Tag Archives: Astraea Press

The Synopsis

The other day an editor I know asked permission to use my latest synopsis as part of a talk she had to give. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, because up to now, I always thought I stunk at writing synopses.

Who knew : ) She went on to say that it was the kind of construction she looked for but rarely received, so I thought I’d share the steps I take to write a synopsis with you.

When I began writing I was a pantser who  believed that plotting  inhibited my creative process. That’s probably why it took me a year and a half to write my first book, which I never sold.

As time passed, I began to realize that if I wanted to write more books faster, I needed to plan more and if I planned more, writing the synopsis at the end of a project might just be easier.  I’ve played with a few variations of my process over the years but here’s what I’ve found works best for me:

1- Before I start to write a book, I write a character analysis for my hero and heroine because the more I know about who they are, where they’ve been, and what they want, the easier it is to move onto the next step–

2-  I write down my hero/heroine’s goals/motivations & conflicts. Keep in mind, it’s very effective if your hero/heroine’s goals oppose each other (ex: he wants a stay at home wife and she wants a career).

3-Once I’ve established their goals/motivations & conflicts, I write a  chapter by chapter outline. Sometimes this is a bare bones outline, sometimes it’s in depth.  Now I can begin to write the book.

Once the book is finished, I pull out the chapter by chapter outline I did months ago. I pinpoint the most important plot points in the finished book, (only those events and motivations that moved the story forward in a major way), and incorporate them into the outline. Don’t forget to reveal the character’s emotions and motivations. (Leave out secondary characters, you’re only using bare bones here.)

Once I’ve tweaked the outline, I begin to write the synopsis (in present tense) by picking up all the important elements from the outline. I introduce the hero/heroine each in their own paragraph. As they’re introduced, I identify their goals, motivation and conflict in as few words as possible, 1-3 pages maximum.

Wow, talk about pressure.  But take heart. Writing a good synopsis is tons of work but you’re also creating a valuable marketing tool. A good synopsis may even help you discover your blurb or pitch, and in the end, you’ve honed your writing skills too.

Best,

Cathy Tully

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Write What You Know

At an RWA national conference a few years ago, I sat in on a workshop that helped me understand what ‘write what you know’ means. In this workshop, we were all asked to write down every job we’ve ever had and the roles we’ve played in life throughout the years. I listed: Administrative Assistant to NY Fortune 500 Executive, Secretary in a pool of thirty, College student/graduate, receptionist at a veterinarian hospital, retail associate at a design store, owner of my own Interior Design business, Substitute teacher grades K-12, Girl Scout Leader, bridesmaid, maid of honor, mother, sister, wife, daughter, godmother, friend and aunt.

The speaker asked us to think about how we could use the professions we’ve spent time in as part of our books. Can our hero/heroine work in a field we’ve worked in? Can he/she be a parent? A scout leader? A teacher? An Admin? Instead of all those billionaires/tycoons in a lot of romances out there could we make him/her someone our reader could relate to so they could come to life on the page? The speaker then went on to explain that if you took what you know and incorporated it into your books, your writing voice be more genuine.

She encouraged our group to think about how our hero/heroine might become more relatable–more three-dimensional–and how it would be easier for your reader to sympathize with because they’re so real? Long after this workshop I thought about what the speaker had said and something clicked. It was my light bulb moment. So, I took her advice and incorporated a part of who I am into my next book, and like they say, the rest is history : )

My first book, All You Need Is Love features, Little Man, my family dog, who we lost to illness. It is the biggest tribute I can pay him and his cuteness jumps off every page. I love dogs, always have, and through no planning of my own, a dog pops up in every book I write. Dogs are better than secondary characters because they make people vulnerable without saying a word. We’re allowed to be our true selves around them without any judgment and their unconditional love brightens the darkest day.

Marrying Mr. Right’s heroine, Missy Modesto, is similar to a good friend I’ve known my whole life. Missy is a strong, tough, yet loving woman with a heart of gold and although years may pass between visits, when we do meet, it feels like yesterday : ) Training Travis is about a divorced dad who gains custody of his fifteen year old daughter after his ex-wife’s untimely death. And even though I can’t personally relate to being divorced, I am the mother of two girls, so I can relate to Travis’ fifteen year old daughter and the mood swings of a teenage girl. My first women’s fiction, Pieces Of Candy, is about a menopausal, mother of two. Candy is a substitute teacher and decides she’s wants a real career of her own. So begins her journey into interior design : )

The speaker at that conference knew what she was talking about–and I wish I’d heard her speak many years ago.  Still, it’s never too late and once I took her advice my writing voice has been with me ever since.  I think it’s really about being true to yourself and who you are as a writer….and this probably isn’t something that can be used for every genre to the extent that I’ve gone. Yet, I can’t help but think it would be hysterical to read a book about an interior designer who dies, comes back as a ghost and keeps rearranging the furniture, sending the people she left behind literally flying!

Best,

Cathy Tully

Judging A Book By Its Cover

I’ve always thought a good cover helps sell a book, but recent events, have turned me into a believer. One day last week, I ran into a local beauty supply store I’d heard good things about, but had never visited. The owner stood behind the counter animatedly chatting with two women about the antics of her new kitten. As I took my merchandise to the check-out, the owner mentioned how her cat is so much happier now that she has a companion.  I nodded in agreement, because I’ve lived this, only with dogs, and know the truth in this statement.

The women’s smile widened in appreciation of my acknowledgement. As she rang up my sale, we spoke in more detail about her cats. The subject soon focused on my pets. I told her I didn’t have any pets right now, and that we’d lost our dog to illness a little over a year ago. All the women grew quiet. One blotted her eyes; another patted my arm and my heart instantly warmed. I love animal lovers. They are honest, sensitive people, and I adore being around them.

After paying for my merchandise, I mentioned my book that featured my dog. I pulled out a copy from the bag I bring along when I run errands. They asked me questions about the cover, and pointed to the coffee cup, the steam in the shape of a heart, the young couple gazing into each others eyes, and the little dog sitting proudly in the corner. These women commented on how much they loved the cover and how inviting they thought it was as we talked about how all of the elements on the cover related directly to the story.

Wow. That was an enlightening experience for me. I’d always thought a cover was important, but this interaction with complete strangers proved to me just how important a good cover design can be.

I sold five books that afternoon, and am so grateful for publishing companies like Astraea Press and The Wild Rose Press, who encourage their authors to communicate in great detail with their cover designers, allowing us to work hand in hand to create a beautiful finished product.

Before this experience, I’d never even thought to ask potential publishers how much input an author would have in their cover design. Instead I got lucky. I sold to two publishers that do believe an author’s input is invaluable and since there’s no guarantee to my luck holding out, I can assure you, how much author input goes into a cover design will be the first question I ask any potential publisher in the future.

Best,

Cathy Tully

Please Welcome, Author, Jessie Anderson.

My guest blogger and Astraea Press friend, Jessie Anderson, is here today to talk about her new young adult release, AT WHAT COST.

During her junior year, sixteen-year-old Maggie Reynolds expected to shop for prom dresses not maternity clothes. Now, instead of studying for the SATs, she’s reading, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Maggie’s ‘Mother Dearest’ lives in fear that Maggie will somehow taint the family name, so Maggie can’t turn to her for help. Meanwhile, her father is oblivious to anything but his 9-9 job. And her boyfriend, Justin? She’s pretty sure he’ll stay by her side.

While Maggie wrestles with her options, Justin offers a solution: abortion. It would solve all her problems quickly, easily, and effectively. And her parents would never know, which means they won’t throw her out and cut her off like they’d always threatened if she got herself knocked up. But an easy decision becomes difficult when Maggie’s aunt discovers her secret and sets out on a mission to stop the abortion, putting a kink in Maggie’s plan. Now Maggie must decide which choice she can live with: abortion or teenage motherhood. Either way, it’ll be a tough road to travel.

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To learn more about author, Jessie Anderson, check her out online:

All You Need Is Love by guest author Cathy Tully

Please welcome author Cathy Tully to Attacking The Page. Cathy is my writing buddy, conference roommate, and Isshinryu karate student. She was recently promoted to Ku Kyu (yellow belt) last month! Her debut novel, All You Need Is Love, is a sweet romance and is available from Astraea Press and Amazon. Read her excerpt below. Welcome Cathy!

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE is the book of my heart. My life was blessed with, Little Man, the Yorkshire Terrier portrayed in this story for nine wonderful years. Having lost another dog a few years ago, I never took Little Man for granted and enjoyed every day that he graced my life with his presence.

He was special in so many ways, I wanted to share his zany, crazy, loving personality with as many people as possible. ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE is the greatest tribute I could pay to Little Man, who was indeed, a beloved member of my family. I hope you enjoy reading ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, and fall in love with Little Man just like I did : )

Jack DeVane is on the fast tract to becoming CEO of Cunningham Coffee and nothing will get in his way…until a little dog wanders into his condo and a beautiful dog walker wanders into his heart.

Caitlyn Stiles has one wish–to take over the family business. When she returns from college and this is no longer an option, she travels to Promise, Massachusetts to look after her ailing grandmother where she takes a job as a part-time dog walker.

Can one sweet, little dog teach Jack there’s more to life than work? Teach Caitlyn to let go of her resentment? And teach them both that ALL THEY NEED IS LOVE?

Excerpt:

“Caitlyn, are you ready yet?” Her mother called from the bottom of the stairs.

“Almost.”

“Hurry. All the best plants will be gone if we get there too late.”

She closed the closet door and gazed out her bedroom window.  It was a clear, warm day with a vivid blue sky. A vivid blue that reminded her of Jack’s eyes. She groaned and headed down into the kitchen where her mother waited.

With Easter only a week away, she’d promised her mother she’d go to the nursery and pick up some crocus, hyacinths and assorted flowers to brighten the front of the townhouse.

“So, are you ready to help me pick out some pretty yellow tulips?” Her mother wiped her hands on a kitchen towel.

“What did you say?”

“Yellow tulips. This year I’ve decided to fill the entire front of the house with yellow tulips.”

Caitlyn flinched. “But I thought we’d decorate the front of the house like last year when you first moved in. Use a mix of assorted pansies. What happened to that idea? You loved the effect. You even agreed it would be colorful and perky.”

Her mother shook her head. “No. I’ve changed my mind. This year I want to use bulbs, so they’ll come back again and again. Since I didn’t plant any last fall, we can buy potted tulips that’ll come back again year after year. And I’ve decided that yellow tulips should be the main accent color. Bright yellow. Vivid yellow. Beautiful yellow tulips.”

Caitlyn groaned. Tulips? The one flower; the only flower she hoped to dissuade her mother from using.

“What’s wrong with you? A beautiful bright yellow will serve as the perfect accent color for the house’s brick face and black shutters. I even bought a gorgeous yellow spring wreath for the door.”

Caitlyn put her head in her hands.

“I think yellow will look stunning. They’re going to make our house stand out from all the others on the block. I even saw something similar in a magazine, and I’m telling you, the effect was beautiful.”

“Okay mom. I get it. You want yellow.”

“Yes. Yellow tulips. You used to love yellow tulips. They were your favorite flower.”

“Were is the operative word, Mom. Were.”

“What happened to change your mind?”

Caitlyn couldn’t hold it in anymore. “Jack happened.”

“I don’t understand.”

“He ruined everything.”

“Nonsense. How can a man ruin your favorite flower?”

Caitlyn groaned. “It’s not bad enough he works for a company I detest, but then he shows up out of nowhere to get his mitts on dad’s recipe behind my back. To top it all off, he brings me yellow tulips.”

“What?”

“I said Jack brought me yellow tulips.”

“No. Before that.”

“Dad’s recipe?’

No. Before that.”

“Jack works for Cunningham Coffee, Mom.” Caitlyn blew out an exasperated sigh.

“Oh honey, you’re thoroughly confused. About everything.” Her mother walked over to the table and sat next to her. She kept her voice low. “Tell me sweetie, did you insist Jack leave that morning he came to town, even though you love him, because you thought he still worked for that horrible company?”

Caitlyn nodded and bit her quivering bottom lip. “I can’t be with someone like that. Someone who works for people like that. What does that say about him?”

Her mother sat opposite her then reached across the kitchen table and squeezed both her hands. “Caitlyn, Jack doesn’t work for Cunningham Coffee anymore.” She handed Caitlyn a tissue.

She blotted her eyes. “No. He probably owns his own company now. He’s probably taking advantage of more people like they taught him to.”

“As a matter of fact he does operate his own company. Well, part of the company. He and I haven’t worked out all the details yet.”

Caitlyn stood and pushed her chair in, ignoring her mother’s comment. “If I know him, he’s closing every innocent, little store he can get his hands on.”

“You don’t know him at all do you?”

“What does that mean?” Caitlyn said.

“It means you better get ready to eat some crow!”

You can visit Cathy Tully at www.CathyTully.com and on Facebook. Thanks for visiting Cathy!

~K.M. Fawcett