The Right Hook

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After completing Between Land and Sea, I attended a number of workshops where the facilitators stressed the importance of a hook or logline.

What is a hook/logline?

Very simply, it is a concise sentence that answers the question: What is your novel about? An effective logline provides enough interest to prolong the conversation with a prospective agent or publisher, encourages readers to pick up the book, and creates tweetable buzz.

At first, I found it a daunting task. How could I possibly condense 69,000 words into 25 words or less?

Continue reading on Sophia Kimble’s blog.

What’s In a Name?

The topic of pseudonyms came up on a discussion board. Several writers expressed an interest in using pen names and wanted more information about the legalities involved.

I was surprised to see so much interest in the topic. I had always associated pseudonyms with female writers such as Mary Anne Evans/George Eliot, who used a male name to ensure that her work would be accepted by publishers and the public.

While researching the topic, I discovered many more reasons for using pen names.

Authors who regularly write in more than one genre use different pen names. Romance writer Nora Roberts writes erotic thrillers under the pen name J.D. Robb.

A pen name may be used if the author believes that his/her name does not suit the genre. Western novelist Pearl Gray dropped his first name and changed the spelling of his last name to become Zane Grey.

In some countries, authors use pen names to write about controversial topics that could be politically unsafe.

Writers of romance novels are often advised to use pen names to protect themselves against stalkers.

In the past, prolific authors were asked to use pen names to prevent flooding the market with too many books in one year. Stephen King published four novels under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. After critics pointed out style similarities, the books were reprinted with Stephen King’s name. One of his books, Thinner, sold twenty times more copies after the changes were made.

Some writers wish to keep their writing career separate from their everyday life. Comic book writer Stan Lee was born Stanley Lieber. He used the pen name Stan Lee because he intended to save his real name for more serious literature. His career as a novelist never materialized so he changed his name legally to Stan Lee.

A collective name or house name is used with series fiction such as the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Bobbsey Twins series. The first book in each series was written by one writer, but subsequent books were written by ghost writers.

Collaborative authors like to have their books published under one name. Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini write their Coffeehouse Mystery series using the pseudonym Cleo Coyle.

Last year, J.K. Rowling was outed as the author of Cuckoo’s Calling, which she published under the pen name Robert Gailbraith. In an interview, she commented: “”I was yearning to go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre to work without hype or expectation to receive totally unvarnished feedback. It was a fantastic experience and I only wish it could have gone on a little longer.”

Regarding the legalities…

You don’t have to file any forms or hire a lawyer. Simply put the phrase “writing as” on your manuscript and let the publisher know your real name to ensure that you receive payment for your work.

Any other interesting pseudonym stories out there?

When Less is More

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I reread the blurb for the flash fiction writing contest several times. It was the perfect antidote for the lingering writers’ block that was preventing me from moving forward with the sequel to Between Land and Sea. The entry fee was a bargain— three flash fiction stories for only $15—and the $500 prize added to the contest’s appeal.

After some reflection, I decided to resurrect two unpublished stories I had written last year. Only one problem—both were close to 1500 words and the rules for the contest specifically called for flash fiction of less than 500 words. While some writers may balk at the idea of trimming almost 1000 words from a short story, I welcomed the challenge of revamping both manuscripts. But before starting the whittling down process, I decided to research this style of fictional literature.

Continue reading on the Savvy Authors Blog.

The Evolving Mermaid

9491775_sWhen I announced the release of Between Land and Sea, a novel about an overweight, middle-aged mermaid, I was surprised by the subsequent comments.

The typical male response was a Duchenne smile followed by a puzzled expression and several pointed questions…

Why is she so old?

Just how overweight is she?

What happened to her?

The men had preconceived notions of what a mermaid should look like—wavy auburn tresses, mesmerizing green eyes and a curvaceous twenty something body.

Continue reading at Kate Wyland’s blog.

Visiting Sarah Hoss

11838450_sThe lawyer shook his head. “I still don’t understand why your mermaid has to be old and fat.”

“Fifty-three is not that old.” I ignored the weight issue.

He persisted. “It is when it comes to mermaids. Why couldn’t you just let her be young, thin and beautiful?”

Thankfully, the conversation was interrupted by the facilitator’s call to resume the workshop. A few minutes more and I might have lost patience with the annoying lawyer who simply wouldn’t accept my vision of an older mermaid.

Continue reading on Sarah Hoss’ blog.

How to Celebrate Rejection…

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I’m always on the lookout for unique word combinations, but this one took me by surprise. I couldn’t imagine a more unlikely word pair than “celebrate rejection” and an even more unlikely source: an interview with Susan Sarandon.

How does one of Hollywood’s most talented leading ladies celebrate rejection? Whenever Ms. Sarandon didn’t get a role, she’d go out for dinner or buy herself an album. In leaner times, she treated herself to an avocado. But more importantly, she did not dwell on it. She had a knack for replacing the negative self-talk with positive and affirming statements such as, This means I’m now available for something else.

Continue reading at MindBodyGreen.