Wow, a big thank you to everyone who participated in last week’s Logline Critique – both the critiquees (I told you it’s a word now) who were brave enough to put their work out there, and all the critiquers who came by to lend their expertise!
I feel like I learned a lot from critiquing your loglines and reading what others thought, and I can’t wait for some of those stories to hit the shelves. Good luck to all of you entering the ON THE BLOCK Contest in two weeks on MSFV – I’ll definitely be stopping by to see how your loglines fared.
On the personal side of things, I was hoping to have news to share with you guys today, but as it goes in publishing, I’m going to have to wait. Stay tuned to this blog (or my Twitter: @K_Callard) for a special announcement as soon as I’m allowed to make it.
I know, I know, nobody likes rules, so I’ll try to keep this short and sweet.
If you have a logline up for critique, spread the love: please critique at least 5 other loglines.
Please use a name to critique. It can be a screen name, but it gets discouraging and confusing to read a dozen Anonymous comments.
Please give constructive criticism and be respectful. If a logline catches your attention, try to point out why (exciting stakes, interesting story, etc). If a logline doesn’t work for you, again, explain why (don’t know the stakes, don’t understand the plot, etc).
Critiquees (it’s a word now) – please do not respond to the critiques unless you are asked a specific question.
Have fun and learn! I find critiques are the one of the best ways to learn what works and what doesn’t.
Ok, I think that’s it for rules.
Just one more note for everyone: I’ve done my best to loosen up my comment protection, but I’m not sure if I still need to approve your first comments. I’ll be staying pretty close to the computer, but I can’t promise I’ll be there all day (I am on vacation :D). If a few hours have gone by and your comments aren’t appearing, use the Contact Me form to send me a head’s up or Tweet at me. Same thing if you notice someone spamming the comments, or doing anything else not fun. I’ll do my best to take care of it ASAP (as soon as I’m done eating, sleeping, or whatever else has pulled me away).
Go forth and critique!
P.S. A thousand apologies if you subscribe to this blog and just got 42 emails. I can’t seem to figure out how to fix that.
Rocky is a Reaper that doesn’t only collect souls, but can warp them. A talent that makes her the hottest commodity in an astrological thousand-year war that has all the constellations smiling shooting stars.
When seventeen-year-old Tess is plunged into an elemental war she embarks on a race across the globe with a group of unlikely allies. She must learn to harness her new abilities to save the boy she loves and prevent a brutal fire-starter from unleashing a catastrophic and deadly natural disaster.
When Kyle inherits a magical relic on his fourteenth birthday, he’s sucked into an ancestral curse cast by the ruthless Russian witch, Baba Yaga. Faced with his family’s violent past, his father’s “suicide” and fatal flirtations with a foreign female fraternity, Kyle must find a way to restore his fractured family before he–and they–never have a future.
The only thing seventeen-year-old Sloane Stevens wants after nearly eight years on the run is to finally be released from witness protection. But when she runs into someone from her past on her first day as Sloane–her last first day ever–she has a choice: disappear before her cover’s blown and risk her imminent release, or stay and risk being found by the people who’ve been looking for her.
When the search for her kidnapped sister is called off, heiress Hazel Lennox runs away and joins The Greatest Show in the Sky, a galaxy-traveling circus, to continue the hunt herself. But the sadistic ringleader knows something about her family’s genetic code that she doesn’t, and Hazel may not have time to find her sister before she becomes the next circus attraction.
Adopted daughter Bernie Robertson needs help for a recurring nightmare where she’s being chased by a killer, and she’s also separating from an abusive husband. When Bernie’s husband is jailed and her apartment is trashed, she leaves for Texas where she will find her birth mother and learn the truth behind the nightmares.
Alyssa’s known her whole life she might be the savior or destroyer of all realms. Yes, she has magic, and is more than human. But beyond that is anyone’s guess. She’s just trying to stay alive, let alone find out what her destiny means. Hunting demons hasn’t worked.
At last Chris found her little sister. Somehow she’s inherited a dark twisted power. Now Chris must decide between her duty as Angelus and family.
15-year-old chess prodigy Priyanka gets on a train going the opposite direction from her next tournament to escape her restrictive life and create a new identity. But to keep her new life and new friends, she’ll need to stay one step ahead of her overbearing, abusive coach, who has initiated a real-life chess game to get Priyanka back.
She has the power within her, but lacks a man beside her. He was not supposed to be part of her world, but maybe she can find wholeness with him. For if she cannot become whole, then her village is doomed and he will never find home.
Jace is a thief who steals from rich people and gives his loot to those in need. Alane just graduated from college and is looking to shed her good girl image when she crosses paths with him. As she joins him on his crusade and starts to develop feelings for him, she must decide if staying with him is worth the risk of jail time or even death.
Title: WORMS, BLOOD PUDDING, AND A SWASHBUCKLING ALBERT EINSTEIN
Upper MG Historical/Science fiction
Spencer Spence, twelve year old con artist extraordinaire, can work any con except the one he most desires—to finagle the rescue of his great-grandmother Maria, a gypsy war hero from World War II. Unfortunately, she was executed sixty years before he was even born, yet Spencer has a plan to save her still, a plan that includes worms, blood pudding, and a swashbuckling Albert Einstein.
A mother obsessed with keeping her kids happy every minute of the day must chose between staying in a challenging marriage to protect her kids from sadness, or divorcing and having to figure out how not to live in fear of depression.
After her mom disappears and September is forced to live with her dumpster-diving aunt in the armpit of Wyoming, she signs up for an invention contest at the high school in hopes of earning enough money to get back home. But she soon discovers that home may be a different place than she thought.
To avoid becoming betrothed, Princess Rosalinda demands impossible tasks in exchange for her hand in marriage. When princes from rival kingdoms disappear, their families demand their safe return or risk a war. Rosalinda must fight a dragon, witch, ogre, pirate, and giant spider to save the princes.
All sixteen-year-old Bex Strange wants is to escape the oppressive Nebraska town where her mother jumped to her death from her father’s memorial bridge. When the mysterious Mr. Pembridge offers Bex a ticket to an orphans-only summer camp, she finds herself in a Victorian-era village with a dark and twisted fountain of youth, challenging everything Bex thought she knew about death. She must confront the ghosts of her past in order to escape.
While searching for their missing brother, 12 year old twin sisters, Courtney and Lesley, stumble into a medieval world where animals rule and monsters roam just in time to see their brother, Josh, being carried away from a bloody battlefield by a dragon. Befriended by a community of woodland animals living in a castle, the twins must rescue their brother while helping their new friends face a threat straight out of a nightmare.
A jock and a math geek form an unlikely partnership after their respective siblings’ deaths in order to trap a killer who masks his murders as accidents. If they fail, they could end up as his next victims.
Not many women are magicians in 1870s Europe, but that doesn’t stop Valentina, until Sterling Caindale, her father and the greatest magician in all of Europe, is murdered onstage. Valentina, abandons her dreams in order to find his killer, and soon becomes entangled in an underground society of performers who are more than they seem.
Orphaned seventeen-year-old Sarah Whitman’s heart’s desire is to live on her own with her ghost-seeing dog, Shadow. But if the court discovers the mentally-unstable Dr. Claudia Griffin, her dog’s former veterinarian, has broken into her house, she fears that the authorities will deny her petition for emancipation. When Sarah investigates the death of a toddler ghost boy, her freedom becomes unimportant as sleuthing brings her into the crosshairs of the child’s murderer.
When Las Vegas teenager Nick Stevens gets a job at a hotel that caters to creatures from other dimensions, he must learn in a hurry how to cook, how to fight — and how to handle a girlfriend who might not be entirely human.
Laffey Acosta wants to survive fifth grade in a new school, but he has a strange name, and bullies are targeting new kids. The vice-principal thinks he’s bad news, and his parents are too busy divorcing to help. Laffey befriends a little blue alien blob that can give him flugerspumite, that is, superpowers. AND it can make broccoli taste like marshmallow! Of course, alien blobs have goals of their own.
Captain Hastings hates his lucrative but brutal privateering job and plans to settle down and start a family, if his possessive mates and the infatuated daughter of his boss, Jamaica’s governor, don’t get him killed first. And if he can resign himself to marrying the only girl he’s ever loved, who isn’t typical wife material. Hell, she’s not even fully human.
Thirteen-year-old Megan is sick of her family. She’s stuck in the middle between her over-achieving big brother and insufferably cute baby sister, and she can’t get the time of day from her parents. Then the producers of the reality show, Fix Your Life!, steal her super-secret-do-not-read-on-pain-of-death journal and grant her wish. Poof—her family disappears. Megan has seven days to solve a series of clues to bring them back or they’ll be gone forever.
Living safely in Salem, Massachusetts is hard enough, but John Dent and his friends find that witches are the least of their worries when they are transported to a realm where real magic works. There they find that it’s not enough to merely survive their new reality, but they must somehow stop a disaster that threatens to destroy both Elilith and Earth.
King Aderel hoped for an untroubled reign, hoped his soul-reading gifts and his passion for God might go unnoticed. Unquestioned. And untested.
But when a Nethmal raid breaks the peace treaty and exposes Aderel’s tainted parentage, the holy king must decide which course of action will save both country and soul: fulfilling a heretical prophecy, or striking a disastrous alliance with his Hell-sworn Nethmal Father.
Lacey and Grace are twins, they’ve always said they share more than looks, they share a soul. When Grace dies, Lacey doesn’t know who she is anymore, what to do with her life. Then a blank envelope appears in her mailbox and Grace leads her on an adventure that just may save Lacey’s own life.
When Janna, a 15-year-old psychic, frees her twin sister from the otherworld, and accidentally opens a portal, not only she invites otherkins who feed on human energy to the larder, but she also discovers she’s a freaking energy vampire. If she doesn’t bunk with her kind, save the humans, and shut the door, she’ll invite the world of jinns to stay and she can kiss goodbye to what’s left of her humanity.
Young Duke Thierry never knew about the powerful magic in music. With it he could save another world from losing all – if he regains memories and a Heartsong he never realized he had. But Ta’Athannais, Highking of Shondoreen & betrayed best friend from a former life, might kill him first.
Eighteen year old Bethany receives a mysterious text from her father not to go to school. Problem is he’s never contacted her before. She debates tracking down her deadbeat dad and telling him off, when strangers arrive in one of her classes and soon start hunting her.
Instead of taking care of her baby sister eleven year-old Marisi wanted an adventure. But that was before their parents disappeared in a storm and a Witch took over their home. To save themselves, their parents and their home, the girls have to solve three impossible riddles before sunrise. All the while, statues with hearts are hoping, and islands with minds of their own are helping, to banish the witch forever.
Belle wants to be an inventor, not a queen. But when her kingdom’s exquisitely preened facade crumbles in an urban cave-in, swallowing her brother and exposing the mechanized rebel society beneath their feet, she must confront the schemes of her ambitious fiancé and ally herself with the Underground Revolution to save her kingdom from collapse.
It’s 1684 French society, where young noble ladies are bred to marry, and men control everything. Adrienne wants more. Rejecting society’s prejudices and the Absolutism of Louis XIV, she helps a suave nobleman publish a treasonous pamphlet decrying Louis’s power. When they become targets of the King’s private bloodhound, Adrienne’s spiteful beau intervenes. After all, men know best, and his agenda has nothing to do with her fight for women’s freedoms.
The U.S.’s top psychic has gone rogue. Cold War in full swing, tensions are high as the world powers are forced to work together and assemble two teams of their top psychics and soldiers to hunt him down before he destroys the civilized world one atomic bomb at a time.
When a reporter shows up at her husband’s funeral, a former seventies rock and roll icon is forced to face the thirty year old tragedy that sent her into hiding, in order to achieve the peace she has never had and help her equally talented son navigate the dangerous life she once rejected.
After spending six lonely years living in Asylum Island’s rickety-crickety lighthouse, eleven-year-old Reverie West is more than ready to set sail with the five mysterious strangers who wash ashore one summer night. What she may not be ready for is their destination – Oneiros, the land of dreams, nightmares, and Revi’s mother.
17 year old Cat craves independence, but guilt stops her from doing anything to upset her parents since her mother is sick and her father is crazy overprotective. When Cat falls for a boy who actually appreciates her brain, she must choose between peace in her family or her own happiness.
When Amanda Thompson, a critically depressed teen loses her parents in a car accident, she finds no more reason to live and attempts suicide by slitting her wrists.
As she recovers and begins school in a new town, she meets an extraordinary boy who draws her out of her depression and helps her cope with further pain when she discovers a shocking secret from her parents past which could change her life forever.
If 17 year old professional tennis player Harper doesn’t let go of the wrong things in her life—mainly her sense of entitlement and her childhood sweetheart who also happens to be her sister’s ex—then the right things won’t have a chance to catch her. And that could cost her true love, her family and the US Open.
In honour of Authoress’s ON THE BLOCK contest next month over on Miss Snark’s First Victim (if you’re a querying writer and you don’t know this blog, go check it out, I’ll wait) I am hosting a logline critique here on the blog. Details at the bottom of this post.
What is a logline?
A logline, or elevator pitch, is a short summary of your book (about the length of time it would take to tell someone in an elevator ride). Similar to a query synopsis it should hook the listener/reader into wanting to read more, without revealing the ending. These pitches are essential for Twitter Pitch Parties, conferences (“So, what are you writing?”), and anytime someone asks you what your book is about.
Authoress posted some great links here, and I’ll add my two cents by saying the best loglines will include some (if not all) of the 4Cs of query synopses – which I wrote about here.
Loglines for the ON THE BLOCK contest and this critique opportunity should be 75 words long, max (but less is better. Really. Mine, below, is 46 words.)
Now for the part you’re waiting for: The Critiques.
Starting Monday August 17th at 9am (EDT), until Wednesday August 19th at 5pm (also EDT) I will be accepting Loglines sent to my email: kimberlycallard (at) hotmail (dot) com. I will take the first 50 loglines (or however many I get by 5pm Wednesday). I will post the loglines in the morning on Thursday August 20th. Any that arrive before or after the entry window will be deleted unread.
Please only one entry per person, even if you write in different genres/age groups. As this is a warm-up for the ON THE BLOCK contest, I will be limiting entries to: all genres in MG, YA, NA, & Adult, except Erotica/erotic romance (Sorry PB writers!).
Your email should be formatted as following:
Subject Line: Logline Critique
Age Category & Genre: (eg. MG Historical Fantasy)
Title: (eg. SHADOWCATCHERS)
Name: (eg. K. Callard)
Logline: (eg. The only thing keeping 12-year-old Zane out of the slums is his job as a palace Shadowcatcher. But when he finds out he’s actually stealing souls, he must choose between the murderous job that keeps him in luxury, or quitting and becoming the Empress’s next target.) *Again, remember, 75 words, max!*
If you have a logline up for critique, I ask that you crit at least 5 other loglines. If you don’t have a logline up for critique, please still come by and help out your fellow writers with critiques.
All right, I think that’s all you need to know. Put any questions in the comments, or tweet them at me @K_Callard.
Ok, so I meant to write this post back in May when I was designing my new cards leading up to the conference, but I ran out of time. Then I forgot. (Oops!) But I remembered now, so here goes.
When I went to my first conferences, I didn’t have business cards. I mean, those are only for published writers who have books to promote, right?
Business cards are great for networking. If you’re going to a conference, it really pays to get some printed up, that way you can stay in touch with all the new writers you’re meeting. Having a network of writer-friends is helpful, whether you’re just looking to vent to someone who understands the agony of querying/being on submission/preparing to launch a book, etc., or whether you’re looking for blog tour hosts, book blurbers, reviewers, etc. Business cards help you stay in touch with other writers.
But, without a book to promote, I wasn’t really sure what to put on them. So, I asked around on a few forums, and here is what was deemed the most important:
Your Name (this may seem obvious, but for a writer, your name is your brand, make it large and obvious on your card)
What you write (YA, MG, PB, etc)
Your website/blog/Twitter handle/Facebook Author page
Your professional email address
A photo (this one surprised me at first, but makes total sense. When you get home from a conference with an armload of business cards, the photo will help remind you who’s who. It’s also helpful for those people who are better with faces than names.)
I designed my first business cards while still deeply concussed. I sketched out a rough design on paper and my awesome husband did the computer-work for me (since I still wasn’t allowed on it). They weren’t the prettiest cards ever, but they got the job done.
Also, because we left it to last minute, we couldn’t get them professionally printed, so we just printed them at home. This worked out surprisingly well – we were able to just print out a couple of dozen, which was perfect for my needs. The conference I was attending was small (about 50-odd attendees), and it saved me from being left with hundreds of leftover cards. The quality was pretty good, too. We bought “clean-edge” snap-apart cards, and used color ink.
At the conference I collected a bunch of other writers’ cards, and compared them to mine. I liked almost all of theirs better (in fairness, some were illustrators who got to use their own characters on their cards). I found the thing I liked most about the other cards was the colored/illustrated backgrounds. Some writers used stock images of books, typewriters, quill pens, etc. while others just printed on colored cardstock. Either way, the result was the same: they looked better than my plain white cards.
However, almost ever writer who took my card mentioned they liked the idea of including my photo. (Score one for Kaye!)
Just before my next conference (because I will never learn to start preparing farther in advance) I decided to redesign my cards. I used a stock layout from Word, and customized it to fit my needs. I chose a vertical design, because, well, I like to be different, and I made sure to use one of my own photos (yay, cake monsters!) as a background. Since I didn’t want to waste a ton of ink or draw away from the info on the card, I played with the color saturation on the photo until it reached the Goldilocks level (not too hard, not too soft).
This was the result:
I’m pretty happy with it. What do you think? Have any features on your card that I missed out on? Share your thoughts in the comments.
P.S. If you’re wondering about the upcoming Logline Critique, I’ll be posting details next Thursday (August 13th), and the submission window will open Monday August 17th.
P.P.S. If you weren’t wondering about the logline critiques, but you are now, check out this post over on MSFV.