Saturday, 30 January 2016

Check your elevator pitch

Hey - so today I want to do a little thing with elevator pitches. In fact, I want to do something with your elevator pitch.

The thing is, elevator pitches are tough. And it's hard to be objective. So I'd like to offer a pair of objective eyes. I'm an agented author and full time scriptwriter (I also have a copy and content writing background in marketing) so I'm not a bad pair of eyes, I don't think.

So short and sweet: feel free to post your elevator pitch below and I'll give my honest response and advice that I think might improve it.

Not sure what an elevator pitch is? Well, the dictionary defines it as "a succinct and persuasive sales pitch." At the end of the day, we need that to sell a book - to an agent, an editor, the sales department, the bookstores, a whole host of other people involved in the publishing process and finally, the reader. 

 Things your elevator pitch needs to be:

* Unique
* Easily communicated
* Concise
* Done in 30 seconds

What forms an elevator pitch:

* Genre
* Character
* Setup
* Conflict
* Consequences

Here's a great post by my agency: Elevator Pitches

So let's have at it.

Post your pitch below and I'll give you my feedback!

P.S. You can see one version of my elevator pitch here in my About Books section (just scroll to the bottom of the page.

P.P.S. At least once a month I'll be posting with something I can help you with - first lines, queries, how to improve one of your scenes, etc. So make sure to subscribe so you don't miss out!   

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

What in the world?

So here's the thing, as a writer I'm pretty much fascinated by...well, everything really. And my current obsession of the moment is quantum physics and quantum mechanics.

Nooooo wait...don't run....

It's actually pretty interesting. I mean, something that can tell you about the ten dimensions (and maybe even an 11th), how our world might just be one big hologram, that time isn't regular and gets slower the faster you move, and how you can have two entangled particles that can communicate over huuuuuuge distances with no physical connection between them? Come on, you can't say that's not super cool.

Btw - if you want to know what the strange cat picture is all about, check it out here.
It's relevant, I promise (picture from a paradox!). And I think it's pretty cool!

Right. So, where am I going with all this? Two places, actually. First of all, if quantum mechanics is actually right about all the things it predicts and postulates, then where does that leave us?

Is the universe a hologram?

Was it intentionally designed by a creator or did it just go bang?
Are we able to teleport (the answer is we've done a small teleportation already)?

Woah. Those thoughts make my mind spin...and get excited about new book ideas!

Then there's this other thing...the second place it takes me. I'm no science expert or math whizz (my microwave counts better than I do!), but I am in possession of a curious mind. Watching a plethora of quantum physics documentaries (let's face it, I will not survive a textbook - too many numbers and squiggly lines) got my brain clicking in a writerly fashion. And then I did that thing all writers do... OOOH! Look! Another YouTube video to watch on something else...

In my case, Albert Einstein's brain (isn't it wonderful what you can find on the internet?).

Now this post might just look like a big jumbled post of random thoughts to you

And you'd be half right.

Yes, it is stream of consciousness. But that doesn't mean it's without purpose. It's purpose is clear: it's to challenge what you think, what you consider, what means something to you, how the creative brain works.

So, if you've got any spiffy answers for my posed questions on how the world works, or you've got some spiffy ideas or comments on anything that takes your fancy, well, don't be shy!

Alrighty. I'm going to go and see if my hologram can make dinner.

P.S. If you've got any awesome links to anything interesting then what are you waiting for? That's why we have comments ;-) lol

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Have you got style?

So, here I am on a bright and fresh January day surfing the Great Blue Web, and I come across a picture of a bad 1980s outfit and it gets me thinking about writing...more precisely, it gets me thinking "what is style"? Can it be learned? Can it be improved? Can you just have bad style and that's the way you'll be forever (like that one woman who can't let go of leopard print pants and blue eye shadow)?

Niiiiiice...yeah yeah, you know you did it too.

So that prompted a delve into the world of style...

I want to break down what style is in my eyes and look at how we can develop it into a finely honed weapon of mass destruction (or writing technique, your choice).

First, let me tell you what I think style is not:


Seriously. Just hear me out here. Voice is your unique voice bleeding onto the page. It's your heart, your soul, your natural manner of expression, your opinions and thoughts and everything that wraps you up into the wonderful person you are. Writers get their knickers in a knot about this all the time, but it really is quite simple. Let's take music as an example. When you hear Michael Jackson sing, you know it's him. Doesn't matter the song, doesn't matter the style, doesn't matter the words. You know it's him - it's his voice. Same with Whitney Houston, Bob Dylan, Sting, Elton see where I'm going here. Voice is you. Still not convinced? Think of actors and the voices they have - Alan Rickman, Morgan Freeman, Will Smith, Maggie Smith - again, all individual voices.

Ahhh, but wait, I hear you say. I can't speak my work. It doesn't work like that.

Well, I'd argue that you're wrong. Let's look at artists...

If you know anything about art, you'll see immediately this is a Van Gogh. Of course it is. It's his signature "voice". It's not just his style. He is in that painting, heart, mind, soul and we can see it. Not a word was spoken. And yet his voice bleeds through the canvas. Same goes for a whole host of others - Monet, Munch, Picasso.

The list goes on in almost every artistic profession - you'll know a Rennie Mackintosh piece of furniture when you see it, you'll know a Michelangelo sculpture when you run across it. This is voice, not style.

Okay, okay, you've got it. Voice is not style.

So, smartypants, what is style?

Glad you asked. Style is the technique you choose to use to express yourself. Are your a singer who uses falsetto, baritone, fast beats, sharp notes? Are you a painter who uses oils, watercolors, dramatic emotion, subtle intelligence? Are you a bold and aggressive sculptor making use of bold lines, strong elements, or do you like abstract concept that stirs the mind? And as a writer...are you florid in your writing? Beautiful sentences, deep and meaningful scenes? Or do you like a light skim across the pages, your prose deftly skipping from one word to another?

These are your choices of form and technique (down to word choice, sentence construction, grammar, syntax and every little writing technique you can possibly imagine). And you can alter and change these at your wish. You can develop them, learn them, grow short, you can do to style what you wish.

The best thing? You can use voice to develop style and style to develop voice. Who says every element of craft has to be one and to its own? No, like tangled threads they knit together to create the tapestry of your book, short story, poem, tanka...whatever your chosen form happens to be.

And here, to sum up my thoughts is this:

 Voice is created by self. 
Voice is who you are expressing.
 Style is a manifestation of self.
Style can be altered to best express the purpose of the story you want to tell in your voice.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Chase a new book with CHASING CRAZY!

So it's the second blog post of the year and I thrilled to say that it couldn't start better! I've been lucky enough to snag author Kelly Siskind with her new novel CHASING CRAZY (now that is a great title if ever I've heard one!).

So first things first, let's take a little peek at that cover of hers...

Cute, isn't it? And you can just tell their might be a hint of romance in those pages, so if you like a bit of love, then this is definitely worth a read.

So what's it about? Well, I'm glad you asked!


Dear Mom & Dad, I dropped out of school. I'm going backpacking. Sorry. Love you both.

At nineteen, Nina has endured two lifetimes' worth of humiliation. Tired of waiting for it to get better, she decides to get going-across the globe to New Zealand. There she soon faces what she most fears: a super sexy guy ready to be Nina's next mistake.

Once Sam's life was all about having fun. That was before the accident. Now his friends have bailed and his world is broken. But when a gorgeous girl on his flight looks at him with passion instead of pity, Sam feels his old self coming back to life. 

Now traveling together, Nina and Sam know this isn't just a fling. They're falling fast, hard, and deep. More than anything, Sam wants Nina to forget her fears. But to help her do that he must reveal his own painful secret-and risk Nina never seeing him the same way again.

 *swoon* Isn't that just a great conflict brewing? And that quote? Oh my, the gorgeous words! This will prove to be an exciting, dramatic and dreamy book, and I for one am lining up at the gates to read it.

Wanna see a little taster of what's in store?

Excerpt One:

Another big, sweaty guy squeezes from the door and returns to his seat at the rear of the cabin. With my eyes on the prize, I pick up the pace. My steps get longer. Quicker.

I don’t break eye contact with that door. I don’t look down. If I had looked down, I might have seen the large black boot sticking out in the aisle. If I had looked down, I might have stepped over it. But I didn’t.

In one glorious move, my sandaled toe smacks into the black boot…and I tumble.

Hard. Fast. Face first. The corner of the book in my hand slams into my full bladder, and my vision from earlier comes to life. Every. Horrifying. Detail. Like a pathetic five year-old child, I wet myself. I manage to stop the Niagara Falls portion of the flow, but I pee

myself nonetheless. Frickin’ perfect.

Lying with my face smashed against the rough airplane carpet, I squeeze my eyes, willing this to be a horrible nightmare, when two hands grip my shoulders. They pick me up effortlessly and place me on my feet. Mortified is not a strong enough word to describe my current state of being. My underwear is sodden, the front of my skirt is damp, and there’s a pretzel bit stuck to my eyebrow. Still, that doesn’t hold a candle to the level of horror I experience when I turn to find Hot Guy in front of my face.

His eyebrows pull together. “You okay?”

An animal sound explodes through my lips, something between a caw and a yelp, as I spin away and dash for the still- green vacant sign. I slam the door and fight with the stupid bar thingy to get it locked, then I whirl around looking for those god-awful paper toilet covers. The bathroom reeks of some sort of foul I can’t describe. The guy before unleashed a whole lot of awful in here. I dance from foot to foot, knees knocking, as I get the cover down. Underwear off, skirt up, and the stream flows before my butt hits the seat.

It keeps flowing. And flowing. And flowing.

I stretch the neck of my fitted white T-shirt and stick my nose inside while the marathon continues. I pick the pretzel bit off my eyebrow and fling it on the floor. There must be something seriously wrong with me. Here I am, trying to start fresh. New me, new life. And I can’t make it a minute without creating havoc. Maybe it’s all the pot my folks smoke. No matter how many times they’ve denied it, I bet Mom smoked boatloads while pregnant with me. Boat. Loads.

When the trickle ends, I stand and stamp my foot on the flush button then step back to avoid being sucked into the atmosphere. Although, nose-diving to earth might be preferable to facing Hot Guy Who Saw Me Pee when I leave the bathroom. I could lock myself in this tin can until we land. Unfortunately, it smells like a Taco Bell meal gone wrong.

With no other option, I prepare to exit the lavatory. I remove my underwear and cram it into the trash. Barely. I dampen some paper towels and blot the front of my skirt. Luckily, the blue and purple floral pattern is busy enough to hide the wet splotch stretched across the fabric. I shove two wads of paper under my armpits to soak up my stress sweat. After shaking out my red hair and retying it into a ponytail, I wash my hands a third time. Finally, I shove the latch to vacant and push the door.

I almost yank it shut.

Hot Guy Who Saw Me Pee is leaning against the side of a seat with his arms crossed. His are eyes locked on the bathroom door…and me. Double shoot.

Pretty tasty, right? Actually, if you hang around a few more minutes, I'm going to whet your appetite just a little bit more. But first, let's see what praise has come in early for CHASING CRAZY...

CHASING CRAZY by Kelly Siskind (February 2, 2016; Forever Yours E-Book)
"With an endearingly awkward female protagonist, a swoon-worthy male love interest, and Siskind's superb storytelling, this is one of the best New Adult contemporary romances I've read to date." -- USA Today bestselling author K.A. Tucker

WOW! And the below quote shows just why it's so awesome...

This has definitely got me wanting about you? If you like the sound of CHASING CRAZY then you can pick it up in any of these places:

Buy the book!

And keep an eye out for Kelly’s Over The Top series, coming in Spring 2016! Fans of Alice Clayton and Emma Chase will love this fun, contemporary romance series set in 
Vancouver, Canada. 

I'm pretty sure I can hear you all asking "what about that extra preview you told us about?" Don't worry, I'm not holding out. So here it is:
Excerpt Two:

He straightens and shoves his hands into his pockets. I try to hurry past him, but he steps in my way. Taller than me by a head, he dips down toward my ear. “You should watch where you’re going when you’re running inside an airplane, Ginger.”

What the…? Ginger? Is Hot Guy making fun of my hair? To my face?

With my nails biting into my palm, my whisper-yell explodes before I can stop it. “I should watch where I’m going? Maybe you shouldn’t sprawl across the entire aisle, Mister…Man.”

Wow. I just said that. I called Hot Guy Mister Man. I can’t even get angry right.

Mister Man, Hot Guy…whatever, he looks more amused, a suggestive smile on his lips. He leans closer, his brown curls flopping on his forehead. “I was joking, all right? I’m sorry about the tripping thing. Seriously. You sure you’re okay?”

Before I can answer, a girl pokes her head around his shoulder. “Excuse me. Mind if I get by?” She nods toward the bathroom.

Hot Guy slides his arm around my waist and draws me against his chest to let the girl pass. I suck a sharp breath. Hot Guy definitely works out. The hard contours of his pecs are unmistakable through his cotton shirt, the sharp ridges of his muscles firmly against my body. His palm flattens on my lower back, and he pulls me tighter. Oh God.

My fingers itch to touch him. Every chiseled inch. If he didn’t see me wet myself, this would be way better than picturing warm suds dripping down his body. In a shower. My hands trailing between his legs.

Then I flash to the last time I was this close to a guy. Hypnosis couldn’t repress that memory deep enough. Better for me and everyone involved if I stick with fantasies. Placing my hand on his chest, I push back from Hot Guy, a little disappointed to lose the contact.

Two long fingers find my chin and lift my gaze. “Look, Ginger, I’ll let you by when you tell me you’re okay. So are you hurt, or are you cool to make it back to your seat?”

There’s a scar on his chin, long and jagged. I blink to stop staring. “First, don’t call me Ginger. And second, yes. I’m fine. No thanks to your boot. Can I go back to my seat now?” I fiddle with my skirt, sure everyone nearby knows I’m flying commando.

Hot Guy studies me a beat, then raises his hands. “Watch your step on the way back.” But he barely moves, so I’m forced to rub against him (pantyless) to get by.

Holy heck, that chest.

Two steps away, I see my book still on the floor from my fall.

The rest happens in slow motion, an instant replay of pure awful.

I bend down to grab my book, and the airplane jiggles as though it’s bouncing from cloud to cloud. The floor tilts back. I reach to grab the nearest armrest, but a man’s arm is planted there ‘resting.’ Next best option: launch myself forward to grab the back of the man’s chair. This super- smooth move occurs as the plane rights itself. The laws of gravity kick in, and I pitch forward. I don’t do this elegantly. No points for good form. I land on my elbows, and my skirt flies up to my hips.

Yes. My skirt. The skirt that covered my pantyless behind is hitched around my waist. OhGodOhGodOhGod. I flip on my back and tug the flimsy cotton down to my knees. I do it just in time to see Hot Guy close his mouth. His eyes darken ten shades before he slips into the bathroom I recently exited, where he’ll for sure assume it was I who dropped the atomic stink bomb.

Reminder to self: always pee before boarding an airplane.

So who is the talented author behind this wonderful book?

About the author:
A small-town girl at heart, Kelly moved from the city to open a cheese shop with her husband in Northern Ontario. When she's not neck deep in cheese or out hiking, you can find her, notepad in hand, scribbling down one of the many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head. She laughs at her own jokes and has been known to eat her feelings-Gummy Bears heal all. She's also an incurable romantic, devouring romance novels into the wee hours of the morning.

Connect with the author!

Last thing... want to review? Check out NetGalley here.

I hope you give this book a chance as it promises to be a great read. Let's all wish Kelley a great start to the new year and a world of readers to boost her on her writing journey!