How To Write Stuff That Sells

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Postby Lady Maven » Sun Feb 19, 2006 4:40 pm

And a so on so on so forth..

So, after all of this, what do you suppose the single most important trait for a writer to posess is? Great spelling and grammar. Umm.. no, we hire people or use programs for that, thanks. The ability to write a kick ass story? Nope, here is a secret I am going to let you in on, only the most braindamaged of individuals CAN'T write a kick ass story (or that is what you had damned well better tell yourself daily). Is it the ability to format a manuscript and then submit it so that an editor will look at it? Not even close.

Here it is, from me to you, the single skill you had better posess if you want to write professionally.


The sheer belief that you are the best, and anyone who doesn't know it yet simply hasn't had the pleasure of basking in your greatness.

But Maven, isn't that concieted? You're damned tootin' it is. And if you DON'T think you are the best I am wasting my time writing this, and YOU are wasting your time writing at all. Seriously. Go get a 9 to 5 job, and leave the writing to others.

If you don't believe you are the best, you are wasting your time.

If you don't believe that your stories are the most unique and that NO ONE else is qualified to write them, you are wasting your time.

If you think you are an "ok" writer, you are wasting your time

If you aren't sure how good you are you are wasting your time

And wrorse, you are wasting MY time. I am not writing this for those of you who think you are good, I am writing this for those of you who KNOW you are.
Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but to skid in sideways totally worn out screaming "HOLY SHIT ..... what a ride"!!
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Postby Lady Maven » Thu May 04, 2006 5:16 pm

WOOHOOO!!! New Featured Market

I don't normally post writing contests for Featured Market, but this was too great to pass up:

A contest for original short stories or novellas in Science Fiction, Fantasy Writing, Horror Writing, Speculative Fiction, where the top prize is 5 grand USD, need not be a US citizen to enter, and there are lots of other cash prizes:






PRIZES EVERY THREE MONTHS: $1,000, $750, $500



L. Ron Hubbard'S
P.O. BOX 1630

1. No entry fee is required, and all rights in the story remain the property of the author. All types of science fiction, fantasy and dark fantasy are welcome.

2. All entries must be original works, in English. Plagiarism, which includes the use of third-party poetry, song lyrics, characters or another person's universe, without written permission will result in disqualification. Excessive violence or sex, determined by the judges, will result in disqualification. Entries may not have been previously published in professional media.

3. To be eligible, entries must be works of prose, up to 17,000 words in length. We regret we cannot consider poetry, or works intended for children.

4. The Contest is open only to those who have not had professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium. Professional publication is deemed to be payment, and at least 5,000 copies, or 5,000 hits.

5. Entries must be typewritten or a computer printout in black ink on white paper, double spaced, with numbered pages. All other formats will be disqualified. Each entry must have a cover page with the title of the work, the author’s name, address, telephone number, email address and an approximate word count. Every subsequent page must carry the title and a page number, but the author's name must be deleted to facilitate fair judging.

6. Manuscripts will be returned after judging only if the author has provided return postage on a self addressed envelope. If the author does not wish return of the manuscript, a #10 (business size) self-addressed, stamped envelope (or valid email address) must be included with the entry in order to receive judging results.

7. We accept only entries for which no delivery signature is required by us to receive them.

8. There shall be three cash prizes in each quarter: a First Prize of $1,000, a Second Prize of $750, and a Third Prize of $500, in U.S. dollars or the recipient's locally equivalent amount. In addition, at the end of the year the four First Place winners will have their entries rejudged, and a Grand Prize winner shall be determined and receive an additional $5,000. All winners will also receive trophies or certificates.

9. The Contest has four quarters, beginning on October 1, January 1, April 1 and July 1. The year will end on September 30. To be eligible for judging in its quarter, an entry must be postmarked no later than midnight on the last day of the quarter.

10. Each entrant may submit only one manuscript per quarter. Winners are ineligible to make further entries in the contest.

11. All entries for each quarter are final. No revisions are accepted.

12. Entries will be judged by professional authors. The decisions of the judges are entirely their own, and are final.

13. Winners in each quarter will be individually notified of the results by mail.

14. This contest is void where prohibited by law.


L. Ron Hubbard


The L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest is an ongoing competition designed to discover new and amateur writers of science fiction and fantasy, present certificates of merit when earned and award monetary prizes to the winners. L. Ron Hubbard established the Writers of the Future Contest in 1983 to help new writers and his literary agency, Author Services Inc., has continued to sponsor it ever since. As early as 1935, he had begun helping other writers—a lifelong commitment-by publishing articles on the art and craft of writing. Later, in 1940, he launched his very first contest for aspiring writers over the radio in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Publication of his own first professional short story in 1934 launched one of the most spectacular and prolific writing careers of the 20th century, embracing genres ranging from adventure, western, historical, romance, mystery, suspense and horror to science fiction and fantasy. L. Ron Hubbard produced more than 250 published works of fiction, close to one third of those in the speculative fiction genres.

L. Ron Hubbard marked his return to science fiction in 1982 with the publication of his bestselling, highly acclaimed Battlefield Earth. Why science fiction? As he wrote in the Introduction, science fiction “is the herald of possibility. It is the plea that someone should work on the future. Yet it is not prophecy. It is the dream that precedes the dawn when the inventor or scientist awakens and goes to his books or his lab saying, ‘I wonder whether I could make that dream come true in the world of real science.’”

Underscoring his own success as a writer, his love of the speculative fiction genre and his lifelong commitment to helping new writers, L. Ron Hubbard launched the Writers of the Future Contest in 1983. His embracive vision for it was clear: to have the top professional science fiction and fantasy authors as judges, with a published anthology of the winning stories, illustrated by professional artists of the genre. The resounding success of the Contest and the anthology—and public demand for more—led to another Contest year and another anthology, yet another Contest year and yet another anthology.

In 1988, the L. Ron Hubbard Illustrators of the Future Contest was launched as an expression of L. Ron Hubbard’s wish that the relationship between the written word and the illustrator’s art would not perish. In the Golden Age of Science Fiction—in which he played such an instrumental part—he fondly remembered that the illustrators of his stories—and those of others—were as important to the readers as were the writers.

The full scope, impact and influence of these competitions are almost undefinable. From the very first L. Ron Hubbard Awards Event held in 1984, from the very first writing workshop based on L. Ron Hubbard’s essays on writing, from the very first volume of the L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Anthology of newly discovered talent, there has been a swelling tide of interest in the program. Professional speculative fiction authors and artists of the first rank offer to lend a hand; the broad media takes enthusiastic notice; agents and publishers look to the Contest’s winners for their next publishing contracts; hundreds of writers have been discovered and many have—after their initial publication in the anthology—pursued distinctively successful careers in writing. Awards, recognitions and proclamations for L. Ron Hubbard and the Writers of the Future Contest have abounded.

L. Ron Hubbard passed from this life in 1986. Yet his history-making legacy of the L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contests—and its enduring significance as a prime discovery vehicle for the best new creative talent continues to flourish vitally under the auspices of his literary agency, Author Services Inc., in Hollywood, California. Just as L. Ron Hubbard, the writer, changed the genre of speculative fiction in the 20th century, so too is this legacy changing the genre as we embark upon the 21st century.


"A culture is as rich and as capable of surviving as it has imaginative artists. The artist is looked upon to start things. The artist injects the spirit of life into a culture. And through his creative endeavors, the writer works continually to give tomorrow a new form.

"In these modern times, there are many communication lines for works of art.
Because a few works of art can be shown so easily to so many, there may even be fewer artists. The competition is very keen and even dagger sharp.

"It is with this in mind that I initiated a means for new and budding writers to have a chance for their creative efforts to be seen and acknowledged."

—L. Ron Hubbard
Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but to skid in sideways totally worn out screaming "HOLY SHIT ..... what a ride"!!
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Lady Maven
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Postby Lady Maven » Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:12 pm

Yes I have let this go a long time. No I am not sorry. Ya'll are getting this for free, if you were paying me, I'd have my butt here daily. Yes, that is a hint to take up a collection. I just read a piece as a refresher on word counts and I am sharing

How long is my manuscript?

You wrote your manuscript, and ypu know from reading my first few posts that your cover letter shopuld include a word count, so you fire up your word count tool and add that number. Sounds easy right? Ok, now think about this.. has ANYTHING I said to do yet sounded easy? Then why would you think this would be?

Publishers do NOT care about how many words you have. They care about how much space it will take up. Your word count counts all characters between spaces. "Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" would be counted as one word. So would "a" as one word. They take up vastly different amounts of space.

There have been many methods, but this one is not only standard, but it usually produces a higher word count. Higher word count equals more pay, and since publishers are cool with it, take advantage my greedy little friends.

1. Count the number of characters in an average, mid-paragraph line (BTW, this all assumes a monospaced font. If you're using a proportional font, the number of characters can vary immensely, throwing off the numbers and word count).

2. Divide by six. This is the number of words per line.

3. Count the number of lines on a page. (This includes any # for blank lines.)

4. Multiply #2 by #3 to get the number of words per page.
Multiply by the number of full pages (plus any fractional pages), to get the total number of words.

5. Round the number to the nearest hundred. Authors tend to round up; editors round down.

This is the number you put on the front page of the manuscript.
Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but to skid in sideways totally worn out screaming "HOLY SHIT ..... what a ride"!!
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Lady Maven
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Postby Lady Maven » Thu Jan 03, 2008 6:12 pm

Crafting a Novel Synopsis
Posted by Chuck

If you write a novel and want to sell it, you'll need a good synopsis to hook a literary agent. A synopsis, simply put, is a long summary of your fictional story, detailing the events and characters.

At a recent writers' conference, I critiqued several synopses from amateur writers. When I met with the writers, I found myself repeating the same things over and over regarding formatting, content and length. I'll try and relay some tips in this post, so writers don't follow in their footsteps.

- First of all, synopses have a specific format. They begin on a new page and should have all your contact information in the upper left corner of the first page. Just below your contact info, centered, should be the book's title, its genre and your name.
- The body of the synopsis is double-spaced.
- Use dialogue sparingly, if at all.
- You can get to the point, meaning you can say if a character is "a hopeless romantic."
- Starting on the second page, there should be a header at the top of all pages, looking like this: Author/TITLE/Synopsis. That should be pushed left while the page number should be pushed right.
- Synopses should be as short as you can make them. The average length is 7-8 pages. A general rule is to have 1 page of synopsis for every 25 pages of your work, but remember—the shorter the better.
- Things must be explained. You can't say a character has "psychic powers" or "finds a surprise around the corner" without saying what these things mean. I find that writers, when questioned about confusing details, will often say, "Well that's explained in the book." Then I say, "OK ... but an agent won't read the book if they're confused by the synopsis. Make sense?"
- Try to stick with main plot points and characters. This will help cut down on confusion. Ideally, an agent won't get any name/character confusion because the synopsis doesn't detail needless subplots or minor characters.
- When characters are mentioned for the first time, CAPITALIZE their name.
- I read somewhere that a synopsis should read like you've summarizing a story for a 12-year-old. This is good advice. To practice, read a novel. Then explain the plot and characters of the story to a child as if it were a bedtime story. Tell the tale from beginning to end in 5-10 minutes. That's a synopsis.
Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but to skid in sideways totally worn out screaming "HOLY SHIT ..... what a ride"!!
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Postby Lady Maven » Thu Jan 03, 2008 6:21 pm

Sample Query Letter:

Your Name
Home Phone


Editor's Name (IMPORTANT!!!!)
Assistant Editor
Silhouette Books
300 E. 42nd Street
6th Floor
New York, NY 10017

Dear Ms. Name, Never just use Dear Editor

To start off, give the name and length and type of manuscript you are sending.

A COWBOY'S WILL is a completed 57,000 word contemporary romance set in Louisiana. This story is targeted for the Silhouette Desire line.

Next add the meat of your query... Remember that teaser on the back of the book. You don't have much more room than that. A good query should be no more than one page long.

Grady Reid was a good man, and somewhat of a match maker. He was also the closest thing to family Cody Lawrence had. When Grady died, he left half of his cattle ranch to Cody. Grady left the other half to his only grandchild, Blair Taylor from New York. They would each get their half, but only if they spent a month together on the ranch. Problem was, a month could seem like a lifetime when two people were so different, and disliked each other as much as Blair and Cody did.

This is where you brag. Add anything that shows you are a serious writer who has studied her craft.

I have been writing for almost ten years. Romance is my first love, though for now it is freelance writing that helps to pay the bills. Over the years I've completed a few other romance novels, some historical. I've been a member of Romance Writers of America, Southern Louisiana Romance Writers, a number of on-line writer's groups, and of a wonderful critique group where I was fortunate to work with a published author. I'm proud to add that this manuscript was a finalist this year in the Molly writing contest.

Don't forget the SASE, and don't forget the thank you!

If you are interested, I will gladly send you either the first three chapters of this story, or the complete manuscript. I have enclosed a synopsis and a SASE for your reply. If you prefer, you can send an e-mail. Thanks very much for your time and consideration.

Your name
Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but to skid in sideways totally worn out screaming "HOLY SHIT ..... what a ride"!!
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