Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kickin' It With Martha Engber!!

Welcome back, TLN'ers!

Today's Feature Author is Martha Engber. I had the pleasure of meeting Martha when she gave a talk for the Yosemite Romance Writers. After listening to her views on writing, I knew I had to have her on my blog so all my peeps could benefit from the wonderful advice she had to share.

A journalist by profession, Martha Engber received a 5-star “original and highly recommended” rating from the Midwest Book Review for her literary novel, The Wind Thief (Alondra Press, Oct. 2009). Her newest essay appears in Contemporary American Women: Our Defining Passages (All Things That Matter Press, Jan. 2010). Martha is also the author Growing Great Characters From the Ground Up. She’s had a full-length play produced in Hollywood and fiction published in Watchword, Iconoclast, Anthology, Bookpress, Berkeley Fiction Review and other literary magazines. She also maintains Growing Great Writers From the Ground Up, a Q & A blog for writers

Luck be your lady today if you've got a query letter to write. Martha's got some kickin' tips for whipping up a killer query. Grab a tall glass of something cool and get settled in, because we're getting into the good stuff!

It’s All About the Foreplay: How Writing a Great Query Letter is Like Penning a Great Love Scene
By Martha Engber

Most writers approach the task of query-letter-writing with fear in their hearts. The result? An anxiety-filled confession of agony that practically begs agents and editors to reject the manuscript.

So what’s the cure?


That’s right, the same emotion that compels you to write passionate love scenes for others to enjoy is the same sentiment you should employ — big time! — to seduce your intended book industry soul mate.

Here’s how.

Paragraphs 1 and 2: Personality Rules

If the lover you’re pursuing is strong, vibrant, forthright and ever in pursuit of a good challenge, are you going to attempt a seduction based on soft caresses and whispered sweet nothings?

Of course not!

You’re going to develop a lead sentence that shoots straight to the heart of that agent/editor’s personality. For example:

In Rancher’s Delight, cowgirl Cassie Lindstrom has two choices, to risk her lover’s life or save him by marrying the biggest ranch owner in Culvert County.


Then you take your agent/editor firmly in your arms and in the second paragraph give him what he/she most wants, another two to three sentences that explain what the main character will have to do over the course of the book and what happens if she fails.

Then mention the era, landscape and names of the one or two other most important characters, given that more than a few names may prove confusing. Make sure you refer to the story in present tense (i.e., Cassie Lindstrom has two choices…).

If after researching your intended’s background you feel his/her personality would lend itself better to different approach, go for it!

Paragraph #3: Show Your Desire!

Take three to four sentences to tell your agent/editor how much you desire to make his/her job easier. Tell your paramour where your book fits into the market (i.e., Rancher’s Delight is a contemporary romance of 90,000 words aimed at…). Then make your move! Sidle up, look into those eyes and tell the person why he/she is the only one who can make your book soar.

Paragraph #4: Offer Yourself!

Take three to four sentences to give proof of why you’re deserving of this intimate encounter. List your writing credits. List your expertise regarding some aspect of the book, such as your knowledge of a certain landscape, skill or issue. List all the marketing avenues you’ve developed that will allow you to help sell this book and future books, such as a well-visited blog, regular radio show, column you write, etc.

Paragraph #5: Say Thanks for Such a Lovely Time!

Don’t just slip out the door after exhibiting such passion. Instead, tell the agent/editor how marvelous this encounter has been and that if you don’t hear from him/her by a reasonable, specific date, such as two months from now, you’ll be sure to check back.

And to think all of this wild delight will fit one slim page.

Now I’ll bet you can’t wait to write your next query letter! Good luck.

P.S. Please feel free to join my
Q & A blog for writers or connect with me via:

Martha’s website
Facebook fan page
Amazon Author Central
Library Thing
Alondra Press

I'd like to thank Martha for her words of wisdom. I appreciate her taking the time out of her busy schedule to be at the Lovestruck Novice today! If you'd like to know more about Martha, please click on over to her website.

THANK YOU, TLN'ers! I'm sending out a big ole bucket of good wishes for everyone to have a wonderful weekend. Live it up and love every minute! To get your energy levels jumping how about a little
KUNG FU FIGHTING choreographed with the Shaolin Monks demonstrating their skills!! HA! Catch ya back next week for some pics of my island adventure!


Kaily Hart said...

Martha, what a great way to put it. Awesome advice. Almost makes me want to go out and write a query letter right now. Almost.... :)

Celia Yeary said...

Wow, Martha! What a fantastic post. Your information about query writing went straight to my heart! Your plan is not only practical, it's easy if we remember your steps. thanks so much--I did enjoy it and leanred something, as well.Celia

EA said...

Martha, great ideas and advice. I loved your article and would recommend others to look at is well.

Rebecca J Vickery said...

Hi Martha and Sarah,
What a great approach to a query letter. These and the dreaded synopsis are my mortal enemies. LOL
I think I spend more time over them than I do my edits. This is a good mind set with which to approach them.
Thanks for sharing,

Kaye Manro said...

Great advice, Martha! Thanks to Sarah for inviting you. I so enjoyed reading this post.

Anonymous said...

Hello all.

Thanks for taking the time to visit this great blog and check out the article.

If the technique works for you, let us know!