Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Case for Longhand by Linda Todd

"What's that you say?"

"You're kidding. Right?"

Eye rolls. Head shakes.

These are reactions I get when I say I write my first drafts in longhand. What can I say? I'm addicted to pen and ink. I love watching words appear on the lines. Thanks to years in penmanship class doing ovals and push-pulls my handwriting is somewhat legible. Ah yeas. Penmanship. They obviously don't teach that one anymore. I mean, we even got a grade in it.

One can often find me skulking along the aisles of Office Depot. I hang out there a lot. Journals of all kinds cause my heart to beat faster. Bound ones. Spiral ones. I have quite a collection. Those black and white marbled composition books, college-ruled, of course, are special favorites for me. Also, an assortment of legal pads - letter and long. I also go down to Books a Million to see what they have on sale in the journal section.

What do I use to put my immortal words on paper? The pen of choice is the Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball, Extra Fine, in assorted colors - black, blue, green, purple, and red. All of these I purchase by the box.

The advantages of longhand are many. A tablet and a pen weigh hardly anything. I can take it anywhere. No worrying about plug-ins for the laptop. No worrying about dying batteries. I can write anywhere - even in the bathtub. Try that with a computer and you could wind up dead. If I get tired of writing I can start doodling. All over the tablet if I so desire. Can't do that on the screen. Last, but by no means least, I can't quit in the middle of a gut-wrenching scene for a quickie game of Solitaire. Email will just have to wait.

The only disadvantage for me: I have a tendency to daydream while writing. But what's wrong with that? The world needs more dreamers.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Did I write this in longhand? Do I want "Wild Justice" to make the New York Times best seller list? What do you think?

Linda Todd is a retired librarian who is taking advantage of her free time to write. A short story, "Waylon's Trophy," appeared in Nicholls State University Jubilee Anthology in 2005. She won first place in the Bayou Writers Members Fiction Contest and honorable mention for poetry in the same contest. She is currently working on a novel as well as short stories and poetry, some of which are out in contests.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tell Me About Your Book by James R. Tate

I’ve recently been confronted with one of the most difficult tasks in my somewhat young writing career; coming up with a PITCH for my novel. When first given this enormous task, with what was surely a look of complete confusion on my face, I blubbered, “How can I possibly whittle my ninety-thousand word novel down to a few paragraphs?”

What really scared me the most is the realization that the industry is changing, and you'd better be prepared to sell your book with a pitch. It very well may be the only chance you get to impress an editor or agent.

So, I took a deep breath and did what any sensible person of the twenty-first century would do. I Googled it. And like so many things on the internet, there were many opinions but few examples. You noticed I said ‘few’ examples. On one site I noticed a highlighted section proclaiming, “look here for samples.” Ahhh! Jackpot! But oh, not so fast. The first one was a pitch for an eighteenth century romance. Not much help for my murder mystery. The next was a WWI docudrama. Again, not much help. On the third sample I hit the mother lode; a who-done-it recently published. I quickly read through the pitch and scribbled down notes on layout, tone, and style. I got this!


The next site I looked at had more examples. Examples that looked totally different from the ones I'd just looked at. What in the name of Stephen King’s millions was going on here? Where was the sample of the murder mystery just like mine that I could insert my character names in the place of theirs and fill in the blanks with my plot points? I never did find it.

But seriously, I DID pick up many, many actual paper books and read the back cover--even those not in my genre--and I studied them, finally coming up with something that resembled a BLURB designed to get the attention of the BIG DOGS.

The next step was to let my work simmer, pick it up a few days later, and read it to myself, asking the question, “Does this make me want to read this book?” How the heck should I know. I’ve looked at this book every way but sideways for three year now! One day it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, the next, I’m offering the pages to my neighbor to line his birdcage with. How can I possibly be subjective? But according to several articles on the internet, this is a normal thing for a writer. I should know, I Googled it.

Next week I’ll be headed to New York City with my polished Pitch. I pray that I don’t come home and have to line the birdcage with it.

James R. Tate is the author of Hot Rod Jones & the Mystery of Gut Shot Creek. He's published in print magazines, and is currently marketing his first full length adult novel while writing his second. His goal is the top of the heap, not the top of the slush pile.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

PARTING WORDS by Lena V. Roach

Be a writer? Bah, humbug. Call me a quitter. Who needs the heartbreak of rejection?

All my great novels lie cold and unwanted in a desk drawer, their merit wasted on unwise editors.

Who is to blame for this tragedy, you ask?

I am.

Years ago I came upon sterling advice. In his “My Papa,” Lloyd C. Douglas quotes his parent:
“If at first you don’t succeed, give up.” Why didn’t I listen and boldly inscribe those words above my computer?

Misguided egotist, I struggled to become a published novelist as if punishing myself were a virtue. And lost, time after time.

But now, those delusions have passed, like a fever. That latest rejection slip did it.

Do I want your sympathy? Absolutely negative. Rather, be exceedingly glad for me.

No more the fear of approaching the mailbox, slave to clammy hands and racing pulse. No more the aching shoulders or the bloodshot eyes from too many hours at the computer. I’ll join a smug audience of “discerning” readers: “Oh, I could do better than that if I tried!”

Ah, freedom from want to be published!

Freedom to be creative in other ways. Handicrafts, for instance. My home will run over with wall hangings and knickknacks. I’ll enroll in cooking school and throw dinner soirees for admiring guests. I’ll get my picture in the paper as co-chair of the Weeders Club, and maybe even join an exciting protest march. My telephone will ring again with social offers to have fun, fun, fun. All of this, and no more feelings of guilt for neglecting my family. They will shower me with hugs and call me blessed.

Oh, did you say something? You’re still reading me?

What’s that? You think it would be a mistake to throw the novel out with the bath water?

Well, I do have a confession to make. Only last night a great plot idea came to me as I slept. The opening chapter takes place on a moonlit patio. A “dream-walking” but tortured male protagonist is telling the sympathetically bewildered heroine, “Happiness? It’s like moonlight. You wake up in the morning and it’s gone.”

Now here’s the premise: “’Tain’t necessarily so,” despite the tragic unfoldings of their love fighting for life and moonlight without end….

But enough talk. I lose. You win. Excitement rages inside me. The computer beckons. Shirk my duty to try to entertain and inspire you, dear reader? Not in this lifetime.

Lena Roach’s published credits include: short story, Glamour, England; poetry, Philadelphia Young People's Magazine, Kansas City Poetry Magazine, Oasis Journal; Dear Teacher column in 19 newspapers; articles in local and regional newspapers and educational journals.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Our conference brochure has been printed and will hit the post office on Tuesday, September 7th. Getting the brochure on our website has been a challenge. Please bear with us as we continue to wrestle with it. You should find everything you need to register for our conference posted right here. If you have any problems or questions, don't hesitate to leave a message or email bayouwritersgroup (at) gmail (dot) com. We are so sorry for any inconvenience. We promise you an excellent conference and a lot of fun. ~BWG Conference Committee

Writer's Conference
November 13, 2010
Location: University Methodist Church
2401 Patrick Street
Lake Charles, Louisiana 70601

Speaker Bios:

Harold Underdown is a children’s book editor/freelance editorial consultant, and the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Children's Book Publishing. He has worked at Macmillan, Orchard, and Charlesbridge, and has experience in trade and educational publishing. He founded and runs "The Purple Crayon," a web site about the children's publishing world at Critiques/consultations are available for $35 - Scroll down for details.

Cheré Dastugue Coen is an author and award-winning journalist. Her fiction includes Kensington historical romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her nonfiction books include the cookbook travelogue Cooking in Cajun Country (2009) and the upcoming Magic's in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris and Sachets (2010).

Gary Goldstein, Senior Editor, Kensington, acquires and edits both non-fiction for Kensington’s Citadel Press imprint and fiction (military and political thrillers, westerns, suspense), among them NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors William W. Johnstone and Michael Walsh.

Self/E/Small Press Published Author Panel

Lesa Boutin is a children’s author who started her own publishing company, Boot in the Door Publications, in 2006, followed by the release of her YA novels, Amanda Noble, Zookeeper Extraordinaire in 2007, and Amanda Noble, Special Agent in 2008. Lesa is a writer with Writers in the Schools Houston.

Author Wendy Lanier will share her Write for Hire experience. Her writing experience includes titles for Lerner Books, Capstone Press, Lucent Books, KidHaven Press, and contributions to such publications as Focus on the Family's Clubhouse,,,, and The Amazing Bible Factbook for Kids (a publication of Time Inc. Home Entertainment and the Livingstone Corp.). Her educational and professional background includes a B.S. in Speech Communication Disorders and a M.Ed. in Elementary Education followed by over 18 years of service in Texas public and private schools. She is a member of SCBWI and the Bayou Writers' Group.

Curt Iles is a Southern writer and speaker with seven books to his credit. His recent release is A Good Place. Curt’s mission in life is “to walk closely with Jesus, be a man God can use, and be respected by my wife and family.” His life verse: the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:33, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Pamela S. Thibodeaux is a multi-published author in creative non-fiction and romantic fiction. Her novels and short stories are available in ebook & print from White Rose Publishing and Com Star Media. Pam has numerous articles, essays, & devotions to her credit. Her writing has been tagged as “Inspirational with an Edge!”™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”


8:00-8:45 - Registration
Continental Breakfast
Read Contest entries

8:45-9:00 - Welcome & Announcements

Harold Underdown – Preparing your children’s or young adult book for publication

10:00-10:315: Break

Chere’ Coen – Developing the nonfiction book proposal/Selling your ideas to the nonfiction market

11:15-12:45 - Lunch

12:45 -1:45
Gary Goldstein: What Editors and Kensington expect from Authors

1:45-2:00- Break

Panel Discussion: Lesa Boutin, Curt Iles, Pamela Thibodeaux, Wendy Lanier

Our bookstore will be open all day.

(Please Print)






PUBLISHED__________ UNPUBLISHED_________

________$40.00 MEMBERS/$45.00 non-member

________$50.00 AT DOOR

________$25.00 STUDENTS (Full Time)

________First Page Contest Entry-FREE

Please note: No refunds after November 6, 2010

On The Wall
First Page Contest
(Win Free 2011 Conference Registration)

You have to grab an editor or reader’s attention on your first page. Send us your best first page (250 words max, double-spaced). Put your name on the back. Conferees will vote on their favorite. Mail your first page with your registration and conference fee to by November 6, 2010 to:

Bayou Writers’ Group
P.O. 1402
Lake Charles, LA 70602


Harold Underdown will meet with writers about their manuscripts for 15 minutes. You may submit one picture book manuscript or up to ten standard pages of a longer manuscript, along with a cover letter written as if you were submitting the manuscript to a publisher, but including notes on its revision or submission history as well. Include a one-page synopsis of the entire manuscript if submitting part of a long manuscript.

Harold will look at any material, from picture book to YA, either fiction or nonfiction.

PLEASE NOTE: Manuscripts must be received no later than three weeks before the conference. Your $35.00 critique and conference registration fee must be received by October 13th by BWG Conference Coordinator. Only the first 20 entries will be accepted. When sending the manuscript, please specify: a critique or a consultation.

Critique: Manuscripts for critiques can be rough or unfinished drafts, or something you believe is ready to send out. In his meeting with you, Harold will focus on ways to improve the manuscript and will give you written comments as well.

Consultation: Manuscripts for consultations should be polished manuscripts, perhaps one already sent out to a publisher, which you believe have no significant writing problems. Harold will focus on "marketing" issues in his meeting with you; possible publishers and how to approach them.

If a manuscript submitted for one option needs the other, in Harold's opinion, that is what he will provide.

Mail to:
Bayou Writers’ Group
P.O. Box 1402
Lake Charles, LA 70602