Archive for May, 2009

I had a fabulous time attending the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (BRMCWC) this year! I met a lot of other great writers and made some great contacts in the industry. It was well worth my time and money.

Me with Angie Hunt

Angie Hunt and Me

I definitely have to take more photos next year, but at least I got this one with Angela Hunt. She’s a great writer who’s well published across a variety of genres. And she was a great mentor for my first writing conference. I learned a great deal from attending her sessions and recommend them to future conference attendees.

The conference is held each year in late May at the Ridgecrest Conference Center in the western mountains of North Carolina. Information about this conference (and some great tips on writing) can be found at the following links:

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You can read the entire text of Georges Polti’s masterpiece, The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations, online! Original copies are rumored to have sold for as much as $500 US on eBay. This book is now in the public domain. Visit the Internet Archive for downloadable versions or read the original at Gordian Plot.

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Source: The Bible is America’s Favorite Book Followed by Gone with the Wind – Harris Interactive

This list was compiled from Harris Interactive Poll #37 conducted online between March 11 and 18, 2008 and released on April 7, 2008. Although the Bible was the clear winner, the second-place position was hotly contested by the different demographics that were polled. The source page has an interesting discussion and further details.

  1. The Bible
  2. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
  3. Lord of the Rings (series), by J.R.R. Tolkien
  4. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
  5. The Stand, by Stephen King
  6. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  8. Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown
  9. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
  10. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

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Source: 100 Items to Disappear First – The Power Hour

This is an interesting list that’s useful for anyone writing about a large-scale disaster. The source page has a little more information from a survivor of the war in Sarajevo.

  1. Generators (Good ones cost dearly. Gas storage, risky. Noisy…target of thieves; maintenance, etc.)
  2. Water Filters/Purifiers
  3. Portable Toilets
  4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 – 12 months to become dried, for home uses.
  5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: Buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile ANY!)
  6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
  7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
  8. Hand-can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
  9. Honey/Syrups/white, brown sugar
  10. Rice – Beans – Wheat
  11. Vegetable Oil (for cooking) Without it food burns/must be boiled etc.,)
  12. Charcoal, Lighter Fluid (Will become scarce suddenly)
  13. Water Containers (Urgent Item to obtain.) Any size. Small: HARD CLEAR PLASTIC ONLY – note – food grade if for drinking.
  14. Mini Heater head (Propane) (Without this item, propane won’t heat a room.)
  15. Grain Grinder (Non-electric)
  16. Propane Cylinders (Urgent: Definite shortages will occur.
  17. Survival Guide Book.
  18. Mantles: Aladdin, Coleman, etc. (Without this item, longer-term lighting is difficult.)
  19. Baby Supplies: Diapers/formula. ointments/aspirin, etc.
  20. Washboards, Mop Bucket w/wringer (for Laundry)
  21. Cookstoves (Propane, Coleman & Kerosene)
  22. Vitamins
  23. Propane Cylinder Handle-Holder (Urgent: Small canister use is dangerous without this)
  24. Feminine Hygiene/Haircare/Skin products.
  25. Thermal underwear (Tops & Bottoms)
  26. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, Wedges (also, honing oil)
  27. Aluminum Foil Reg. & Heavy Duty (Great Cooking and Barter Item)
  28. Gasoline Containers (Plastic & Metal)
  29. Garbage Bags (Impossible To Have Too Many).
  30. Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Paper Towels
  31. Milk – Powdered & Condensed (Shake Liquid every 3 to 4 months)
  32. Garden Seeds (Non-Hybrid) (A MUST)
  33. Clothes pins/line/hangers (A MUST)
  34. Coleman’s Pump Repair Kit
  35. Tuna Fish (in oil)
  36. Fire Extinguishers (or..large box of Baking Soda in every room)
  37. First aid kits
  38. Batteries (all sizes…buy furthest-out for Expiration Dates)
  39. Garlic, spices & vinegar, baking supplies
  40. Big Dogs (and plenty of dog food)
  41. Flour, yeast & salt
  42. Matches. {“Strike Anywhere” preferred.) Boxed, wooden matches will go first
  43. Writing paper/pads/pencils, solar calculators
  44. Insulated ice chests (good for keeping items from freezing in Wintertime.)
  45. Workboots, belts, Levis & durable shirts
  46. Flashlights/LIGHTSTICKS & torches, “No. 76 Dietz” Lanterns
  47. Journals, Diaries & Scrapbooks (jot down ideas, feelings, experience; Historic Times)
  48. Garbage cans Plastic (great for storage, water, transporting – if with wheels)
  49. Men’s Hygiene: Shampoo, Toothbrush/paste, Mouthwash/floss, nail clippers, etc
  50. Cast iron cookware (sturdy, efficient)
  51. Fishing supplies/tools
  52. Mosquito coils/repellent, sprays/creams
  53. Duct Tape
  54. Tarps/stakes/twine/nails/rope/spikes
  55. Candles
  56. Laundry Detergent (liquid)
  57. Backpacks, Duffel Bags
  58. Garden tools & supplies
  59. Scissors, fabrics & sewing supplies
  60. Canned Fruits, Veggies, Soups, stews, etc.
  61. Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite)
  62. Canning supplies, (Jars/lids/wax)
  63. Knives & Sharpening tools: files, stones, steel
  64. Bicycles…Tires/tubes/pumps/chains, etc
  65. Sleeping Bags & blankets/pillows/mats
  66. Carbon Monoxide Alarm (battery powered)
  67. Board Games, Cards, Dice
  68. d-con Rat poison, MOUSE PRUFE II, Roach Killer
  69. Mousetraps, Ant traps & cockroach magnets
  70. Paper plates/cups/utensils (stock up, folks)
  71. Baby wipes, oils, waterless & Antibacterial soap (saves a lot of water)
  72. Rain gear, rubberized boots, etc.
  73. Shaving supplies (razors & creams, talc, after shave)
  74. Hand pumps & siphons (for water and for fuels)
  75. Soysauce, vinegar, bullions/gravy/soupbase
  76. Reading glasses
  77. Chocolate/Cocoa/Tang/Punch (water enhancers)
  78. “Survival-in-a-Can”
  79. Woolen clothing, scarves/ear-muffs/mittens
  80. Boy Scout Handbook, / also Leaders Catalog
  81. Roll-on Window Insulation Kit (MANCO)
  82. Graham crackers, saltines, pretzels, Trail mix/Jerky
  83. Popcorn, Peanut Butter, Nuts
  84. Socks, Underwear, T-shirts, etc. (extras)
  85. Lumber (all types)
  86. Wagons & carts (for transport to and from)
  87. Cots & Inflatable mattress’s
  88. Gloves: Work/warming/gardening, etc.
  89. Lantern Hangers
  90. Screen Patches, glue, nails, screws,, nuts & bolts
  91. Teas
  92. Coffee
  93. Cigarettes
  94. Wine/Liquors (for bribes, medicinal, etc,)
  95. Paraffin wax
  96. Glue, nails, nuts, bolts, screws, etc.
  97. Chewing gum/candies
  98. Atomizers (for cooling/bathing)
  99. Hats & cotton neckerchiefs
  100. Goats/chickens

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Source: Proposals – a few thoughts from Sandra on why and how – ChipMacGregor.com

Chip MacGregor has a great blog with great advice. Just don’t feed his ego too much. 😉 Chip had this to say today in response to a question about proposals. I think it’s excellent advice.

Okay, look. There are tons of books on crafting proposals and even more websites and samples floating around on websites. We have a fiction proposal on our website which leans toward the technical side, but they don’t all have to be that way. One thing I always try to keep in mind when I’m advising authors (or sometimes helping them) with proposals is that editors are busy and overwhelmed. They need good information put together in a manner which makes it easy to find the specific details they will need if/when they’re discussing your project with their counterparts or presenting it in a pub meeting. So yes, the sections you see in a sample proposal can seem confusing and a bit like you’re being asked to jump through hoops, but if you’re willing to make their jobs easier, trust me, you and your work will stand out and they’ll appreciate you for it. 

Having said all that, personally, here’s a framework for how I like to see proposals organized:


Basic overview info to help orient the reviewer to your project. Genre, category, setting, word count, status (finished or not), brief author intro.


What is the book about? This is a one paragraph (or one sentence, if you can do it) handle at this point – not the full synopsis.


Why is the author the one person in the universe qualified to write this book and what are his/her plans for helping the publisher promote and sell it?


Who are the specific consumers likely to plunk down their hard earned cash to buy your book?


Answers the question – can the author really write?


For fiction, I like for this to follow the sample chapters so the editor has a chance to get the same first impression a reader would. Hard to do if they’ve looked through the synopsis first.

Different editors look for different information first. Some like to see right away if they recognize the author before they go any further. Some jump right to the bottom and read a few lines to see if the person can write. Still others want to know how the book fits in the marketplace and how this author/project compares to what’s already out there. If the information and supporting elements are easy to find and deliver answers to their key questions, that’s really what most editors want initially. The reason publishers need so much covered in a proposal is that this is often all they have to go on when they are making decisions in meetings about which projects to potentially make an offer on. And the editor who is presenting it is often taking a bit of a risk. 

By the time it reaches the final decision stage, typically editors will have already gone through the discovery phase and answered several questions for themselves. Yes, they look at the sample chapters, but they rarely convince a publishing committee to make a “yes” decision (i.e. take a business risk) solely on the writing alone. It happens, but, like I said they often need, especially for newer authors who may not be widely recognized, good support information to help them sell it the project in-house.

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