Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Women's Fiction: Again

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This image of a red rose holds a dear place in my first story. May it honor all the good--biological, foster, and adoptive--mothers out there who dry tears, clean up messes, and hug the pain away. Thank you!


Here are a few definitions of the genre I write.
. . . layered stories that are driven by the main character’s emotional journey.
 Women's Fiction Writers Association

I'm just happy that I can parse agents by the term.
There are no other tropes than this. Some are light--Chick Lit--some have romantic elements, others, like mine, have deep social issues running through the stories. WF is the fodder for book club selections. (Truth in advertising Insert thewinkingemoticon.: I'm a program coordinator with the group.) It's an up and coming association that agents are joining to find WF writers.
The beauty of WF for me, is that it is just fiction, but fiction that recognizes the inner life of the characters while not eschewing plot. I've ever found no more perfect connection of the poles of character-driven stories and plot-driven stories than WF.

Here are some other definitions.

At the top of “commercial” pyramid is Women’s fiction—big bestselling books like The Help, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, etc. Women’s fiction doesn’t mean that male writers are excluded from the category. But rather that the books written by men must have themes, characters, or plotlines that women enjoy.
Literary and Commercial

“A contemporary romance’s plot revolves around the love/romantic element, whereas women’s fiction tends to revolve around women’s issues and the growth and empowerment of the female protagonist. Women’s fiction can have romance, but it’s not the driving force of the plot.”
—Kathleen Ortiz (New Leaf Literary and Media)

Women’s fiction novels are not simply stories with female characters, but stories that tell us the female journey. Women’s fiction is a way for women to learn and grow, and to relate to others what it is to be a woman.”
—Scott Eagan (Greyhaus Literary Agency)

Another link to check out:
from "Agents Explain Book Genres" 

That's why I write Women's Fiction. My characters take an emotional journey on the path to reinventing themselves. If I can see what's at stake in the heart of the main character, I know I'm reading Women's Fiction. There are an infinite number of paths to travel and an infinite number of travelers on them. No two characters will take the exactly same path, even if they start at the same place. Their past and their present is made up of all that influences their lives. If you're reading Women's Fiction, buckle up for a bumpy but fulfilling ride. ;-)

And a few links you might like.
Genre Map
Wikipedia on Genre (note the lack of WF)
Charlotte Rains Dixon's take on genre (psst! She writes good books!)

 Next Week: IWSG: Golden Quotes

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Pitching Report

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 I know you've wondered how it went, so I'll answer all your questions. If I can. ;-) Remember, I've only pitched two agents. Since both of them asked for submissions, I thought I'd share what I did.

My Pitch:
When Laura Grace Bradshaw meets abused twelve-year-old Samantha Smith, her unfulfilled mothering instincts spring into action. Recently widowed, LG's own grief and her complicated ties to her small Georgia town's founding family limit how much she can help. But compelled to heal Samantha's wounds, she must find the strength to throw off the restraints of her MIL and her own griefs and move toward adopting Samantha, a child who unwittingly holds the keys to long-buried family secrets.  

I recommend that you practice this out loud a ton of times. Find someone to practice with. After John, my writing buddies, Monica J. (via Skype), Tara W. and Jane D., were my ready ears. Tara, Jane, and I shared this journey on February 20 and listened to each other over and over...and over. That's what it takes. Both agents mentioned that my pitch was polished and great. 

Next, be ready to explain your genre and any niches that you include.
My Genre
Mother's Day is upmarket, contemporary WF with a Christian MC, but the story doesn't focus on Christianity.  
Because I could clearly explain my story's connection with Christianity, both agents mentioned that it had potential to fit the crossover market. That took a huge worry off my back.

Next, be ready to talk "off the cuff" about your plot. Because I could mention a few of my plot twists, I was able to interest them in the story beyond the pitch. 

Then, be ready to explain where you are in the completion process. I was thrilled to be able to share that my MS was complete and that I was doing a polishing edit. Also, I'd used the MS for a Barbara Rogan Next Level Revision Fiction Workshop. (I can't thank Barbara enough for help with increasing the conflict in my story.) This was important to  show that I take critique well.

After that, you need to be able to answer if there is series potential. If it's a standalone story, that's fine. Just be ready for the question. I could tell them that there were two follow up stories--a 60% complete part 2 and a part 3 story that was 30% complete. After that, I mentioned that I had two standalone stories set in the same town. 

Also, you should be ready to answer the dreaded "comparables" question. I did have two titles to use. One well known, the other very new. Seemed to work. ;-)

The Results
 The first agent loved my whole Cherry Hill package. She stressed that I take my time preparing the submission she requested. She wants my first 3 chapters, an extensive outline of all three in the trilogy, and a summary paragraph of the 2 standalone stories. 

The second one wanted the first 50 pages of the first story and an extensive synopsis. 

So, all in all, I'm pumped by my first foray into pitching and querying. And I have a huge to-do list. But that's okay. I would hate to have nothing to show for all that hard work! ;-) 

Next Week: Women's Fiction...Again ;-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Where Do You Read?

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Knee Prop in Jamaica

Where do you read? Just asking. If I have a moment, I'm reading. What about you? Do you reserve reading for special times?
Seriously. What does it take to make you stop your endless round of to-do's and read? You might know my answer already. But if you don't, here's the straight truth. 

I read anywhere, everywhere, and all the time.

Otherwise, there would be no monthly mini book reviews, no identity as The Book Pusher, and no writing, either.

Reading Circle on the deck
A writer's first job is to read. Read widely, read critically, read in genre, read all genres. Without reading, you never discover how to tell Story on the printed page. I don't remember not knowing how to read at least the sight words my mother hand wrote on index cards and drilled me with as a four-year-old. Some would say that was torture, but I thought it was a game. A glorious game that unlocked my ability to read independently. My parents read constantly. My older sister did to. I wanted admission into the club. Little did I know that I'd catch the infectious desire to create my own stories. At eight, I began with simple poems, but then graduated to stories. In the fifth grade, I wrote, staged, and acted in a one-act play in my English class. 

Poodle Prop
Now, I've learned the craft of creating stories in a variety of form. I'm addicted to words, addicted to the creation of story in order to bring others into the worlds I see inside of my mind.

 So if you ever wonder what I'm doing--don't. I'm reading. And relishing every second of the time! 

Next Week: Pitching Report

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Book Pusher: March Mini Book Reviews: V. Diffenbaugh, J. Johnson, J. Moyes, L. Thomas

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THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS Vanessa Diffenbaugh:  Women's Fiction

An amazing journey of a foster child into love, loss, and growing up with all of life seemingly against her. Her one solace gives her voice--flowers and their meanings. This is an absolutely must read.

IN ANOTHER LIFE Julie Christine Johnson: Women's Fiction

An eighth-hundred-year-old murder mystery and three men locked in an eternal struggle of right vs. wrong, creates a fascinating story of past and present.

ME BEFORE YOU Jojo Moyes: Women's Fiction with romantic elements

I'll never forget Louisa Clark and her journey of discovery with Will Traynor. Riveting and awe-inspiring storytelling--Absolutely Must Read

AFTER YOU Jojo Moyes: Women's Fiction

[Spoiler Warning!] Sequel to Me Before You Louisa is two years out from the death of Will Traynor and she's stuck on hold until a series of events starting with a fall from the fifth floor finally shakes her into a new orbit. Fitting follow up to Me Before You.

SHARPE SHOOTER Lisa Thomas: Cozy Mystery

A witty sleuth makes a splash while investigation a family mystery. If you like cozy mysteries, this one is a good fit.

Next Week: Where Do You Read?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

IWSG: In the Beginning...

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Insecure Writers Support Group

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time.

Thank you, Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh for creating this fabulous blog hop!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!
Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

Thanks for all the work, y'all!

 In the beginning for me was words. They fascinated, titillated, were always around, but not fully appreciated until they connected and created Story.

Story is an old concept. We've had Story since we gained the ability to communicate with others. 
  • It's what we've told ourselves under night skies when we were scared.
  • It's what we tell others to protect our hearts from pain.
  • It's what we share when we seek to help with each salve the pain of those around us.
My story (WIP) is about a mother, shook to her core, when she comes to motherhood late in life. She's fully ingrained in thinking she's not worthy of the role she now fills and cries out in that age-old angst that all mothers know. What if I can't protect my child? What if she's ripped away from me? What would that leave now that my heart is firmly entwined with hers?

What's you story? How did it begin?  How did you come to be a storyteller? 

 Next Week: The Book Pusher is back...of course. ;-)