Jump to content


Writer, Writer Pants on Fire


An SAT With DEAD BLUE Author Elle Cosimano

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 27 March 2012 · 288 views

[url="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-y8pgwNdV9Ic/T3G0jE36DLI/AAAAAAAAAdk/kodACy1c6Ww/s1600/IvyWallMedium.jpg"][img]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-y8pgwNdV9Ic/T3G0jE36DLI/AAAAAAAAAdk/kodACy1c6Ww/s1600/IvyWallMedium.jpg[/img][/url]I'm lucky (or cunning) enough to have lured another author over to the blog for an SAT (Successful Author Talk). Elle Cosimano is a fellow[url="http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/"] Lucky 13[/url], who grew up in the Washington DC suburbs. The daughter of a prison warden and an elementary school teacher who rides a Harley, she majored in Psychology at St Mary’s College of Maryland, and set aside a successful real-estate career to pursue writing. Her debut [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13409664-dead-blue"]DEAD BLUE[/url] is a thrill-ride of a novel, in which a math-whiz from a trailer park discovers she’s the only student capable of unraveling complex clues left by a serial killer who’s systematically getting rid of her classmates. DEAD BLUE will be coming from Dial/Penguin Fall, 2013.

[b]Writing Process:[/b]
[b]BBC: Are you a Planner or Pantster?[/b]

EC: If you’d asked me a year ago, I would have told you I’m a planner. By nature, at least. I’m a total Type A, list-making, life-planning, goal-oriented systems-thinker. My first novel was outlined on tidy color-coded note cards. And I think for my first time around that was important in helping me to envision the ending, so I could actually make myself get there. But I ended up re-writing that book… twice… from scratch. And as I learn more, and I become more confident, I’m loosening the reigns. The book I just finished was completely pantsed. And I loved the feeling of discovery that came with each new page. That doesn’t mean it won’t need a complete overhaul or major revision, but it was fun to cut loose with the pen for a while.

[b]BBC: How long does it typically take you to write a novel, start to finish?[/b]

EC: Not counting research, from first word to last word, I usually spend eight to twelve weeks piecing together the first draft. Most of my time is actually spent in very intense revision.

[b]BBC: Do you work on one project at a time, or are you a multi tasker?[/b]

EC: I try to write one story at a time, to keep my head in that character’s world. But simultaneously, I’m researching, reading, or gathering ideas for the next project.

[b]BBC: Did you have to overcome any fears that first time you sat down to write?[/b]

EC: GAH! Yes! I hadn’t written a word of fiction in over fifteen years when I wrote DEAD BLUE. I had a very successful career, a busy family, and I was the breadwinner. Taking time for myself to write that first book wasn’t only daunting because I wasn’t sure I could do it (or do it well), but because it felt like such a selfish thing – to do something for myself, simply because I wanted to. My colleagues were confused and upset with me for taking time off to “write a book” of all things! My family was supportive, but afraid that we couldn’t afford so much time off. And I was afraid of disappointing all of them. I wasn’t afraid of failing myself. I was afraid of failing everyone else. Realizing that emphasized how badly I really did need to do this, just for me.

[b]BBC: How many trunked books (if any) did you have before you were agented?[/b]

EC: DEAD BLUE was my first book. It showed promise but the plot was a mess. Thankfully, I found a talented and patient literary agent who saw something in my work. With her feedback, and the help of some very talented critique partners, I completely re-wrote the book. So I guess you could say the first incarnation of the story is in the proverbial trunk.

[b]BBC: Have you ever quit on an ms, and how did you know it was time?[/b]

EC: I’ve never quit on a manuscript, but I did cannibalize the first story I ever dreamed up, and ended up donating its organs (bits and pieces of plot and character) to the two stories I’m working on now. I’ll get back to that story one day, but it will take some reimagining to revive it.

[b]Querying and Agent Hunt Process:[/b]
[b]BBC: Who is your agent and how did you get that "Yes!" out of them? [/b]

EC: My agent is Sarah Davies of The Greenhouse Literary Agency. I submitted a traditional query. She responded the same day requesting a full. I knew I loved Sarah right away because she communicated with me throughout her read. She’d send brief one-sentence emails with her reactions to different characters or scenes. Querying can be such a silent process, and those emails were a real comfort to me. I was a wreck of nerves! I signed with her the same week.

[b]BBC: How long did you query before landing your agent? [/b]

EC: I took my complete manuscript for DEAD BLUE to the Big Sur Writers Workshop. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I made a deal with myself that if the editors, agents, and authors there hated my story, I’d go back to my full time job. And if there was hope, I’d attempt a round of queries. The story was well-received and I came away feeling pretty optimistic. When I returned home, I spent a few weeks polishing my letter and sample pages, and queried my top six agents. Five of the six requested the full. I signed with Sarah a week later.

[b]BBC: Any advice to aspiring writers out there on conquering query hell?[/b]

EC: Read. Read. Read. Read everything you can get your hands on in your genre. And read blogs too. There’s a wealth of information on craft, finding the right agent, self-promotion, and writing a saleable book! Submission guidelines and agent preferences are more accessible than ever. Read. Research. And most importantly, follow directions.

[b]Social Networking and Marketing:[/b]
[b]BBC: How much of your own marketing do you? Do you have a blog / site / Twitter?[/b]

EC: I have a [url="http://www.ellecosimano.com/"]website[/url], I tweet at @ellecosimano, I have a [url="https://www.facebook.com/ellecosimano"]Facebook[/url][url="https://www.facebook.com/ellecosimano"] [/url]page, and I contribute regularly at [url="http://inkandangst.com/"]Ink & Angst.[/url]

[b]BBC: When do you build your platform? After an agent? Or should you be working before?[/b]

EC: I think the answer to this is different for every author and depends on your comfort level with various social networks. Personally, I’m glad my platform was established before I found my agent and sold my book, because it gave me the opportunity to meet and interact with other authors. So many valuable resources are shared within the online writing community. It would have been a very lonely process without the friends I’ve made along the way.

[b]BBC: Do you think social media helps build your readership?[/b]

EC: I think social media is most successful when it’s used for its intended purpose… reaching out and participating in a broader community. When it’s approached as a reciprocal, caring, and genuine way to connect with others who share similar interests, then it truly opens doors. It makes us accessible to our readers, and to each other, and in doing so, encourages those connections to grow organically.



Bloggity Blog Blog

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 25 March 2012 · 269 views

I'm naming my next pet that. It'll be fun to stand on the front porch and yell, "Heeeereeee, Bloggity Blog Blog! Dinnnnner, Bloggity Blog Blog!"

Not really. And if you'd like to read a real blog post from me today, head on over to [url="http://www.fromthewriteangle.com/2012/03/internet-is-forever.html"]From the Write Angle[/url], where I'm talking about how to behave on the internet. And yes, I actually do consider that from time to time.

And if you're *really* interested in all the things I have to say about stuff, come see the Truth or Dare I'm playing today over at the[url="http://fridaythethirteeners.blogspot.com/2012/03/mindy-mcginnis-takes-truth.html"] Friday the Thirteeners [/url]blog. I've been initiated :)

And if you're not completely sick of me at that point, I'm over at Suzi Retzlaff's blog for the continuing [url="http://literaryengineer.areavoices.com/2012/03/27/the-big-reveal-4/"]Big Reveal [/url]series, along with some other fabulous authors.

So I've been blogging for a year, and I admit to loving the crap right out of it. I hope you love the crap right out of it, too.

And now it's your chance to tell me what you want. You may have noticed that I dropped the Wednesday Wolf (word origins) posts, and I haven't been doing Thursday Thoughts either. Do you miss it? Do you want to know where we get our archaic phrases and what I'm thinking about random stuff? Do you like my interviews? What about the book reviews? More vlogs? Or do you never want to see my stinky face again?

More? Less? The same?

There's a handy little poll hanging out under my face ---------------------------------->>>

It'll be there until 3/31. So will my face.



Read the First 50 Pages of SLIDE by Jill Hathaway!

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 24 March 2012 · 280 views

I had a lot of response from the [url="http://writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com/2012/03/bbc-book-talk-slide-by-jill-hathaway.html"]review of SLIDE[/url] by Jill Hathaway, and I've got great news for everyone who got so excited - you can[url="http://browseinside.harperteen.com/index.aspx?isbn13=9780062077905"] read the first 50 pages of SLIDE on the Harper site.[/url]


Jill is also doing a SLIDE blog tour which you can [url="http://theteenbookscene.weebly.com/slide-tour-details.html"]follow here.[/url]

And SLIDE has an awesome trailer to go with the equally awesome premise:





The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 23 March 2012 · 253 views

Meet the BBC Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description [url="http://crossingthehelix.blogspot.com/"]RC Lewis [/url]and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.

We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox. Also, at the end, I'm going to tell you what I think your story is about, based on your query. I know how hard it is to get your ideas across succinctly, and how easy it is for your author's brain to fill in the blanks and not see the gaping holes that the average reader may very well fall into.

Also, for my brave Saturday Slash volunteers I will gladly do follow-up slashes (each more kindly than the next) on your query if you post them on the [url="http://agentqueryconnect.com/index.php?/forum/2-aq-connect-query-critiques/"]Query Critique[/url] board over on [url="http://agentqueryconnect.com/"]AgentQuery Connect[/url]. You'll get advice from me, and also people who are smarter than me. If you do post on AQ, be sure to [url="http://agentqueryconnect.com/index.php?/topic/538-query-posting-rules/"]follow the guidelines[/url] and let me know you posted so that I can follow up!

And now for our next brave soul. For clarity, my comments are in purple.

Having a ghost attached to you isn’t exactly what sixteen year old [color=#4c1130]hyphenate age[/color], Bailey Green, [color=#4c1130]don't need the commas around your MC's name[/color] would call ideal. The victim of a drowning––Hannah Melbrooke has been haunting Bailey for three years with no explanation. [color=#4c1130]Haunting how? Is she creepy? Friendly?[/color] Due to Hannah’s extended stay, Bailey is forced to come to terms with the ghost who is incapable of leaving the confines of her bedroom; [color=#4c1130]a semi-colon is used to join clauses that can stand on their own as sentences, which the second half of this can't [/color]due to an unknown force. [color=#4c1130]You definitely need a stronger hook. So she's being haunted - so what? That's the premise of every ghost story. What makes yours unique? I think the answer is in the idea that the ghost is trapped in the bedroom, and the force that keeps here there, but it's the last thing you mention in your first para. Rework to get that front and center.[/color]

Bailey doesn’t realize that the more she believes in Hannah, the stronger she becomes, granting her freedom from her prison. When Hannah escapes into the outside world, Bailey’s haunting burden becomes an impossible secret to keep. With her social life invaded by the ghostly figure, Bailey begins to see Hannah for who she really is––a spiteful soul looking for vengeance. [color=#4c1130]OK - I needed this sooner. I had no idea what their relationship was like. Having a ghost in your bedroom 24/7 and the MC's belief in her setting her free strikes me as more of a chummy paranormal sleepover than a vengeful spirit. Get that relationship out there. It's bad. It's evil. It's creepy-ass.[/color]

After a near-drowning inflicted by Hannah, their bond grows stronger as her brush with death breaks the seal between their worlds, leaving Bailey vulnerable for Hannah to extract her energy––the key to her resurrection. [color=#4c1130]Awkward sentence. [/color]Bailey’s best friend, Eric Montgomery, becomes her true weakness, giving Hannah the crutch she needs to demand Bailey’s cooperation. [color=#4c1130]Sounds like there's a romance buried in here, and that it's going to be exploited by bad girl Hannah. Capitalize on that in your query, and move the idea of a near-drowning and a death bond nearer to the meat of your query. It seems like it's the crux of the story, get it out there.[/color]

In DROWNING BAILEY, darkness surrounds the ghostly girl who seeks to consume Bailey’s life as her own––a life that should have been hers. Searching to uncover Hannah’s past, Bailey discovers the unexpected truth of their connection. With this new information, she hopes to find the answers that will put Hannah to rest, before she destroys both Bailey’s life and her soul. [color=#4c1130]This last para sounds very much like a quick synop, not a closing hook for a query. But here's the thing - it's raising some elements that weren't addressed earlier that make me perk up and want to know what you're talking about. A life that should have been hers? Bailey researching Hannah's past? A dark connection? [/color]

[color=#4c1130]There's more going on in this last para than the whole query. And Eric only gets a fleeting mention yet he seems to be a leverage point that the whole story could turn on. I think you need to figure out what the main element of the story itself is - entangled past lives? The threat of Hannah in the present? Bailey's weakness for Eric being the push point for the whole domino ride to come down?[/color]

[color=#4c1130]It sounds like there's a lot going on in the story, that it would be fast paced and interesting. But the query itself is all over the place and doesn't seem focused, which is going to make an agent wonder if the same thing is wrong with the ms. Hammer down the *most* important elements and get that out there. You've got some great phrases and really cool ideas. I like the premise a lot, and I think the title is catchy, you just need to get a focus.[/color]



BBC Book Talk - SLIDE by Jill Hathaway

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 22 March 2012 · 269 views

[center][url="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/--Q1UkeGg87c/Tz6YwETsIjI/AAAAAAAAAa0/LV81UvP5l9Q/s1600/9542582.jpg"][img]http://1.bp.blogspot.com/--Q1UkeGg87c/Tz6YwETsIjI/AAAAAAAAAa0/LV81UvP5l9Q/s320/9542582.jpg[/img][/url][/center]Sylvia fights sleep with prescription drugs and caffeine as her weapons. But narcolepsy always gets the upper hand, and with it comes the slide.

A borrowed shirt from her sister, an earring picked up in the school hallway, a piece of paper taped to the front door - any of these things can carry an emotional imprint that slides Sylvia into the body of the owner. An impotent passenger, she's along for the ride until she awakes.

So far in life her ability has only been a nuisance and an embarrassment. Her best guy friend, Rollins, thinks she has OCD because she refuses to touch other people's belongings, and she's slid into classmates at times when they most certainly wouldn't want other people to know what they were doing.

But chance slides Sylvia into the body of a murderer moments after the crime was committed. She knows that her little sister's best friend didn't kill herself, but she can't tell anyone. No matter how much she wants to alleviate her sister's guilt over the nasty prank she pulled the day before her friend supposedly killed herself, Sylvia's tongue is tied.

When another classmate kills herself, Sylvia begins to force the slide in an effort to get to the killer before he claims his next victim. She desperately lifts personal items from the teacher who may have been the father of one victim's unborn baby. A gift from Rollins accidentally lands her in his body only minutes before the death of another victim, who he is with.

The slide is teaching her that nothing is what it seems, and you never know anyone as well as you thought.


Search My Blog