Archive for February, 2010

Tuesday’s Tip

Time for the tip of the week for writers: The two minute pitch.

Whether it’s in a scheduled session at a conference or on the heels of a chance encounter with an editor or agent in a generous mood, sooner or later every writer has to “pitch” her work–and usually she has only a minute or two to create enough excitement about the project to garner a request for a partial or full manuscript. Here’s an outline of a quick pitch every writer should have on hand for a project looking for a home.

1) Main characters. Describe only the main characters. By describe, I don’t mean physical attributes. The editor doesn’t care if the heroine is blonde or brunett. Get to the heart of what makes this character special, and what makes her identifiable to the reader. For example: a single mom, struggling with a child’s medical bills, who has just been let go from her job during a corporate downsizing. Or an undercover FBI Agent who is beginning to feel more like one of the bad guys than the good ones.

2) External Conflict. This is you one sentence plot summary. For example, that single mom character you described struggles through a series of dead-end, low-paying jobs in an effort to make enough money to provide the surgery her child needs. Or maybe she finds the perfect job but is confronted at every turn by backstabbing coworkers, corruption and bosses that are more concerned about the “favors” she’s willing to do them than the quality of her work.

3) Emotional Conflict. One sentence about the character’s core inner turmoil. Maybe your heroine is afraid to fall in love because she fears she’ll have to sacrifice her independence to maintain the relationship. Maybe your hero thinks he’s not cut out for family life because of a failed past marriage. 

4) Satisfying Conclusion. Whatever you do, do not leave the editor or agent hanging, and especially don’t use the “You’ll have to read the manuscript to find out how it ends” line! Wrap up both the external conflict (single mom gets promoted and a pay raise, the bad boss is kicked out) and the Emotional conflict (Miss Independence learns that having a guy doesn’t mean she has to give up being herself). Story tip: your external conflict (plot) should exacerbate the emotional conflict–push the characters to their limits!

Other things to remember while pitching:
– Breathe
– Smile
– Keep it concise, coherent and to the points listed above. In other words…don’t ramble on until the editor has to stop you. Being concise will leave time for the editor or agent to ask questions about points she needs more detail or clarification on rather than leaving her wondering because time ran out

Happy pitching!

Fly-by Recipe for a Cold Winter’s Day

Here’s a quickie recipe offering for those as sick of cold and snow as I am. After the record snowfall we had yesterday in the Dallas area, this went down well today!

For vegetarians (like me) substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth and either leave the chicken out or use the MorningStar fake chicken strips.

Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup

This recipe comes from the awesome Stephanie O’Dea’s blog. Check it out here: and also her cookbook, Make it Fast, Cook it Slow, available at bookstores everywhere.

Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup

–1 pound chicken (I used frozen breast tenderloins)
–1 cup dried black beans (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)
–4 cups chicken broth
–1 cup sliced mushrooms
–1 cup frozen corn
–1 jar prepared salsa (16 oz)
–1 1/2 tsp cumin
–1/2 cup sour cream (to stir in at the end)
–shredded cheddar cheese, avocado slices, cilantro (all optional)

The Directions.

I used a 6.5 quart crockpot. You will need a 4 quart or larger.

If you know you are going to make this the night before (yay for meal planning!) soak the black beans in enough water to cover and another 2 inches overnight. In the morning, drain the water and rinse the beans.

If you don’t have super hard water or live in a super high altitude, you can quick soak the beans by pouring boiling water over them and let them sit for an hour or two. I did an hour, but 2 would really be better if you have the time.

Drain and rinse the beans. Add to the crockpot. Put in the chicken, and add the broth and salsa. Pour in the corn and mushrooms, and add the cumin. Stir, but don’t disturb the beans—let them stay at the bottom of the pot, closest to the heating element.

Cover and cook on high for 9 hours. Yup. High. For 9 hours. It took a crazy long time for the beans to soften, but they did.

If you are using beans you soaked overnight, canned beans, or pre-cooked beans, you can cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-5–similar to normal soup-cooking time.

If you’d like to thicken the broth (I did this), you can use your immersible blender (I love that thing) to blend a bit of the beans and chicken. If you don’t have one, scoop out 2 cups of the soup and carefully blend in your traditonal blender. Stir the mixture back into the crockpot.

Stir in the 1/2 cup of sour cream before serving, and garnish with shredded cheese and avocado slices.


Available Now!

western romance novel boxed set

7 men as tough as the West. 7 women ready to Cowboy Up

Available Now!

Psychological Suspense short story with a bonus inspirational short story included

Coming Soon from Vickie Taylor

Fantasy Romance Novella

What am I reading today?

GOOD OLE BOYS - Denise Barker - Just started, but I'm intrigued so far!

Last five books read:

TEXAS GOTHIC - Rosemary Clement-Moore - Awesome! Great fun and spooktastic at the same time!

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN - Ransom Riggs - Really creative idea. Enjoyed it very much!

BOOTSCOOTIN' BLAHNIKS - D.D. Scott - Very enjoyable, fun book!

THE GOOD DAUGHTER - Diana Layne - Awesome! Get it now!

GOT YOUR NUMBER - Stephanie Bond - Fun little mystery!

What’s on my TBR List?

GOOD OLE BOYS - Denise Barker

Reader’s Guide to E-publishing

Find your next e-book here!

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