Weekend Writing Warriors – 7/20/14

wewriwa_square_2Welcome to Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors! For those new to this, fellow writers post eight sentences from one of our works. Sorry i didn’t get to everyone last week, turned out we didn’t have WiFi at the condo :(

I’m spotlighting my upcoming release, MUST LOVE BREECHES, until its release in September. Some of you veterans from Six Sentence Sunday will remember this story, though the opening has changed a lot. Please note, that it is currently with the copyeditor, so this is an unedited version. Picking up where I left off last weekend. for those just tuning it, Isabelle is at a reenactment ball and bonding with her co-worker Jocelyn (had to do some creative punctuation so it could hang together):

Isabelle eyed a guy strolling past in tight-fitting, buff-colored pantaloons. She pitched her voice to be heard over the string quartet. “Hmm, how about the clothes on that daring derriere?”

Jocelyn sucked on her olive and plopped the empty stir stick into her martini. “Oh, yes, definitely a breech-ripper.”

Isabelle choked on her Bellini, the champagne fizz tickling her throat and nose. This was the first opportunity they’d had to socialize outside work, so she treated this moment delicately, afraid to puncture the mood. No need to point out he sported pantaloons, not breeches.

About MUST LOVE BREECHES

AngelaQuarles_MustLoveBreeches_200px“A fresh, charming new voice” – New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare

HOW FAR WOULD YOU TRAVEL FOR LOVE?

Isabelle Rochon, a thoroughly modern American working at the British Museum, has finally met the man of her dreams. There’s one problem: he lives in another century.

When a mysterious artifact zaps Isabelle to pre-Victorian London, a thief steals it, stranding her in a place where nobody’s heard of toilet paper or women’s lib. Now she must find the artifact, navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London, keep her origins a secret, and, oh, resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot, he curls her toes. But when he asks her to pose as his fiancée for his scheme of revenge, his now constant presence overthrows her equilibrium and kicks in her old insecurities. Why does he have to be so damn hunky, compelling and, well, Drool-Worthy? This is not what she needs. She’d carved off part of herself for another man before and is determined never to make that same mistake again. Staying would be the ultimate follow-the-boyfriend move. In the end, she must decide when her true home lies.

Available for pre-order:

btn_are_48btn_kobo_48btn_ibooks_48

btn_google_48

 

 

Or add to Goodreads

Help fund the editing costs

I’m currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise $350 to pay for professional copy editing. The funding levels start at $5, and if you back it at that level, you get a copy one week early!

Join my new street team

I’m forming a street team to help create buzz on my release, so if you’d like to join, contact me and I’ll add you to my super secret facebook group :)

To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by!

Weekend Writing Warriors – 7/13/14

wewriwa_square_2Welcome to Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors! For those new to this, fellow writers post eight sentences from one of our works. I’m at the beach for a family reunion, so my comments may be spotty.

I’m spotlighting my upcoming release, MUST LOVE BREECHES, until its release in September. Some of you veterans from Six Sentence Sunday will remember this story, though the opening has changed a lot. Please note, that it is currently with the copyeditor, so this is an unedited version. Picking up where I left off last weekend:

“I have no bloody idea.” Jocelyn squeezed the poof of fabric at her shoulder. “These huge-ass sleeves are ridiculous.”

“Ah, screw it, we’re having fun, right? I’m not going to self-sabotage the ball, not after all the time I spent obsessing over my costume.”

“And obsessing over the etiquette rules.”

“That too.” Besides, how fun was it to learn Jocelyn shared her obsession with guys in period clothes and bodice-ripper romances?

About MUST LOVE BREECHES

AngelaQuarles_MustLoveBreeches_200px“A fresh, charming new voice” – New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare

HOW FAR WOULD YOU TRAVEL FOR LOVE?

Isabelle Rochon, a thoroughly modern American working at the British Museum, has finally met the man of her dreams. There’s one problem: he lives in another century.

When a mysterious artifact zaps Isabelle to pre-Victorian London, a thief steals it, stranding her in a place where nobody’s heard of toilet paper or women’s lib. Now she must find the artifact, navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London, keep her origins a secret, and, oh, resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot, he curls her toes. But when he asks her to pose as his fiancée for his scheme of revenge, his now constant presence overthrows her equilibrium and kicks in her old insecurities. Why does he have to be so damn hunky, compelling and, well, Drool-Worthy? This is not what she needs. She’d carved off part of herself for another man before and is determined never to make that same mistake again. Staying would be the ultimate follow-the-boyfriend move. In the end, she must decide when her true home lies.

Available for pre-order:

btn_are_48btn_kobo_48btn_ibooks_48

btn_google_48

 

 

Or add to Goodreads

Help fund the editing costs

I’m currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise $350 to pay for professional copy editing. The funding levels start at $5, and if you back it at that level, you get a copy one week early!

Join my new street team

I’m forming a street team to help create buzz on my release, so if you’d like to join, contact me and I’ll add you to my super secret facebook group :)

To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by!

Weekend Writing Warriors – 7/6/14

wewriwa_square_2Welcome to Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors! For those new to this, fellow writers post eight sentences from one of our works.

I’m going to switch gears and spotlight my upcoming release, MUST LOVE BREECHES, until its release in September. Some of you veterans from Six Sentence Sunday will remember this story, though the opening has changed a lot. Please note, that it is currently with the copyeditor, so this is an unedited version:

A reenactment ball was the perfect setting for romance. Or not.

Isabelle Rochon fidgeted in her oddly shaped, but oh-so-accurate, ball gown, surrounded by women who’d sacrificed historical authenticity for sex appeal. Red carpet ball gowns in the nineteenth century, really? Once again she was the dorky kid participating in dress-up day at school when everyone else had magically decided it was lame.

“Gah, I feel like a green robot with strange battle armor.” Isabelle pointed to her dark green dress, the shoulders flaring out almost to a point, exaggerating their width. “What were the fashionistas in 1834 thinking?”

About MUST LOVE BREECHES

AngelaQuarles_MustLoveBreeches_200px“A fresh, charming new voice” – New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare

HOW FAR WOULD YOU TRAVEL FOR LOVE?

Isabelle Rochon, a thoroughly modern American working at the British Museum, has finally met the man of her dreams. There’s one problem: he lives in another century.

When a mysterious artifact zaps Isabelle to pre-Victorian London, a thief steals it, stranding her in a place where nobody’s heard of toilet paper or women’s lib. Now she must find the artifact, navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London, keep her origins a secret, and, oh, resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot, he curls her toes. But when he asks her to pose as his fiancée for his scheme of revenge, his now constant presence overthrows her equilibrium and kicks in her old insecurities. Why does he have to be so damn hunky, compelling and, well, Drool-Worthy? This is not what she needs. She’d carved off part of herself for another man before and is determined never to make that same mistake again. Staying would be the ultimate follow-the-boyfriend move. In the end, she must decide when her true home lies.

Available for pre-order:

btn_are_48btn_kobo_48btn_ibooks_48

btn_google_48

 

 

Or add to Goodreads

Help fund the editing costs

I’m currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise $350 to pay for professional copy editing. The funding levels start at $5, and if you back it at that level, you get a copy one week early!

Join my new street team

I’m forming a street team to help create buzz on my release, so if you’d like to join, contact me and I’ll add you to my super secret facebook group :)

To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by!

Book Monday: New Releases in paranormal, time travel & contemporary romance

Today for Book Monday, I thought I’d highlight the recent releases of fellow authors who are Beta partners of mine (we swap our stories for critique).

In no particular order…

Melting the Millionaire’s Heart by Linda Morris (Contemporary Romance–Dec 2012, Entangled)

Love a good snowbound romance? Try this sexy new release! Here’s the official blurb:

Special-needs teacher Kayla Johnston writes off any shot at New Year’s Eve romance when she’s summoned to a fundraising event for her school at the remote estate of a wealthy would-be-donor. But when a massive snowstorm hits and Kayla careens off the road, the sexy stranger who rescues her brings to mind cozy fireplaces and steamy midnight kisses…among other things.

Reclusive entrepreneur Ryan Langford may be missing his own fundraiser, but being marooned in a cabin with Kayla beats ducking a room full of people after his money any day. Too bad she’s so irritated with the ” gazillionaire” who ruined her New Year’s Eve that he feels like he has to lie about his identity. But when the sparks fly and they fall into each other’s arms, Ryan knows he’s made a big mistake. Will she be able to trust him once the snow melts and the truth comes out?

I Do . . . Or Die by Donna Cummings (Romantic Comedy–Dec 2012, Crimson)

Looking for a contemporary romance awash in humor, with a dose of suspense?

“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” is Shelby Atwood’s personal credo. She’s managed to avoid commitment all her life – no pets, no plants, not even a long-term lease. Heck, she’s had colds last longer than her romantic relationships. How could she be any other way when she has a gigolo for a father?

But then gunfire erupts at the latest wedding she’s agreed to be in, and it ends up being the best thing to happen to Shelby’s love life. Detective Ryan Nichols is assigned to the case, and when the shootings don’t stop, he becomes her 24-hour bodyguard. Shelby wouldn’t mind except Ryan is too appealing, too sexy, and too happy to remind her of the raucous bachelorette party when she mistook him for a stripper.

Shelby’s plan is simple: find the shooter, have a fling with Ryan, and return to her non-committal life. Unfortunately, the shooter is very elusive. Shelby’s feelings for Ryan are way more than adrenaline-fueled lust. And returning to her normal life is now impossible since, despite her lifelong resistance, she’s managed to put her heart smack dab in the line of fire.

Seal of Destiny by Traci Douglass (Paranormal Romance–Jan 21, 2013, Crimson)

This one we didn’t swap the whole novel, just chapters, but what I critiqued, I remember enjoying!

Mira Herald is having the worst life ever. Not only is she plagued by horrific nightmares starring the Devil himself, she’s now the target of a power-hungry, rogue minion, freshly sprung from Hell and bent on her destruction. To complicate matters further, she’s acquired a stalker. One who insists he’s a divine warrior sent for her protection because she houses an ancient relic with the power to unleash Armageddon. Last time Mira checked, she wasn’t insane. Still, all this celestial mayhem is enough to drive a girl crazy.

Kagan is a member of the Scion, an elite team of immortal warriors selected by Divinity to aid mankind and save the world. After a century alone, Kagan is summoned for a new mission. He’s eager to begin. Eager until he’s informed his mission consists of protecting a woman with no clue to the power she wields. Plus, his briefing fails to prepare him for his new target’s cosmic-sized attitude problem. As Divinity’s sworn servant, he’s required to fulfill his duty. His oath, however, does not require him to be enthusiastic about his new assignment or warm-and-fuzzy toward his new compatriot. He plans a wham-bam rescue and a quick return to solitude.

The minion attacks – with the backing of a mysterious organization – and all Hades erupts, putting a fast end to any whirlwind escapes. Accustomed to staunch independence, Mira’s survival now requires full cooperation and an unwavering belief in Kagan. The battle-hardened warrior is also forced to chose: between duty and desire. Amidst the turmoil, Kagan and Mira’s undeniable passion draws them closer to each other and down a path neither expected but both yearn for, more than they ever knew.

Will love save the day? The world’s fate depends on the answer.

Two more to pimp…. These aren’t Beta partners, but we’ve gotten to know each other in writerly loops and I’m super excited for them. I’ve got them loaded on my Kindle and am eager to read!

Blood Vine by Amber Belldene (Paranormal romance–Jan 2013, Omnific)

In Blood Vine, bites are an inconvenient bliss, exiled vampires are wasting away, and the fate of their kind depends on the perfect PR campaign.

When public relations pro Zoey Porter arrives at an enchanting California winery, she discovers her sexy new client is the almost one-night stand she can’t forget. After her husband’s suicide, Zoey has vowed never to risk her heart again. But can she walk away from the intriguing winemaker a second time?

Driven from Croatia by his ancient foes, vampire Andre Maras has finally made a blood-like wine to cure his fellow refugees. Now he needs Zoey’s PR expertise to reach them. After his wife’s death, Andre has a vow of his own—never to risk another painful blood bond. And one taste of the tempting Zoey would bind him to her eternally.

His secrets stall her PR plans. Her jealousy is stoked by the blissed-out beauties leaving his bedroom. At every turn, he utterly fails to resist her. When she discovers he is a vampire, will she be lost to the golden-eyed Hunters, or lose herself to the emptiness in her heart, before she can help him save his kind?

Wishing For A Highlander (Highland Wishes) by Jessi Gage (time travel romance–Dec 2012, Lyrical)

Highland Wishes, #1

For Melanie, “Be careful what you wish for” becomes “Be careful what you wish on.”

While examining Andrew Carnegie’s lucky rosewood box, single-and-pregnant museum worker Melanie makes a tongue in cheek wish on the artifact–for a Highland warrior to help her forget about her cheating ex. Suddenly transported to the middle of a clan skirmish in sixteenth-century Scotland, she realizes she should have been a tad more specific.

Darcy, laird in waiting, should be the most eligible bachelor in Ackergill, but a cruel prank played on him in his teenage years has led him to believe he is too large under his kilt to ever join with a woman. He has committed himself to a life of bachelorhood, running his deceased father’s windmills and keeping up the family manor house…alone.

Darcy’s uncle, Laird Steafan welcomes the strangely dressed woman into his clan, immediately marrying her to Darcy in hopes of an heir. But when Steafan learns of her magic box and brands her a witch, Darcy must do what any good husband would–protect his wife, even if it means forsaking his clan.

WARNING: A pregnant museum worker, a sixteenth-century Scot, and a meddlesome wishing box.

Read any great newly-released romances lately? 

I’ve Been Tagged: The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

This is a meme going around for about a month wherein tagees answer WIP-related questions and pass it along to others.

I’ve been tagged by Janice Hardy, fabulous YA author of The Healing Wars trilogy, and by one of my Beta buddies Linda Morris, whom I’ve had the pleasure of Beta reading two of her works and am so happy they’ve found publishers!

Rules for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop:
***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?

I have several works in various stages of the pipeline. My current WIP is NOT ANOTHER DARCY, a magical realism/meta fiction romance, which I’m doing for NaNoWriMo this month. Langouring in revision is my steampunk romance STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY. Coming out on December 19th with Secret Cravings Publishing is BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS. But the one I’m going to post about is the one that I shopped for an agent, my time travel romance MUST LOVE BREECHES.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’ve always been a sucker for time travel and I’m a Jane Austen nut, so when I was brainstorming ideas for NaNoWriMo back in October 2010, I thought it’d be cool to go back in time to the Austen era and do some kind of tie in. But then there’d been others who’d explored that ground already and so I was noodling around in Wikipedia looking at famous people in that time period my heroine could meet and looking at Lord Byron’s page. It was while looking at that that I saw the entry about Ada Lovelace, and I was like HER. My heroine needs to meet her! So I readjusted the time period to 1834.

What genre does your book fall under?

Time travel romance, and in contests that usually falls into the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal category. I do get dinged by some judges saying they don’t understand why it’s in the paranormal category, which is frustrating, because that’s where it’s supposed to go according to their own definitions.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh man, I’m horrible with actors’ names and who’s who. I know that during revision, when I saw Toby Stephens play Mr. Rochester in one of the Jane Eyre versions, I sat up and thought, hey, that’s the closest in my mind to Lord Montagu! So him, but for Isabelle I have no clue, sorry!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When a modern American girl working at the British Museum finds herself stranded in pre-Victorian London by a mysterious artifact, she must find a way home while navigating the pitfalls of London society, resisting her growing attraction for a hunky lord, and ultimately having to decide when her true home lies.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I signed with Maura Kye-Casella at Don Congdon, Associates on October 4th. We were scheduled to start submitting November 1, but Hurricane Sandy has delayed that, but hopefully we’ll be submitting soon.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I think it took me a little over thirty-two days? I did it for NaNoWriMo and passed the 50K mark after twenty-eight days, but I kept writing as it wasn’t finished and I seem to remember that it was a couple of days after NaNo ended. But that was in 2010 and I’ve been revising and polishing it until this past September.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

That’s a tough one. For time travel and humor, maybe Sandra Hill’s The Last Viking. In my queries I compared the tone to Lauren Willig’s The Secret History of the Pink Carnation and Katie MacAlister‘s contemporary romances. After querying, a comp did come out: MacAlister published a time travel in September, A Tale of Two Vampires: A Dark Ones Novel. However, I also said that fans of the movie Lost in Austen would enjoy it as well.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

NaNoWriMo looming around the corner back in 2010!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I think it’s a little different in that it explores an aspect of 1830s London often overlooked, which is the scientific side of things. Not only is Ada Byron Lovelace a main secondary character (credited as the world’s first computer programmer), but my heroine stays at the home of polymath Mary Somerville, and she attends a soiree at Charles Babbage‘s house, and sees him demonstrate The Difference Engine. She narrowly misses seeing Michael Faraday at the same party.

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

Here’s my peeps (these are all Beta buddies–those whom I’ve swapped stories with for feedback):

  1. Kate Meader, who has a wicked-fun sense of humor, so I jumped on the chance to Beta her MS. She then landed an agent a couple of months ago and already sold her first series! Her debut (the one I Beta’ed) is Feel The Heat, coming out in 2013 by Grand Central!
  2. Donna Cummings, who ALSO has a wicked-fun sense of humor, so I also jumped on the chance to Beta her MS I Do… Or Die, which also recently found a home. Look for it December 10th with Crimson Romance
  3. Stephanie Lawton, fellow Mobilian whose gritty and haunting YA paranormal I beta’ed and just loved, recently found a home for it with Evernight Teen. Be on the look out for Shrapnel in January!
  4. Celia Breslin, urban fantasy and paranormal romance author, whose first chapter of a geek novella I critted and can’t wait to read the rest!
  5. Sarah Wesson, whom I’m eagerly awaiting for her to finish revising Full Metal Librarian as it just needs to be published, that’s all I’m saying!

Make Sure Your Curtains Match the Drapes–Why Your Query’s Tone Matters

As some of you know, I’ve started the query phase again for MUST LOVE BREECHES. I don’t want to get too detailed about this for obvious reasons, but I did want to provide an update and a cautionary tale.

Some of you know I queried in the spring. I did a short burst to a few agents to test the waters and then stepped back and did another round of Beta readers. Last week, I finally finished revising and polishing from that round. So, initiating query phase again, but this time all out.

So, what’s one thing that I feel comfortable sharing with you while this is going on?

Make sure your curtains match the drapes.

If you’ve been doing your homework and reading blogs and lurking/participating in forum posts about this business, you know that this process is extremely subjective. I’ve also learned that from doing RWA contests. Therefore the varied responses from agents is something I understand (though of course sometimes I have to remind myself of this). But what does this mean?

Since it is subjective, make sure your query matches the tone and voice of your manuscript!

Often I’ll see queries posted in forums and websites for critique, and either due to a timidness on the part of the author, or because it’s been critiqued too many times, all voice, tone and personality is leached from the query. You basically now have very few signposts available to the agent for them to gauge your story. Most likely they’ll shrug their shoulders and say “Next.” You don’t want that. Sure, if you put your voice back into your query, you’ll get agents who’ll cringe or reject because it’s not their thing, but guess what? You want that to happen. You just saved yourself and that agent time, because you’ve successfully given them guidance about what to expect from your manuscript. However, your query now has the correct signposts to alert the type of agent who’ll love your story, and that’s what you want.

To give you an example, I just got this feedback from an agent based on my query and sample pages:

This sounds adorable! I’d love to take a look

Yay! Hopefully, I’ve matched my tone/voice in the query to my manuscript and she’ll still find it adorable. This doesn’t necessarily mean anything will happen with this agent, but my query did it’s job and alerted agents about what to expect with my manuscript.

I’ll go ahead and post my query (minus the opening personalized part):

Isabelle Rochon, a thoroughly modern American working at the British Museum, has finally met the man of her dreams. There’s one problem: he lives in another century.

When a mysterious artifact zaps Isabelle to pre-Victorian London, a thief steals it, stranding her in a place where nobody’s heard of toilet paper or women’s lib. Now she must find the artifact, navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London, keep her origins a secret, and, oh, resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot, he curls her toes. But when he asks her to pose as his fiancée for his scheme of revenge, his now constant presence overthrows her equilibrium and kicks in her old insecurities. Why does he have to be so damn hunky, compelling and, well, Drool-Worthy? This is not what she needs. She’d carved off part of herself for another man before and is determined never to make that same mistake again. Staying would be the ultimate follow-the-boyfriend move. Besides, she’d just reassembled her life and getting promoted at the museum will ensure she can remain in London and the life she’s carefully built. In the end, she must decide when her true home lies.

MUST LOVE BREECHES is a time travel romance complete at 98,000 words. It features such historical figures as Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage. Fans of the TV mini-series LOST IN AUSTEN will love the modern woman’s fish out of water foibles, while experiencing a more scientific and mechanical London. It is similar in tone to THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE PINK CARNATION, and Katie MacAlister’s contemporary romances. It is a standalone novel with the potential to be a prequel in a series of steampunk romances.

I hold a Masters in Heritage Preservation from Georgia State University and am an RWA-PRO member, as well as a member of three RWA chapters: Gulf Coast, Hearts Through History and FF&P. My contemporary geek romance novelette, BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS, is contracted by Secret Cravings Publishing, and due to release in January 2013.

MUST LOVE BREECHES has finaled in ten RWA chapter contests in 2012–in the Regency/Victorian/Georgian category of the Hearts Through History’s Romancing Through The Ages contest, and in the paranormal category for Washington DC’s Marlene contest, San Antonio’s Merritt contest, Virginia Fool for Love contest, Celtic Hearts Golden Claddagh contest (winner), Greater Seattle’s ECO contest, Georgia’s Maggie contest, Utah’s Heart of the West contest, and Denver’s Molly contest, and in the time travel/steampunk/historical category of FF&P’s On the Far Side contest.

Are you querying right now? What have you found in regards to query tone and voice? If you’ve read MLB, do you think this query matches in tone and voice?

Polishing my Pitch for the FF&P Fantasy on the Bayou Conference this weekend

funny pictures-RAWR! Iz I doin it rite? RAWWWR!!!I’ve had a nervous stomach since last Wednesday when I realized this conference was only a little over a week away. Now it’s only a couple of days. Eeep!

Been hitting the Chamomile Tea pretty hard to calm the ole stomach….

Reason I’m nervous? Not only is it my first writer’s conference, but I’ll be pitching to three agents. Never done it before. For the non-writers who might be reading this, I basically have about 8 minutes to verbally infuse that agent with a hot, burning need to read my manuscript. Can I say ‘Eeep’ again?

They say you should memorize about 3 to 4 sentences to pitch and that the agent will ask questions. Is that about right?

So I thought I’d indulge myself by running several by y’all. They say it also needs to sound conversational… So here it goes, FWIW:

A) MUST LOVE BREECHES is a completed 98,000 word time-travel romance. When a thoroughly modern American girl finds herself stranded in 1834 London, she must find a way home while navigating the pitfalls of London society, resisting her attraction to a hunky lord, and ultimately having to decide when her true home lies. 

or:

B) MUST LOVE BREECHES is a completed 98,000 word time-travel romance. It’s about a quirky modern American who has finally met the man of her dreams. There’s only one problem–he lives in 1834. She has sworn off ever doing the follow-the-boyfriend move again. But when she’s accidentally transported to 1834 London, she has a hard time resisting the hunky lord known as the Vicious Viscount. She wants to find the silver case that transported her through time so she can return to her carefully crafted life in the present, but when he asks her to pose as his fiancée for his own scheme of revenge, she ultimately has to decide when her true home lies. One of the fun things about it, besides the yummy hero, is that she is befriended by Ada Byron, Lord Byron’s daughter, and meets Charles Babbage, the inventor of the Difference Engine. I’ve tried for a light, humorous touch, while also exploring aspects of 1830s London that’s not typical: the scientific.

I know mentioning other characters in a pitch is usually bad, but the thing is, Ada Byron Lovelace is a major secondary character. She is one of the “high concept” things about the book. Whenever I mention she’s in it to someone who asks me what my book is about, they perk up with that bit. Also, it’s timely–Steve Job’s biographer’s next subject will be her. Folks into steampunk love Lovelace and Babbage.

I’ve tried to get my goal, motivation and conflict in each, my theme, and (B) also includes the Act One turning point.

I see (A) as my elevator/cocktail bar pitch and (B) as my actual pitch? Will I have enough time for B?

Some resources I found, if you’re faced with doing a verbal pitch session soon:

I’ve done my research on the agents, now I just need to nail down my pitch and memorize it. I’m also going into it with the attitude that the agent will know I’m nervous, it’s to be expected. Hopefully that will make me less nervous. I’m going to go in positive…

How about you? Do you have any advice? Are you going to the conference? Do you have any funny pitch stories to share?

First Page Critique Contest

Jamie Ayres is hosting a first page critique contest to celebrate Heather Birch’s debut novel Halflings. Participants are to post their first 250 words on their blogs, then hop around to everyone else’s to read their entries. Jamie will randomly draw five names to receive a critique from Heather. Does that make sense?

So, here’s my entry:

********

Title: Must Love Breeches
Genre: Time Travel Romance
Word count: 97,000

Pitch: When a thoroughly modern girl finds herself stranded in 1834 London, she must find a way home while navigating the pitfalls of London society, resisting her attraction to a hunky lord, and ultimately having to decide when her true home lies.  

CHAPTER ONE

A reenactment ball was the perfect setting for romance. Or not.

Isabelle fidgeted in her oddly-shaped, but oh-so-accurate ball gown surrounded by women who’d sacrificed authenticity for sex appeal. It was as if she were a dorky kid again, participating in dress-up day at school when everyone else had magically decided it was lame.

At least her co-worker Anna was with her in this. Like Isabelle’s, her dress was circa 1834. “Hmmm. How about him?” Isabelle asked, eyeing the guy walking past in tight-fitting, buff-colored breeches.

Anna sucked on her olive and plopped the stir stick back into her cocktail. “Oh, yes. A breech-ripper for sure.”

Isabelle choked on her drink—they’d just been discussing their favorite “bodice ripper’ romances. They’d also discovered they shared a mutual obsession with guys in period clothes, which had helped propel her through the early stages of the party. Since this was the first time they’d hung out, she treated this moment delicately, afraid to puncture the mood. To have another friend in London would be wonderful.

A sharp elbow in her side caused her drink to flirt with the rim of her glass. “Look sharp,” Anna said, her voice low with just a dollop of teasing. “Here comes Andrew.”

Isabelle took a gulp of her drink, the champagne fizz tickling her throat and nose. She’d been cultivating a crush on him since she’d started working at the British Museum six months ago. She’d pictured him in period clothes looking resplendent.

He did.

First stab at a query letter – whatcha think?

This past Sunday, I posted about my struggles to boil my novel down to one sentence: the dreaded logline. Since then I’ve researched some more and have discovered that I’ve conflated the hook for a query letter with the logline. According to Janet Reid at Query Shark, the logline should not be the hook. So, since I’m wanting to work on perfecting my query, I’ve been working on the hook and the rest of the letter. My goal was to write in the tone of the novel (hers and his). Here’s what I have so far:

Isabelle Rochon has finally met the man of her dreams. There’s only one problem: he lives in 1834. Talk about a long-distance relationship!

A dorky Southern gal, Isabelle works at the British Museum. She just wanted to know what it was like to live ‘back then.’ But not really. Stranded back in time, she must navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London on the cusp of the Victorian era, find out how to get back, keep her origins a secret, and, oh, resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot he curls her toes.

To Lord Montagu nothing makes more sense than to keep his distance from the strange Colonial. However, when his scheme for revenge reaches a stalemate, he needs someone to masquerade as his fiancee. Who better than Miss Rochon? A bargain is struck. What he did not bargain for was the irresistible attraction that flares between them. Now, nothing makes more sense than to make their engagement official. Except to Miss Rochon.

As Isabelle searches for the silver case that transported her back in time, she is drawn to a man whom she cannot have. And his enemies want the case for their own purposes. If Isabelle can’t find and keep the case out of their hands, the future could be their playground. And she’ll be stuck in 1834 where they haven’t heard of toilet paper or women’s lib. The fact that she’s falling in love with Lord Montagu isn’t helping either. When she triumphs and gains the case, she’s faced with an awful choice: return to the comforts of the modern age, or do the ultimate follow-the boyfriend move and stay in 1834.

TO OUR FUTURE, is a 95,000 word completed time travel romance. I envision this as a prequel to a series of steampunk romances, since Isabelle befriends Lord Byron’s daughter Ada Lovelace (who many consider to be the first computer programmer) and created an alternate timeline whereby Charles Babbage completed his Analytical Engine and ushered in the computer age 100 years earlier than it really did.

What do you think? My next goal after getting this query sharpened is to come up with a better title!

Some links I’ve found since Sunday in case you’re also struggling like me (bless you!):

My takeaway this week is that when you do your research on the agents you want, see what styles they prefer as well. Janet Reid definitely didn’t like certain things that Kristin Nelson did, etc.

Are you in the process of querying? Have you written a successful one? Do you have any advice for us?

Boiling down a plot into one sentence – argh!

I know why I’ve been procrastinating lately. I’d purposely chosen to not participate in NaNoWriMo in order to concentrate on the final stage of my current WIP: querying agents.

But, Holy Swiss Cheese On A Stick With Sprinkles, no wonder so many writers are opting to go indie! Researching this phase over the weekend (because I finally made myself get off my tuckis– and is that how you even spell that word?) was enough to make me want to go curl up in a dark corner and rock back and forth.

I started last night and found the very helpful PDF created by YA author Elana Johnson.  Other helpful links I’ve found in this vein are Crafting a 25-Word Pitch, Kristen Lamb’s Structure Part 5–Keeping Focused & Nailing the Pitch–Understand Your “Seed Idea” and agent Kristin Nelson’s series on query pitches, starting with Pitching And All That Jazz (look on right-hand sidebar for the rest in that series). This is when the ‘flight response’ triggered.

After twiddling around since early this morning on the interwebs, I finally put on my big girl panties and tackled it in earnest. The way I figure, if I’m scared and daunted, so must a lot of other writers. Perhaps many won’t go further, so if I push forward I will be part of a smaller crowd. Maybe? Anyway, that’s the positive spin I’m going with – picturing another fearsome black gate to pass through and many folks milling around outside.

So, I’m going to tackle this a step at a time. First, the hook. In one sentence, preferably in 40 words or less, I need to encapsulate my story in such a way that an agent will want to keep reading my query letter. It needs to also be done in the style of the novel.

Here’s the back cover copy I came up with a couple of months ago:

Isabelle Rochon is an American museum curator working for the British Museum. When she finds a mysterious silver card-case, she thinks it a perfect accessory for a reenactment ball. But what she thought would be an exciting lark, fulfilling her desire to “live a little history”, becomes more than she bargained for when she realizes that the attendees are a little too realistic: she is truly in 1834 London, England. There she meets Lord Montagu, who’s so hot he curls her toes. A thief steals her silver case, stranding a feisty, modern American in a stiffly polite London on the verge of the Victorian age. She finds it hard to resist her growing attraction for Lord Montagu, known even to his relatives as the Vicious Viscount.

Can their love overcome the biggest barrier of all – time? And what difference will a working model of the Analytical Engine make to the next two centuries?

Hooks, however, need to be short. Elana Johnson gave an example of one of hers:

Jonathan Clarke has everything a seventeen-year-old boy could want—except for a beating heart.

That would definitely make me want to keep reading! Michelle Maclean, in her helpful post How To Write A Hook Line Or Logline, says that it needs to contain characters, conflict, setting, distinction, and action. She cites several movies’ loglines as examples, like:

When a Roman general is betrayed and his family murdered by an insane and corrupt prince, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge. (Gladiator)

But she cautions that it should set the right tone, and shows how that can be so different for the same piece:

  • After a twister transports a lonely Kansas farm girl to a magical land, she sets out on a dangerous journey to find a wizard with the power to send her home.
  • Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets, then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again.

So, with that in mind, I took a stab at it. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

A modern American girl is stranded in 1834 London and must find her way back to her own time – and, oh, she meets a hunky lord – talk about a long distance relationship.

Would that grab you? Does it have the elements needed? This is in the tone of the novel and I’m pulling a little bit from a line in the novel, when Isabelle, the heroine reflects on Lord Montagu:

Man, talk about a Long-Distance Relationship; chronologically rather than geographically undesirable.

Anyone else struggling with their hook? Put yours in the comments too!