Friday, April 29, 2011

A Little Eye Candy

I want to thank everyone who has given their insight to the cover design. Please if you haven't commented take a few minutes and let me know what you think. It is much appreciated and will help immensely as we continue to work on it.

Now off the subject of writing I want to talk about something that is dear to my heart. Something that I would die if I didn't have. That something I love food. I loving eat it. I love cooking it and a lot of the time I love just looking at it. If I am not writing or spying on people on Facebook ;) you will often find me looking at recipes online. (My family calls it my recipe addiction.) I can spend hours looking at different types of recipes and then even more time trying to decide which one I want to tackle. I love cooking and sharing the things I cook.

Recently I have found a recipe that keeps me coming back for more. It's a cake recipe which is interesting because I don't often bake my cakes from scratch. I enjoy using the box mixes to save time.I'm not often very patient when it comes to food, but when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it and I certainly wasn't disappointed. It's a Lemon Poppy Seed Layer Cake with Strawberries and White Chocolate Cream Frosting.

It is heavenly. I have made it twice now and both times I have had nothing but compliments on it. I even get compliments from people who don't like cake or lemon. This picture was from the first time I made it. If you want the recipe let me know and I will post it, otherwise enjoy the eye candy.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cover Has Arrived

This is it. I have been going back and forth and this is what we have come up with so far.

Please comment!

Good, Bad, or Undecided. I don't care. Don't hold back. It's a mock-up people, things can be changed. I want to know if this is a cover that would catch your attention in a bookstore or if you wouldn't even bother looking at it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cover Mock-Up

I am way excited. The mock-up of my book's cover is done and ready to display. I've decided to put it on my blog and let everyone tell me what they think. If I get mostly positive feedback I will keep it. If not it's back to the drawing board.

It's up to you (my blog readers) if we keep this cover or if I go a different direction. Just think if you leave a comment you will be in on the decision making process and when it goes public you can say you helped decide on the cover. :)

It will be posted Monday morning so keep your eyes open for it.

PLEASE leave a comment when I post it. I really want feedback on this.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Music Feeds the Soul

I've mentioned before that music has a big influence on my writing. There have been times when I get writers block and the only thing that gets me out is listening to music. This last week was a harder week for me to get any writing done. I've had two adorable nephews staying with me while their parents went on a trip which I loved, but has made it harder to get into my writing mood.

I am hoping that this week will be more productive and to improve those odds I have loaded my Zune with a few favorite songs, some old some new. My top five songs this week are:

1. Here With Me DIDO
2. Till The World Ends Brittany Spears (I know, I know! What can I say she's one of my guilty pleasures.)
3.The Lady Killer Cee Lo Green
4. No More Little Lion Man Mumford and Sons (Careful for those with sensitive ears. I have the radio edit.)
5. E.T. Katy Perry (I must really like this song because I hate Kanye West)

Leave me a comment if anyone out there has a suggestion. I am always looking for new music to listen to.

Friday, April 15, 2011

If You Could....

This is going to be short, but I am very curious what your answers will be.

If you could write a book and it would be a best seller, what kind of book would you write?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Query Letter Example

As I have mentioned before I am terrible at writing query letters. I have been researching them for several years, gone to conferences on them and read several agent blogs on how they should be written. None of the techniques they teach seem to have helped. I am still terrible at writing them. I don't blame anyone but myself. I seem to have a query writing mental block.

Below is an example is a query letter for my book, Forbidden. By no means is this a perfect example of a query letter, but it should give you the basic idea.

(Thanks to my sister, Cara, for helping. I know how irritating it can be working with me trying to get it just right. I appreciate all you do.)


Dear (agent),

My name is Tasha Marshall and I am currently seeking representation for my book, Forbidden. After researching your agency‘s website I felt my book could be a good match for what you represent.

A marriage between two people in love is an event to celebrate; even more exciting when a child is born to that union. Unless that marriage is prohibited and the child considered a forbidden abomination, then a tragedy is inevitable.

Tristana Martin is that forbidden child. Adopted at birth, Tristana knows little of her secret heritage until a fight with a popular girl in her new high school ends in Tristana giving the girl a broken nose by using mysterious abilities. Unsure of what to do, Tristana is forced to turn to the handsome, but unsettling Aidan O’Reilly. Aidan claims he can help her control her gift as well as reveal the secrets of who she is and where she really comes from.

Frightened by the uncontrollable powers growing inside her, Tristana relents and listens to Aidan only to discover she has even more to fear then she first imagined. Now Tristana not only has to worry about keeping her magical gift a secret from the people around her, but from the, Domhaingrian, a covert magical society who would kill her if she is discovered.

Forbidden is a YA Fantasy and the first book in a trilogy. It is finished at approximately 107,000 words. I have been writing for several years, but Forbidden is my first attempt at publishing.

Thank you for your time.

Tasha L. Marshall

(Contact Information)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Whale Of A Tale

At Christmas time my family draws names for a gift exchange. It's something we did through out my childhood and continue to do now that most of us are married, but instead of everyone drawing individual names we do it as couples. Most years come and go without incident. We all give and get lovely gifts from each other, but there is one year that still sticks out in my mind. It was the year of the whale adoption.

My brother Derek and his wife Wendy drew my sister Cara. She was married at the time, but that's another story for a different type of blog ;) Derek and Wendy love Christmas and try to have fun with the gifts they give. That year they decided it would be fun to adopt a whale for my sister. This means instead of spending money on a gift and giving it to Cara they gave money to a foundation that protects whales. In return the foundation gives pictures, an adoption certificate, a history of the whale you adopted, and updates on how your adopted whale is doing.

We all thought it was a little strange, but everyone praised them for their thoughtfulness. Everyone except our Dad that is. He thought that it was a dumb gift and felt sorry for Cara.
She on the other hand was very gracious and continued to show everyone the certificate and pictures of her whale. She then proceeded to read the history to us out loud.

The history wasn't very interesting in the beginning, but by the end of the history we all discovered that her adopted whale had not been seen for a very long time and was presumed dead. We all had a good laugh that her Christmas gift was a dead whale. Derek and Wendy then announced that it was in fact a gag gift, to our father's relief, and gave Cara her real gift.

I thought this was clever and hated to see such a funny idea die so with the help of Wendy I came up with my own adopt a whale gift for my husband's side of the family. We had his sister Keysha and her husband Cory this last Christmas and thought they would be the perfect people to receive such a gift.

Wendy made me up an adoption certificate and helped me get started on the history and letter explaining the gift. Then I printed up a picture of a whale on glossy photo paper and made a CD with whale songs and songs about whales. I also purchased a small whale stuffed animal that my daughter informed me looked like it had brain damage. I wrapped it all up and did my best to make it look official.

The reaction was once again priceless. We had many who thought it was real, but my favorite reaction would have to be from my brother in law Jay who loved that we had given the gift of death for Christmas.

With a little imagination, or stolen imagination on my part, the ability to write created a lasting memory for two families.

Monday, April 4, 2011

And It All Comes Down To...

When I first started playing with the idea of getting my book published I figured I would just send out as many manuscripts as possible to as many publishers as possible until someone finally accepted it. I thought that was how it worked. So I was surprised when I Googled "book publishers" and found that most of them did not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

And that was when I first learned about Literary Agents. They are the gatekeepers to all the big name publishers and even most of the smaller ones. There are only a handful of publisher that take unsolicited manuscripts. At first I thought this was stupid, but after reading several blogs written by agents I understand the simple reason behind it, sheer numbers.

With the invention of the home computer and word processor thousands of people have made it their business to write a book and then get that book published. With that many manuscripts it would be impossible for any publisher to spend the time it would take sorting all those manuscripts in order to find one or two books that could sell a lot copies. (Remember folks publishing is a business and the bottom line is to make money and time is money.)

That is where Literary Agents come in. A good agent should have sound connections with the literary world and should not ask for a fee upfront to represent you. They should only take a portion of the profits after the sells is made. If you find one that doesn't do this walk away.

Literary Agents are just like the agents in Hollywood, but for writers. They are there to sell your work and market you. They scan through hundreds of query letters each month and find the books they feel they can successfully represent and make money on. Then they shop it around to publishers for you.

Sounds like finding an agent should be simple, right? Wrong!

I know I've touched on what a query letter is, but I'll touch on it again. It's a one page nightmare that is suppose to sum up your book using as little words as possible. It has to be catchy, but not clique. Informative, but not instructional. Unique, but not stray too far off the road of what a typical query letter should be.

For most authors, unless you're a literary savant or mind reader, writing a query letter is hard. It's hard because different agents have different ideas on what makes a good query letter. I have looked over at least a hundred query letters some even from blogs written by agents and have not found a query letter that would make every agent happy. So you really need to do your homework on each and every agent you query to really understand what they are looking for.

Now say you've done your homework on ten agents. You've read other query letters they have accepted in the past and think you have a good idea what they are looking for. Now it's time you focus on writing the query letter. You will probably need to write several letters using different angles to see which one feels right for your agents. You should spend a lot of time perfecting your letter. I know many writers spend up to a month or more fine tuning the finally draft they plan on sending.

Once you've spent hours upon hours perfecting the one you think is going to get you past the gatekeeper, tear it up and start over because I promise you it's not right. Why you ask? Because the agent you plan on sending it to isn't in the mood for your type of query letter this month.

Are you serious!? Yes, deadly serious. You have to catch the agent in the right "mood". Feels impossible, right? Well hang on to that feeling because you're about there.

Finding an agent is harder then actually writing a book. Not because you didn't work hard on your manuscript, but because agents are people with their own sense of what they like and don't like. You could have written a great book, had it edited to perfection and everyone who has read it loves it, but if you cannot find the right agent, at the right time, in the right mood and have the perfect query letter to fit that mood, you're sunk.

I follow several agents' blogs and all of them at one time or another has said that getting published has a lot more to do with luck then talent. Not to say it doesn't take any talent or hard word because it does, but after all the hard work is done it still comes down to old fashion luck. Luck that you happen to be writing in a "hot" genre at the time and luck with writing the right query letter to the right agent.

So to all of those who are out there who have written a great novel and are now trying to find an agent in hopes of getting picked up by a big name publisher...Good Luck!