Tag Archives: Lynn Price

What’s in your Tacklebox?

I’m a sucker for hearing it like it is.  I don’t like sugar coating unless it’s on my donuts and I don’t like smarmy, schmmoozy words with an underlying purpose.  They make my skin crawl just a little–like when the baker tries too hard to slip the day old cinnamon twists in with the fresh ones just to get them off the rack.

You’ll get none of this with Lynn Price in her masterpiece, The Writer’s Essential Tackle BoxIn it, she writes for us, not herself.  After all, she’s an author and the editorial director of Behler Publicatons.  She doesn’t  benefit in any way if we sell our picture book Squirrels in Space.  Rather, she writes to give us an edge in a convoluted industry filled with contradictions and ever-changing practices.

I first became interested in Ms. Price through her blog.  What attracted me was her writing style.  She’s up front, honest and makes no apologies for how she feels.  Sound off-putting?  It’s not.  Because sprinkled within her posts like candy bits on a cake donut are wit and charm that have literally made me laugh out loud.  Almost every time I read her blog I learn something new about the publishing industry, the submission process or myself as a writer. 

Needless to say, when a fellow AQer began spouting off about a great new book he was reading, I was intrigued.  Finally he spilled that it was none other than Lynn’s Tackle Box.  Of course, I deliberated for a moment or two then purchased a copy for myself.  Who says word of mouth doesn’t work?

And now, I’m passing this word along to you: if you have only one book on your writer’s bookshelf, it should be The Writer’s Essential Tackle Box.  I know, because I have 27 of them.  Writing books, that is.  Not Tackle Boxes. 

So what makes this book stand out above the rest? 

Unlike many of the other books on my shelf, The Tackle Box is all encompassing.  One of the biggest mistakes budding writers make is not knowing the industry.  And there is so much to know.  Rather than tell it all herself, Ms. Price engaged the help of industry professionals to reveal the nuts and bolts of every aspect of book making. 

From agents to publicists to book reviewers and authors, she has every question covered and some we never thought to ask.  Ms. Price did her homework so we wouldn’t have to.

Yet she doesn’t stop there.  Once we’ve digested the process from manuscript to bookshelf, Ms. Price serves up an entire section on the dreaded submission process.  As an editor, she has seen her share of queries, paritals and fulls.  Rather than let us suffer through all the mistakes she’s encountered, she provides an honest reaction for us to learn from. 

“I wince every time I hear this…” and “I implode on a regular basis…” are just a few of her non-coated truths. 

I would rather hear this from a book, when I still have my query letter in front of me and can tweak a sentence or two, rather than in a rejection letter after I’ve offended my targeted agent.  Or worse yet, after I’ve been rejected by every available agent willing to consider a manuscript on alien squirrels. 

I was lost for days reading and rereading her myth busters on the submission process.  I think you will be too.

And if that isn’t enough, The Tackle Box tackles the controversy over publishers.  Who are they and what do they want?  What’s the difference between a POD, vanity press and small press?  Why is it important to know everything about your potential publisher before you submit your manuscript? 

True to her blog style, Ms. Price fearlessly takes on the ups and downs of each option and lays them out for us in easy to understand format.  By the time I was done reading, I could no longer plead ignorant on any aspect of publishing.  This alone would have satisfied me as a book buyer.  Yet, the best part remained.

Her tips on writing.  Granted, it’s a small section, like the pudding in the middle of an eclair, but it is packed with writing rules and leaves nothing out.  Want a tip on independent clauses?  It’s in there, complete with an example sentence for hands on learning.  POV, italics, cursing?  Yep, yep and yep. 

Yet in the end, what I loved most about this book is that Ms. Price doesn’t tell me how to get published, rather, she gives me the tools to do it myself.  And that comes in the form of a tackle box.

Armed with my line, hooks and a comprehensive guide to the process, I can confidently trawl the waters of the publishing industry.  With luck I’ll reel in a book deal.


*Disclaimer: no donuts were harmed in the writing of this post, nor was I paid in any way to assess the virtues of this book.  Rather, when I sent an email to Behler Publications with the intent to purchase The Writer’s Essential Tackle Box for my blog contest, they donated the prize.  For anyone following my blog or my tweets, you already know the Behler Blog is one of my most referenced sites–and that was before the donut donation.*

Word Wars Contest

Nothing tickles my funny bone more when commenting on a blog than verifying that I am a real person.  Apparently nobody likes spam.  What makes me laugh are the nonsensical words I must retype to acknowledge that I am, indeed, commenting with a fully functioning brain inside my head.

Yet, they couldn’t be more wrong.

Because I easily see something that isn’t supposed to be there.  It’s a bit like cloud gazing where some kind of animal is waiting in the sky to be spotted by the more whimsical of the world.

So, inspired by my imagination and a plethora of uselessly hilarious words, I present Word Wars: the contest. 

If you feel inclined to participate, define any or all of the words listed below in a comment.  A panel of judges (check out my family if you’d like to see them) will vote on the ones that tickle their funny bones.  I’ll try not to let the dog vote, as she’s only interested in food. 

Winners will be posted for the cyber world to enjoy. 

For your efforts, I will atribute each “winning” definition with a link to the author’s blog, website or another cyber way-stop of their choice.  (That is appropriate for my eyes.)

Definitions will be accepted through 8:00pm Monday and will be posted on Tuesday.


  1. lesberri
  2. kannini
  3. tregic
  4. samels
  5. cowpari

As a bonus, please share your funniest word verification words along with your personal defintitions.  The one that tickles my tweeter the most will recieve a copy of Lynn Price’s The Writer’s Essential Tackle Box. 

Spread the word and it will spread the joy! 

Without a Paddle

I rock.  At least in my house where I hold the dubious title of Bop It Queen.  I’m also the reigning Scrabble Champion (DH actually marked the calendar the ONE time he beat me) and a pretty mean contender when it comes to Trivial Pursuit.

Give me a basketball, however, and I’ll stand on the free-throw line for two years before sinking a shot.  Celebrity trivia will trip me up every time and I stink at Rock, Paper, Scissors.  I’ve had to pick the kids up in the cold and dark so often after losing that I just grab for the keys instead of debating my “move”.

We all have strengths and weaknesses, and it’s a good thing to know what they are.  Especially for a writer.  If we fail to properly assess our techniques, we will find ourselves

Up Submission Creek without a PADDLE.

PLOT: Even the most rudimentary writing needs a plot.  The story must go somewhere, or there is no purpose.  Not for our MC, not for our story and certainly not for our readers.  The Encyclopaedia Brittanica states that plot is ” …the structure of interrelated actions…” 

James Scott Bell writes about his LOCK system in regards to a satisfying plot.  Lead Character.  Objective.  Confrontation and Knock Out.  These same components have been summarized in many different ways, but in essence they all mean the same thing.  A reader wants to be transported from Real Life into a story that has conflict, a climax and a resolution. 

AUDIENCE: Writer, know thy audience.  After hanging out on writing forums for a year and engaging face to face with other writers and their work, I have learned that we often fail to understand who we are writing for.  I have seen YA’s written with picture book themes and manuscripts for adventure-seeking men obviously penned by women. 

Each age group and genre has vastly different expectations.  As a rule, men do not want to read touchy feely dialogue and teens no longer care about talking bunnies in search of their mommies.  Not sure what you’re writing?  Check out Anne R. Allen’s Blog .  Once you know your audience, read a couple dozen books to get familiar with the style and language they seem to like.

DEVELOPMENT as in Character: Flat Stanley is an awesome book.  Yet most writers should strive hard to make their characters anything but flat.  To keep our readers invested, we need characters they care about.  Lynn Price tells how.   

DIALOGUE: Kill me now if your characters hold actual conversations.  Readers DO NOT want “Hello.”  “How are you today?”  “Good.”  “Great.”  “So…it’s cold outside.  Did you get the driveway shoveled?” 

Repeat after me.  “Ninety percent of what we say in life is really boring.”

The key to great dialogue is imparting character, not information.  It moves the story forward.  Don’t make your characters talk the same.  Likewise, don’t let them all have quirky speech patterns.  Keep in mind things like age, sex and genre when writing.  For a giggle, read here.

LANGUAGE: This goes hand in hand with dialogue and audience.  Write for your readers, not at them.  Don’t condescend and don’t use big words you yourself had to look up.  Both of these will kill a reader’s love for you faster than dumping your spouse for the waitress on your tenth anniversary. 

Sentence length and structure, as well as paragraph development, belong in this category.  Don’t confuse your audience with poorly constructed writing and Harvard words.  Rather, gently stretch their skills.  Teach, don’t preach.

EXPOSITION: AKA, back story.  If you have never heard of an information dump, now is the time to learn that agents, editors and the reading public despise this technique.  Why?  Read for yourself.

So how does one provide necessary information?  Artfully, I suppose.  I should be able to show you it is cold, the wind is blowing and a storm is moving in without telling you.  An example: 

She shivered and zipped her jacket against the wind.  Her tears froze on her cheeks as she screamed at the snow-filled sky. 

I have no sympathy for the villian explaining his evil plot to the tied up victim.  I’ve had an entire novel to show my villian’s motives through action, character development and dialogue.  He had forty-seven chapters to visit his mom’s grave, sift through his old diary, threaten his shrink for saying the wrong thing and generally act unstable in certain situations.  If I haven’t managed to convey the message by chapter forty-eight, my book shouldn’t be in your hands. 

If you’ve made it this far up Submission Creek with only one paddle, I’ll throw you another one to make your trip a little easier.

SETTING: Description of characters and places often comes in the form of exposition.  A good writer can bypass this tendency by choosing his words carefully.  Adverbs and adjectives do not create setting, nor do they qualify as good descriptors.  In fact, they can detract from our writing significantly. 

Not sure what I mean?  Robert K. Lewis will explain.

So there you have it.  Two paddles to help you navigate the publishing waters.  Plot, Audience, Development, Dialogue, Language, Exposition and Setting.  The key to making it work, however, is knowing how to use them. 

What are your writing strengths?  Do you consiously tackle your weaknesses?  If so, how?

~happy canoeing!

How Far is Your Reach?

A recent response on a message board got me thinking about this.  If your book was published today, to what extent can you promote yourself?

Social networking is all the rage, as discussed by Kathleen Y’Barbo at Books & Such Literary Agency.  People tweet, post on their FB walls and blog.  The question is, do these things really sell books?  The commenter who sparked my interest in this topic emphatically stated, “NO!  I have never sold a book through FB or Twitter.”

(Although, how would you know?)

Others claim that book signings are an ancient practice and have a spot at the top of the “Worst Publicity Dollars Spent” list right next to school visits and radio interviews.

I write resumes and have learned the power of tweaking words.  I can make anyone look good on paper, as most writers can.  It’s why we write.  I believe this ability is the biggest pitfall apsiring author’s must face when creating their marketing plan.  A marketing plan is only as good as one is able to execute it.  Editor Lynn Price discusses this at length on her blog. 

While we have grandiose ideas of traveling the country, appearing at all the right events and selling trunk loads of books to the waiting masses, this typically does not happen to Jane and Joe Writer.  Traveling costs money and marketing budgets are small.  Book signings take coordination.  And the masses don’t just miraculously appear because we want them to.

“Fine,” we say with slight indignation.  “If our publisher won’t spend the money letting me sell my Arctic Adventure on the beaches of Cabo, I will use my profit do do so.” 

Think again.  Revenue on books is much smaller than you think.  It will take massive sales to pay for that Cabo holiday book signing.  If you don’t believe me, check out what Agent Nathan Bransford has to say. 

All this information got me pondering what we can and should be doing to promote our writing.  Which tacticts work, which ones are dreams. 

Do you have solid plans regarding self-promotion?  Contacts in all the right places?  Or are you still building your brand and a faithful following of future book buyers?

One thing I know for cetain, when I do get published and begin marketing in earnest, I will work with my agent, editor and publicist as suggested by Agent Kristin on her blog, Pub Rants.