The Hurdles I’m Jumping Along the Way

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Before I get started, I have a confession to make. I went without caffeine eight months, but finally broke down a couple of weeks ago and started back with a cup or two a day—no sugar. I was waking with brain fog that prevailed for two hours and couldn’t get anything accomplished in the early morning.

Happy to say the fog has lifted, and it wasn’t so difficult to learn to drink coffee without it. My blood sugar remains under control.

For the past week, or so, I have been preparing for Sleuth Fest. I have about memorized the first chapter in my book, which I plan to read aloud. It’s on my iPad, and I also have a paper copy, but fumbling with them always slows me down. With the papers, I use all but ten seconds of my ten minute time limit (which includes my brief introduction), but with the iPad, I end with twenty to thirty seconds remaining. This is reading slow and clear enough to be well understood.

I’ve done public reads before, but short stories for my writer’s group, not reading from my book. And I’ve read at my local library. With some of the short story reads, the lighting in the venues was terrible, and that slowed me down. I know our Reader’s Corner at the convention is set by the pool patio outside at night (weather permitting), so I’m thinking having it on the iPad is the best way to go…with a backup on paper for the just-in-case scenario.

The long synopsis and the short synopsis have been completed and proofed. The cover letter has been written and I’m presently engaged in memorizing my pitch.  I memorize words best by writing them down over and over. It’s just something about how my brain files information. So my fingers are numb.

One of my biggest hang-ups comes from the fact that I rewrote my log-line about a hundred times before deciding on the best one. Now I have bits and pieces of the wrong lines stuck in my head and they slip out unexpectedly when I try reciting the correct one.

For anyone trying to write a synopsis, I found a really cool link to how to un-demonize the process by fiction editor Beth Hill here:

http://theeditorsblog.net/2012/07/15/clear-the-dread-from-the-dreaded-synopsis/

And another author, Helen Jones, recommended a helpful book today on her blog:

http://journeytoambeth.com/2016/02/05/the-joy-of-synopses/

Write a Great Synopsis – An Expert Guide,’ by Nicola Morgan

Helen has her log-line down to twenty-six words.

Mine is a dual-plot thriller, and I’ve gotten it down to thirty-two. I’m not going to try to cut it any closer than that, to do so would make it less appealing and less likely to demonstrate its entertainment value.

It’s not a log-line I would use to promote the book, but a great one for an agent pitch.

I’ve been looking over the Sleuth Fest schedule and, of course, there are workshops I’d love to attend that conflict with times other workshops and panels are being held. I’ll have to narrow down choices soon.

A photographer friend is going to be doing a photo shoot in the near future. We’re going out to a park that has cypress knees and tropical foliage in hopes of getting some outdoor shots that might be useful, and he has professional screens that we can get some photos in front of. You will likely see changes in my social media and bio pics once this gets accomplished so don’t be surprised if the thin, bright, young woman with long blonde hair on the side turns into a plump, gray, short- haired old lady. It happened rather suddenly and surprised me. No witch cast any spells on me that I know of, time and good food.

It is truly amazing when I think of all that has transpired over the past five years. I went from working eight to sixteen hours a day in a pediatric extended care ward and a psych hospital to sitting in front of a keyboard for sixteen plus hours a day. I’ve published one book and written three. My free time is spent reading and researching, learning about the business, marketing, writing and trying out new ideas.

Being a nudist and a nurse with a most extroverted personality who used to teach and speak before large groups, as well as work with people most intimately, I’ve gone through some changes on a personal level.  In crowds and public groups, I suffer social anxiety and despise small talk. I’ve gotten deep inside my head. I need this Sleuth Fest, not only to learn and promote my work, but to get outside myself. I’ve become an introvert. Not that being one is a bad thing. I honestly believe it helps with regards to creative productivity in writing.

I’ll end here by asking for a small prayer, if you pray, and positive vibes of energy and good luck.

32 thoughts on “The Hurdles I’m Jumping Along the Way

  1. I’m a strong believer in prayer, so I send up some knee mail for you. Sounds like you are well-prepared. Stay positive and focused. You’re going to kick butt! 🙂

    • Thanks, John, knee mail appreciated. I spent some time today clipping out some cliches…stood like deer in the headlights and throw her under the bus. Little things that are big things were jumping out at me. Surprised my editor didn’t call me on them. Maybe they don’t have the same cliches in Ireland.

  2. Sounds like you’ve got a solid plan. In all likelihood you won’t get a chance to read the first chapter. Agents/editors will ask questions, which helps them gage whether the story is write for them. They may ask to read a page or two themselves, but they won’t sit and listen while you read…if that helps your anxiety. You’ll do great.

    • Reader’s Corner was by special invitation. We have ten minutes to read a select piece to an audience who critiques. It’s separate from the agent pitch. Public reading doesn’t bother me as long as I get done in the time limit. MY agent pitch is short like 30 seconds. And if they want to hear my short synopsis, a one page (double spaced) book review type thing, more like a long pitch, I have that ready. The long pitch is about a minute. I’m told Sleuth Fest is like that, very casual and sometimes they want to hear the long pitch after having asked you questions and to have it ready just in case.. The long synopsis goes deeper. I would only give that if they ask for it.

  3. Sending positive thoughts your way, and I’m sharing your excitement vicariously! 🙂 I can’t wait to hear all about it! I’m serious. I’ve been to history conferences, but never a writers’ conference. I’m not familiar with the term “log-line,” so I’ve already learned something. You seem super-well prepared. Wishing you all the best!

    • The log-line is a one or two sentence pitch that is a sells line that asks who is doing what and why and mentions protagonist and antagonist. It has a specific formula. There is a formula where you use active verbs and goals that answer certain question like “In order to ___they must _____. Sometimes followed by Before, or while _____. (the ticking time bomb. It’s a real challenge to come up with the condensed book in one sentence of 25-30 words. This is what I have:

      In it, a lone wolf P.I. reluctantly teams up with a brassy, transsexual exotic dancer to solve a cold case and protect a young girl from a sex trafficker, but in order to stay alive, they must go undercover in a nudist resort while the body count grows.

      And…if it’s humorous, the agent has to see how it could be in the log-line.

  4. Congratulations in all you’ve accomplished during the past five years. You’re an inspiration. I’m sending positive thoughts your way, and I’ll be praying for you. Have fun at the Sleuth Fest.

  5. All the positive vibes of Ireland are being sent your way. You’ll rock it. 😉
    As for clichés, not all are bad. It’s all about the context.

    • I took out the deer in the headlights cliche. It was slap dab in the middle of the first page. I don’t want to make someone put the book down on the first page, Eamon. So I changed it to They stood in the headlights, transfixed by the near miss, a tall woman and a young girl.” Are the commas in the right place?

  6. You’ll be fine. Sounds like you’ve got every eventuality covered. You’ll have so much fun! And I think it’s about time I changed my author pic. I just turned forty in mine, and now I’m only a year off fifty! Similar changes as yourself, lol!

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