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Thursday, June 22, 2006

And the Survey says ...

Hey Ladies -

I'm conducting a survey in conjunction with research I'm doing for my E-book.

Chicks Over 40: Real Life, Real Women
How to rev up your life at any age

So, please come on over and give me your input. It's online, anonymous and will only take a minute. You can access the survey from my web site or go directly here.

This should be helpful, too, in light of today's post on the Wylie-Merrick agency blog. It talks about how you can write from your heart or you can write what the readers want. Well, I say readers over 40 want books about women over 40 - and not just the stereotypical ones out there, either. So, let's do everything we can to let NY know what we want as readers. And then maybe they'll come looking for us, as writers. :)

Thank you.

posted by Kathy Holmes @ Thursday, June 22, 2006


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Agent Kristin on Lady/Hen Lit

We've been so blessed in having so many wonderful agents answer our questions in Dorothy's TWLAuthorTalks group. Agent Kristin is no exception. In fact, I received an interesting response from her about the state of lady/hen lit. She said that while editors say they want stories about women over 40, when you give it to them, they seem to suggest that it would work better if the protagonist was 30 rather than 47. Hmmm ... I can believe that.

Still, she thinks there really is a market out there for the over 40 crowd but it has to be something different than what she's seeing. It can't be the stereotypical husband leaves wife for younger woman. It needs to focus on what real women in their 40s and up are going through.

That sounds like just what I've been saying in my complaints about the lady/hen lit I've been seeing on the bookshelves. Still, my manuscripts must not be hitting the right mark either. Others must not see the story I think I'm telling. And that gives me something to think about, to figure out where my books are falling short. Perhaps it sounds too much like "chick lit" - meaning the characters sound too young. So they think they're seeing the same old thing and miss the deeper story underneath the surface. Or it could just be they haven't found the right home yet. Who knows? Still, something to consider.

In my latest manuscript, the focus really isn't on age. There's a vague allusion that they're in their late 30s but nothing much more is said about it. And in the wip I just started, it's not even an issue at all - I have no idea how old this protagonist is yet. But it seems to be turning into a thriller. So it could be the perfect venue to introduce the age thing. Because age seems to be the scariest thing of all. :)

- Kathy

posted by Kathy Holmes @ Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The State of Hen Lit

Thanks to Dorothy, this group seems to still be alive and well. I'm so glad. So, what's happening in the world of lady lit or hen lit anyway? Anybody care to report in?

During my morning blog reading of Camy's Loft, I stumbled upon this book, RV There Yet? It looks like they're still publishing our books. So what is the future for hen lit? I'm hoping that Agent Kristin can answer that question during Dorothy's TWLAuthorTalks chat with Kristin this week.

In the meantime, I'm still writing books about women who are 40ish. "Real Women Wear Red" is still being considered by publishers and my latest, "Vent of a Woman" is also starting to make the rounds. I'm also writing articles for various sites including the latest, Fabulously Forty. Remember, you don't have to be 40 to believe that life not only continues after forty but gets even better. Feel free to drop by, sign up, read articles, blog, or just hang out.

So, what's everybody else doing?


posted by Kathy Holmes @ Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Friday, June 09, 2006

Literary Agent Kristin Nelson in TWL Author Talks!

I'm happy to announce that literary agent Kristin Nelson will be fielding questions in TWL Author Talks on Monday, June 12, 2006 for the entire week! Last week, as you know, we had the talented Jenny Bent and the response was overwhelming! Fifty people signed up overnight, so now's your chance to get in on finding the agent of your dreams!

Now, here's the coolest news....Kristin has agreed to a pitch slam on Friday, June 16th!

So, what's a pitch slam?

A pitch slam is summing up your entire book in one sentence, in this case, and having one of our literary agent guests tell you if it's something they would be looking for or not. Not as easy as you think.

Last week, we had Jenny Bent giving her input on the pitches and you'd be amazed at how hard it is. While some of us walked away with out tails tucked between our legs, we learned just what it is that makes a pitch stand out and was an invaluable lesson!

Kirsten Mortenson, one of the members of TWL Author Talks, explains some of the things that Jenny didn't like in the pitches people submitted while she was a guest (thank you, Kirsten!): 1. Not original enough/has been "done to death."Takeaway: Make sure your pitch shows that you have the twist/color that makes your concept stand out from similar novels. 2. Pitch confusing. Couldn't tell who was doing what.Takeaway: Edit out extraneous information. Make sure its clear to what/whom the pronouns of your sentences are referring. Maybe follow a fairly simple setup/conflict/resolution structure in your sentence to make sure it's easy to follow . . . 3. Missing story "arc."Don't just list the characters and setting. Make sure you've also set up the main conflict and resolution. 4. Conflict not compelling.Make sure the conflict you've presented is "big" enough to show that you've got a strong plot. 5. Bland title.
Jenny got me on #2. I totally confused her and I'm revising before the next pitch slam with Kristin Nelson.

Another member of TWL Author Talks, China, explains just what it might take to gain an agent's interest in a pitch slam:

"There are a few different ways, that I know of, to do a one sentence pitch. I'm not saying these are the only or best ways, or guaranteed to work, or anything like that. These are just a few of the ways we learned to do them at the creative writing program from which I graduated.

**Note--my examples are not real, and shouldn't be held against me. ;)

The first technique: Character, Conflict, Hook

Describe your character, why we should care about him or her (ie the conflict), and what makes this book different from any other with a similar theme or storyline.

A lot of times the different parts of your pitch blur--your conflict can also be a hook, or your hook can also be a conflict.

Example: A struggling single mother (character and conflict al lwrapped into one) loses her job (conflict) and finds the only way to support her family is to become a stripper (hook, conflict). That's a little low concept and a whole lot rough, but I hope itillustrates the technique.


The second technique: GMC (Goal, motivation, conflict)

This is pretty similar to character, conflict, hook. It's simple--your one sentence should introduce your character, explain his or her motivation, his or her goal, and his or her conflict.

Example: When a waitress (character) is inadvertently sucked into another dimension (conflict), she must battle not only the forces of darkness but her own inner demons (conflict AND motivation) in order to find her way home (goal and motivation). As with the CCH style pitch, sometimes the goal, motivation and conflict can intertwine.


Third technique: The high concept pitch.

In this one, you mostly introduce the concept of your story.

Example: Martians and vampires fight for world domination, leaving astring of human bodies in their wake.

There are many other techniques, but I want to add in some general tips.

1. You don't need to give very much detail about your character, plot or world. This should be your story boiled down to its absolute barest bone structure.

2. Using a character archetype is more effective than using character specifics, and also cuts down on length. Use "a washed up musician," rather than, "Lenny Diamond, a struggling singer-songwriter in his 50s..."

3. Your pitch--even a single sentence pitch--should have a little bit of the flavor and tone of your story. If you write light and frothy, your pitch should be light and frothy. If you write with a quick wit, your pitch should display some of that. If you're writing humor, your pitch should be at least a little funny/witty."

Thank you, China!

I can't imagine doing this in person. I know many authors who have gotten book deals this way, but who knows, maybe there's a book deal or two that will be result out of our virtual book slams with our agent guests. If nothing else, it gives you invaluable input by professionals in the field. See you there!

Dorothy, moderator TWL Author Talks

posted by Dorothy Thompson @ Friday, June 09, 2006