Wednesday, February 10, 2010

One Sentence Blurb

Yesterday on the KT Literary blog, agent Kate Schafer challenged her readers to write a one sentence tag line about their book. Because of my blog reading schedule, I did not see it until this morning (which was actually fortuitous). Generally, I really really suck at summarizing. I was the kid that when our English teacher told us to write a two page short story, I turned in 25 pages. I just couldn't go shorter. (Lucky I had an English teacher who was willing to read that much). I once wrote a 400,000 word novel. For those of you who don't write books - that's a lot. I really struggle with writing synopses of my books.

I don't have the same trouble with query letters, because I don't treat them like synopses. I always imagine I'm writing the back of a book blurb. However, I am far from a query letter expert, and I often focus on the wrong thing. Which is weird.

So needless to say when I saw the one sentence challenge my mind said, "I'll never be able to do that." However, because I was late to the game, I got to read everyone else's comments and one commenter gave excellent advice. Basically she said you need to list a protoganist, a choice, and a consequence (thank you Wendy!).

You would think that would be straightforward for anyone to see, but it wasn't for me.

So after thinking about it for a moment, here is what I came up with for me, MG fantasy book:

In Bittersweet Fountain's Spirit Riddled, a middle grade fantasy novel, a twelve-year-old former street urchin struggling with her abandonment must learn to use her “demon”-given abilities to save the man who took her off the streets and has become her only family.

I felt it was important in my tag line to add it was a middle grade fantasy novel, mainly because if you don't say its fantasy, people might expect something completely different. And I feel that most of the other books on the blog took place on Earth, which would definitely be a little confusing.

If you're a writer reading this, I challenge you to write your own one liner. Whether you are a writer or not, I challenge you to look at mine and think if its an interesting tag line. Does it make the book seem interesting? Does it make you want to read it? Are you dying to see it in print? (OK, maybe that last one is too much).

If you guys have any comments on my one liner, let me know.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Why Baptists Don't Dance or Drink

A long time ago in a small American town not that far from your own, there were three churches: a Methodist Church, A Presbyterian Church, and a Catholics Church. The congregations lived in harmony, enjoying community and fellowship without allowing their doctrinal differences to interfere.

They held dances in which all the members would exuberantly praise God. They held dinner parties where people sipped wine, remembering Jesus' miracle with the drink. All was right and good in the town.

Then one day, a Baptist Church opened its doors.

The other three churches had no prejudice against this new member of their Christian fraternity. They invited the new denomination to a prty to welcome them. As usual, the party involved dancing.

The Baptists arrived to the party bearing casseroles and crock pot stews, but the other denominations overlooked the oddity (and carefully did not try the mystery casserole). Then the fiddler began to strike up a tune and the people of God began to dance.

At first, everything seemed normal. Some people danced better than others, but in general all seemed to be going well. Until the three original churches saw their Baptist brethren get on the dance floor.

The Baptists danced exuberantly, meaningfully. They meant to glorify God with their dancing, and it can not be doubted that God saw their good intentions. However, what the Methodists, Presbyterians, and Catholics saw was the most awful dancing ever. Children cried at the sight of the awful performance. Elders ran for cover, trying not to be hit by awkwardly moving limbs or stepped on by ill timed steps. In general, there was weeping and gnashing of teeth by everyone except the Baptists, who thought all was good.

As usual, alcoholic beverages were offered at that party. As the Baptists drank (as little as it may have been), their dancing got worse. The others had not thought it was possible. Some wished they were blind rather than witness the horrible spectacle.

So the next day, after everyone had sufficiently recovered the heads of each church except the Baptist Church met in private.

"That was the most horrible thing I have ever witnessed," the Methodist pastor turned pale as he remembered the spectacle.

"It cannot be allowed to happen again," the Catholic priest agreed. "But I do not know how we can stop it without stopping our own parties. We don't want to make the Baptists feel as if they are not part of our brethren. We don't want them to feel slighted when we don't invite them to our parties."

"Unless we make them think it was their idea," the Presbyterian preacher said. "The Baptist pastor seems a decent fellow and I have a plan." The other two listened in silence as the man explained.

Later that day the three went to the Baptist pastor. They explained what weeping and gnashing of teeth the dancing and drinking had caused among the other denominations and how they did not want to hurt the feelings of the Baptist. Then the Presbyterian preacher explained his idea.

"You should convince your denomination that dancing and drinking are wrong," the Presbyterian said.

"They won't like the drinking idea," the Baptist pastor pointed out.

"Yes, but if they drink they'll dance and we can't handle that," the Catholic priest pleaded.

"And we can Biblically support the no dancing or drinking," the Methodist preacher explained eagerly. "You can talk about the temptation, and how dancing leads to other things, and drinking leads to drunkenness. It's not wrong, just a little more strict."

The Baptist preacher was dubious, but eventually he was made to see the light. The next Sunday and subsequent Sunday's afterward, he preached about the tempations that lay in dancing and drinking. Slowly, the Baptist congregation began to decline invitations to the others dance parties. Or they accepted and brought the food, but did not dance.

The other congregations were filled with relief. No more would there be weeping and gnashing of teeth. All would be right in the world.

So remember, my fellow Baptists out there, there is a reason why the original Baptists forbade us from dancing and drinking. It was imposed upon us, because our dancing was so horrible.

[This idea came upon me after attending several Baptist dances. No one got on the dance floor until after the electric slide was played and I have never seen so many people - including myself - mess up the electric slide. Good times]