Friday, May 28, 2010


Today is the official release day for OUT OF THE DARKNESS. To celebrate, I had my daughter draw a name from a list of those who've sent emails from my website, posted on my blog, Facebook page, or fan page. And the lucky winner of a signed copy of OUT OF THE DARKNESS is Nell Yancey Keith. Congrats Nell.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Power of the Query

Non writers and some newer writers have asked, “What’s the first step in getting published?” And- “How do you get an editor or agent to look at your work?”

Well, naturally, the first step in getting published is having a well-written story you love. And you do have to love what you wrote. Forget about feeling conceited, because if you don’t love your story, neither will anyone else. So, love it. And be proud.

So, that’s the first step. And believe it or not, it gets more complicated after you’ve written the story of your heart.

Next, you have to make someone else love it too. And that takes time and perseverance. Mainly, because editors and agents don’t have time to read every query letter, proposal, and manuscript that comes across his or her desk. So, you have to wow them from the moment you make contact. And that’s not always easy. Agents and editors alike receive a multitude of query letters every day. So, yours has really got to shine. Which means, mastering the query.

A query letter is your chance to make a first impression. And, you only get one shot at it. Make it count. And don’t drone on an on about your book, yourself, or your experience. Like I said, editors and agents are very busy people. They don’t have time to read a six page letter. They want to see one page and they want something on that page to grab them.

So, how do you grab an agent or editor’s attention without sending cash bribes?

Be professional. And find a way to tell the editor about your story in the very first line. I usually start with a tag line. (See my previous post on tag lines.)

I’ve taken classes on writing queries and I’m a member of a query critique group. OUT OF THE DARKNESS is my first and thus far, only published novel, but my query letters normally result in the agent or editor requesting the manuscript.

So, what are some things you should NOT do when querying an agent or editor?

No hot pink stationary or weird fonts. It will only annoy the very people you wish to impress. Don’t even try it. Send a professional sounding email or a typed query on plain white paper with a standard, readable font in a normal font size. Editors and agents read these letters quickly. You want them to remember your plot and the name of your story--NOT some freaky creative gimmick you used in some lame attempt to impress. So—NO gimmicks!

Be professional and courteous and remember to say thank you. Even if the editor or agent doesn’t request a partial or full of your work, they took the time to read your query. And they don’t have a lot of free time. So, again. Thank them before closing.

Here's an example--

Using the movie DIRTY DANCING as my fictional book, this is how I'd construct my query letter.


Editor's Name
Publishing house


Dear Ms. Name, Never use Dear Editor if you can avoid it!

Start with a sentence that will grab the editor’s interest. I use my tag line. (see prior post to find out how to write a tag line.) A tag line is a 1-2 line summary of your plot.
Have The Time Of Your Life.

Next, add your blurb. This is like the teaser on the back of a book. It’s a 1-2 paragraph summary of your hero and heroine and how they interact in the book.
In the 1960s, Frances "Baby" Houseman, a rich daddy's girl, goes on a family vacation to a resort in the Catskill Mountains. Baby has grown up privileged and her family expects her to go to college before marrying a doctor, just like her father. And Baby has always done what is expected-Until she meets the camp's dance instructor, Johnny, a man whose background is vastly different from her own. Her father wants to ban her from DIRTY DANCING and Johnny, but Baby has a will of her own.

Now it’s time to give the name, length and type of manuscript you are sending.
DIRTY DANCING is a completed 100,000 word romance set in 1960’s New York. This story is targeted toward your Vintage Line. (or whatever line your story might fit.)

Next add brief, personal information about yourself. This is where you brag. Add anything that shows you are a serious writer who has studied her craft. But be BRIEF.
I am a member of RWA and my local chapter, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers. (if you have awards or have won a contest, put it here.) My first book OUT OF THE DARKNESS is a May 2010 release with The Wild Rose Press. DIRTY DANCING is my sixth novel and it is available upon request.

(Don't forget the SASE, and don't forget the thank you!)
I have enclosed a synopsis and a SASE for your reply. (of if this is an email query, say Attached is a brief synopsis) Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Lilly Gayle
My address
My phone number

If you’re fortunate enough to have a query critique group, send the query to them and get feedback. Then, make any needed adjustments and put it in the mail. Or email it. And cross your fingers!

Writing is a waiting game. And publication is the prize.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tag Line? What's a Tag Line?

An author on The Wild Rose Press loop posed a question today about blurbs, which got me to thinking. How many new authors actually know what a blurb is? Do they instinctively write one and not know what it's called? Or do they miss the opportunity to snag a reader's interest because they don't know the power of THE BLURB.

When I first started writing, I had no idea what a tag line was. Then again, not counting child hood fantasies and such, I started getting serious about my writing way back in 1997. And thirteen years later, I'm finally published.

Goes to show you how stubborn and tenacious we writer types are. I like to think of my favorite quote from Peter Quincy Taggert of Galaxy quest: "Never give up. Never Surrender."

Which leads me back to tag lines. They are powerful, one liners that give a brief description of a book's plot. Following the tag line, is the books' blurb, which gives a bit more detail on the book, mainly information on the hero and heroine and how they relate to one another.

I get examples from movies. Like Galaxy Quest:The alumni cast of a cult space TV show have to play their roles as the real thing when an alien race needs their help.

If you've seen the movie, you know this is just a one line description of the plot. But it's enough to snag your interest so you'll read the rest of the promo "blurb" and possibly go see the movie.

Another example- Speed:A young cop must save the passengers of a bus that has a bomb set to explode if the bus goes below 50 MPH.

A good book blurb does the same thing. It uses a one line description of the plot as a "tag line"- Her research could cure his dark hunger if a covert government agent doesn't get to her first. And then the blurb-which gives more detail-follows:

Vincent Maxwell is a vampire with a conscience, seeking a cure to his dark hunger. But when a scientist looking to create vampire soldiers captures and kills a fellow vampire, Vincent seeks out Dr. Megan Harper. While researching Xeroderma pigmentosum, a light sensitivity disorder, Megan discovered a link between XP and vampires and she could hold the key to a cure to Vincent’s unholy condition and the answers to Gerard’s death. But getting close to the beautiful doctor could endanger both their lives.

When researcher, Dr. Megan Harper meets Vincent Maxwell, she believes he suffers from xeroderma pigmentosum, the genetic disease that killed her sister. Sensing a deep loneliness within the handsome man, Megan offers friendship and access to her research files hoping he will offer her a position in his research company. But they soon become more than friends and Megan learns the horrifying truth. She’s entered the dark and unseen world of vampires an Vincent is her only hope of survival.

I learned how to write a blurb by taking an online class from Suzanne McMinn, who writes of HQN.I took her examples one step further by going online and reading the plot tag lines for movies I'd seen. It was easy to get the hang of it after that. And kind of fun!

Here's an exercise. Think of a movie. Let's say, The Ugly Truth. I love this movie!
Now, go to and search for the movie. Then scroll down to plot. And wa-la! There's the tag line. A romantically challenged morning show producer is reluctantly embroiled in a series of outrageous tests by her chauvinistic correspondent to prove his theories on relationships and help her find love. His clever ploys, however, lead to an unexpected result.

This one is a two-liner, but it's still effective. Then after these two lines, you can read the rest of the movie blurb.

Look up several movies and see what the plot tag lines are. Then practice writing your own blurbs if you haven't written one already.

My blurb for Into the Light, my proposed sequel to OUT OF THE DARKNESS is two lines. I'm still working on it, but here it is: An experimental vaccine gives a lonely vampire hope for the first time in two centuries, but when someone he loves is murdered, he suspects a conspiracy between vampires and mortals. Now, he can’t trust anyone. Not even a beautiful woman determined to solve the mystery and bring his dark soul INTO THE LIGHT.

So, how exciting are your blurbs? Feel free to share!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

First Book Signing

I'm pleased to announce my first book signing date. It's going to be Saturday, June 5, 2010 at the wine tasting at Stovall's in beautiful and historic downtown Oxford, NC.

Stovall's is a unique, trendy shop that sells everything from Vera Bradley and Rainbows to gourmet foods and wine. It's like one of those shops you'd find at the beach or a resort. And I am so incredibly excited and pleased that Stovall's is allowing me to have my book signing during one of their monthly wine tastings! If you live in the Oxford area, please stop by and see me. And don't forget to pick up an autographed copy of OUT OF THE DARKNESS!

Monday, May 10, 2010

OTD is an early bird special!!

OMG! Just got an email from TWRP. OUT OF THE DARKNESS is an early bird special for May. You can now order the print copies of my book from The Wild Rose Press!! Just follow the link, choose MY book ( I love typing/saying that!!) and place your order!
Here's the link for the early bird specials:

I just ordered 10 copies using paypal. Now, I'm excited!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

I've never particularly cared about Mother's Day. In fact, I've always found it a bit stressful. I'm a mother but I have a mother and a mother-in-law so the holiday never seemed like a good day for me. Since my mother and my husband's mother both live within driving distance of me but not particularly close to one another, the holiday is pretty much like Christmas. I spend the weekend dividing my time between two other women, both of whom I buy gifts for. And some years we've even spent the Sunday before or after with the mother we didn't see on Mother's Day rather than dividing up the actual day or the entire weekend of Mother's Day between the two.

Don't get me wrong. I love both women, but I don't like feeling as if I have to see them on one particular day in order to be a good daughter/daughter-in-law. Of course, neither my mother or my husband's expect a visit or even a gift, but I feel as if I have to visit and give gifts. It becomes a dangerous holiday for me because I usually get cranky from feeling the stress.

Grouchy or not, I usually tell my husband not to buy me anything so we can spend money on our mothers. And I honestly mean it. But he still gets me a card, or a rosebush or something small. But if he doesn't get me anything, that's okay too.

In my opinion, Mother's Day is a Hallmark Holiday, specifically designed to increase sales for card companies. And I learned today while reading a fellow author's post that even the holiday's creator, Anna Jarvis, eventually regretted coming up with the holiday because it had become a "Hallmark Holiday." (If you want to read Lorelei Confer's post on mother's day, you can find it at

My mother has told me time and again that I'm a mother too and I should take the day for myself and not worry about visiting her or buying her gifts. But then, I feel like I have to go visit her because she really is a terrific mother. And I know she means what she says, but I still feel as if I have to go visit.

But this year, is already different. Better even. I spent time with my mother-in-law last weekend. We took her to the beach and out to eat, and it wasn't stressful. And we got to spend time at the beach which is always a plus. And tomorrow, my parents are coming to MY house and going with us to church before going out to eat. No pressure.

And I already gave my Mom her gift when she stopped by to see me at work. (I just happened to have the jewelry box in my pocketbook.)So, there's no pressure on my daughter either because we go to the same church as her boyfriend's family so she'll get to spend time with me, her grandmother, and her boyfriend's mother and grandmother.

Nice. No stress. I won't have to cook lunch or rush from one place to the next trying to squeeze in two visits in two different towns. And best of all, even though I told my husband, "no gifts" and I didn't expect one, he gave me the best gift EVER yesterday. He gave me a Nook! And I love it!'s evil.

Since getting my Nook, I haven't cleaned the house or washed clothes, or worked on my manuscript. I spent all last night playing with it, learning how it works, and downloading music and e-books. Then I stayed up late reading a short story by another TWRP author, Beth Caudill. And this morning, I listened to music on it while reading playing around with the features and surfing the web for Nook covers.

Yep, it's evil. But I love it.

So, Happy Mother's Day. And may yours be as non-stressful and relaxing as the day I have planned tomorrow.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Coming Soon

It's almost here! OUT OF THE DARKNESS is listed on The Wild Rose Press website in the coming soon section. Just go to the link and scroll down until you see my title. At the moment, there's no link for ordering a print version of the book, but there will be once the book becomes available on May 28.

I think I'm excited but it's not that same burst of euphoria I felt when I first saw the artist's rendition of my book cover. Right now, everything just feels sort of surreal. Like nothing has changed. But I know once my release day is here and I can hold a print version in my hands, I'll feel that surge of excitement again.

It's just taken me so long to get to this point in my career that I'm not sure I believe it yet. I still don't feel like an author. Has anyone else ever felt this way?

If you're an author, how did you feel when you were between signing a contract and actually seeing your book in print? Was it like being a child again and waiting for Christmas morning to arrive?

Or was it more like finishing college? You were glad the day finally arrived but you didn't quite know what to do next or what to expect?

I feel like the college graduate. I'm glad my release date is almost here, but I don't know what to expect so I'm not getting too excited. Yet...

Now I want to know how other authors feel. Share your experience...