Posts Tagged ‘I So Don’t Do Mysteries’

This Halloween week for a special treat we have  two “Author Spotlights.”  Our second spotlight is on author and fellow San Diego SCBWI member Barrie Summy, whose book “I So Don’t Do Spooky” is being released this week. I had a chance to hear Barrie share her path to publication at our December meeting last year and she shares a little of that path with us today.

Here is a brief bio:

Barrie Summy was born in Toronto, Canada where she grew up on a steady diet of tobogganing and books. Now, she lives in San Diego with her husband, their four children, a dog, and two chameleons.

What was your road to publication?

My original goal was to publish a Nancy Drew mystery. I was really hooked on Nancy Drew when I was a kid and had vowed to my sister that I would write one when I grew up. Which I did. Which was duly rejected.

After wallowing for a little while, I decided to ditch Nancy (it still pains me to say this!) and invent my own detective. And, thus, Sherry (short for Sherlock) Holmes Baldwin was born.

While I was working on I SO DON’ T DO MYSTERIES, I attended a “Writing the Breakout Novel” workshop by Donald Maass. In a quivering, quaking voice, I pitched my story to him as he signed a copy of his book. He suggested I send him the manuscript when it was done. I did. He passed it on to Rachel Vater, who is now my agent. I did a rewrite with Rachel before she sent the manuscript out. After about a month, it was bought by Wendy Loggia of Delacorte Press/Random House Children’s.

Skipping over all the gnashing of teeth and angst and sleepless nights, that, in a nutshell, is how it happened.

Can you tell me a bit about your writing process? Do you plot or not?

I plot. Heavily. Which isn’t to say I don’t wander from the plot, but I do like my outline! Maybe if I weren’t writing mysteries, I’d plot less. But I’m afraid I’ll forget about a clue or a red herring or even a suspect if I don’t have an outline.

Are you working on any new projects that you can tell us about?

I just handed in the galleys for Sherry’s fourth case, I SO DON’T’ DO FAMOUS. It’ll be out May 2011. And I’m working on a new idea with a slightly older protagonist. There’s humor. There’s paranormal. And there’s a mystery.

Describe your studio or usual work space for us.

Ha! I wish I had a studio. I usually work in a big chair in the living, with Dorothy the dog at my side. Or at the kitchen table with Dorothy at my feet. I also write a fair amount in my car while waiting for children at piano or swim or water polo or singing. When I’m really behind schedule, I rent a hotel room for the weekend. And that’s probably the closest to a studio I get!

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?


What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I was engaged three times, but only made it to the altar once.

How do you juggle being a writer and a mom?

Poorly! I always feel like I have way too much going on. I think what saves me, somewhat, is that I’m a night owl, and I don’t need a ton of sleep.

Was it difficult coming up with a follow-up for your first book?

No, but that’s only because it was a series. If not, it probably would’ve been tough!

We here at Writing on the Sidewalk tend to procrastinate with our writing. Where do you fit in—Procrastinator or Proactive?

I procrastinate to the point that it’s so uncomfortable I can’t take it anymore. Then, I’m proactive!

To find out more about Barrie and her books including her newest release, be sure to checkout her site at  www.barriesummy.com.

Thanks Barrie,

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

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I’m the type of person who always has a witty comeback for a situation. Unfortunately for me, the witty comeback usually hits me about an hour after I truly need it, leaving me with a typical response of stunned silence or the classic “Oh Yeah?”  Neither response is very effective and makes me feel very uncomfortable.

I first heard about the elevator pitch at our December meeting for the San Diego chapter of SCBWI. Author Barrie Summy shared that having her elevator pitch prepared and ready to go led to the publishing of her book,  “I So Don’t Do Mysteries.”

I was intrigued. What was an elevator pitch? I was sure I didn’t have one. Did I need one?

After a little research I found out that the elevator pitch has been used as a business tool for quite a while. According to author Nina Amir the elevator pitch is:

“…a short speech you have ready for that opportune moment – or less than a moment – when you can market yourself or your product to someone that might buy it. That speech, however, has to include all the pertinent information and be interesting, clever, thought provoking, or in some way leading so the person becomes inclined to ask you for more details.”

The name reflects the fact that an elevator pitch should be possible to deliver in the time span of an elevator ride, meaning in a maximum of 30 seconds and in 130 words or fewer. Some even suggest that you should be able to describe your manuscript in 25 words or less.

What a great concept. This is something I can prepare ahead of time, so that if I get a chance to promote my manuscript to an agent or publisher I am ready and I don’t run the risk of staring at them mutely or more likely ramble on until they run for the hills.

This same concept can be used to promote yourself. Nancy Ancowitz has written a great book titled- “Self-Promotion for Introverts“, she suggests that you prepare an elevator pitch for those times you get questioned about what you do, or what type of books you write. This preparation is a helpful tip for those of us who don’t always think as quickly on our feet as we would like.

The last and most important step for an elevator pitch is: practice, practice, practice.

Here are more tips from Nina Amir:

“… For a pitch to be really effective, it has to flow off your tongue as easily as words off a pen and onto your paper or off a keyboard onto your computer screen.  Have it memorized. Know it by rote, but deliver it with passion and conviction. And be prepared to offer at least three talking points when, indeed, you are asked for more information.

Writing pitches isn’t easy. Although sometimes they just come to you, like those magical words that arrive on your manuscript pages, and you wonder how they arrived. But the perfect pitch is miraculous in its own right. While it might not sell your book or land you that agent, it will at least get an agent or an acquisitions editor to listen long enough and become interested enough to say, “Tell me more.” And that’s your opening to offer your three more points…and then three more…And you never know where that might lead.”

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

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