Sunday, January 23, 2011

What do you mean I have to blog today?

Wow, this is new. For once, I don't have anything to say. Blame it on a day spent building databases on Excel. (Hint: if you ever want to see me run for the hills, screaming like a mad woman, tell me I have to work on excel. Worse, tell me I have to set up the template for new databases.) So, I've got nothing for today. There's been no real ground-shaking news in the industry. Sorry, but the continuing drama of Borders and B&N is important, but it's getting boring as well. So, what to do today?

I think I'll do a riff on yesterday's open thread. But, instead of just throwing the blog open for any question or comment, I'm going to change things up a bit. If you have a query you are about to send out but would like some input on before it goes, post it (remember, queries should be one page. Some agents give the general guideline of 250 words). If you want to post the first page of your current project, do so and we'll critique it.

Why am I limiting it to one page? The first is that blogger does have a word limit. Second, anyone who has read slush will tell you that if the first page doesn't grab them, they usually won't read any further. This is especially true with short stories.

If you want to practice your elevator pitch, here's your chance. Don't know what an elevator pitch is? Well, it's that 30 seconds you get to tell an agent or editor what your book or story is about. You have to let them know genre, that the work is finished or not, what it's about and what makes it unique. And you have to do it all in the amount of time it takes to wait for the elevator to get there.

So, that's the blog for today. I promise to have a working brain -- or at least a reasonable facsimile of one -- next week.


T.M. Lunsford said...

Here's the first page of a novella I'm working on.

No matter what he tried, he couldn’t escape writer’s block. Jamie shoved his fingers through his red hair in frustration. When he needed to escape the deafening silence of his house, as he did now, he rode the Tube. It didn’t come close to a good, exhausting tramp through the outdoors, but it did in a pinch.
He missed the open moors of the Highlands, where he grew up. Nothing a good hike through the heather couldn’t solve. London barely had any open space except for the parks, but those were too tame, too English for Jamie. He would ride the Underground until he grew bored, making up stories about the different people around him, imagining one of them was a serial killer or the future victim of murder, hoping an idea would stick. When he grew tired of the offerings of one line, he would move to another.
Restless, he switched lines several times that morning. He finally settled in on the Picadilly Line. As close as it was to lunchtime, the car he sat in was fairly unoccupied. The only occupants of the car near him were a tubby little old man decked out in tweed, clutching a knobby cane and a teenage boy rocking out to some god-awful rap music. Must be a slow day for everyone, he thought. Brooding he closed his eyes, lulled by the motion of the train. He imagined himself back home, Fergus, his sheep dog running along beside him as he walked along the old stone fence of the family farm. He stretched his legs out, enjoying the visions dancing in his head.
The train stopped, his body moving in time with the jerk and pull of the abrupt motion, and he heard the automated voice announce the station. Once the doors swished open and closed, exchanging stale air for stale air, only noise in the car besides the hum of the train was the sound of heels clicking on the hard floor. He caught a brief whiff of roses that lingered in the air, bringing a bit of spring to the otherwise dull atmosphere. He pictured the scent belonging to one of those svelte fashion industry types or a bonny theatre actress on her way to work. Enticed by the anomalous scent, he cracked his eyelids open to see whom it could be emanating from.

C Kelsey said...

I wish I had something to contribute or even some input on critique stuff. Alas, I'm way down in the weeds doing research for the novel that I'm going to write for my New Years resolution. 1.5 books down... 6 or more to go.

Anonymous said...

Elevator pitch:

I'm writing a YA steampunk novel called "Heart of Brass".

The main character's father replaced her heart with brass and steam, and was imprisoned as a result. Since then the family has fallen on hard times and when Emmeline is caught stealing, she’s transported to Australia.

She casts her lot in with a dashing bushranger and a defiant lady adventurer. Her aim is to strike gold and save her family's honour.

Louise Curtis

Kate Paulk said...

So, um... Where do you get this functioning brain thing? I haven't had one of those in a long time.

Kate Paulk said...


When - as in, approximately what year - is this set? Convict transportation was being replaced by free settlement from the 1820s-30s on, particularly in the parts of the country where bushrangers were most common - and the bushrangers were most active from the 1840s through around 1880s.

The gold rushes were in the mid-to-later 1800s, although it sounds like you're targeting Ballarat/Bendigo, which managed to have bushrangers and gold at much the same time.

It sounds like a lot of fun to me - email me at katepaulk at if you want to talk some more about the whole era and the concept - I can probably give you enough pointers that you won't hit the pitfalls.

Brendan said...

T.M L,

You seem to be trying to give Jamie a yearning and longing for home and environment, but we don't find out where 'home' is apart from generic terms like Highland moors and 'the outdoors'. When he has the time, where can he go to 'tramp' close to London? What part of Scotland does he come from? Name it.

Adding these details, even if we don't recognise the names, makes Jamie more believable to us, more real.

Kate Paulk said...


Unfortunately, there's a huge "thou shalt not write about writers" bias in the field - if it's not done "just right" (usually meaning 'for humorous intent'), the tendency is to ditch it for fear of... oh, I don't know. It's just what I've seen and heard.

That said, this feels to me as though you're starting in the wrong place. There's not really any indication what kind of piece this is - is it mystery (the character being presumably a mystery writer isn't necessarily a pointer to that), fantasy, horror? At the moment, this wouldn't entice me to read on because I don't see anything beyond "bored and out-of-place" to connect with.

That said, you're free to decide everything I say is a load of rancid tripe and ignore me altogether :)

Brendan said...

A lot Off Topic but considering Dave is going to be Guest of Honour at Continuum I thought perhaps people may be interested:

Continuum 7 is now taking program submissions. Do you have a topic you would love to talk about? Do you have an idea you want to workshop or a skill you want to share? We want to hear from you!

We are after program items on any topic related to science fiction, fantasy or horror; books, comics, film, television or new media; fandom and fan-related activities (which is a pretty loose category and has included juggling and sword-fighting workshops in the past). Previous topics have included 'How to Break Fairy Tales', 'Is Piracy Destroying TV?' and 'The Post-Apocalyptic Housewife's Domestic Companion - a workshop'. Let your imagination run wild!

Even if you're not keen to face an audience yourself but have something you really want to see, let us know and we'll see what we can do.

To contribute to the 2011 Continuum program, just email your diligant Programmers on We're waiting to hear from you!

Because otherwise it'll be the con-chair playing ukelele for four days straight - and no one wants to see that...

Anonymous said...

Kate: Thank you.

Brendan: I suggested Steampunk as a topic - naturally.

Louise Curtis