Saturday, August 29, 2015

SlushPile Hell

Thought y'all would get a kick out of this, since the conference is coming up and we'll be coming face to face with agents and editors. SlushPile Hell gives us a glimpse into the world agents (and probably editors) wake up to daily. Here are a few of my favorites:

May 28:

I would like to submit both my screenplay, short screenplay, animation/children’s screenplay, teleplay, travel series, novel, and memoir for your consideration.

Okay, you talked me into it. Send them all to me. In a big box.

June 8:

I have written a 2,500 word novel.

Actually, you’ve written a pamphlet.

June 11:

Hello. I’ve queried more than 50 other agents with this and have gotten nowhere. Now I’m querying you.

You had me at hello.

June 16:

Greetings agent. I have written the most important book on earth.

Will someone, for the love of God, please kill me.

June 20:

My 318,000 word novel may seem like it starts a little slow, but after the first 100 pages or so it really picks up steam, so I hope you will be patient and not be distracted.

Hey, a SQUIRREL! Cool….Oh, hang on. what were you saying?

June 26:

I hope this submission leaves you in a condition of uncontrolled and irreversible “wow.”

Last time I was in that condition I spent the next day in a Mexican jail.

July 9:

To the crazy-eyed writer who showed up at my office today in a Ford Econoline van with a Red-Bull-stained manuscript in your hands: Thank you for not killing me.

July 14:

I have the first 5 chapters written. I know first-time novelists are supposed to present a finished work, but I think it would end up a much better piece for having had an editor’s guidance during the last draft. He, in turn, would have an excuse to ask for a reduced price.

Brilliant! Or wait, better yet, you should write just one page, let the editor finish writing it for you, and he can buy it for almost nothing. Then I, as your humble servant, shall be KING OF ALL THE AGENTS!

July 26:

I have attached a copy of a letter I recently sent to Oprah about my book. She ends her show in September 2011, which leaves little time to select an agent.
Finally! An author who understands the importance of Oprah and has a no-fail plan for getting on her show.

July 29:

Dear Madam/Mister,…

Sorry, I prefer to go by Mister Madam.

August 3:

Publishing Tip of the Day!

5 things you may not want to say to an agent at a writers’ conference:

“You look a lot thinner on your web site.”

“How are your kids doing? It was so cute how they surprised you with waffles for breakfast last Saturday. At least I think it was waffles, it was hard to tell from outside your window.”

“Is it true that agents are just frustrated writers?”

“You know, you and I are the same blood type.”

“I’d like to share an important message with you from the Book of Mormon.”

August 9:

Please consider my memoir….I know that my family and friends will, without reservation, pay at least $19.95 to make sure they have not been unfairly exposed or defamed.

Eureka! A brilliant new marketing angle! Publishers, take note: henceforth please be certain to include these taglines on all memoir covers, “Are you sure you haven’t been slandered in this memoir? Isn’t the cost of this book a small price to pay for your peace of mind?”

August 12:

I am not the “author” per se, of this book. I was merely the spiritual channel.

‘Nuff said.

August 23:

With all due respect, please keep in mind that I am hiring an agent, not applying for a job, and I do insist on keeping a certain amount of mystery surrounding myself for my own protection.

And don’t forget to wear your aluminum foil hat to protect yourself from the government’s mind control signals.

August 25:

Today is your opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a promising young author’s career. Today is your chance to be the one who lights the wick on the bottle rocket that will carry my name into the upper echelon and today is your chance to grab a ticket on that ride.

No, after reading this, I think that today is the day to take my drinking to a whole new level.

August 27:

This is my humble attempt to interest you in my book.

Doesn’t the fact that you drew attention to the word humble by underlining and italicizing it sort of invalidate the whole humility thing?

August 30:

Every agent I’ve encountered thus far has been a complete idiot. Let’s see if you can prove you’re different by representing me and my book.

Stop. Your seductive charm is making me feel woozy.

Agents get to have all the fun, don't they?!


September: Plotting Your Writing Career

Featured Author: Harper Lee

September 3rd -- WRITE-IN (at the home of Linda Kozar) 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

September 12th -- MEETING:  Alena Tauriainen: Conference Prep (2nd Saturday due to national conference)

September 17-20 - 2015 -- ANNUAL ACFW CONFERENCE in Dallas, TX 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Winner, Winner!

Congratulations to the winners of our 2nd annual 
Storming the Short Story Contest!

1st place Speculative

The Confession by Kathrese McKee

1st place Contemporary

Dancing Hands by Derinda Babcock

1st place Romance

When I'm Gone by Angela K Couch

Also invited to be in anthology:

Night Dance by Gretchen Engel
The Dance of the Light Brigade by Steve Hooley
Fred and Ginger by Steve Hooley
Teething Troubles by Elizabeth Pina
Last Waltz by Toby Quirk
Dancing in the Rain by Marion Ueckermann

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Did You Miss It?

If you weren't at the meeting last Saturday, you missed some serious silliness. Donna Pyle delivered a wonderful speech about giving speeches, at times making us laugh hard enough to spew food. I'll never forget her story about finding a scorpion in her vehicle. Pres. Janice had some fun tales to tell too--as always. Our meetings are nothing if not fun.

But, back to the Donna's talk. Here are some of the points she made:

  1. Put your audience at ease
  2. Include humor
  3. Structure your topic
  4. Create memorable moments
  5. Evoke emotion
  6. Include personal stories
  7. Have a power-packed conclusion
  8. Consider your appearance
And the biggie: Respect the platform you've been given.

Janice supplied a write-up about public speaking, also. You can find it on our FB page. 


August 31: Short story winners will be announced

September 3: Write-in at Linda Kozar's house

September 12 is our meeting day at Lupe Tortilla, featuring Alena Taurainen who will be speaking about conference prep. THIS DATE IS A WEEK EARLIER because of the ACFW Conference, September 17-20.

Monday, August 10, 2015

WOTS welcomes Donna Pyle!

Since launching Artesian Ministries in 2007, Donna has authored numerous Bible studies and traveled throughout the U.S. and internationally to teach from Scripture. She has published two books through Concordia Publishing House: Quenched: Christ’s Living Water for a Thirsty Soul and The God of All Comfort. She has authored/recorded two DVD Bible study series  in partnership with LWML: “Overflowing Abundance” (based on Jesus feeding the 5,000) and “Your Strong Suit” (based on the armor of God). The LWML has published the “Donna Pyle Bible Study Series,” which includes eight different downloadable Bible studies for individual or small group study, and “A Sparrow’s Worth,” a devotional journal exploring a woman’s value in Christ.

Donna enjoys blogging about faith-based issues and interacting on social media. She is a member of Salem Lutheran Church in Tomball, TX where she serves on the worship team. She is a passionate supporter of Love146, which seeks to end child trafficking and exploitation.

Donna is a native, life-long Texan and fuels her creativity with Chick-Fil-A®, Twizzlers®, coffee and chocolate. She enjoys digging for the treasures in Scripture, writing, traveling, spending time with family and friends and torturing her cats with feather toys.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Take Time to Look Up


Midmorning yesterday, the sun broke through the clouds and trees to kiss our pond.

Yesterday afternoon, a male cardinal cracked the shells of sunflower seeds and fed his wife.

Yesterday evening, bluebirds and sparrows bathed and preened, ruffling wet feathers to blow-dry in the breeze.

Last night, fireflies pricked the shadows of the deep woods.

Early this morning, deer darted away from the threat of the opening curtains.

Right now, pink clouds race against an unsettled sky, and the emerald forest waves goodbye to each wind-gust blowing through.

And I looked up from my manuscript, from Facebook, from my inexhaustible list of emails long enough to catch sight of real life in action.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

40 Things an Author Absolutely Must Do To Succeed

1. Facebook. Get on there, get 5,000 friends and post every day. ‘What are you reading and why?’ ‘What is your protagonist’s worst attribute?’ ‘How do you edit?’ Be sure to post photos of a little girl in a tutu. Any little girl. People love that.
     2.  LinkedIn. More professional. Post every day. ‘Got a good response from my critique buddies on chapter three.’ Speaking of that,
     3.  Join a critique group. Online or meet at Starbuck’s for a seven dollar chocolate whipped coffee. Keep the receipt, deduct it when the book sells. Where to find critique friends?
     4.  Join a writer’s group. Meet once a week, listen and smile while Nancy gushes that she wrote her first romance, pitched it to one agent and has sold five thousand copies.
      5.  Attend a writer’s conference. Dress for success, put together a perfect pitch, rehearse it a thousand times, then tweak it so it doesn't sound memorized. Rub elbows with other writers. Smile at dinner while Stephanie gushes that she pitched her novel to one agent and he’s got her lined up with Harlequin. But don’t just attend…
     6.   Teach a class at a writer’s conference. Put together the ‘Rainbow Story Arc.’ Weave the colors through the tome. Red represents anger, Blue depression, Purple epitomizes passion and yellow, pleasure. Figure out what orange represents. How can you teach?
     7.  Join Toastmasters. Learn to speak in public with conviction and ease. And who knows’? Perhaps a fellow Toastie will read and critique your work. Then,
     8.   Find speaking engagements. Rotary Club, Lions and anywhere else where people will listen to your story. Come up with something clever to speak about.
     9.  Shop at Barnes and Noble. Watch people shop and see what they pick up in your genre’. Marvel at the myriad books in your genre.’ Speaking of what people are buying,
     10.  Check out Amazon. What’s selling? What are your competitor’s reviews looking like? Oh, speaking of that,
     11.  Write reviews for your critique and writer’s group friends. Oops.
     12.  Read books for your critique partners. Don’t like sci-fi? Read it anyway. It’ll broaden your horizons. Oh, and
     13.  Read books. Read in your genre. Read classics too.
     14.  Put together a killer website. You’ll probably need help on this too. Don’t go cheap. Keep it fresh. Videos are big too. So,
     15.  Get a YouTube account, make videos that support your work. Speaking of that,
     16.  Put together a trailer for your book. You might need help on this so,
     17.  Find an expert to put together a trailer for your book. Be sure to put puppies in it, even if there aren't any in your story. Puppies sell.
     18.  Figure out Hootsuite. Cool! Now you can post once and send it everywhere. Except Goodreads. Oh, that’s right,
     19.  Join Goodreads. Make lots of friends. Keep them apprised of what you’re reading. Participate. If someone disses your buddy, stand up for him. Be brave, but don’t overstep and alienate your followers.
     20.  Get going on Twitter! ‘@B&N cheking out thrillers. Lite traffic 2day. #B&Nlitetraffic.’ Tweet a lot. Follow. Follow more. Follow a lot.
     21.  Find a graphics artist for your cover. Don’t go cheap or your best seller will look cheap and won’t be a bestseller.
     22.  You're supposed to write what you know. Don’t know anything about Maine and lobster for your breakout? Get out there. Be sure to wear the bib.
     23.  What are you thinking? You've missed so many social sites. Join Pinterest, Google Plus+, Tumbler, Instagram and Flickr. Don’t be a social site outcast, get in there! Be faithful, you don’t want to lose your followers.
     24.  Buy and read the book by the agent you met at the conference. ‘Being a Connected Writer.’ Be sure to post a nice review of it.
     25.  What? You haven’t gotten a blog built yet? Come on! Make it fresh, post faithfully and keep your followers interested. You need to stand out from the 150 million other blogs. If you don’t have 5,000 followers, a publisher won’t even glance at you. Speaking of publishers,
     26.  Pitch that book! Knock out some query letters, get those submissions going.
     27.  What? Sure you’re on Facebook, but you don’t want to look like a rookie. Set up a professional page. Send your followers over there. Keep it fresh and catchy.
     28.  Get that computer fixed up. Bring it in and get those five thousand viruses taken care of. Speaking of that,
     29.  Clean up the junk in it. Old pre-edited works, photos, abandoned blog posts and goofy ideas. Ideas?
     30.  Make a file of great story ideas. Need help organizing it? Set up an Evernote account, study how to schedule, make notes and organize contacts.
     31.  Keep a journal. You’re a writer, correct? You need to document insights, thoughts and emotions. You should do it every day.
     32.  Set up a professional email. Come on, isn't going to cut it.
     33.  Get a professional head shot. You aren't going to impress potential agents and publishers with that selfie of you with the pink boa. Put it on all the social sites, the blog and the website. Now you’re branding!
     34.  Find a good editor to clean up your work. Yes, Aunt Jenny taught second grade English, but you've seen her Christmas letters. Be honest, it’s not going to work.
     35.  Shop for e Magazines that fit your work and offer to write articles for them. Send a sample article. Send another. Okay that’s enough, you’re becoming a stalker.
     36.  Find a buddy and offer to guest write on her blog. One hand washes another, right?
     37.  You haven’t posted anything on your writer’s group’s Facebook page! Stick SOMETHING in there, or they will forget you exist. Add some comments on others’ posts. Be clever. Someone posted on their blog? Read it and comment. Speaking of that,
     38.  Check your blog for comments. Reply to them. You don’t reply, people assume you’re dead.
     39.  Get to the weekly writer’s group meeting! Listen to others read their work and struggle not to grimace. They don’t grimace at your work.
     40.  Check FB posts. Connie Blair commented two days ago, come on! Are you there? And look at that post! The one below the kitten wearing the tutu. ‘Scientists find that sniffing rosemary can increase memory by 75%. Be sure to remember- somehow- to get rosemary.
     Oh. Yes. And write. 

(This tongue-in-cheek piece was originally posted by author Kevin Parsons on AuthorCulture.)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pitching Tales

July's topic is submitting and pitching, and Anita Higman will be our guest at the next meeting. Agent Dan Balow provided our guest post last week, so this week, I thought it would be fun to read some author experiences.

wots blog susanwots blog susan coverSUSAN M. BAGANZ chases after three Hobbits and is a native of Wisconsin. She is an Acquisitions Editor with Prism Book Group, specializing in bringing great romance novels and novellas to publication. Susan writes adventurous historical and contemporary romances with a biblical world-view.

Her story:

My first ever pitch, I sat across from Blythe Daniel and a mentor had told me to start out with something personal. I looked at Blythe and said "Is your hair naturally curly?" We had a little commiseration over that. Later she came to me and we talked about kids with chicken pox. The next morning she sat across from me at dinner and we chatted about life and kids. A day later she came to sit with me at breakfast which, at that conference, was a time when authors were forbidden to connect with faculty (so they usually ate separate). I told her I was beginning to think she was stalking me. She never did become my agent, probably because she didn't get my weird sense of humor.

Another day, same conference, I sat with Eddie Jones and pitched my book. We engaged in a spirited debate on various aspects of the project for a good ten minutes before he finally said, "Send me the full manuscript." We ended up not working together but I remember how once I had done that, I wasn't afraid to pitch anything to anyone anymore.

You can learn more about Susan by following her blog, her twitter feed @susanbaganz or her fan page,


wots blog Jodie
JODIE WOLFE got bitten by the writing bug as a young girl after reading and watching Little House on the Prairie. She loves writing stories about feisty heroines and strong, godly heroes. The power of story to influence lives and change hearts is what motivates her to weave tales that tell of the Savior’s faithfulness and forgiveness. She writes a column for Home School Enrichment magazine and has received awards in contests.

Her story:

An impression. A prompting. A thought. A single step of faith. An act of obedience. As Christians, we often have them throughout the day. Times where we feel God (the Holy Spirit) is prompting us to do something. It could be as simple as expressing a word of encouragement, praying for someone, moving in a direction He is showing you to go. It can be a reminder to call someone.

I had such an opportunity a week ago. I felt prompted to ask a question concerning a contest that was held just days before. I figured it was closed since it was to take place over the weekend and that entries were no longer accepted, but I couldn't get past the feeling that I still needed to ask.

The answer came back, yes the contest was closed, but the blogger was open to still taking a look at my writing pitch. I debated and prayed and almost didn't send back what was requested. But I couldn't deny the overwhelming sense to follow through.

Linda S. Glaz emailed back within 20 minutes and loved my pitch. She wanted to see more and asked for the first five pages of my book. I admit to starting to feel a bit panicked at this point. I realized then that Linda was an actual agent. Yikes! What had I gotten myself into? While she read I perused the site she represents - Hartline Literary Agency. Honestly, when I looked at all the requirements they had for submitting to them I was overwhelmed.

I prayed, "Lord there is no way I can do something like this. You'll just have to work it out and provide an agent when the time is right because it's not something I can do on my own." It was soon after my prayer that Linda corresponded again wanting to see more of my novel - the whole thing - providing I wasn't already represented by someone.

Again with much prayer I emailed her my whole manuscript, seeking God for His wisdom. His timing. She responded back hours later after reading it and offered to represent me.

God opened a writing door when I wasn't even expecting it. A single act of obedience provided an open door. I'm forever grateful.

You can find Jody’s ponderings on her website,


wots blog pat
PATRICIA BEAL Originally from Brazil, Patricia is a Christian author, Army wife, and ballerina. She writes contemporary romance and is represented by the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency. She is a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and has completed two manuscripts.
Her story:

My grandmother died on the first night of my first ACFW conference, the one in St. Louis last year. My mom called me soon after the last spotlight session. It was almost midnight in Brazil, where I’m from and where it’d just happened. Back home people get buried fast, so I knew there was nothing I could do. The following day my mom gave me the website of the funeral home, and in the afternoon I would be watching the cremation ceremony online. I didn’t want to do conference anything—I was a mess. But I had a 10:15 editor appointment with Amanda Bostic, editorial director of fiction at HarperCollins Christian Publishing.

My mom urged me to go. It’s 15 minutes, she said. So I got dressed, got my folder, and I went.
I knew I looked like I’d cried all night, so I told her what had happened, but also said I was glad I’d got it together and that I was there—ready to pitch. I jumped right into pitch mode, and the pitch was good, praise God.

Amanda was so sweet and caring. She gave me her card and asked me to email the proposal to her after the conference. She urged me to meet as many agents as possible while in St. Louis, because even if she liked the proposal, she would need me to have an agent. Then she asked if she could pray with me. She reached for my hands and prayed for me and for my family. And I was so touched. And she was so touched. I will never forget that moment.

That afternoon, I watched my grandma's funeral online from my hotel room. Not a good day. But with the conference worship events and the prayers sent my way, I woke up well on Saturday and booked tons of extra pitches, all with agents, like Amanda said I should. I just kept getting back in line and pitching to anyone who had an opening. I pitched to each of the four agents in Mills 9—it was pretty comical. I finished the day with five agents interested in seeing my proposal.

Two weeks after the conference, Les Stobbe offered to represent me.

Amanda ended up sending us a rejection in March, but I will always remember her compassion, and I credit her for the sweet blessing of having Les Stobbe in my life. I wouldn’t have an agent today if she hadn’t urged me to meet as many agents as possible while at the conference.

Praise God for orchestrating these meetings that comfort us and move us closer to His will.

Patricia is very active online and would love to connect on Facebook ( and Twitter ( You can also sign up for her newsletter and learn more about her work at


Don't forget to join us, Saturday, July 18!