Vision: A Resource for Writers

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From the Editor:

The Nutshell Stuff

By Lazette Gifford
Copyright 2009 by Lazette Gifford, All Rights Reserved

We're coming close to the middle of the year.  My goal -- stated in the first Editor's Note in the January/February issue -- had been to write, edit and submit.  I have, as usual, done well on the first two.  I am doing somewhat better on the last -- three submissions (or sorts) to agents, which is a first for me.  Two of them were for the Knight Agency's Novel in a Nutshell contest.  I have to admit, that was just the kind of fun I enjoy. The contest was to write a novel description of no more than 150 words and three sentences.  The three sentences was the tough part.  It meant a lot of creative punctuation.

I ended up with two entries.  I do not expect either to be among the twenty winners, but it was a great exercise for me.  It made me look far closer at how to describe something for a query letter than I ever had before.

Here is the one for Kat Among the Pigeons:

Katlyn is a member of the fae clan that guards the line between human and magical lands, a secret she has trouble hiding from her new human boyfriend even before she unexpectedly finds the fate of the world in her hands. She isn't magically strong (and unlike other fae who comprehend all animals, she only understands birds and cats -- not a good combination), but when she isn't able to reach other fae, she must deal with things that shouldn't be on this side, including trolls, ghostly horsemen and a phantom city pushing into the human world.

With nowhere else to turn for help, Kat and her boyfriend frantically fight the enemy with the aid of a lazy tom cat, an African gray parrot that only speaks in verse, and a wise-cracking cockatiel with a bad attitude ... and she's trying very hard not to think the world is doomed.

And this one is for Glory:

In a future where humans cling tenaciously to the threads of civilization, a murderous, shape-shifting creature from Egyptian myth builds sacrificial circles so he can bring more of his kind through to rule the world. Discovery of the circles brings Earth Security Investigations Agent Gloryanna Del Mar rushing back to the small Tennessee town where she first formed a clandestine bond with the Goddess Isis -- and where she also lost her husband in an accident involving Egyptian magic.

With the dangerous convergence of the Egyptian New Year only days away, Glory prepares to secretly use her magic to battle the creature, but experiences a new complication when another ESI agent arrives -- though she soon learns that the handsome and enigmatic Talis Ford has his own unusual abilities which may help save the world, if she can keep him out of the hands of enemies who want his power.

Working on these was really quite fun, and unexpectedly taught me about how to make query words count.  They are not perfect, but they were fun and they turned to be a great learning tool.

Which is my way of saying that you never know when and where you are going to learn something new about writing.  In a case like this, it would not have hurt to do the work of the contest, even if you did not intend to enter.  Be on the lookout for things like this -- short, fun little exercises that can help you hone your work.  You never know what is going to help!