Friday Fun – Book to Screen Adaptations

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: The Oscars are Sunday. Do you have a favorite book to screen (small or large) adaptation? Was there one you hated?

hennrikus-web2Julie Hennrikus: There are several Jane Austen adaptations that are really lovely. And the Harry Potters are good. Not as good as the books, but complete in their own right. One adaptation that I loathed was the David Suchet version of Murder on the Orient Express. I was so looking forward to it, but they “added” to the front part of the story, and changed the ending around a bit. Some of the characters’ motivations changed. I fear I am a bit of a Christie purist, and I hated it. Don’t even get me started on the most recent Miss Marples. Ironically, I adore both Sherlock and Elementary, which I guess makes me a complicated woman. Who knew?

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: I read The Other Bolyn Girl with a bookclub not long before the movie came out and we were all looking forward to seeing the movie because we thought the clothes everyone wore would be spectacular. I know I was disappointed when the main character basically wore the same dress and headgear the whole time. The clothes described in the book were amazing, but the movie showed only drab, dark costumes. The story itself lost much of its complexity, as movies made from books often do. I thought the Happy Potter movies suffered from the same problem–the books were so complex and had so many story lines that I didn’t think the books translated well to the movie screen.

I did think the Lord of the Rings movies were very well done. I’d read the books many times when I was younger, so I was very familiar with the story and seeing the world of the Shire and places like Mordor come alive on the big screen was a wonderful experience.

headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: I agree with Julie and Diane that the Lord of the Rings (and now The Hobbit) movie adaptations directed by Peter Jackson are beautifully done and very true to the books. There are, of course, scenes and even whole characters (Tom Bombadil comes to mind) who are completely left out, but that’s part of the usual sacrifice when translating a novel for film. It can’t be helped.

I’m a little nervous about the movie adaptation of Mark Helprin’s sweeping urban fantasy, A Winter’s Tale. The book has long been a favorite of mine, and I just don’t think it will translate well. The reviews I’ve read are not good, so I think I’ll just skip the film entirely. I’d rather not risk marring my enjoyment of the book.

Although it deviates quite a bit from the book, I do love the movie version of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. Gaiman was involved in the movie and loved the changes that were made. The fact that the film version includes a wholly new character (or, at least greatly expanded role) for Robert DeNiro – a cross-dressing sky pirate – is worth the price of admission alone!

Friday Fun – Best Books for Winter Reading

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: We’ve been having some stormy and wintry weather around these parts, and that got us to wondering – are there certain books that you especially enjoy when you’re snowbound or all cozied up against the Arctic temperatures?

dll2013Deborah Lee Luskin: I have enough of a bead on my novel – voice, characters and action – that I’m able to read fiction again without what I’m reading unconsciously spilling over into my book. A friend just sent me Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain, which I’m loving, especially as I lost my old dog in August. And I’m (still) listening to an audio edition of Amy Tan’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter while I knit. I try to keep up with my New Yorkers as well as all the other magazines and newsletters that come in to the house. And of course, I’d rather read than file 2013 or start on my taxes . . .

headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: There are absolutely certain books that are more alluring to me during the long, winter months. The one I’ve reread most is Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. It has been several years since I’ve stepped into the Helprin’s beautiful yet dangerous world, but I still carry with me the sense of wonder and magic that I felt when I first read the story of Peter Lake – orphan, burglar, and master mechanic – and Beverly Penn – a young New York heiress who is dying. This novel is nothing if not sweeping. Helprin’s language is poetic and his deft world creation skills blend the details of his magical surrealist New York with the historical one. The story spans the entire 20th century and a diverse cast of characters, but my favorite element of the story is the white horse, Athansor. The details of the narrative elude me, but I’m glad of that. It means that when I sit down to reread this tale, pieces of it may still come to me as a surprise. For the moment, while I wait to open its cover, I will just enjoy the lingering images of racing across the frozen landscape of upstate New York in a sleigh drawn by a horse that seems to fly, a mysterious cloud bank that hovers on the edges of New York harbor, and the manic passion of a man trying to build a bridge to another world.

P.S. – There is a movie version of this book coming out in February. I do not have high hopes that this book will translate to film well, so if you plan on seeing the movie, I’d recommend you read the book first! ;)

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: Wow, Jamie, funny you mention Winter’s Tale, that’s been in my TBR pile for a while now and it’s coming up in the queue – the title makes it seem like a great winter book. I’ve only heard great things about it, so look forward to delving in. Short story compilations are great in the winter (or any time), as they offer different length stories. 1997 Best American Mystery Short StoriesI’m currently reading The Best American Mystery Stories 1997, edited by Robert B. Parker. Some authors I already know, others I’m getting to know. And I also find large serial novels fun to read in the winter. Such as any Diana Gabaldon book in the Outlander series (Scottish men in kilts and time travel), or (my newest) The Game of Thrones series.

hennrikus-web2Julie Hennrikus: I agree with Deborah, I love reading in the winter. Right now I am in the #JanNoWriStart mode, so I am spending nights writing. But I have three books on the TBR pile. One is Jab Jab Jab Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk. His Crush It helped me figure out how best to use social media. This book promises (and so far delivers) how to land the right hook. I also downloaded the Man Booker prize winner The Luminaries. I listen to the podcast BBC Front Row Daily, which is all about arts and culture. Heard an interview with the author, Eleanor Catton, and it sounds great. The third TBR book is The Artists Way at Work. A friend recommended it, and I am hoping for some illuminating moments. Once the Agatha nominations are out I will add mysteries to my piles.

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: I don’t have any books that I read specifically in winter, but I definitely have books that I’ve read more than once, and that I plan to re-read again. Many of those are books from my childhood–The Good Master and Harriet the Spy come to mind. Also, I’m looking forward to reading the Harry Potter series to my son when he gets old enough (I hope he’s as into it as I am!) I re-read Bird by Bird at least once a year, and I have done The Artist’s Way three times and I hope to do it again. (I hadn’t seen The Artist’s Way at Work, Julie, but I’ll definitely check it out!) These days I listen to books more than I sit and read–I just finished listening to Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes, and I’m looking forward to reading more of her books.

Saturday Edition – What We’re Writing and Reading

Welcome to this Saturday Edition of What We’re Writing and Reading in which we share some of what we’re up to with our writing (when we’re not here) and what we’re into with our reading (around the web). We’ll also pull back the curtain a little to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what went into a piece.

We hope you enjoy this little diversion and encourage you to share your own posts and picks in the comments.

Happy writing! Happy reading! 


headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: There is a buzz in the air today. Not only is this one of the last two shopping weekends before Christmas, but there is also a snowstorm on the way. If the weathermen (and women) are to be believed, the event will begin late this morning with some picturesque snow flurries that will lend a Currier & Ives feel to holiday errands. Later on this evening, however, things will get more serious when the snow starts coming down at the more aggressive clip of an inch per hour.

Even though it’s messy and inconvenient (not to mention dangerous), I love snow. There is a quieting magic in the way it hushes all the hard edges, slowing us down whether we’re outdoors or in. I will be out and about scurrying along with other shoppers today, but tomorrow, as the storm winds itself down, I’ll be happily hunkered down in my living room with a huge mug of tea, a towering pile of catalogs, and the trusty internet. I’m hoping to wrap up what little shopping I have to do and then, perhaps, do a little writing or (gasp!) maybe even take a nap.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re up to, I hope you have a lovely weekend and enjoy preparing for your holiday.

What I’m Writing:


One of my personal mind maps

So, this week on my marketing blog I posted a link to a podcast that was recorded in January and originally broadcast over the summer. Mind mapping aficionado Michael Tipper invited me to be a guest on The Mind Mapping Show after reading a post that I wrote here on Live to Write – Write to Live, Mind Mapping Your Way Out of Writer’s Block.  This week, I shared Tipper’s podcast in my post, The Secret Planning and Brainstorming Weapon You Don’t Know You Need. I get to be a total geek on the show, and I kind of had fun with that.

Ipswich River

The beautiful Ipswich River

I also shared a piece from my local column. A River Runs Through It  is a sort of ode to the beautiful Ipswich River that is such an integral part of our town’s landscape, history, and charm. As I continue my search for a house to call our own, I find that I am drawn more and more towards the small neighborhoods that are clustered along the banks of this watery way. I don’t know if I’ll be lucky enough to find a home there, but I’ve got my fingers crossed.

What I’m Reading:

Affiliate Link

Affiliate Link

This week, I’m reading Love, Stargirl (affiliate link) by Jerry Spinelli, the sequel to Stargirl (affiliate link) (which I read over the summer and absolutely adored).

Though both of these YA novels center around the same character, Stargirl, they are like two the two sides of one coin. Stargirl is narrated by Leo Borlock and watches Stargirl from a distance which eventually closes and then widens again. Love Stargirl is told by Stargirl herself in the form of an unsent letter that is broken down into daily installments, like a diary. Both books are about the challenge of being yourself, being unique, swimming against the tide, and seeing the world with new eyes. There are many lyrical passages that make me want to stop what I”m doing and run outside to wiggle my toes in the dirt or hug a neighbor.

Though these are categorized as YA, I recommend them for any age. It doesn’t matter how “grown up” we are, we always struggle with how to be our most authentic selves. Artists and writers especially need to find the courage and enthusiasm to stand up and be different, let their voices freely into the world. These stories inspire me and, quite frankly, make me want to be a better person and a more passionate artist.

Affiliate Link

As a side note, Jerry Spinelli is married to Eileen Spinelli who is the illustrator of one of my favorite picture books ever, When You Are Happy (affiliate link). Written by Geraldo Valerio, this sweet and comforting book is a poem of love and reassurance that acknowledges sorrow and fear, but never lets them overcome happiness and love. Spinelli’s illustrations are vibrant, charming, and full of gorgeous details that create pictures within the pictures. I just can’t say enough good things about it. It says all the things that I want to say to my daughter, and accompanies the words with illustrations that make me want to jump right into the world of the book and stay there.

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

… well, not exactly a quote, per se, but I just couldn’t resist sharing this.

Thanks for being here. Happy writing, reading, and holiday prepping. See you on the other side! 

Friday Fun – Do you give books as gifts?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: On this, the busiest shopping day of the year, we thought it appropriate to talk about whether (and how) we give books as gifts. 


headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: Absolutely YES. I love to give books almost as much as I love to get them. I don’t give novels as often as I give nonfiction and coffee table-type books because I think choosing a novel is somehow more personal. I often give picture books to grown ups. I happen to love beautifully illustrated picture books myself and have often thought it’s a shame that we outgrow that particular indulgence so quickly. I have an entire bookcase that is filled with my favorite picture books and I don’t find it in the least bit odd. Books of poetry also make lovely gifts, especially ones that include beautiful art along with the poems. In my opinion, a book is a gift that never stops giving. Perhaps I’ll try to do all my holiday shopping at the bookstore this year.

hennrikus-web2Julie Hennrikus: Yes. Especially to the young readers in my life–I always get them a book. But I also find that anthologies (like Level Best Books) are a great gift for readers, particularly since it is a collection of short stories. Or going to a reading of an author and getting a book signed for a friend is a nice gesture. I have a number of friends with paperbacks out–a perfect sized hostess gift. And for the ebook readers, a gift card always works. The nice thing about books is that they can be “regifted” and make a lot of people happy.

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: I seldom give books as gifts. Amazingly my family members aren’t readers, except Mom, and the house is overrunning with her to-be-read pile already. For friends, I just don’t know if they’ve already read a book or not, and preference for paper versus e-reader is something else to consider, too.

I do buy books for Little Sis throughout the year, and when she was younger it was easy to give her anything (as I was the one who interested her in reading and encouraged her to read various genres), but now she reads quickly and is introduced to new series all the time through her friends, so I prefer to buy books when she’s with me, so I know she’s getting something she wants to read – and hasn’t read already!

What’s extra special for me this season is that she’s now interested in creative writing and has quite a talent for making up paranormal worlds. Maybe we’ll start giving stories to each other as gifts!

Author event in Bedford, NH, Oct 30th

There’s an event coming up in a couple of weeks that is mixing two of my passions — (dark and mysterious) fiction and New Hampshire.

Dick Hatin

Dick Hatin

An author friend of mine, Richard Hatin is celebrating the launch of his second novel by speaking and doing a book signing.

Dick is a fellow Granite State Ambassador (GSA) who volunteers his time to share his passion of NH with visitors to our wonderful state.

At this event, on October 30, from 6:30-8PM, Dick will be talking about his writing and his volunteerism.

About his novels:

Evil Agreement begins in Sutton, Vermont, in 1843, when a coven was formed comprising devil worshipers recruited by Satan s servant, the purely evil Moloch. When one coven member breaks rank, she and her family are slaughtered by coven members out of revenge. One infant child survives the massacre, however, and is hunted relentlessly by the coven, but without success. Now the descendants of that first coven are closing in on Aaron Bailey, the last descendant of that surviving infant. The Evil Agreement, the Malum Pactum, may at last be fulfilled!

The hunt is on as the coven seeks to capture Aaron to complete the coven and fulfill their ancestors hideous bargain with the devil. Meanwhile, Aaron must learn about his hidden past, forge new alliances, and, with aid from an unlikely source, perhaps have a chance to destroy the coven – and even live to tell about it!

“A dark and evil legend was born in the northeastern corner of Vermont hundred of years ago. An unspeakable act was perpetrated by a hunting party of Indians.  Later, their Chief and the tribe’s Medicine Man placed an eternal curse upon them for their crime.  Now doomed, to live only in the darkness beneath the earth, their anger and hatred of all humans, grows with each passing year. Then, in 1962, a group of young boys exploring a small cave, come face to face with this devolved and hideously evil creature, and a battle for their very lives begins.  Together, they may stand a chance, but divided, they will all surely all die.  If only…….”

The event is open to the public and is at Carlyle Place – Courville Communities, 40 Route 101, Bedford, NH.

I’ll be there, as will other local writers. It can be a great time to connect in person.

Agenda for the evening:

6:30 pm – Networking and Welcome

7:00 pm – Presentation

7:45 pm – 8:00 pm – Book signing | Personal Visits | Facility Tour

I know there will be treats, too! Since it’s Halloween, well, who knows how many ghosts might make a brief appearance, but I’m sure they will all be friendly spirits…right?

Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to network with writing professionals on a weekly basis. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Anatomy of a non-fiction book proposal

Last week’s post on the structure of a book proposal for a fiction series resulted in a few requests for the structure of a non-fiction book proposal. There are some similarities. The biggest differences are that you need to include a table of contents and your sample pages should *not* be your first chapter.

Here’s the breakdown (skeleton):

  • Overview – Your first challenge is to describe your book in 2-3 paragraphs (500 words or less). Include the title and subtitle; target audience; anticipated length of the manuscript; when you’ll have the manuscript complete; and what makes your book unique and worthwhile. –I’ve seen a suggestion to consider this the copy that appears on the back cover of the book, in a publisher’s catalog, or even as the brief review you’d see in Publishers Weekly or the NY Times Book Review. Think big, but be concise.
  • Target Audience – identify your core readers – those most likely to buy your book. Research the market and try to find some hard numbers to use to identify the market size. Also include tangential readers – those non-fiction readers who may be drawn to the subject matter of your book. (i.e. a lot of your book relates to horseback riding, so a potential market is a horse enthusiast)
  • About the Author – Talk about your credentials and experience. You want the agent/publisher to completely ‘get’ what makes you uniquely qualified to write and promote this book. You can also include social media and other platforms you are already established on in this section, or include it in the Marketing and Promotion section below.
  • Competitive Titles – This is a list summarizing those books and authors you see as major competitive/similar titles. Also include an explanation about why your book is different from each title you list. This section serves two purposes: you’re proving there’s an established audience who will find your book interesting and clearly showing how yours is different enough to compete with them.
  • Marketing and Promotion – Whether you have created/started your author platform already or not, this section needs a lot of content. In this section, explain your comprehensive plan for actively promoting your book and how publicity needs to be focused. List magazines and other media outlets that your target audience pays attention to and identify the outlets you (and your publisher) will focus on to get your book reviewed. Name people who will write blurbs for you (you’ll need them before your manuscript is completed). What are the topics and target outlets, based on the subject matter or your expertise, that will allow you to obtain speaking engagements? List types of groups and organizations that will be interested in having you speak. Identify portions of your book that can be excerpted in magazines and relevant journals; include up to 10 publications you feel will publish the excerpts. And don’t stop there! Include other promotional ideas you can pursue: speakers bureaus, hiring a publicist, getting on relevant mailing lists, leading/speaking at workshops, your book tour ideas, and whatever else you can think of.
  • Detailed Table of Contents – Don’t skimp in this section. Be very specific about summarizing every chapter. This section can range from 3 to 20 pages or more. The agent/publisher is looking for the details of what is inside your book. (I highlighted ‘detailed’ to emphasize that you don’t want to skimp here.)
  • Sample Chapters – Non-fiction agents and publishers generally don’t want your first chapters submitted as samples. They want a couple of chapters from inside the book that will give them a good snapshot of your writing style, the content, and the structure of the book.

Also, if your manuscript lends itself to images or artwork, you’ll want to include details about them – ie. whether you will supply all relevant images/art, whether you’ll need to obtain permission/licensing, whether it’ll be in color or b&w, and so on.

I hope this helps you as you start working on a non-fiction book proposal. If you discover anything else that should be included, please let us know!

Lisa J. Jackson Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys New England’s crisp fall mornings and warm sunny days. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to network with writing professionals on a weekly basis. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Biznik.

Saturday Edition: What we’re writing and reading

Welcome to this Saturday Edition of What We’re Writing and Reading.

We’re taking a little detour on the weekends now to share some of what we’re up to with our writing (when we’re not here) and what we’re into with our reading (around the web). We’ll also pull back the curtain a little to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what went into a piece.

We hope you enjoy this little diversion and encourage you to share your own posts and picks in the comments.

Happy writing! Happy reading! 


headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: This week saw an unseasonable return to the hot and sticky weather of deep summer. It also saw me beat a retreat to my air conditioned living room with the cats and my laptop. Happily, the uncomfortable weather was just a minor blip on the radar and now it is safe to venture back out and revel in the almost-autumn air.

I love fall. I love the back-to-school vibe that hangs in the air, even though it’s only my daughter who has returned to the classroom. I still get a sense of a new start when September arrives. After the chaos of the summer “schedule” (I use the term loosely), resuming a more regular routine feels like sinking into the comfortable embrace of a favorite chair.

My calendar continues to be full of client projects (thank you, gods of freelance writing), but I’m also looking forward to a possible lightening of the load in the next few weeks and will be plying my craft on myself as I endeavor to reinvent my marketing website. Wish me luck.

While I wait to embark on that “adventure,” I still write and read as much as I can. Here’s what crossed my path this week.

What I’m Writing:

shoulds_smAlthough I almost didn’t have time, I managed to crank out a post for my marketing blog. The deadly “shoulds” of blogging is one of those posts that showed up announced and demanded to be written. I had a list of a half dozen other, more business-y topics queued up in my head, but when it came to it I just didn’t feel like writing any of them. I was sitting at my desk (rather late at night, wishing I could go to bed) and getting into a bit of a funk about feeling obligated to write about a topic that wasn’t really interesting me.

So, instead of hacking my way through a half-hearted post I decided to write about feeling obligated and cranky. I wrote a quick little manifesto about the evils of “shoulds.” It was fun to write and I hope it might help some other bloggers and would-be bloggers feel less intimidated and guilty about their own blogging efforts.

I also recorded myself reading the post which is something I’ve been experimenting with and rather enjoy doing. As a huge fan of audio books, I have a great appreciation for good voiceover artists. I “should” probably be embarrassed about the quality (or lack thereof) of my own performance and recording, but this is one of those cases where I feel it’s better to go out with something imperfect than to wait on the sidelines hoping I’ll get it right someday. Someday has a bad habit of never arriving.

For those of you interested in experimenting with audio, I use a free app called Audacity to record, edit, and export (to MP3 format) my audio and then I upload to SoundCloud – an excellent and oh-so-cool audio hosting platform (also free). I believe you can record directly into SoundCloud, but I haven’t tried that yet. If anyone does some audio experiments, please let me know. I’d love to listen!

What I’m Reading:

I’ve had four books going this week, but I only finished two of them. Unsurprisingly, they were the shorter ones. (That’s what comes of sneaking reading in while I’m making dinner, waiting at the orthodontist’s office, and eating a hurried lunch.)

Affiliate Link

The Van Gogh Cafe (affiliate link) by Cynthia Rylant (one of my favorite children’s authors) is a book from the children’s room at our local library. I have read it a couple of times before – to my daughter at bedtime. The book is comprised of six short, connected stories and a charming introduction on the matter of magic. My past readings were purely for pleasure, but this time – although I still enjoyed the stories thoroughly – I also read with a writer’s eye. I have been thinking about writing a collection of connected short stories, and The Van Gogh Cafe is a wonderful example of a simple yet elegant approach to the exercise.

I loved the voice Rylant uses for the stories and the simple language. The sentences are short and to the point, but still manage to convey a sense of place and emotion. Although each is about how magic manifests at the small cafe in Flowers, Kansas, they also have an aura of plainness that is quite disarming.

Affiliate Link

The second book I read is one that has been sitting on my bookshelf for years. It’s odd that I picked it up this week – the twelfth anniversary of 9/11. Kurt Vonnegut’s collection of essays, A Man Without a Country (affiliate link), is a frank though at times humorous discourse on the state of the world and in particular the country of his fellow Americans. Described by Publisher’s Weekly as “like Garrison Keillor with a savage undercurrent,” the book delivers Vonnegut’s thoughts in short bursts, punctuated by his artwork.

Though I have read many of Vonnegut’s fiction books, I wasn’t sure what to expect from A Man Without a Country. Though much of what he says is depressing – even despairing – he manages to maintain hit wit and humor while providing some much needed perspective and a sound reality check. This is a book I will likely read again.

I also especially enjoyed two more essays from the wonderful new site/online magazine, Full Grown People:

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:


Now … go write and read and then write and read some more. Have a wonderful weekend & we’ll see you on the other side! :) 

Anatomy of a book proposal

l’ve recently been offered the opportunity to write and present a 3-book proposal to an agent for a new mystery series.

As I delve into this for the first time — ever — I thought I’d share what I know and am learning from the process.

So, to start, here’s the anatomy of a book proposal:

  • Overview -> on average, this is a half- to one-page description of the premise of the series, with a lot of focus on the protagonist. You want to catch the agent’s (and publisher’s) attention here so she’ll keep reading.
  • Synopses -> this is plural because for a 3-book proposal, you need to have 3 synopses. They do not have to be long at all. In fact, they range from a paragraph to a half-a-page for each of the 3 books. I’m thinking of them as extended elevator pitches – the way I’ll describe the books if I have a couple of minutes to talk about them.
  • Author bio -> this is probably self-explanatory, but the bio needs to represent how the writer has the background and/or experience to write the proposed series. Including links to published works is acceptable, but the 1-2 paragraphs should be narrative.
  • Comparative titles -> List 3-5 titles of books or series, along with author names and publishing houses if you know them, comparable to what you’re proposing to show there is a market established.
  • Marketing or social media platform -> depending on your experience, this section can be wrapped in with the author bio, or be called out separately. Authors need to have a platform, even if they land a contract with a ‘big’ publisher. This section should include details on your involvement with social media, how you can promote your own work, as well as listing any statistics or details on the topic you are writing about.

Let the agent know what you know about the potential pool of readers. For example, if your books relate in some way to adult evening community classes, you can include something like: there are x number of people who attend adult enrichment classes each year.

  • Sample pages -> depending on how long you write, this can be one or a few chapters, but you want to have 30 (or so) pages of the first book ready to send along with your proposal. And for me, since I’m proposing a mystery series, I have to make sure that I have a dead body in the first 30 pages.

Overall, other than the sample pages, the proposal should be in your natural voice. Write it as though you’re speaking with the agent and only use $5 words if those are part of your natural vocabulary. You want to catch the agent’s attention and make her want to work with you and help pitch your books to publishers. (It’s an entirely different discussion about finding the right agent for a manuscript.)

The total proposal you send in will range from 20 (if you’re sending a short chapter) to 45 pages.

Lisa J Jackson writer Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys New England’s crisp fall mornings and warm sunny days. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to network with writing professionals on a weekly basis. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Biznik.

Friday Fun – Movie or book version?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: So many books come out as movies now, and some movies later come out as books. Do you tend to go see the movie before or after reading the book? Or maybe not at all!

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: I prefer reading a novel to seeing it on the screen so that my imagination can do what it wants. Having a story shown to me takes away my imagination, but there are always exceptions, right? Seeing Lord of the Rings on the big screen (or on DVD) is impressive and gives me a new appreciate for the world Tolkien created. With Harry Potter, I only read up to Book 4, so having seen all the movies now, I don’t feel a need to read any of the books I missed, since they were close interpretations of the novels. I enjoy reading dark fiction, but absolutely have no desire to watch a horror flick any more. Freddy Kruger and Jason were as scary as I ever went. I have to admit that I enjoy seeing Stephen King’s stories show up on a screen because I like to see how the stories get interpreted. But overall, I prefer reading to viewing.

headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: This is a tough one for me because, although I am a writer who loves sliding quietly between the pages of a great book, I am also a serious film buff. I adore movies. In fact, my writing process often feels like I’m making a movie in my head. I “see” what I’m writing as if it is a scene in a movie – lighting, set decoration, shot angles and zooms. I try to describe what I see so that I can recreate that same image in my reader’s mind.

When it comes to the book vs. movie question, I usually prefer to read the book first. For instance, I was intrigued by the movie version of Cloud Atlas, but will not watch it until I’ve read the book. In some cases, however, I know I won’t read the book (for a variety of reasons), so there’s no “harm” in watching the movie first. Though it’s technically a miniseries and not a movie, Game of Thrones is like this for me. I listened to the first book in the series on Audible before I started watching HBO’s film version. Once I started watching the series, I had no interest in going back to read the books.

I think the deciding factor comes down to the quality of the writing. I have heard that Cloud Atlas is beautifully written, so I am interested experiencing the story through the author’s specific language. Game of Thrones, on the other hand, may be great “story,” but I do not consider it great writing. I don’t feel like I’m missing much by skipping straight to the HBO interpretation. In fact, from what I’ve heard, even people who have read (and are fans of) the books really like the way the HBO version speeds things up.

Either way – great book or great movie – it all comes down to a great story. Without that, I’ll take a pass and go write something of my own. ;)

photo: M. Shafer

photo: M. Shafer

Deborah Lee Luskin: If it’s a classic novel, I watch the film adaptation as an interpretation. Often, it shows me new ways to understand the story. And this helps me become more film literate, for when I “see” a story without having read a book version first. As Jamie says, “it all comes down to a great story.”





hennrikus-web2Julie Hennrikus: I am generally a book first gal. Generally the book will help me fill in the backstory that is missing in an adaptation. But recently I have been watching adaptations to see how they are done. What is left out? How do they cover backstory? Does the narrative structure translate? As a Jane Austen fan, I find this an excellent way to watch the film adaptations.

What I really dislike is a total disregard for the source material in the adaptation. The recent Miss Marples were a great example of this. If you didn’t know the book, they were fine. But if you knew the books, your brain would explode.

Friday Fun – Summer Reading List

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: Happy first day of summer! What’s on your reading list? Does your summer reading change?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: Is summer *really* here? Honest? Seemed like a long time coming! My reading does change over the summer for some reason. I give myself more freedom to  read whatever catches my eye. This year I plan to clean up a bit of my TBR pile and catch up on a couple of series I enjoy.

I have a couple of the novels in these series to read: J.D. Robb’s “In Death”; J.R. Ward’s “Black Dagger Brotherhood”;  Brett Battles’s “Jonathan Quinn”; Steve Ulfelder’s “Conway Sax,” I’d love to read a few more Walter Mosley books, and to mix things up I might add a few historical romance beach reads to my stacks.

I think it’s the longer days that inspire more ‘free’ reading for me.

headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: Happy Solstice! Today is the longest day of the year. I love it for that reason, and yet it also makes me a little sad because from here the days begin to wane as we head towards another season of harvest and hibernation. Don’t get me wrong, I love those seasons even more than summer, but I feel the same was as Lisa – like summer just got here and it’s already half over!

My reading doesn’t really change that much over the summer. I still have to make a concerted effort to fit leisure reading into my life. No school for my daughter does not, unfortunately, mean no work for me; so I’m still in full-on hustle mode. I will, however, probably get to spend at least a few days at the beach with my girl, and will get to spend at least part of those days camped out in a beach chair with a good book. We just had the annual beach picnic for the school kids in town, and I managed to finish Alice Hoffman’s book, The River King. That felt good, even if the ending was a little anti-climatic.

Next in my reading queue I’ve got Neil Gaiman’s latest novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I listened to the audio recording of the first chapter or so compliments of Audible. I’m already hooked. I have a whole bunch of samples downloaded to my Kindle and hope to find another worthy candidate among them. We’ll see.

If anyone has any good magical surrealism titles to recommend, I’d love to hear them! 

photo: M. Shafer

photo: M. Shafer

Deborah Lee Luskin: I’m still not reading fiction – it creates too much static as I continue working on my new novel – but I’m rediscovering the joy of picking books off the “New Non-Fiction” shelf at the three libraries I hold cards to, and I expect that’s what I’ll continue to do over the summer. In order to find time to read, however, I’m finding I need to have serious limits to my time on-line. I’m trying to check email and Facebook only three times a day. Ideally, I’d cut it back to two. . .


Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: My reading habits don’t really change over the summer. I’ve always got a couple of nonfiction books going, but the only fiction I’m reading these days are books I listen to in the car. Like Deborah, I usually just grab an (audio)book from the “New” section in my library. I often have a difficult time choosing fiction books because I usually want a guarantee that it’s going to be good before I put the time into the story, but I’ve found a way around that by grabbing whatever book catches my eye at the library (I’ve even let my son pick them randomly off the shelf)–if I don’t like it, I just stop reading it, return it, and try another one. The best book I have read so far using this random, no expectation, system is Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. I loved it and can’t wait for her next book!

hennrikus-web2Julie Hennrikus: Summer is my reading season. I balance between non-fiction (prep for teaching) and catching up with the downloads on my Kindle. I am also going to be moderating a panel at the New England Crime Bake on YA mystery fiction, so I will be delving into that genre. (I have a reading addicted niece who is pretty happy about that.) I really think I need to start listening to books–I walk a lot, and would love to “read” at the same time.


wendy-shotWendy Thomas – Summer is a time of reading for me. Lot of pool time and lots of time waiting for kids to be done with activities. On my list are:

  • A revisit to A Year in Provence – an inexpensive way to visit France
  • You Can’t Make This Stuff Up – nonfiction writing book
  • Inferno – hated the last one but liked D’Vinci Code so much I’m willing to give it a try
  • 50 Week of Green – a farmer, CSA love story with recipes, what’s not to like
  • Behind the Cloud – thoughts on running an organization in the cloud (don’t get too excited, it’s for a client)
  • The Spark – a mother’s journey saving her Autistic child
  • The Giant’s House – an up-north indie bookstore recommendation – good enough for me.