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Archive | Writing Tips

M. Catherine Berg photo courtesy author

A Writer’s View: From TV police drama “Hunter” to mystery author

My first paid writing job fell into my lap when working for a TV syndication company.  My boss needed to hire someone to watch seven seasons (23 shows a season) worth of “Hunter,” the police drama starring Fred Dryer and Stepfanie Kramer, and compose a one page, double spaced synopsis of each show to be faxed (our office didn’t have a computer yet) directly to TV Guide.   Since I happened to be the only one around the office (and probably the only one that would undertake such a chore)... Read More →

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Photo: Cover fof new short story, "Where's Your Daddy?" by Sue Ann Jaffarian

A Writer’s View: Short stories a hot writer’s market

Since I was a kid, I have loved short stories.  Amongst my favorites were “The Ransom of Red Chief” and “The Gift of the Magi,” both by O. Henry, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, and “The Telltale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe. They packed fun, poignancy and terror in just a few short pages, providing word for word a powerful punch. Short fiction has always been with us, but in the past few years it has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity.  When print magazines and online e-zines, always a... Read More →

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Rebecca Forster's latest novel, "Beyond Malice," is a digital release only.

A Writer’s View: Am I An Author Idiot?

Am I An Author Idiot?  Working with a freelance editor I face each new project with a combination of angst and self pity, positive I will never write a decent book again much less publish one. After 23 published novels, one indie and two scripts (one in development) you’d think I’d be over all that. I’m not. Enter, my freelance editor Jenny Jensen*. I work with her because she is in my corner and because I sell more often when I do. Still, I have to wonder, why can’t I edit myself?... Read More →

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book cover for "Produced by Faith"

Movie studio executive-turned-author gives advice to script writers

Columbia Pictures Vice-President, DeVon Franklin, leads a double life and he’s proud of it. Franklin is a devote Christian and a minister as well as studio executive.  Franklin has incorporated his faith into a business model, which he talks about in his new book “Produced by Faith: Enjoy Real Success without Compromising Your True Self.” Franklin is the executive who brought the low-budget, but very successful script project, “Jumping the Broom,” to Columbia. Produced for less than $7 million, the romantic comedy has made over $30 million at the box office in about three... Read More →

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National Novel Writing Month logo

Write a novel in a month — thousands are trying to do it in November!

   Writers around the world are pounding computer keys or scribbling as fast as they can in notebooks — as part of the annual Write A Novel in a Month project. It kicked off today and writers have until November 30 to produce 50,000 words — that’s a short novel of 175 pages. Last year, 165,000 writers reportedly took the challenge and 30,000 were victorious. This popular creative writing venture is run by a non-profit, which has a host of sponsors this year including The word count of 50,000 words is a... Read More →

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Writing query letters that get noticed by agents

  Two agent/bloggers are showcasing query letters from authors that grabbed their attention. The authors who wrote these knockout queries got requests for their manuscripts and later representation. Last Friday Kristin Nelson, on her Pub Rant blog, discussed one of her client’s boffo queries.  Also, over at the BookEnds, LLC – A Literary Agency blog, Jessica Faust is posting a series of successful author query letters. Faust not only points out what works in these queries, but also what she thinks would improve and make them even better. Very helpful posts for authors serious about hooking up... Read More →

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A serious approach to writing the romantic comedy screenplay

FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove Story Analyst/author Billy Mernit chatted with writers and signed copies of his book, “Writing The Romantic Comedy,”  last month in Brea.   Actor Hugh Grant has had some of his best film success with romantic comedies so he knows a thing or two about the genre. Back in 2003, Grant explained the problem with most romcom scripts in a BBC interview: “The reason I turn down 99% of a hundred, I mean a thousand, scripts is because romantic comedies are often very romantic but seldom... Read More →

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How I captured the elusive agent

A guest blogger today – author Lynne Marshall. Lynne, a Registered Nurse, is building a second career as a writer. It hasn’t been easy. Like many writers, finding an agent has been a struggle. Recently, Lynne got an agent and she shares that experience along with tips for other writers in this post.    This picture pretty well sums up the way I felt the day I got the call from an agent saying she wanted to represent my book. First off, let me tell you a bit about myself.  My... Read More →

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Writing Tips

What to leave out of a query San Francisco literary agent Nathan Bransford has written another great blog post in his quest to demystify the query. Bransford put up the what NOT to say in your query post last Thursday, but I just got a chance to click over to his blog this weekend. Bransford’s list has nearly a dozen things he would rather not see or hear about in a query. I’m going to re-think the query for my second book after reading this list.  Again, some good insight and pointers for writers getting ready to shop a manuscript. How to... Read More →

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Writing Tips

Looking for an agent?  Writing that all important query is a must. San Francisco literary agent Nathan Bransford has a great post on his blog about a new survey involving the nearly two hundred queries he received last week. And that was a slow week for him! Bransford has offered up query stats and tips before. This time, he focuses on what’s the right length. The queries that ran between 250-350 words hit what Bransford called “the sweet spot.” Bransford says this is an ideal length most of the time, but not always. Check... Read More →

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Writing Tips

What are the rules for granting an agent an exclusive read?  San Francisco literary agent Nathan Bransford gives his take on the subject in a post yesterday on his popular and in-the-know blog. Bransford breaks down his advice into categories and starts with a definition of exclusive as it pertains to the submission of literary works. This is a very good post and well worth clicking over to Bransford’s blog to check out.

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Writing Tips

Today, BookEnds literary agent Jessica Faust defines some of the important terms and phrases in the publishing biz.  Faust’s short Publishing Dictionary is listed on her BookEnds agency blog. The dictionary includes definitions for things like advance, mass market, imprint, query, royalities, sell-through, and world rights. All written in a straight forward and easy to understand style. Well worth checking out. Faust’s agency blog is one of my favorites because it has the kind of helpful information a writer can really use.  

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Book Bytes

How to Shop for a Husband. Today Show consumer correspondent Janice Lieberman has a new book deal. Lieberman, writing with Bonnie Teller, will show how techniques used by consumer experts can help you close a deal on a mate. St. Martin’s Press bought world rights to “How to Shop for a Husband” and plans to release the book next spring. Lieberman is the co-author of  “Tricks of the Trade.” She wrote this consumer survival guide with producer/director Jason Raff, who at one time worked with Lieberman on consumer investigations for Today. From Read More →

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Cool writing events in hot August

Dr. Gay Toltl Kinman Growing market for young adult and children’s books. On Saturday, August 23, at 2 p.m. Dr. Gay Toltl Kinman will be offering advice on how to make your children’s novel  or YA fiction sparkle.  Kinman writes cozy mysteries, short stories, short plays, YA as well as children’s and adult novels.  Authors with manuscripts should bring the first pages of their work with them. The Buena Vista Branch Library will be the place for this workshop.  Call 818-238-5620 for more information. Get your screenplay in shape.... Read More →

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