The story of our logline – Part I

A repressed vampire princess has a one-night stand with a mysterious stranger from the wrong side of the river, sparking an unexpected chain of events and opening her to a whole new world. 

This is our logline for our book. We’ve been working on our logline or elevator pitch for some time now. In case you don’t know what that is, it’s a brief summary of a book, providing a short synopsis and a hook to catch the reader, agent or editor’s interest. We thought shortening our book to a query letter was hard. Try to do it in one or two sentences. Not easy. Did we mention that it can’t be too long either?

We emailed and text back and forth many times to get our logline right. And then what do we do. Find a formula online and completely start over. Then the emailing and texting begins again. But eventually we came up with something we like. So, how did we get to the final one? Here’s how.

The first time we found we needed a one sentence description for book was an online form at an agency. This is what we submitted to them:

Vampire princess, Naya Kensington, meets the man of her dreams, while promised to another vampire of her parents choosing, forcing her to choose between her family and species, or her heart.

The next thing that happened was we submitted our first page to WEbook‘s PageToFame. One of the steps is they want the book summed up. “Hook readers with one or two sentences that describe the essence of your book.” The only stipulation you have is it has to be 300 characters or less. (This includes spaces.) I took what we had before and expanded it.

Vampire princess, Naya Kensington, meets the man of her dreams, while promised to another vampire decreed by her parents. Now she must choose between her family and species or her heart, but she never suspected the man she loves would be anything other than what she believed him to be.

Now this one gave us 300 characters, but I found a website that were reviewing people’s loglines and they had to be 140 characters or less. 140 characters. That’s not much.

One of the things we’ve been looking forward to is submitting our work to Miss Snark’s FirstVictim Annual Baker’s Dozen Agent Auction. Each Baker’s Dozen entry is required to have a logline so this is when we really started working on it. And after many emails we came up with this:

When vampire princess, Naya Kensington, meets a rugged stranger while promised to an aristocratic vampire of her parents choosing, she must decide between her people or her heart. But she never suspects the handsome male is more than she ever imagined, and the two of them coming together changes the course of their futures forever.

Then I was on the Savvy Authors website and I found an article by author Kelly Whitley and she uses a formula. (heroine) must (action) with (hero) to (conflict) or (consequence). We decided to try this and came up with:

A vampire princess resisting societal constraints must reunite with a mysterious stranger from the wrong side of the river after their one-night stand sparks a chain of events.

Now the problem with this one was we had mixed reviews, and we felt like it wasn’t the core of our story. One big difference between Kelly Whitley and us is her books are paranormal suspense romance, and ours are more paranormal contemporary romance. There isn’t some big conflict like the world ending, someone getting kidnapped, a whole species eliminated. Our characters have more everyday conflicts, like he’s rich and she’s a prostitute (Pretty Woman). Okay, so that’s not an everyday conflict, but it’s not paranormal either. Or suspenseful.

So, after doing research we found a website that said there are many formulas you can use. One of the suggestions was: A situation causes the protagonist to face his/her largest obstacle plus outcome. I felt this was much more directed towards use. And after a few more emails we came up with our fifth and final logline.

A repressed vampire princess has a one-night stand with a mysterious stranger from the wrong side of the river, sparking an unexpected chain of events and opening her to a whole new world.

I hope you all agree with us that what we finally came up with is a great logline/elevator pitch. And I hope you all would like to read the book too!

Writing, publishing, and the competitive market

As we send out query letters, one of the things we read about is the market is competitive and that they are looking for new and fresh ideas. I understand an agent wanted to find the next great author who has a story or writing unlike anyone has ever seen before. Especially if the writing is good. People are going to talk about it, and it’s going to sell.

The part I have trouble with is the whole competitive market aspect. (e.g.When an agent tells us our story idea isn’t fresh enough to compete in this competitive market.) I understand the market is competitive, but I don’t understand why.

Books are not…cable/dish companies. In my house we subscribe to Directv. I don’t have Directv and Comcast. But you know what I do have? About 1,000 books…as in more than one. Readers don’t have to own only one book. Readers do not buy just one book. So why is the market so competitive?

I know agents have to go to publishers and “sell” our book to them before it ever makes it out in the world for readers to purchase. I understand that publishers don’t want to keep publishing the same “story” over and over again. I understand this up to a point.

What I mean by this is, I love J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series, Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series, and Carolyn Jewel’s My Immortal series. Love them. If I could marry my books I would. I can’t get enough of them nor read them fast enough. Now, if someone told me there was a similar series out there to any of these, I would be on barnesandnoble.com faster than they could say, “You should check them out.” And, I almost guarantee you that I would be purchasing them.

Similar to this, some of my favorite authors, besides the above, are Linda Howard, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Rachel Gibson, Julie Garwood, Karen Robards, Kresley Cole, Gena Showalter, and Jennifer Lyons…to name a few. If someone told me that so-and-so writes like them and has similar stories I would be buying their books right away. (I actually discovered Karen Robards because I was looking for authors similar to Linda Howard.)

So why is the market so competitive? Why do agents and publishers always have to be looking for the next great thing? Yes, yes, I know it’s a business and they want to make money. But there aren’t that many J.K. Rowlings or Stephanie Meyers out there so why not invest in books that will still sell, even if they don’t sell billions of copies?

We don’t want to be the next big thing or next big author. We don’t expect that to happen with the books we write. But what is wrong with being the next J.R. Ward? If you stopped most people on the street, they wouldn’t know her name. But if you are a paranormal romance reader, you are going to know who she is.

I know it’s a big dream to be as popular as J.R. Ward, but all I’m asking is for someone to give us a chance.

Nice rejection? No longer an oxymoron!

We received a “nice” rejection from an agent the other day….and I can’t stop thinking about it. It actually made us feel pretty good. Now, I’m not saying that we were happy to be rejected. Of course, it was a big let down to hear “thanks, but no thanks” from an agent. But this rejection said our concept was intriguing. It’s nice to hear from someone “in the biz” that our idea is interesting. It’s not just us! It really is an interesting idea with potential! Yay us!

The part that I can’t stop thinking about? She said our story hinges on external conflict. Meaning the conflict for the main characters is not between them, but from forces outside the couple. I understand what she means, but it really makes me laugh. Both of us have mentioned this same thought about the story, but we mean it as a compliment. We are congratulating ourselves on writing a book that we would like to read. (Without trying not to pat ourselves on the back too much!)

Not to upset anyone else or insult another author, but I am currently trying to read the 50 Shades trilogy. I am on book two and trying to motivate myself to continue. Why? Because ALL of the conflict is internal. Thus far, the conflict in the story is completely between the main characters. And it drives me crazy! I just want to shake them both and yell, “Sit down and communicate with each other!” I know, I know. It’s an extremely interesting concept, and I honestly want to find out what happened to Christian to make him how he is. I also hope they overcome the obstacles and end up with their Happily Ever After. But I want a little external conflict. I want another point of view or a lurking villain or an challenge forcing them to work together. I am emotionally exhausted from the constant internal struggle.

I am a little disappointed that this agent didn’t get to read more of our book. We actually do have a main theme of internal conflict. Our heroine is torn between duty and love. But we definitely lean towards external conflict. We both hate books where the main characters don’t communicate and just assume they know what the other person is thinking. Yes, we all assume we know what someone else is thinking in everyday life. But how many times have you found out that you were wrong? If you had just asked, you could have avoided all this angst. Maybe I’m more outspoken than most when I’m upset about something. (Who me? Let everyone know when I’m confused or disappointed? Never!) Maybe I’m not adept at social cues and am constantly embarrassing myself without realizing it. (Which would be some feat, considering how much I embarrass myself AND realize it.) But I would rather just ask the question and know, rather than torture myself with the “what if” scenarios. But maybe that’s just me.

Any thoughts out there? Which do people favor? Internal or external? I think we have a mix of both in our book, but I am admittedly biased. Wow, did I ramble or what?!