Saturday, July 17, 2010

In search of a friend...

When an editor from Harlequin asked to see the first 50 pages of my book, I felt a surge of happiness that was soon followed by a thud of doom. I had no idea how the romance publishing business works. I needed help, pronto!

Fortunately, I'm a member of the RWA (Romance Writers of America), so I got on their website and checked out their list of agents. There are many places to find lists of agents, but I felt confident that the agents listed on the RWA were knowledgeable and trustworthy. I studied the names and found one who'd sold numerous books to publishers I recognized. I decided to send her an email. I inquired if she was taking on new clients. To my delight, she was willing to read a sample of my manuscript.

It's a scary thing to send your book to a professional. I've discovered that writing a romance novel is an intensely personal experience. It's easy to take it personally if someone doesn't like something that you've poured your heart and soul into; but I've discovered that it's important to take the risk. Sure, I've felt embarrassed and hurt if someone says something negative about my work; but more often than not, I learn a great deal from their constructive criticism. After all, these people know publishing. They know what the market is looking for, they know what constitutes a good plot, they know how to help a writer to become published.

I'm extremely grateful for the correspondence I've had with this particular agent. She has been extremely helpful, and I know that even if she ultimately decides not to take me on as a client, she has already made my work stronger, thanks to her willingness to show me what needs to be improved in my manuscript.

So, if you've got a manuscript, it's okay to be afraid to let someone else read it. Be recklessly brave. To be certain, there are so many agents and editors who just don't have much time to give feedback for all the manuscripts that cross their desks. However, there are lots of other places to find a helpful reader. Take a chance. Ask someone else to read your work. You might get lucky and find someone who will give you advice that will make you a better writer.

Places to find a reader:

  • Local support groups for aspiring writers
  • Writers who are published in your genre (they may be able to recommend affordable editors)
  • Creative writing classes (at the YMCA, Community Colleges, libraries, etc.)
  • Writing students at a nearby college (perhaps they'd offer feedback for a nominal fee)
  • Friends
  • Family
  • English teachers (particularly during the summer - I'd offer to pay a teacher for her time and input)

Friday, April 23, 2010

The first step: sending your book to a publisher

Today, the first three chapters of my manuscript will be delivered to a publisher. I got extremely lucky. I went to a RWA conference and had an appointment with a lovely editor. It was my first "pitch," and it showed: I tripped over words, lost my train of thought, and completely botched my oral presentation. Somehow, the editor could tell that my story could be classified as a romantic suspense, and she generously offered to read my first three chapters. Relief!

I don't feel comfortable speaking. I'd much rather convey my thoughts via the written word, so I'm deeply grateful that she gave me a second chance to present my story. I'm uncertain if my book is what she's looking for, but I'm excited to start the journey.

From all accounts, editors are swamped with queries, partials, and full manuscripts to assess. I imagine it will take many weeks for my submission to be read. However, the waiting is kind of nice. It gives me the chance to dream that perhaps, one day, the shelves of my local book store will have books with my name on the cover.

Here's to taking the first step!

Friday, April 2, 2010

How to pitch your romance

You signed up for a RWA conference. You got an appointment with a real, live editor.  You are days away from making your first pitch, and you're terrified.

Here are a couple of points to keep in mind:

  • Once you know who your appointment is with, do a little research about that person. If they are looking for regency romances and you've just finished a paranormal romance, they may not be a good fit. You have a couple of options: you can ask the person who organized the editor/agent meetings to help you find a better fit; you can mention to fellow attendees that you'd be interested in trading for a different agent/editor appointment; or you can go ahead and meet with your assigned person. Be forthright and mention that your work may not be what they're looking for, but ask if they know someone else you can contact.
  • Pitch meetings are brief, usually not more than 8 minutes long.
  • When you pitch your story, focus mainly on the hero and heroine. Be prepared to explain the conflict between them and how it is resolved.
  • Being a writer, you may feel daunted by the prospect of having to talk to someone. Don't worry, it's okay to stutter and lose your train of thought, especially when you're nervous. The editor/agent you're talking to is used to speaking with nervous writers. They are sympathetic to your plight, and will often ask you a couple of questions to get you back on track.
  • You can have a synopsis and business card handy, but usually editors and agents don't ask for those items when they are at a conference because it's too much to carry home. If they're interested in your work, they'll request that you send it to their office. Hold onto their business card and don't lose it! Write down their request so that you remember exactly when they're asking for. Believe me, a few minutes after you walk out of the appointment, you might have trouble remembering what was said.
  • While you are waiting in the hallway for your appointment, you will be surrounded by extremely nervous writers. You will also feel extremely nervous. It's okay. It's just a feeling. Plow forward.
  • Keep in mind that editors and agents are people, too. They're nervous about meeting you, too.
  • Stay true to yourself, but present a professional appearance. Whether you feel comfortable in a business suit or just slacks and a nice top, dress in a way that flatters you. You are endeavoring to create a business relationship, so look the part.
  • Have some gum or mints handy so that you don't have to worry about eating garlic for lunch.
  • Before the pitch, be mindful of how your fellow writers are feeling. If they are nervously studying their pitch, give them some space. If you need to talk in order to expend nervous energy, find someone else with the same requirement and talk softly.
  • Don't worry if you completely botch your pitch. It's worth the experience, because you'll learn what to do better next time. There are lots of agents and editors, so a poor performance doesn't mean that you'll never find representation. Be willing to grow and learn. You'll be better for it.
  • Regardless of the outcome of your appointment, write a thank you note. 
Finally, if you are lucky enough to meet with an editor or agent and they ask for a partial or full manuscript, DO NOT bound out of the room screaming and yelling in delight!  Save that for the privacy of your hotel room. Remember, there are people within earshot who haven't been asked to send their manuscript, and crowing about your success makes your colleagues feel rotten. Have a care. Every writer has poured their soul into their manuscripts; don't make them feel bad if they didn't get an invitation to share their story with a publishing house.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Coming soon... Her Intuition

What happens when a chemistry professor is suddenly haunted by a strange premonition? Does she ignore her irrational fear and return to the sterile safety of her research lab? Or does she risk looking like a fool on the chance that her gut feelings are right?

Mia DeVaux risks looking like a fool when a terrifying dream wakes her in the middle of the night. She fears that if she doesn't act fast, she might never see her father again. There's one small problem. She has no proof he's in danger, not one bit of concrete evidence that his departure means trouble. She just knows.

She turns to Vaughn Caselli for help. Not only does he work for her father's law firm, Mia suspects his client has something to do with her father's disappearance. Vaughn becomes a partner in her quest if only to prove her wrong, but his efforts to debunk her theories are sidetracked when Mia starts unearthing his own humiliating secrets. When she accepts him, scars and all, Vaughn suddenly realizes that trying to suppress his feelings for Mia is like stuffing a hurricane into a bottle.

Mia resists Vaughn's overtures. Frankly, she can't trust her heart until she knows she can trust her instincts. Besides, the last time her gut feelings were right, her fiancee dropped her like a hot potato. She's terrified Vaughn won't be able to accept something she can never explain.

Will their romance survive her intuition?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Right Next to My Heart - A children's book

Do you know a child who is getting ready to go to school? Is she nervous or apprehensive? Does the prospect of going to a new school scare her? Reassure her that when she's in the classroom, she'll also be close to your heart.

Based on a poem written for Lynn's children and colorfully illustrated by Bethany Reed, this book is about love. No matter how grown up you are, you're always "Right Next to My Heart."

Click here to browse through the whole book.

Available for $10.00 on and Amazon. Click here to order.

Do you have an e-book reader? Click here for download information.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

About Lynn

Being a tomboy has its benefits, because Lynn was privy to the secret world of boys at an early age. She grew up in rural New Jersey and spent her free time playing basketball, baseball, and football with the neighborhood boys. In the evenings, she curled up with a notebook and wrote stories for her best friend. There's nothing like a loyal reader, peanut butter cups, and grape soda to kick start a writing career.

That career took a sharp u-turn when Lynn went to Bucknell University to study Business Administration. After a short stint in banking, Lynn pursued a Master's degree in Adult and Continuing Education. Luckily, a nice fellow asked her to marry him, and they put down roots near Philadelphia.

Lynn worked as an administrator for a University program, but she was decidedly unfulfilled by the job. In hindsight, she regretted being so practical. Her first love was the arts. In the evenings, Lynn began writing again. She felt drawn to the romance genre and set out to write her first manuscript.

Learning how to properly craft a novel was a welcome distraction from life's bumps and bruises. Kitchen appliances broke; loved ones got sick; and Lynn had difficulty conceiving. Just as she was beginning to accept that children may not be in her future, Lynn got pregnant. After waiting so long for a baby, Lynn decided to be a stay at home mom.

Elbow deep in dirty diapers, culinary disasters, and dog-tastrophies, writing was the one thing Lynn could control. She bought a computer and set up an office in the spare bedroom, occasionally squeezing in twenty minutes of writing during nap time. Sometimes, weeks would go by before she could write again, but the characters were always there, waiting patiently.

Now Lynn's house is bursting at the seams with her tall husband, two tall daughters, and a short Sheltie who won't stop barking. When she's not working on a manuscript, Lynn writes about the lighter side of family life at For Love or Funny. Please stop by and say "Hi!"

Factoids about Lynn:
  • She can hardly smell a thing.
  • Instead of basketball, she plays tennis.
  • Dark chocolate is a dietary staple.
  • Photography is one of Lynn's favorite hobbies.
  • Her dog isn't that faithful.
  • On beautiful days, Lynn sneaks out to play golf. It's a sickness.

Friday, February 19, 2010