The Recipe for a Great Mystery…

So, you’ve decided to write a mystery! That’s exciting! But how do you know what makes a great mystery if you’ve never written one? Sure, you’ve read a ton of mystery books over the years but do you know the ingredients to keep the reader flipping the pages? Here’s what you’ll need to keep your reader engaged:

  1. Puzzle-There’s usually a puzzle that needs solving and 9 times out of 10 it involves the death of someone. For example, “His body was cold and bloody; I looked around and wondered how he ended up in the alleyway.”
  2. Suspense-Will the mystery be solved and how will it be solved? For example, “We located the killer by dusting the body for prints.”
  3. Hero/Heroes-Who will solve the mystery? This one is pretty self explanatory…
  4. High stakes for the hero or victim-There must be a reason why the mystery needs to be solved, it has to involve a payoff for the hero or victim, what’s in it for them? For example, “The victim was selling drugs, he got in deep with the wrong people; turns out he started selling them because he was going to lose his house…”
  5. The Solution is revealed-Who did it and why? “Rocco Roselli put a bullet in the guy’s head to shut him up, the victim was shooting his mouth off about the shipping container full of cocaine he found and was gonna black mail the mafia.”
  6. Triumph of Good vs Evil- Mafia guy gets caught and is brought to justice by the hero/heroes.

So there you have it, the recipe for a successful mystery! Get cooking!

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Nothing beats a good WHODUNIT?

 

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Quick Tips for Writers…

Here’s a list of resources and ideas that you can implement on your journey to perfecting your craft, publishing and networking.

  1. Read newsletters- Read any newsletter you can get your hands on, they offer a wealth of information in terms of new info and updates on publishers. Two examples of great newsletters are Children’s Writer and Children’s Book Insider.
  2. Read Guidelines-Never send anything to anyone without reading the specified guidelines…otherwise, you’re just wasting your time and your manuscript could end up in the recycle bin.
  3. Visit Bookstores-Check out current issues magazines in your genre and ask about what’s new in store. Find out what kids and adults are buying. Spend some time studying what the bestsellers are and why.
  4. Use the Internet-There is SO much valuable information available to writers on the internet! Visit blogs, social networking, e-mail other writers and sign up for writing groups on-line. This will keep you on the pulse of the writing world and you’ll be able to do some self promotion as well.
  5. Attend a Writing Workshop/Conference-These are SO FUN! I’ve been to a few over the past couple of months and have met some great people who are really talented. Workshops and conferences offer a chance to connect with other writers and to have your work critiqued. It is invaluable in terms of gaining insight into what’s working and what’s not in your current manuscript. Plus, you never know who can help you and who you can help in terms of networking.
  6. Network-Get yourself together with as many like minded people and great things will happen. You could meet the right contact who know the perfect illustrator for your book, or perhaps you’ll meet someone who can offer editing services, or you might just meet a publisher or agent that can take your book all the way to the top!

Most of all, enjoy being an author; It’s one of the greatest freedoms in the world to be able to tell your story in your own way.

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Network! You never know who you’ll meet…

How to get published…

In the last post we talked about how to get rejected…let’s focus on the positive in this post and speak on how to get published!

  • BE ORIGINAL-Publishers want fresh ideas that stand out! This INCLUDES a re-telling of an old story in a fresh and original way! Look at all the remakes happening right now…
  • Use Charm, Humour, Satire-The Simpsons is a perfect example of satire and how to use it properly. Be charming, be funny and be yourself!
  • Use Playfulness-Write something totally outrageous like I want an elephant for my birthday and let the story get crazy…I wanted an elephant for my birthday so I went to the pet store…I brought the elephant home and let him sleep in my tree house… I cooked him 38 pancakes for breakfast the next day…etc. Make it BIGGER and BIGGER! A la mastermind Robert Munsch!
  • Be Sensible-When writing your query letter and don’t send things multiple times to the same publisher or to different agents in the same agency-keep track of your submissions.
  • We Need This Book-Write something SO dazzling that you make publishers say, “We NEED this book!”
  • Stay True-To yourself and to your writing, write what YOU want to write about!
  • Self Publish- If you have a story that you believe in TELL IT! Self publish and market it well and you could make and KEEP a lot of money.

Best of luck everyone…you don’t need luck, just write and write well!

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There will come a day…

How to get rejected…in 8 easy steps!

As authors, we are used to rejection. Sometimes the best thing that can happen to us is to get feedback from an agent or publisher that we’ve queried, but most of the time we don’t receive a response if it’s a rejection. Often we’re left wondering what we’ve done wrong or even worse, we keep doing things incorrectly without knowing anything is amiss. Here are some tips on how to get rejected! Read this list carefully…it could be a game changer in your writing life.

  1. Offer the agent or publisher advice on how to market your book-Umm, no. Just…no. How would you like it if someone told you how to do YOUR job? You wouldn’t and you’d be insulted.
  2. Say that you’ve, “tested” your manuscript on young readers-No one cares what your kids or nephew or family members think. If your book is bad no one you know is going to tell you.
  3. Your story doesn’t meet basic requirements such as length-This is so important to know! Read my previous posts about Writing for Kids and find out what the requirements are for each type of book. Don’t send a 3,000 word manuscript to a publisher that publishes YA unless you want to get rejected.
  4. Your story is poorly written-Self explanatory!  Your grammar is poor, your spelling is bad etc.
  5. Your story LACKS ORIGINALITY!-THIS IS HUGE! If your story is the same as everything out there in the market, you’ll be rejected. Publishers are looking for NEW, FRESH,  and ORIGINAL ideas that are exciting!
  6. The hero of your story is passive-Make your hero awesome! No parents should swoop in and save the day.The hero must ALWAYS be the one who solves the problem in your book.
  7. Your story offers an adult perspective-Kids don’t want to read a book that is from an adults point of view, they want someone they can relate to.
  8. You’re condescending-Don’t talk down to kids. Period. They’re intelligent and they should be written that way.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting about how to potentially get published! Look for the list and follow the steps for insight into the minds of publishers and agents.

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All About Books for Kids…Part 2

Yesterday’s post ended with us chatting about chapter books. Here is the continued list and information about books for kids.

  • Middle Grade-For kids in grades 4, 5 and 6 (ages 9, 10 and 11) and these break into diverse age groups. The groups are Younger Middle Grade and Older Middle Grade. Younger middle grade books are usually 20,000-25,000 words, while older middle grade books are 35,000-40,000 words. They are usually large print and a fast read.
  • Middle graders are particularly interested in their Peers, their Family (be careful with this one this one though-everything revolves around the main character child and how they see the world eg. divorce through their eyes), Who Am I? is a big concept and How do I belong? Puberty issues, their Looks and Development as well as opposite/same sex Relationships are things that start to come to the surface as well as the future and that means, who does the future depend on when it comes to your middle grade novel? The future depends on the main character.
  • Young Adult-For kids 12-17 years old, again these are divided into sub categories of younger YA and older YA. The younger ones are 12, 13, and 14 years old  and the older ones are 15, 16 and 17 years old.The length of YA novels is usually from 40,000 to 75,000 words. Here’s where the subject matter gets sticky. In the older YA, there are books that include sex, drugs, and alcohol. These books are issue oriented, they perhaps deal with body image or cutting or eating disorders etc.  The priorities change for this group as well-it’s Puberty, Looks and Relationships, Peers, Family, Self-Concept as in who they are or who they are going to be as an adult, Romance is usually a big factor and finally the Future.
  • Some of the problems in children’s literature are pleasing the parents AND the reader…until you get to the YA market that is! Young adults usually have their own money to spend on whatever books they want and they don’t really care what their parents think. Of course there is YA cross over and a fantastic example is Twilight. It’s a YA novel but a lot of adults read it. If you can write a novel that falls into this category, you will be HUGELY successful.

So there you have it! I hope this list was helpful and that you can use it to your advantage, happy writing.

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All About Books for Kids…Part 1

So what makes kid’s books kid’s books? Well for one thing they’re not for adults;) Books for kids are shorter, they are relevant to their interests and the book is portrayed through the child’s eyes in the way that they see the world. Kids grow quickly but luckily there is always a market for them. Let’s start with the different types:

  • Board Books-“Chewables” is essentially what they’re called. They usually have one word per page and that are the lines of, “Dog,” “Cat,” etc. These books don’t have a lot for a writer to do and are really based on illustrations.
  • Picture Books- 32 pages, 4 of them blank, first page is for a single illustration, 13 double illustrations and then a single illustration on the last page. These books typically start with the writer and then the publisher picks the illustrator.
  • Easy Reader- Teaches the child to read with around 23 words that are very repetitious. These books have the 3 R’s-Rhyme, Rhythm and Repetition! Children will be reading these books, not adults so keep the words easy and the syntax simple!
  • Chapter Books-Ah! Finally we get into the big little kids;) Grades 1-3, these kids are usually learning to read or already know how, but are not experienced. This type of book needs to be fairly simple and short. It is around 6,000 words total and consists of 10 chapters at 600 words each. All of the chapters need to be ACTION PACKED, with cliff hangers and NO BACK STORY! Leave out excessive description, leave out complexity and leave out too many characters. You need a VERY strong narrator. Leave Mom and Dad out of this and let the character be the hero of the story. Kids at this age are searching for independence and make sure you write things that they care about!

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of All About Books for Kids!

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