Not to sound ungrateful, but after the success of the Hulu adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, does it really come as a surprise that Margaret Atwood is writing a sequel?
Originally published in 1985, The Handmaid’s Tale was a standalone story – in fact, Offred’s story was framed as a collection of tapes found by an archaeologist in the far, far future. So it makes sense within that framing device that Margaret Atwood’s next installment, The Testaments, skips over to follow three completely new(?) female characters 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale ends. (Will we ever find out what happened to Offred? Unlikely. And I’m okay with that.)
I’ve been checking the canary review request inbox periodically, browsing around for jewels to catch the eye, but last week, I decided to get serious about it.
The Unread pile had grown to a little over 600 emails since February, and I wanted to do something about it. Over the next hour or so, I cut the pile down to a more manageable 100 review requests that had piqued my interest, then down again to some 50 books to check out and try.
I thought I’d share some general observations about my process and what worked and didn’t work to intrigue me as I powered through the requests. Here are some things that immediately struck emails from consideration:
1. Not the right genre. Poetry anthologies, political thrillers, historical literature. Gone.
2. Couldn’t find the blurb. If I couldn’t immediately see what the book was about, or if it asked me to open an attachment to read the blurb, or if I had to click a link, I moved on. Continue reading
Wrede on Writing: Tips, Hints, and Opinions on Writing by Patricia C. Wrede
“What matters is that when you are finished, you have a good story, however you managed to get there.” (Wrede on Writing)
You know this author. You know her because of all the awesome:.
And now she has a book out that distills over thirty years of writing wisdom into 246 pages covering basics from what it means to get an idea for a novel to the eternal question that plagues writers around the country – should you have a dedicated writing office, or write on all and any available and relatively flat surface up to and including relatives and large animals? In small, short vignettes, the book covers a miscellany of writer-relevant topics in a ‘there’s no one right way to write’ kind of way.
The book is set up in three sections: the bare-bone basics of writing (outlining, what point of view is, tense, narration, the works), the more advanced basics (using flashbacks, writing conflict, ending the darn book, beginning it…), and the practical, financial and operational basics of being an author. Continue reading
When in doubt, use a third person point of view. It’s that black dress that never goes out of style. But sometimes, you venture into the world of magenta skirts and bright blue collar shirts, and the question of place and time rears its head. Author Sonya Lano came to us with the just such a fashion statement when she sent in a short first-person-point-of-view blurb of her Fantasy novel, “Dance of the Tavyn.”
And in this pitch slap, we’re gonna talk about how you too can be a bright yellow canary and rock a first person point of view.
But first, the blurb itself:
As always, my very first instinct when seeing a pitch (any pitch) is to start trimming, rewording, and tweaking the word choice and sentence structure, even as I start in with everyone’s favorite floating canary bubble questions. Here, however, the usual approach just wasn’t working. Something was off.
It wasn’t the story: political intrigue, silver-haired assassins, what more can you ask for in romantic fantasy? It wasn’t the word choices: a few things to tweak for clarity, sure, but it got the story across. It wasn’t the rhetorical question at the end–though anyone who follows my pitch slaps knows I am all but allergic to them. It wasn’t the first person point of view: different, but fantastic dramatic potential.
Pause. No, back up. It was the first person point of view. No, not the fact that the pitch was written in first person, but rather what the use of the first person meant for the story. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, Madison Woods came to us with a 25-word story pitch to be prodded and yanked as part of our Pitch Slapped series. She’s planning on sending her book out to a publisher soon, and even as she sent her blurb to the sacrificial altar, she asked us…
“Do you think that what publishers and editors look for in a pitch is the same as what readers judge by when they are deciding if they’d want to read a book? Will the same qualities make a reader want to read as make a publisher ask for pages?”
The short answer is yes. Or rather, “almost.” Well, it’s “kinda.” Here’s the longer chirp on the matter… Continue reading
One of my grad school professors told me that any report I handed in had to tell him everything he needed to know in 30 seconds, 3 minutes, and 30 minutes. But when you’re pitching your novel, you’re not writing a 50-page report and you don’t always get 30 seconds. Sometimes, you get 25 words and three seconds to convince the reader your book is on their to-buy list.
Madison Woods, Pitch Slap veteran and the host of “Vote for it: Would You Buy it?” series, came to us with a 25-word summary of her story.
“I’m planning to pitch my book to a publisher in October, and I realize I will have time to give more than the 25 words, but I want the first words I say to hook their interest.”
Let’s take a look at those words:
In this Pitch Slapped article, I’m going to give the blurb a good pecking and talk about the importance of appropriate and deliberate language decisions. Continue reading
With some of these, there’s almost no faster way of sinking your book’s chances of being read. Don’t be that author.
We get a lot of review requests. While we read each and every one of them, all of the dystopian YA and vampire paranormal romance stories start to bleed together because the pitches simply are not distinct enough. Most of them get lost in the abyss; very few stand out enough for us to talk amongst ourselves about pursuing the read.
So when I woke up to a request forwarded to my personal email from CanaryTheFirst, I didn’t need her opening line of “laaaawl” to tell me it was going to be something pretty special. Continue reading
The US Department of Justice has hit Apple and five of the nation’s largest publishers with an antitrust lawsuit, alleging that they colluded to bump up the price of new ebooks, costing consumers millions. Publisher control over retail prices is made possible by a shift towards a pricing model where publishers set book price and retailers take a commission. The conspiracy itself is purportedly aimed at Amazon, which tends to price ebooks at $9.99–three to five dollars under the price rise ($12.99-14.99) the publishers allegedly caused.
- Simon & Schuster
Before the writer even gets into the plot of their novel, they give a paragraph that we at tCR like to call a “Concept Pitch.” It’s a place where introductions happen, the basic concept of the novel is laid out, genre comparisons are made, and–in general–the part of the pitch where mistakes abound.
Here is a recent email we received in our inbox:
I am an indie writer, according to descriptions I have been reading on the internet lately, and I think I like that much more than just being someone who put her book up on Kindle. I came to your site while searching for sites that are willing to accept submissions from said indie writers like myself. My twitter handle is WordsWithDani.
I’ve recently published the first volume of The Duck And The Doe series. It is a historical fiction/horror/murder mystery/romance told from first person POV of a two-hundred year old immortal who had a dry wit and love/hate relationship with the mistress that he damned along side him. They are not vampires. I cannot strees that point enough. i keep finding myself lumped into that whole “paranormal romance” but the whole premise is really more of launchpad to explore other issue like the accerlation of technology and society in the past 200 years and how relationships of any nature are not cleanly cut little cookies. Immortality cannot be invoked without some sort of magical mumbo jumbo.
According to the Amazon product description-“
At this point, the author dives into the official blurb. But the first impression of the novel has already been created. Continue reading