Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Find Me at www.minavaughn.com

I won't be using this blog address anymore, so if you need your Mina fix, go check out my new digs:

www.minavaughn.com

See you there!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Cover Reveal for S.M. Johnston's SLEEPER

One of my Pitch Madness cohorts, the lovely S.M. Johnston, had her cover reveal today.  Here it is! 

SLEEPER is a new adult speculative fiction novel and Book I in the Toy Soldiers series. SLEEPER is due for release December 2, 2013 from Entranced Publishing so be sure to follow the author for updates about the book's release.

And now without further ado, here's the spectacular cover for SLEEPER....

After a life saving heart transplant, eighteen-year-old Mishca Richardson is plagued by nightmares and an urgent desire to find her birth parents, which she puts down to post-operation depression. But her new heart seems to bring more than a second chance at life in the form of speed, strength and love at first sight.

About the Author:
Sharon is a writer from Mackay in Queensland, Australia who has short stories published in anthologies and was also runner-up in the Australian Literary Review’s Young Adult short story contest with KARMA. By day she is a public relations executive and by night she writes weird fiction and soulful contemporaries while her husband, two sons and cat are fast asleep.

Monday, April 22, 2013

#Pitchslap 2: DREAM WISHER

Hello, friends!  This week's #pitchslap comes from YA writer Brad Miller @The_DreamWisher, who shares his YA fantasy DREAM WISHER with us today.  Alright, pitch, here comes the spank!

My 84,000-word novel, DREAM WISHER, tells the story of Ethyder, a young boy living in the enslaved underground city of Eradome, who struggles with an inability to dream that could cost him his life. As is the case with much of fantasy literature, too many proper nouns!  Cut the name of the city. Also, why could not dreaming cost him his life? You move on before addressing something that would confuse most readers.  After losing his mother, Ethyder becomes an orphan and is now charged with taking care of his younger sister. But and when she is kidnapped by the creatures that have enslaved them, Ethyder will face his fears, and will set out on a journey that will change him forever. This part is vague!  Most stories change people forever.  Here's where you can possibly tie in one or two of your themes, because I slap the next paragraph clean off your query.

Filled with fantastic creatures and dark beasts, DREAM WISHER, follows the dreamless Ethyder through tunnels of self-realization, forgiveness, and adventure, ultimately leading to his climactic escape from the underground.  Your story's themes should be clear in the query, no need to point them out to an agent.  I also cut this paragraph to give you a chance to give the agent some of the moment-to-moment details about what this story is like. You give a too-brief summary of the story, then jump into unnecessary themes, then into the closing paragraph about why you selected this agent in particular.  Give them more to work with!  At this point, all we know is that an orphan who can't dream tries to escape a city with his sister.  That's a logline, not a query.  Give us MEAT!  Where's the beef?

DREAM WISHER fits in well with your interest in representing young adult novels. Readers, especially young adults suffering from peer pressure and bullying, will take interest in Ethyder’s story as it explores the self-hatred and the need for acceptance that youth are faced with today, a commonality amongst us all, and a theme I have fought to understand my entire life. Careful here, you sound a bit preachy.  YA writers have to walk a fine line between reaching their audience and preaching to them.  I'd tone this down a bit.

I am currently a member of the PNWA and SCBWI.  Awesome!

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to an opportunity to share the full manuscript with you.

Sincerely,

Brad W. Miller

Brad, I think with some specific details and a little more moment-to-moment action of the story, you'll have a killer query.  Thanks for submitting!  ;)

Mina

PS-- Anyone who wants to enter #pitchslap just needs to send me their query.  Email minavaughnwrites at gmail dot com to enter. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Query Crit and Partial MS Crit

I'm donating a partial MS crit and a query crit for the SUB Club's Spring Giving event.  I hope you donate!  http://thesubclubbooks.com/?page_id=9760

Friday, April 12, 2013

#Pitchslap 1: Wicked Stepmother

Thank you so much to everyone who bravely submitted their queries to me for #pitchslap!  I think this weekly installment will be fun and informative, so without further ado, let's get slap-happy.

Today's inaugural #pitchslap comes from my twitter pal, Liz Lincoln (@lizlincolnwritr). 




QUERY: WICKED STEPMOTHER

(I've omitted the agent-introduction segment)

For homicide detective Amanda Schreiber, fairy tales of the wicked stepmother were more than just bedtime stories. They were her reality. Ok, I think you could possibly combine these two sentences.  Also, I'm not 100% sure how adults could relate to Amanda's plight, since once you're a grown-up, a wicked stepmother seems like she'd just be an annoyance rather than someone who ruined your life ona daily basis.  Please give us a LITTLE about how awful Amanda's stepmom situation is so that we can sympathize.  But when she’s called to her latest crime scene, she never expects to find her stepmom’s dead body.
The case is reassigned to sexy newcomer, Greg Cole. Amanda should be out of the loop, but Greg agrees to keep her informed. Is this a major no-no?  Should you say he "secretly agrees to keep her informed"? I assume he's not supposed to do so and is taking a great risk.  Because that's sexy.  As the attraction between them heats up, the investigation turns toward someone in her family. And when  To improve flow, cut these sentences down and combine the lead suspect turns up dead, she begins to fear the killer is her brother. How can she choose between the only person in her family she ever trusted and finding the justice she has trained so hard to defend? The clock is ticking on Amanda's reputation as a cop. And possibly her life.
Wicked Stepmother is a romantic suspense of 100,000 words. It explores the meaning of family and loyalty while delivering a gripping mystery and sizzling romance. Nice.  Do you want to throw out any comp titles?  "Fans of ________'s __________ series would be likely readers of this mystery... something like that.  Also, the only real sizzle we get in the query is that Greg is a "sexy newcomer".  Can you give us any more?  Something for us to hold onto and sniff and go "oooh, Greg"?
I've been a member of RWA for 9 years and am active in the WI chapter. VERY GOOD!  I'm also a graduate of the Milwaukee Police Department's Citizen's Academy AWESOME DETAIL!!!! have a friend on the MPD who helped with the police procedure aspects of the book. Ok this part's not so awesome.  Agents/editors assume you've done your homework.  I think all you need is your comment about the Citizen's Academy. 
 
This query is tight, intriguing and well-paced.  It's short enough to keep us from being bombarded with details, but also gives us enough plot to see how the moment-to-moment would play out.  Kudos, Liz!
 
Spanktastic readers, what do you think?  Any insights to add?
 
PS-- Looking forward to next week's pitchslap already. :) If you submitted to #pitchslap and weren't selected, don't lose heart-- the pool just keeps getting bigger so I may use you next time. Remember, all you have to do is email the body of your query to minavaughnwrites at gmail dot com and put Pitchslap in the subject line.  Good luck and slap on!

Friday, April 5, 2013

PITCHSLAP!

Ok, so after an ABSURD amount of fun and games being a slush zombie and critiquer for Pitch Madness and #pitmad, I've decided to add a segment to the blog.

It's called Pitchslap Fridays.

I'm opening up to writers out there who need their queries or pitches critiqued.  Email me your pitch or query, and on Friday I'll pick my favorite and critique it on the blog.  Sometimes I'll pick one that is doing everything right and point out why it's effective.  Other times, well, it's gonna get a big ol' pitchslap. 

The sting subsides, leaving only euphoria, I promise.

Anyway, we'll start next week.  Email minavaughnwrites at gmail dot com with the subject line: PITCHSLAP: TITLE of your book. 

Looking forward to some slap-happy Fridays!

-Mina

Friday, March 22, 2013

How to Twitter Pitch

Ok, chances are if you're reading this, you may be singing the Pitch Madness blues and didn't make it to the agent round.

*hands you a tissue*  It's going to be fine.  There were a lot of entries, and like agent requests, it's subjective.

But don't lose heart, my friends, I'll help pitchslap your MS into 140 characters.  It's doable.

First off, think "economy of words".  Be stingy.  Pretend you're going into a cash-only store to buy enough supplies to survive on a deserted island... and you have $10.

Make.  Each.  Word.  Count. 

Hell, make your punctuation count.  Get funky with your structure.  Pick words that are VIVID, EVOCATIVE and LOADED so your reader's imagination is doing the lion's share of the work.  There are shades of meaning to words-- use this in your favor!

Also, don't get cute.  Lots of pitches have a quick little cutesy "and it was only Tuesday" or "and that was before Mom found out" type tags at the end.  Let me say this now-- not on Twitter, baby.  There's no meat to it!  Cut it out!

Another tip that may sound relatively uninintuitive is to ditch the trope and theme altogether.  Like I had said in my tips for pitch contests, we've all heard the general story before.  Redemption.  Quest.  Coming of age.  Tweet ONLY what makes your pitch original.  Lots of people save the world, tons of characters are special and don't know it.  Take a moment to discern how to tell your story in non-confusing specifics only.

Like I had done with Pitch Madness, I will be critiquing #pitmad twitter pitches in the comments section. 

Warm up your throwing arm-- let's get pitching!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tales from the Slush Pile

Slush.

Right now, it's the last word many of us want to hear.  This winter has dogged us for months, and the slush isn't going away anytime soon for at least half the country.

Today, however, I'm talking about slush of a different kind.  I had the privilege this week of being a "slush zombie" for Brenda Drake's Pitch Madness contest, a place for unagented writers to pitch their novels and hopefully get the attention of some literary agents.  We "zombies" trudged our way through hundreds of pitches, selected ones that stood out, and weeded out others that didn't grab us.

After each and every pitch I read, whether it got a yes or a no, I felt like I had learned something.  Soon I was tweeting up a storm about insights I had gleaned from this process.  Sure, I had survived the query (and submission) trenches before, so I knew how to write a good pitch for my stories, but much more universal themes kept bubbling up and within minutes, my little nuggets of wisdom were getting retweeted like crazy.  Here are some of my slush pile insights, in case you want to polish up your own pitch.

Don't waste your words on hypothetical questions or generalities! Economy of words is key in a good pitch.  Ok, so lots of pitches in the slush pile had all sorts of general statements that took up so much space.  "Has your life ever changed in a moment?" or "What if you had to choose between two things you loved more than life itself?" Typically, avoid questions in queries because the agent may actually answer "no" and then put the query in the trash, but more importantly, you don't have enough space in a pitch to be tossing out questions.  Use the most efficient and evocative words as humanly possible.  Make each word WORK.

Dialogue: it can mean the difference between a yes and a no. Sometimes, I'd be hovering over the "yes" button after reading a great pitch, but then once I got to the sample text, I was stunned by the dialogue.  Dialogue must sound realistic.  Would people say these words, in this way, in this order?  Read your dialogue out loud.  If you think any of it sounds false, re-write.  Possibly shorten it.  Right now my lovely agent Jessica Sinsheimer is doing a dialogue contest, so check out @jsinsheim on Twitter.

Pitches need sizzle for this reason: stories are tropes. We've heard them before. Make yours stand out.  In addition to your pitch being succinct and properly phrased, your pitch needs to be interesting.  Sure, you wrote an entire manuscript, so it's definitely interesting to you, but you need to figure out what would make it interesting for us...and that means it needs to be different.  What's your twist?  Your angle?  All stories have been told before in some way, so what is it about yours that will make us go, "Oh, I've never thought of _____ like that."  Oftentimes, people use "comp titles" or compare their books to current books that are out there, and that's fine, but there needs to be something astonishingly unique about your version or slush readers (and agents) won't bite.

It's important to read within your genre, but if your MS sounds too much like the books you like to read, you won't stand out.  This may sound similar to my last advice, but here I'm talking about your actual text and not your pitch.  Agents and editors read hundreds and thousands of queries and pitches and sample pages.  You only have SECONDS of their time in some cases...how can you grab them (gently) by their lapels and pull them in?  By being DIFFERENT.  Having a unique voice is important, but having a voice that is new and fresh IN YOUR GENRE is even more important.  We've all read snarky heroines in urban fantasy, for example, but what about snark in high fantasy?  Think outside the box.  Hell, burn the box and construct a geodesic dome, I don't care.  Just be more original than the last original book you read.  Then outdo it.  Make it even better.

Anyway, I loved doing this contest and I look forward to seeing which of my favorite pitches made it into the final round.  If anyone wants pitch help, feel free to leave your pitch in the comments section!  Be warned... I'm very honest.  I admit that my verbal spank does sting, but hopefully the tingle afterwards will make your pitch feel brand new.

Love and spanks,

Mina


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

TEASE.

Well, I have a little project that's going to come out BEFORE The Schoolteacher and the Submissive, but I'm not ready to announce yet.  Anyway, here's a little tease to get you thinking.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Guest Post at Bookish Temptations

http://bookishtemptations.com/2013/03/07/guest-post-character-interview-via-mina-vaughn/

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Next Big Thing

Hey spankypants!  Yeah, I'm talking to you!  I just got tagged by my friend Sarah Henning to be in "The Next Big Thing" blog tour.  I talk in-depth about my upcoming book and also dish about who I'd cast as my sexy Domme, Cerise, and flog-a-licious vamp, William!  Enjoy!


What is the working title of your book?
 
The title has had many iterations through this whole process (Sub Plans, The Substitute and the Submissive, Cherry on Top) but the title we announced with is THE SCHOOLTEACHER AND THE SUBMISSIVE.  We may still tinker with it, but for now that's the title.


Where did the idea come from for the book?
 
I like to pop my head into the echo chamber of pop culture, see what's bouncing around, and put unexpected things together.  What's more popular than vampires and BDSM?  This seemed like a no-brainer for someone who loves both of those genres.  So I wrote a vampire submissive.  But made it comedy.  And threw in role playing for good measure.


What genre does your book fall under?
 
I think it would be easier to rule out genres, haha.  It's an erotic paranormal comedy.  Yeah, pretty freaking niche.  I think it has something for everyone though, so hopefully I pull it off. 


What is your book about?

Cerise Norrel, Type A substitute teacher by day, is ready to quit
being a domme. Despite her best intentions, none of her partners can
keep up with her scene fetish and attention to detail—let alone her
demand that they have a costume and set waiting every afternoon by the
time she’s home from school.

Over a dozen potential subs have left her in the past year, but just
when Cerise thinks it’s impossible—that she’ll have to go back to
vanilla relationships, or be alone forever--she meets William, who
wants to make all her fantasies come true. He turns her home into a
geisha’s dream apartment, a concert hall with a grand piano (which he
uses to play an original composition while wearing a tuxedo), and even
rents an abandoned loft for a zombie apocalypse scene—complete with
canned goods.

But there's something strange about William. Well, a lot of strange
things. He must be absurdly rich, since he can afford to provide
extravagant costumes and props on a daily basis without having to
leave work early. He must be insane, since he puts up with Cerise's
over-the-top demands. And most importantly, he doesn't redden when
he's spanked, and his skin is as cool as satin sheets. When Cerise
discovers she's become domme to the infamous "Chilly Willy," as he's
known throughout BDSM urban lore, she begins to find out there's a
whole lot more to her handsome submissive than a creative mind and a
hard body.

And when it’s William, ironically, who starts pressing Cerise to give
him the kind of commitment she’s never given anyone, it’ll take
everything she has to work through her issues, confront her past, and
learn to be vulnerable.


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
 
The book will be published by Simon and Schuster's Pocket Star imprint.  I'm represented by the amazing Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency.


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
 
Even though she's not blonde, Mila Kunis.  She's so funny and so hot and so edgy.
 


Then there's Scar Jo.
 

 
I love everything about Scarlett Johansson.  I think she'd make an amazing Cerise because she can be funny but also be really badass.  Plus, that body!  Dayum!

Or Jennifer Lawrence because she's quirky and a total bombshell.


 
William is harder.  Heh.  No, I mean it's really hard to find a guy to properly represent my sweet, submissive hunk.  Sure, I could go to the easy picks, but most of these guys are currently associated with Mr. Christian Grey because of their light eyes and strikingly hot faces.  I'm talking specifically about Henry Cavill (my pick, cough cough).


 
I found a picture of this guy, however, and I can't find out anything about him.  BUT...he looks like William, too.
 
Google Αποτελέσματα Eικόνων για http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_aSxo2Qxxf9s/TAdldPckDXI/AAAAAAAAAOw/wpj9U5AcYto/s320/visual_3967bdc6-0de5-4855-8228-950f42320094.jpg
 
Cerise is giving him a bit of a headache.
Runner up would be to dye Chris Hemsworth's or Sam Worthington's hair.  Mmm. 
 

 
 

 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Well, honestly I just think it would make people happy.  It's unexpected.  It's funny.  It's sexy.  Cerise is a heroine you really root for, and William is the kind of guy you'd die for.  I think it's a good mix.


On Wednesday, Feb. 27th, please visit a few of my writer friends Sarah L. Blair http://www.sarahleeblair.blogspot.com/ and Tamara Mataya www.feakysnucker.blogspot.ca as they write their Next Big Thing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Summary: The Schoolteacher and the Submissive

Hey folks!  A lot of you have been asking to know more about this submissive vampire and his role-playing domme, so here goes!  This is the query that got the attention of my amazing editor!  Enjoy!


Cerise Norrel, Type A substitute teacher by day, is ready to quit
being a domme. Despite her best intentions, none of her partners can
keep up with her scene fetish and attention to detail—let alone her
demand that they have a costume and set waiting every afternoon by the
time she’s home from school.

Over a dozen potential subs have left her in the past year, but just
when Cerise thinks it’s impossible—that she’ll have to go back to
vanilla relationships, or be alone forever--she meets William, who
wants to make all her fantasies come true. He turns her home into a
geisha’s dream apartment, a concert hall with a grand piano (which he
uses to play an original composition while wearing a tuxedo), and even
rents an abandoned loft for a zombie apocalypse scene—complete with
canned goods.

But there's something strange about William. Well, a lot of strange
things. He must be absurdly rich, since he can afford to provide
extravagant costumes and props on a daily basis without having to
leave work early. He must be insane, since he puts up with Cerise's
over-the-top demands. And most importantly, he doesn't redden when
he's spanked, and his skin is as cool as satin sheets. When Cerise
discovers she's become domme to the infamous "Chilly Willy," as he's
known throughout BDSM urban lore, she begins to find out there's a
whole lot more to her handsome submissive than a creative mind and a
hard body.

And when it’s William, ironically, who starts pressing Cerise to give
him the kind of commitment she’s never given anyone, it’ll take
everything she has to work through her issues, confront her past, and
learn to be vulnerable.


Well, what do you think?  I can't wait for you all to meet William and Cerise.  :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pin Up-Turned-Domme of the Week: Smile for the Camera

So I've decided to get a little photoshop-happy.  In honor of my debut, THE SCHOOLTEACHER AND THE SUBMISSIVE, and in addition to my love for sexy pin ups, I decided it may be fun to feature pin ups with some...unconventional captions. 

Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My NYC Extravaganza in Mostly Gif Form

This weekend I got to go to New York City to celebrate my book deal.  On the entire ride there, there was a nagging feeling inside me.  I knew I could completely dork-out at any minute and lose my well-practiced composure.  So, I lectured myself.


It was really hard to keep calm and carry on.  I was about to meet my agent, Jessica Sinsheimer.  I was going to hang out with her cool publishing friends.  I was going to MEET MY EDITOR Micki Nuding.  So, before the big reveal I just meditated about not being a total fruit bat and ended up feeling like this:

 
I was ready.  A kind and delightful friend I met at a writer conference let me stay at her apartment, so I took her along with me on the literary extravaganza.  She helped me keep my cool until I spotted her.  Jessica.  The best agent on earth.  So, then this happened:

 
She was gracious and wonderful and didn't even care that I probably cracked a rib. The lounge we met at was amazing, a really secret prohibition-style Speakeasy, complete with a copper bath tub in the middle  of the floor and velvet couches.  It was swanky and rad and we felt fancy.

 
Jessica's friends were SUPER COOL.  Writers, editors, agents, foodies, the list goes on.  They were all absolutely hip and fascinating.  Like, it's probably a good thing I don't live nearby otherwise I'd be knocking on their doors every day:

 
So this place, these people, were nothing short of incredible.  I feel like I talked all night and felt like a total rock star.  I should note that I only had one drink because I'm a complete lightweight and didn't want to end up looking like this:



Anyway, the next day, Jessica and I toured the city and had a total blast.  I got to see literary treasures, explore fascinating landmarks, and eat ramen.  These noodles, guys, they were BEYOND GOOD.  I was in a slurp-induced coma for hours later.

 
And that worried me.  The next day, we would be not just MEETING my editor,  (MY EDITOR.  MY SIMON AND SCHUSTER EDITOR) but we would be eating with her.  So not only was I terrified that I'd accidentally:

 
...but now I had to worry about my table manners.  Noodles you can slurp and still be a classy dame.  Real food, well, let's just say I'm a little enthusiastic when I like something.

 
I had a little nibble beforehand so I wasn't totally ravenous, but I knew I was in trouble when I saw the menu.  It was amazing. I wanted everything.  As I ogled, Micki walked in and sat with us.  I was so nervous.  When she first sat down and we exchanged pleasantries, I felt like I didn't have much actual content to say.

 
But after a sip of wine and a few bites of my delicious dish (called mash and cheese: potatoes, gruyere, duck confit, arugula and magic), I started to become myself again.  And I talked, and she listened, and it was absolutely magical.  She is such an interesting, fun, and overall brilliant person that I couldn't believe I was actually sitting there, listening to a senior editor of such a major publisher gush about my book.  It was surreal.

 
After a few hours of chatting, eating and sipping wine, we all had to part ways.  I was sad to leave, but so energized by the visit that I'm still buzzing with positive vibes.  I wish every writer could experience this. 

Even though I'm home now, I'm still overjoyed by the steps in this process that are still to come.  Picking covers, doing interviews, even copy edits are things that I simply can't wait for. 

And I managed to not do this.





Thursday, January 31, 2013

THE ANNOUNCEMENT!

Well, the excitement has been brewing for over a month but now I can finally show it.



My debut novel, THE SCHOOLTEACHER AND THE SUBMISSIVE will be published by Simon and Schuster this summer!  I am so excited I can't even stand it. 



Here's the Publisher's Marketplace announcement:


Mina Vaughn's THE SCHOOLTEACHER AND THE SUBMISSIVE, a comedic erotic novel about a punishment-seeking vampire and a quirky Domme with a serious role play fetish, to Micki Nuding at Pocket Star, by Jessica Sinsheimer at the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency (world).



I can't wait for you all to get a chance to read my unique brand of funny, kinky, paranormal shenanigans.  Stay tuned for a synopsis, teasers and some more fun!  Celebrate with me, won't you?