors' audition tracks and ask them to read a brief audition script from your book.

At this point, you and potential narrators are going to be gauging each other for whether you want to work together. I'm not going to lie -- it was intimidating as all heck to be contacting voice actors and asking if they'd like to work with me on my project, but it became fun after a while. I talked to four different narrators about my novella The Boys Upstairs before settling on Ryan Prizio, who impressed me with his enthusiasm and versitility. Eight hours after I contacted him and asked whether he'd be willing to take a look at my project, he'd recorded the first chapter. And even with zero guidance from me as to what my characters sounded like, he brought them to life in that audio file.

As an author, you may know exactly how your characters sound. Or like me, you may not. Ryan had me describe my characters and give a general idea of how they sounded in my mind, and one night he sat on his couch and recorded himself talking as each one of them. It was amazing listening to my characters speaking for the first time, and for the most part he nailed every one of them (except for the one I'd described to him poorly, and he perfected her on the second go-around.)

Your narrator will record the first fifteen minutes of your audiobook, and after you approve it, the narrator can record and submit the rest. You'll need a cover for your audiobook too, and bear in mind that the print and ebook covers won't be the right dimensions. I used this as an opportunity to get a brand new cover for my book, by the way.

Once the audiobook is finished and approved, ACX arranges distribution. They set the price (the only part that's not under your control) and make the audiobook available through Amazon, Audible and iTunes. If you've chosen a royalty-share with your narrator, then you didn't pay the narrator up front and ACX will split your royalties with your narrator, 20% of the price to you and 20% to your narrator. (If you're able to record your own book, you get to keep all 40%.)

One caution: going through this process, I can see where an author and a narrator could go head-to-head about the process. Keep in mind that just as movies are different media than books, so too with audiobooks. I'd urge you as the writer to let go a little bit: no one's going to render your book exactly the way you imagined unless you do it yourself. But think about how many different interpretations you've heard of any literary work that's been made into a movie or even subjected to criticism. Your book, once you're done, lives independently in the heads of the readers. Similarly, these narrators are evoking parts of your book you may not have heard the same way before. Let go a little and let the piece breathe.

At about the midpoint, my two main characters have a no-holds-barred confrontation in front of a number of onlookers. They're brothers, so they're both carrying a lot of baggage, and they're really good at pushing each others' buttons (because, as I'm told, they installed them.)  Whenever I read that passage, I hear Jay as offended/outraged and Kevin as mocking to cover up his own insecurities.

When Ryan narrated that passage, he read Jay as heartbroken. Baffled. Vulnerable.

They're the same words, exactly the same, and an interpretation that I think works so much better in audio format than it would have in print (where I'd still tend to interpret it as majorly pissed off and defensive.)

In another section, one of my characters was interspersing his actions with snippets of memory, and Ryan realized the reader wasn't going to be able to hear what I was doing on the page. Remember, narrators can't speak in italics, and they can't speak in graphs or charts. So we changed the text, and it worked because both of us were willing to communicate and willing to trust the other's skill set.

Work together. Make yourselves a team.

I dare you: tell me you don't want to do this. Tell me you don't want to hear your characters speaking to you through a pair of headphones. Tell me you don't want to reach a whole cluster of people who say, "I don't read books" but who will pay to listen instead. Try, but I bet when you think about it, now that you know it's possible, you really do want to do it.

So yeah, so far it's been a blast. I'm really happy with ACX, and I think my narrator did an awesome job. You can check out Ryan Prizio's website, and you can also visit his ACX profile to listen to his work. (Just be sure to leave him some free time to do the rest of my catalog!)

Jane Lebak is the author of The Boys Upstairs. She has four kids, three books in print, two cats, and one husband. She lives in the Swamp and tries to do one scary thing every day. You can like her on Facebook, and if you want to make her rich and famous, please contact Roseanne Wells of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Creating the Dreaded Synopsis

We have had a lot of requests for information on how to write a synopsis. A synopsis is that dreaded summary of your story that can be anywhere from one to five plus pages. They aren't just necessary for when you're querying agents and editors. They're essential for when your agent is subbing your novel or novel proposal to editors.

Instead of re-inventing the microwave oven, I'm going to post this brilliant article from former QT blogger H.L. Dyer. If you have any questions not covered in the post, ask them in the comments.


Okay, QT's... as promised I am back to discuss how to create a rockin' synopsis.Now-- just like with a novel-- there is no single way to write a synopsis. There are many folks on these internets and in Pitchcraft texts such as Katharine Sands' Making the Perfect Pitch or The Sell-Your-Novel Toolkit giving advice on how to write a compelling synopsis. I'll include links to several of the online references at the bottom of this post.

In general, the recommended processes fall into one of two categories: to start with your one-word logline  and build up. Or to start with your novel and condense down.

While either method may work well for you, the best synopses in my experience were created using the second method. I'm going to describe the system I use for synopses and why it works for me.

When I first began preparing my manuscript submission, I drafted a 2-page synopsis using the "just describe your novel as briefly as possible" method. To admit that my original synopsis failed to rock would be an understatement. In attempting to be as brief as possible while "revealing all", I had virtually eliminated the component that makes a project unique.

I had surgically extracted my voice from my work.

Luckily, before I began submissions, I found another way.

A contest I was considering entering required an 8-page synopsis. I had read that agents or editors may request a "Chapter Synopsis," which is a brief summary of each chapter of your novel. So, I decided to write my chapter synopsis first, and then see where I was lengthwise.

Now, chapter synopses are not often requested. In fact, despite many requested proposals for my manuscript, I have yet to send my chapter synopsis for The Edge of Memory to a single agent. But I still strongly recommend you write one. Here's why:

1. For me (and for most writers I know), it is much easier to edit down than up. The chapter synopsis will hit all your main conflicts and give you the length flexibility to preserve your voice. Then you can cherry-pick the best bits when you trim down to the length you need. BONUS: Agents will request synopses of varying lengths. My requested synopses have varied from 1 - 8 pages. You can create these various lengths along the way as your editing progresses.

2. It's a lot less daunting to summarize a chapter than it is to summarize a WHOLE manuscript. The Baby Steps approach is nothing new, but it is surprisingly effective.

3. The chapter synopsis will help you to edit your novel Big Picture style. Our writing, our characters are personal. In the creative whirlwind of drafting a novel, we sometimes create scenes that don't resonate with the rest of the story. Once they've been created, and edited to polish the writing to a blinding shine, it can be easy to miss the fact that the scene isn't actually necessary to the story we're telling. Or that the characters have changed since the scene was written.

Each chapter, like a novel, should have a beginning, middle, and an ending. And the chapter, overall, should work to improve our understanding of the characters and to advance the plot. You might well discover while composing your chapter synopsis that a chapter or two needs reorganizing, or your novel may be stronger without them altogether.

So, here's my recommended method for writing your synopsis:

Step One: For each of your chapters, write 2 - 3 sentences to summarize. Use strong verbs and language that captures your tone and voice as much as possible. Focus on the CONFLICTS. For mine, I wrote three sentences for each chapter. The set-up, the conflict, and the resolution.

For example, my first chapter summary reads:

When a young girl collapses in an unfamiliar house, no one knows where she came from or how she ended up on war widow Thea Greyson's front porch that stormy night. Thirty years later, Beatrice is devastated by the death of the woman that took her in. But her grief turns to a sense of betrayal when she discovers the letter from her birth mother that Thea claimed was lost.
Which may seem familiar to you if you follow the BookEnds blog (where Jessica Faust critiqued query pitches over the holidays). Because, with some minor revisions... Hello, first-half-of-query-pitch!

Step 2: If you're having trouble identifying the beginning, middle and ending of a chapter, there may be a problem with the chapter itself. Revise your manuscript as necessary.

Step 3: Once you've written a few sentences for each chapter, check your summaries for chapters which are not working because they are unnecessary, tangential, inconsistent, etc. Revise your manuscript as necessary.

Step 4: Group your chapters into acts. Most story arcs follow a three-act format. The first act generally establishes the protagonist's starting place (the first act is also usually the shortest) and continues to the point where your catalyst drives or forces the protagonist to make or endure a change. The second act is represented by the series of events that bring the protagonist to the climax. In the third and final act, the story rises to its climax and resolution.

For example, in The Wizard of Oz, the first act would end when Dorothy lands in Oz. The second act would comprise the journey to the Emerald City, and the third and final act would consist of the climactic showdown with the Wicked Witch of the West, and the resolution where each character realizes they already have the power within themselves to get what they want.

Step 5: Get out your editing scalpel. Depending on the length of your novel and chapters, your chapter synopsis will probably be longer than your desired length. So now, within your three-act collections of chapter summaries, you'll have to start trimming. Based on the requests I've received, I would recommend trimming to a 5-page length, and then trimming further to 1 - 2 pages. You can always edit to other lengths if necessary, but the vast majority of requests are satisfied with one of those two options.

Step 6: Read your synopsis aloud to yourself, looking for words or phrases that fall flat or pull the reader out of the narrative. The end result should resemble the sort of descriptions you see for movies in TV Guide and the like. Brief and punchy... don't let yourself get bogged down in things like setting or physical descriptions of the characters.

Step 7: Check to be sure you've accomplished your basic synopsis goals. Have you established the main characters and their motivations? Have you demonstrated the main conflict and the obstacles preventing the protagonist from achieving his or her goals? Do the events of your plot unfold naturally without resorting to cliches or plot devices? Do your plot twists culminate in a climax? Is the resolution of the story conflicts thorough and satisfying (Have you tied up any loose ends?) Does the language and tone of your synopsis reflect YOUR voice?

If your synopsis has done those things, Congratulations!

You now have a synopsis that rocks. Yay, you!

Don't forget the Novel Synopsis Basics we talked about last week, or course. ;)

For other folks' thoughts on writing a synopsis, check out these links:

Mastering the Dreaded Synopsis
Writing a Synopsis From the Ground Up
Writing the Synopsis: The Basics to Get Your Book Synopsis Written
How to Write a Synopsis
Workshop: Writing the Novel Synopsis

ETA (2/9/09): Jessica Faust posted a nice guideline of synopses on the BookEnds Blog this morning.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

But I'm Not Making A Movie...

When I first started writing fiction, I studied craft books that focused on writing novels. What more could I want? They taught me everything I needed to know, or so I thought.

It wasn’t until I read Save the Cat by Blake Synder that I realized how much I can learn from books geared toward screenwriters, actors, and directors. I also discovered that authors with a background in cinema have an insight that could also benefit my stories.

Most of us are familiar with Writer’s Digest books. I can almost guarantee you’ve read at least one of their craft books. Michael Wise Productions is the cinema version of Writer’s Digest, and has an impressive list of books that will appeal to novelists, too. Topics range from story structure, subtext, symbolism, characterization, story lines. The best part is they use examples from well known movies and TV shows. You don’t have to suffer through an excerpt taken out of context or spend hours reading the novel. You can easily watch the show or movie in a fraction of the time.

As writers, we need to read. A lot. We read both in and out of our genre. We analyze stories, and figure out what we liked and didn’t like about them. You can do the same with movies and TV shows, and apply what you learned to your story. For example, you can study different techniques used in a movie, in a similar vein to your story, to see how the director conveyed mood (beyond the music). Then find a way to incorporate them into your writing. Analyze the symbols used to reveal characterization and plot. Study how the actors portray the characters. What kinds of physical details relating to the character or setting does the director zoom in on that adds power to the scene? Can you use some of those techniques in your story? I recommend reading Shoot Your Novel by C.S Larkin. She explains cinematography in a way that will change the way you write a scene. Some of the techniques we naturally use, but knowing them will help you gain maximum benefit from them.

In movies, the story is revealed through action and dialogue. There are no inner thoughts—most of the time. So how does the viewer get inside the actor’s head? Subtext. What do readers love? Subtext. Want to know how to do subtext well, then study movies. Analyze the difference between the great actors and the B-grade ones, then apply it your story to make it and your characters come to life.

Don’t just watch a movie for its entertainment value. Watch it. Study it. Dissect it. Just like screenwriters do.

Have you read any screenwriting books you recommend?

Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL writes New Adult novels. In her spare time, she’s a photographer and can be found at her blog/website.  She is represented by Marisa Corvisiero, and finds it weird talking about herself in third person. Her debut New Adult contemporary romance TELL ME WHEN and LET ME KNOW (Carina Press, HQN) are now available.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Insecure? Forget About It!

Today's post comes courtesy of Brenda Whiteside, author of The Art Of Love and Murder. She touches on several topics that resonated with my own journey to publication, so I asked her to share her story with us on the QTB.

There’s a fine line between confidence and abject insecurity. For an author, the abject insecurity can sneak up at anytime and stall you, or at least convince you every word going from head to computer has bypassed the creative juice chamber coming out dry and tasteless. Such is the journey. And we all travel this road differently.

My tale is directed to all authors, but in particular to the aspiring author. The path to getting my first book published in 2009 could have been a dead end had the order of events happened differently.

I love to write about characters on a journey, traveling both the physical and the mental roads. My first novel length release, Sleeping with the Lights On, has such a journey for my heroine, Sandra Holiday. Along the fictional journey I created pitfalls and summits, conflicts and resolutions. The road to publication is no different, although as authors we’d like to skip the pitfalls and conflicts.

The abject insecurity I mentioned earlier usually hits me three times when I’m writing a book:  two chapters short of completion, while I’m writing the synopsis, and again right after I type “the end”.  I always manage to muddle through the last two chapters, a whip in one hand holding off my negative inner critic. I wring out those chapters, a word at a time. I won’t even go into the torture of writing a synopsis. But the final phase, the now-I’m-finished-and-who-will-publish-this-inadequate-book is the hardest to overcome.

When I finished Sleeping with the Lights On, I entered two contests to confirm or put to rest my insecurity. Let someone else judge the book’s worthiness. And then I waited.

I’m not a patient person. In a rash moment, I queried one publisher. The Wild Rose Press responded so quickly asking for a partial, I was left giddy. A few weeks later, they requested a full. Jump ahead three months to “the call” or really the email. Excited? Oh, yes. Insecurity? Gone in a flash.

But here’s the difference between fiction and reality; between the logical order of events an author writes and real life experience. Two days after getting “the call”, I received notification on the two contests. The judges had a slightly different response to my book. In fact, one judge really slammed my baby.

Rejection is hard to take regardless of how thick your hide, but I have to say rejection is much easier to handle when you’ve already been accepted for publication. The journey to getting published is much better when the summit comes first and you can look down at the pitfall and scoff – with confidence. I’ll never know how I might have reacted to those less than winning critiques had I not published first. Would I have shoved the book into a drawer to collect dust? I hope not – must be a moral in this tale.

I haven’t found a cure for conquering the insecurities, but perseverance gets me over the crest. I won’t quit entering the occasional contest, but I’ll not take the results as the final word.

Is there a book you’ve read and raved about that a friend found dull or boring? If you’re a writer, have you let a contest result influence what you did with your manuscript? My advice is to have faith in yourself and keep on writing.

About the Author:
Brenda Whiteside is the author of  The Art of Love and Murder, released May 2, 2014. A mother she never knew, the identity of her father disputed – secrets, threats and murder. Lacy’s past and present collide spinning her deeper into danger and further from love...

Brenda spends most of her time writing stories of discovery and love. The rest of her time is spent tending vegetables on the small family farm she shares with her husband, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com and blogs about writing and prairie life at http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/