Just A Few Words...

Welcome to my blog, which is designed to give information and inside gossip about The Furry Tale Chronicles, my rom-com series. The first book, If The Shoe Fits, releases with Crimson Romance in April 2013.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Query Tweaking


I entered a Query Blog Fest yesterday on my main blog, and got some fabulous feedback from several people. I thought I'd post the original query, and then my revised version on here, just to see how they compare, and what your thoughts are. So here goes...

Original Query:

Name
Address
Contact numbers
Email

Dear Ms Agent,

Take one damsel unknowingly in distress, add a fairy-godmother, a spattering of nudity, and a Prince-in-the-making. Mix thoroughly and let simmer for a while.


Ella, a twenty-something woman from Cardiff, loves her job, her little house, her two best friends, and her cat. She enjoys nights out on the town, drinking a little too much vodka, and swearing more than she should. She's happy with her life, and it doesn't need changing, right?


But what will she do when her cat starts talking and insists she is Ella's fairy godmother? And what will happen when a new man arrives to take over as boss at Cardiff Mode, the modeling agency where Ella works? Will Max Charming change her mind about needing a man?


Cue plenty of laughs, cursing, accidental nudity, and several trips to the local hospital, as Ella flies from one disaster to the next in her quest to capture her very own Prince Charming.


A modern fairytale, Cardiffella is complete at 60,000 words. It is the first novel in a mini-series that is set in my home city of Cardiff. I have enclosed a SAE for your convenience, and a full synopsis and/or sample chapters are available on request. Thank you very much for your time and consideration, I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,
Tara Smith.

General feedback was much the same - keep the first and last paragraphs of the pitch, but condense the middle two and make them less 'list-y' and 'question -y'. Bearing this in mind, here is my first revision:

Name
Address
Contact numbers
Email

Dear Ms Agent,

Take one damsel unknowingly in distress, add a fairy-godmother, a spattering of nudity, and a Prince-in-the-making. Mix thoroughly and let simmer for a while.

Ella Gibson loves her life as a typical twenty-something Cardiffian. With great friends, a job she enjoys thoroughly, and a loving father, everything is pretty much perfect. Then one day things suddenly change. Ella's cat begins to talk, causing Ella to think she is insane (and quite possibly the cat too). Then the feline insists she's a Fairy Godmother, and hatches a plan to set Ella up with her new boss, Max Charming. Throw in an evil ex-stepmother, and a new tendency for clumsiness, and Ella starts to think that maybe her life could do with a little perfecting after all.

Cue plenty of laughs, cursing, accidental nudity, and several trips to the local hospital, as Ella flies from one disaster to the next in her quest to capture her very own Prince Charming.

A modern fairytale, Cardiffella is complete at 60,000 words. It is the first novel in a mini-series that is set in my home city of Cardiff. I have enclosed a SAE for your convenience, and a full synopsis and/or sample chapters are available on request. Thank you very much for your time and consideration, I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,
Tara Smith.


So, does this sound any better? It's nowhere near 'done', but hopefully it's an improvement at the very least.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Query Hell





So I'm around a month into my editing schedule (more or less), and I'm not quite on target, but further along than I thought I'd be. Editing is a Nightmare. *nods* Anyway, in between adding a few hundred words here and there (and cutting some of the dead weight), I have also been worrying about the big 'Q'.


Yes, The Dreaded Query. *cue theme from Jaws*

Whether you are submitting to a literary agent or a publishing house, the first obstacle you have to overcome is the querying hurdle. One little page is all you need to prepare, but this one page is more important than any of the 300+ pages of your manuscript.

A hook. A short synopsis. A brief bio. That's it. Three little paragraphs. And they terrify me.

I've been doing a lot of online research lately, both on publishers and independent agents. I believe my best course of action would be to submit direct to a publisher, and I have a small but steadily growing list of prospectives. Of course, that's the easy part.

The Dreaded Query itself is the next monster I have to face, and he's pretty scary. Not only do I have to make it brief - itself a daunting prospect for a committed rambler - but it has to 'pop'. It has to have something that will immediately grab the attention of whoever is reading it. With legitimate publishing houses probably receiving 100+ queries on any given day, if you don't stand out right away, you are sunk. The ratio of unpublished authors to publishers seeking new clients is probably so high that it's far too depressing to even contemplate.

So... hook; synopsis; bio. Gah... maybe editing isn't such a nightmare after all.

Image borrowed from picasawebdotgoogledotcom. 

Don't forget to pop along to my other blog, Princess of Procrastination, where I am currently plodding through the fabulous A-Z- Challenge, and having a marvelous time!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Smoking!

So I have a fabulous friend called Ana, and she drew my wonderful cover art that you can see on the left of the page. I've never actually met Ana in person - she is in Columbia and I am in Wales - but we have been talking online for over six years now. When I put out a plea for a cover design for Cardiffella, Ana was the first to offer and I happily accepted.

I gave her a brief description of my main character, and she'd read a few excerpts that I had posted on Facebook during the NaNoWriMo challenge. The cover you see was the very first design that she came up with, and I fell in love with it. She had drawn Ella almost exactly as I had pictured her, and as for Muse... well, it's uncanny how alike she is to my original 'Muse' (my cat, Belle). Needless to say, Ana is now my personal (and unpaid, by the way, that's how awesome she is) illustrator.

Anyway, I finally got around to sending her the whole draft of the novel as she had mentioned doing some more sketches for me. This is her first offering:



Ana seems to doubt her skill, but I think she perfectly captures the whole feel of the story with her drawings. The novel is predominantly a comedy. Yes, the underlying theme is a romance - it couldn't be anything else when it is loosely based on Cinderella - but if I were pushed into giving it a genre, I'd lean heavily towards comedy. This particular scene is just after Muse sets fire to the kitchen - on purpose, mind you. And you might think that a cat couldn't possibly set fire to a kitchen, but seeing as Muse is a fairy godmother and can talk, I think you'll agree that she's no ordinary cat...

Definitely one of my favourite scenes to write! And it goes to show how well Ana knows me by picking something that was one of the highlights of the story. I loves my Ana, I do, I do!

*grins*

Thursday, 17 March 2011

All About Ella

Name: Eleanor Gibson

Nicknames: Ellie, Ella

Age: 24

Hair: Black, shoulder length, naturally curly, inclined to frizz.

Eyes: Two (both of them blue)

Height: 5'1

Weight: 9st 4lbs / 130 lbs

Occupation: General errand girl at Cardiff Mode, the premier modeling agency in Cardiff, Wales.

Most Likely To Say: Mine's a double; crap.

Least Likely To Say:  A lady never swears; A drink? No thank you, I'm strictly tee-total.

About Me: I swear far too often, at least, that's what Muse says, anyway. Of course, Muse is my cat, and what do cats know about swearing? Still, I guess I should probably try to curb my urge to curse. I've been called clumsy - especially lately! - but usually I'm quite steady on my feet. Unless I've had a bit too much vodka, of course, but that goes without saying. Muse says I should drink less frequently, and choose wine as the more ladylike option, but again, she's a cat, so I tend not to take too much notice. Unless she's talking about fashion, that is. Considering she's feline, she's given me some amazing tips on my wardrobe...

I really enjoy my current job, despite the fact that I'm surrounded by beautiful Amazonian Goddesses. I suppose some people would find that a bit intimidating, but not me. Of course, it helps that I'm best friends with both the head photographer and the make-up artist. The girls know that they can't be horrible to me or they run the risk of panda eyes and unflattering shots . Of course, Jake and Danny would never be so unprofessional, but the girls don't know that, do they?

Aside from my best friends, and my talking cat, I also have a great dad who lives near by, and I see him several times a week. Oh, and an ex-stepmother. Unfortunately.

Well, every girl has her problems...


More character profiles coming soon!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Yay!

For those of you that don't know me very well, I am a technical dunce. Seriously, when it comes to anything done on a computer, I am a complete ninny. I usually get there in the end, but the end can sometimes feel like it takes forever.

I have tried, over the last year or so, to format the mess that is the first draft of Cardiffella. As you can imagine, the speed that it was written meant that spelling errors, typos, and general formatting went right out of the window. Plus the fact that I only had basic Wordpad to use to begin with meant that my first draft was a complete dog's dinner (as we say here in Cardiff). Anyway, up until yesterday I was completely overwhelmed by the huge task that awaited me. Aside from adding the extra ten thousand words that I need before I can submit to a publisher, I needed to make my draft readable.

Now, I don't know what happened today, but I awoke with a renewed determination to not let Word beat into submission. I have spent the last few hours going through my manuscript with the aim of correcting all of the spelling and typos - at least, those that Word helpfully highlighted to me at any rate - and, through a great many trials and errors, doing all those pesky formatting things that have to be done in order for me to have a professional looking manuscript.

I now have a manuscript with real chapters (instead of seven chapters of ordinary length, and half of the book falling under the heading of 'Chapter Eight' *shifty*), page numbers, author name and book title on every page, and the text itself in double-spaced, 12pt Times New Roman.

*faints*

I'm inexplicably chuffed to beans with myself! All of the tedious stuff that has frustrated me for so long has been done! Now all I have to do is edit in those last ten thousand words.

Guess I'd better crack on with the writing then, eh?

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Journey Truly Begins

So I can barely keep up with my normal blog, but I figured it was about time I put some serious effort into not only editing my debut novel, but spreading the word on a larger scale. I wrote Cardiffella in a crazy month back in 2009. It was for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge, in actual fact. Never before had I committed myself to a month of insanity - and believe me, promising to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days is insane - and I never thought I would complete it. Despite huge computer problems, life throwing me curve balls, and a last minute panic writing surge of over ten thousand words, I surprised myself and finished it.

That's right, I finished a novel.

Of course, it's nowhere near ready for submission, so technically it isn't finished at all, but I have a solid foundation, and all I need to do now is finish constructing the final building. I have the walls and the roof in place, and many of the windows, but it definitely needs decorating, and adding those final few touches that makes a house a home (if you know what I mean).

I'm a bit of a ditherer, as well as the Princess of Procrastination (hence the title of my main blog), so adding this new blog to my list of things that I need to do is rather daunting, but nobody gets anywhere in this life unless they put the work in first. Realistically, I don't expect to be updating a great deal for quite some time. My main aim at the moment - in between that crazy thing called life - is getting the book ready for submission. I'm not sure when I'll be ready to submit the manuscript - quite apart from editing and polishing, I don't know if I'll ever be brave enough to actually send my baby out into the big bad world - but if and when I do, this is the place to be if you want to help me drown my sorrows when the rejections come. Which will be fab! Even better, when I finally (or if I finally *snort*) get a publisher, we can have a party!

This is definitely a whole new journey for me, and I hope many of you will join me for it!