Friday, August 29, 2008

What's pitching got to do with writing?

Lets play pretend. Look at each scenario. What would REALLY happen?

1. You are at the bookstore. You have no idea what book you want, but you want a book that will draw you in and captivate you. To make your decision you . . .

A. Take every book off the shelf, read the first chapter, maybe two, of every book. I mean hey! There's only thirty books in your pile and you've got all day. Right?

B. Place each book next to your ear to see if one "speaks" to you

C. Read that jacketflap, maybe the first page too.

2. Now imagine that you are an editor or an agent. You can't see the top of your desk for all of the manuscripts that need to be read. Not to mention you have deadlines, phone calls, meetings and paper work to fill out and at noon you have to be at the airport to take off for a speaking engagement. Oh crap! You have to prepare your speech too! Now, to get through that stack of manuscripts . . . . . . .

A. you slowly peruse each manuscript, drinking in every word, while fork lifts bring in more manilla envelopes to add to your pile, your phone continues to ring, and somebody pops their head in your office every two seconds to tell you or remind you of somthing that you've got to do. . .

B. Put each envelope next to your ear to see if one "speaks" to you.

C. skim through the manuscripts. If they can't catch your eye in a few seconds, you know the manuscript will never catch the eye of the people who answered "C" to question number 1.

3. A family member asks you about your writing. "What is the book about?" they ask. You . . . .

A. say "You see, ummm. . there's this kid who, ummmm, goes out into the . . . " and soon the person you are talking gets zombie eyes, starts backing towards the door and just says "oh"

B. pause, because how do you explain your book? It's so long, you've worked on it for so many months. Where do you begin to tell your tale to this person who will, no doubt, want to hear ever detail?!

C. Repeat in a minute or less a short "hook" that you've prepared. The family member is impressed and intrigued and very grateful that you didn't go on and on and on and on . . .

What does a "pitch" have to do with writing? If you're just writing for yourself, nothing. If you're writing for publication . . . everything. So you've written something wonderful. Great! Now how do you get editors, agents and the general public to read it? You have to create an interest, and in this day and age, you don't have much time to hook'em and reel'em in. A pitch is how you get someone else interested in your story; how you get an editor to read more . . . how you get a customer to buy your book over thousands of others.

So, now you wonder, how do I prepare a pitch? What do I include? How long should it be?

I'm glad you aked. My, but aren't you sharp and studious! Here are some links and info for you.

It just so happens that Helene Boudreau just posted a great blog about pitching over at her little piece of blogland. She uses Fancy Nancy and Walter the Farting Dog as examples. In short, she says a good pitch should include who the character is, what their conflict is and give a hint at the outcome of the story. (she even color coded her examples! this is a gal I'd like to hang with! I love color coding!) You've got to check out her post. Click here to read more. It's a great example!

Here's a link to my notes from Sarah Shumway, editor at Dutton. She gave a great talk on the importance of pitches at our annual Chapel Hill retreat this past April. Click here for my notes and some pictures too! bonus!

The SCBWI Carolina's Annual conference is going to give their participants a chance to share their pitches with one another speed-dating style. Just the thought of it makes my palms swaeat. But it needs to be done. If you can't do it in a relaxed setting among your peers, how can you do it anywhere else? To help us prepare, they provided a Pitch Practice Form for us to use. You can look it up by clicking here.

In short, a pitch should be 1-3 brief sentences. In choosing what to include, use info that makes your story unique. Use sharp adjectives. Don't just say "a girl" tell us what kind of girl she is. etec.

Another place you may want to check out is a blog where there was a pitching contest a few months ago. consequently, I, ahem, won the contest. Hey! Did anyone just hear that? Sounded like a horn. Oh wait, that's just me. Anyway, the great thing about this contest is that the judges left comments for each participant, telling them what made the pitch good, and what could make the pitch stronger. There's nothing like hearing it from people who have been there done that. Click here to read the entries and the judges coments.

I hope this post is helpful.

The pitcher is standing on the mound . . . her eyes are focused, the pitcher looks fierce today folks! This could be an exciting game! And the pitch . . . . . . . (The crowd goes wild!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Which C.S. Lewis Character are you?

I haven't done one of these in a while and I feel like bringing my alter ego to the surface. Click on the link below and come play along! Let me know who you are and we can meet at Mr. Tumnus's house for tea. ;0)

Here's my results:

You're Reepicheep
You're Reepicheep
Take Which C.S.Lewis Character are you? today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

SCBWI Carolina's 16th Annual Conference Countdown

Can you tell I'm excited?

I've read (and drooled) over blog accounts of the recent SCBWI Summer Conference in LA. At the tippy top of my desires, there is the yearing to attend the LA conference some day. Until then, I am fortunate to be in a region that knows how to put on a great local shin-dig! Every conference or writing event that I have attended has provided tools for my writing toolbox, as well as a chance to meet some amazing folks!

I hope to see you there!

Friday, August 22, 2008

And Now. . . for the winner (drum roll/mixed with the chicke dance

And now, for the winner . . . drum roll mixed with the chicken dance . . (is there any more exciting musical combo?)

The winner is . . . . . . . . . Oh the excitement, Oh the elation . . . . .

Rachel R!!!!!!!!

Rachel, please e-mail me with your snail mail address and I'll get an autographed copy of Persian Dreams to you ASAP! :O)



Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Leave a Comment to win an autographed book!

Welcome to my very very very first EVER book giveaway!!!!! Thanks for stopping by!

Leave a comment in the "comment" section below for a chance to win an autographed copy of Persian Dreams.

Persian Dreams is a historical novel about love and revolution. The time-line of Persian Dreams covers three generations of family members. This generational span gives the reader a birds-eye view of the hardships women faced in Persia (AKA Iran) and how they have developed, changed and molded the lives of Persian women.

The aspect of seeing the world through the eyes of different generations was the most eye opening to me. I felt like I was able to step out of my cultural mindset and understand on a different level what life is like/was like, for the women of Persia. My heart ached for the hardships that the characters endured and I was reminded of the freedom and equality that women in America so often take for granted.

Interview with The Author of Persian Dreams, Maryam Tabibzabdeh

Thank you for answering these questions, Maryam. I'm excited to look into the thought and motivation behind Persian Dreams.

1) What prompted you to write Persian Dreams?
I want the world to know that we as a nation have suffered from the changes Iran has experienced in the last 100 years. I wanted to express the story from the inside, to counter the perceptions that the world holds about our country. I believe that we as a nation have suffered more than the world community can comprehend, and that this information is not finding its way to the public in the right ways. I would like for people to know where we come from, how we got here, that we have had both good and bad come about from the course of historic events. I want people to understand that we have a civilized past, but that we also have many things that need to be changed in the future.

2) What do you hope your readers will gain from this book?
I hope that they will be enchanted. The story is told in the style of folklore, and I created the characters and imagery to enhance the epic quality of the family's tale. We feel uplifted by the victories and crushed by the terrible circumstances and drama that the characters undergo. We share their pain and anxieties, we identify with their various situations.

In short, I believe that readers will be touched by the simple and honest language of this story of the trials and tribulations of a nation through the eyes of one family, under the shifting and unsteady political landscape of the time.

3) Would you like to speak on how the events in this book tie in with your own family history?
The story is loosely autobiographical. Many of the characters are based on people that I knew growing up. The shifting landscape also came easily, from stories my father and grandmother told me as a child. The personal events in my characters' lives however, are mostly fictional.

4) What is your writing routine like?
I don't really have a routine for writing. I write when I have an urge to write something, and can only write when I am feeling a deeply about something very important in my life. I write poetry, short stories, and in this case, a novel. Poetry and short stories are more one-dimensional and can be written quickly, not needing the research novels often require. Generally, I prefer writing short stories the most, because they allow my diverse ideas a chance to manifest in short form. I like it because it is quick. Sometimes, I see or feel something and that is enough to write it out in the form of short story. Then, once in a while, I take these ideas, and pull them together into a novel.

5) Do you have a new Work In Progress that you are working on now?
Can you tell us a little bit about it?

I have hundred ideas and yes, I am working on them. Two novels in particular:

The first is about a missionary medical doctor stationed in Iran in 1980's. While working in the a Hospital, he falls in love with a married woman. After many episodes she finally gets a divorce from her husband, thinking that they will be free to live together happily. Unfortunately, they are caught and as a result are sentenced to death.

The second is about a western woman in the west with traditional ideas and her reaction to her children's choices of homosexuality and interracial marriage. I have the idea and doing research on it.

You can visit Maryam's web-site at

Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy! You have until Noon on Friday to enter. The winner will randomly be selected via the highly sophisticated process known as "drawing names out of a tupper ware bowl."

So, if you don't have a login name, be sure to leave a username that can be easily identified!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Vision isn't just about eyesight - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more
Some days it's a regular everyday person that inspires me. I was reminded yesterday of one such person that I have known for about 10 years.

His name is David and I first met him at church a decade ago. What makes David unique? He's blind. So, you can imagine my surprise when one Sunday David stood up before the congregation and played the chello. His music filled the cathedral ceiling and danced round the pillars. No one moved or gave sound. It was beautiful and inspiring.

Eventually my family started going to a different church and I hadn't seen David for a few years, until I joined a local gym where David works behind the hospitality desk!

The regulars knew him by name and he greeted them by name along with an infectious smile. He used the braille numbers to hand out and receive locker keys and he followed the sound of the person's voice in order to know what direction to present a key or towel.

Year after year I've seen David at the gym. Greeting, smiling, not letting his blindness prevent him from living a productive and "normal" life. If He can work around a rather major obstacle in his life, why can't I work through mine?

Yesterday there was a big sign and a bouquet of balloons congratulating David for his 13th year anniversary for working at the gym.

When his shift was done, I watched him walk through the cardio room with out any help but his cane, and he worked out on a tread mill.

So here's to David, one of the every day people that inspires me. A guy who proves that "good vision and perspective" isn't just about eyesight.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

There's nothin' like the smell of sparkely and sticky

Sometimes a gem jumps up and lands in your change purse. I had that delightful experience last night.

Many of you know that I host a Kids Night craft every Tuesday at my restaurant. Last nights craft was "Decorate a Glitter Wand"

Can you say
Covered in glitter, I looked like a Fairy God Mother by the end of the night. I got a lot of stares when I went to the grocery store before returning home.

Anyway. . . . back to the purupose of the story

One little girl, about 4 or 5, was in heaven making this glitter wand. Her enthusiasm shined brighter than the glitter. At one point she put her nose as close to the glitter and glue as she could w/o getting it on her skin as she gushed
"Ahhhhh, there's nothin' like the smell of sparkly and sticky!"

And so I thought "Wow! What a great example of how a small child thinks."

As adults we've been programed to think inside the box. You CAN'T smell "sparkly" you see it. You CAN'T smell "sticky" you touch it.

Not for this child-like innocence. She associates a smell with what she sees and touches.

How sweet. How pure

As an apiring children's author, I'm constantly on the lookout for how I can escape an adult mindset and tap back into the perspective of a child.

This little girl inspired me to think of the things that I love and rethink how I would describe them. My challenge is for you to do the same.
This little girl didn't just like glitter and glue. She liked the sparkly and sticky.

I love the beach: the weather, sand and the water

But that just sounds boring. How would this child describe the beach?

It's been harder than I thought.

Some that I've come up with is

There's nothing like the smell of blue, splashy hot and shell hunting.

What can you come up with? You can use the beach or anything else that you may love. (I hear that some people don't like the beach.) Shocking. I know.

Anyway. Just pick something you like and try it! I'd love to hear what you come up with.

I appologize for the progressively huge letters. I keep trying to make the font smaller, but it's not working. I don't know why. !?!?!?!?!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I'm back and I have pictures. There's music and everything. enjoy!