Professional Edit

This is what a manuscript looks like after a professional editor gets through with it.

 Pitts edits visible

I met Jami Carpenter at the Las Vegas Writers Convention and sent her these first few pages of my manuscript. Keep in mind this is after I have gone over the work, over and over again. I don’t know if it means I am a bad writer or if she is a good editor. I have to tell you she is pretty awesome so maybe I am not that bad.

If you are interested in an editor she can be found at I highly recommend her.


Las Vegas Writers Convention Part 1

11:45 AM Thursday.

Vegas baby!

While Las Vegas is an old haunt of mine it is still a glittering gem that never fails to captivate even the most jaded of observers. I am at the convention taking a break for lunch in the Sam’s Town Casino. No true Nevadan gets distracted by flashing lights or buzzers but even I have to admit Sam’s Town has come a long way from the old truckstop/RV park/locals casino out on the fringe it used to be. It has all the waterfalls, animatronics, and flare you’d expect to see in any of the bigger strip casinos and it is no longer out on the edge of the city, thanks to urban sprawl and the expansion of Vegas’ ungainly little sister, Henderson.

I signed in this morning and was pleased to be able to schedule an appointment with every agent I wanted to talk to. Already this is going better than BEA. The people running the convention are super friendly, the rooms accommodating, and the schedule interesting.

I was given a nice bag full of goodies and introduced to several people. I am feeling a bit like an old dog now that I have attended a few conventions. I’m not as nervous as some of the people I’ve met seem, but I remember clearly feeling the way they do.

Well sadly Sam’s Town doesn’t have WiFi yet, (so in that way they still are a bit behind the times) so I’ll have to post this when I get back to Nan’s tonight.

My lunch is here, Stay tuned for more.

10:00 pm

Home after the conference. Loving it met several agents and authors at dinner. I am really enjoying the intimate setting of this convention.



Published in: on April 16, 2010 at 12:01 am  Comments Off on Las Vegas Writers Convention Part 1  
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Smashwords and Authonomy

I am always thinking of publishing Midnight in Vegas on various eBook websites like Smashwords or Authonomy. The only reason I haven’t done it is that I worry that it might hurt my chances of being published by conventional publishers. I have read that some publishers like to see an author has published on these sites and is already marketing the book and others don’t like it and will actually refuse to publish a book that already is in eBook format. They don’t want the competition.

So here I am on the fence.

What to do?

Personally I like the idea of publishing on Smashwords. People can download the book on a bunch of formats and read it on Stanza (an App for iPhones, iPods and eventually iPads), Kindles, PC’s or Blackberries. Another benefit is you can set the price for your work on Smashwords. I can actually make money on the book. But I hate the idea of some “real” publisher not buying my book because it is on there.

I still don’t know.

So I thought I would put up a poll. What do you think I should do?

Published in: on February 16, 2010 at 5:57 pm  Comments Off on Smashwords and Authonomy  
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Done reading my MS

Meanwhile I finished re-reading my MS for submission. There is a world of difference between thinking you are ready for submission and knowing you have to submit. Reading my MS, knowing that an agent is going to be reading it shortly put a whole new light on my work.

I enjoyed reading my MS. It has been a long time since I’ve just sat down and read it, so I saw it in a different light than before. I liked it. No, I loved it. I am extremely proud of it. A novel is more work than anyone who hasn’t written one knows. A novelist has a lot to think about while he is writting. He has to have more than just the scene he is writing in his head. He has to work with the pacing and the plot for the entire novel in each sentence he writes. He has to be aware of the larger story, even when writing the smallest parts. Reading my story after so long made me realize that I accomplished that goal. The story works well, the plot unfolds with just the right amounts of twists to keep the reader guessing. That is no mean task. I finished reading my MS last night and had to smile. It was a lot of work, but a job well done.

Now if I can just make somebody in the publishing industry to see that.



The scene in my head

Jennifer Jackson tossed her third Starbucks into the trash as she got into the elevator. Her hands were barely shaking anymore as she hit the button for her floor. Today is the day she thought grimly, the elevator lurching into motion made her jump a little. She had stopped taking query letters until January 15, 2010 and today was that day. She was sure when she got into her office the InBox would be full of hopeful letters sent by desperate fools. Her job was to sift through the muck and pull out the nuggets of talent and skill then process the raw ore into fine pieces of jewelry for the world to observe and enjoy. The only problem was that the nuggets were rarer than gold.

The elevator dinged and Jennifer jumped, she took a Red Bull from her purse and popped the top, she still wasn’t ready. Guzzling the can she walked into the front office of the Donald Maass Literary agency. Donald was there waiting for her. He was always the first one in the office.

“Well, it’s begun.” He smiled and handed her a coffee.

Jennifer took a deep drink before responding. “How bad is it?”

“Hundreds, maybe thousands, I lost count.”

Jennifer made a face. “Really?”

“Afraid so.” Donald took the now empty coffee cup from Jennifer’s trembling hands and replaced it with a fresh one.

“Anything good?” She asked hopefully.

“Actually, yes, the first one you received. I liked it. You should read it.”

“The first one Donald?”

“Sent at the stroke of midnight, and the funny thing is I’ve met the author.”


“At BEA last year. You know I usually don’t remember specific people from the thousands I meet at conventions each year, but I liked this guy. He came off really smart and funny too. I am happy to see he got his synopsis done. Of course I only talked to him for about five seconds but hey, some people stand out.”

“Well, I’ll have to read that one first.” Jennifer smiled. Perhaps today wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

I sent Jennifer Jackson a query last night at midnight her time. I hope reality matches what is going on in my head. I might be pushing it with Donald Maass remembering me, but who knows.



Some grim statistics and some boggling information

I am doing my homework and researching agents and I stumbled across a disturbing post by literary Agent Jennifer Jackson. Jennifer works for Donald Maass Literary Agency and represents some great authors (Jim Butcher). She isn’t currently accepting queries but I intend to send her one once she starts again. In her post she lists her query stats for 2009. She received 8004 queries last year and request more information from 47 of them. That’s right 1 in 170, that is long, long, long odds. Of course the odds for drawing a pair of aces as hole cards in Texas Hold’Em is 1 in 210 and I have seen pocket rockets more than once so don’t lose heart. There are a lot of other factors to consider as well, this isn’t putting a quarter in a slot machine and hoping for triple sevens. The agent doesn’t randomly choose which queries she answers it is about what she is interested in. Still, it is scary seeing the numbers.

The astonishing part of her post is that of the 47 that garnered the prestigious request for more information, 3 did not respond. Can you believe that? Why even bother going through all the pain, suffering and heartache if you’re just going to ignore responses. In a subsequent post Jennifer theorized why someone wouldn’t respond, but I can’t believe someone wouldn’t at least send a message detailing why they couldn’t or wouldn’t respond. Rest assured I will respond instantly to anyone who contacts me. Even if I’m trapped under a bus, I’ll have someone bring me my laptop to reply to the email.

This wacky publishing business really shows how crazy a world we live in. I just wanted to share.



Published in: on January 13, 2010 at 10:40 pm  Comments Off on Some grim statistics and some boggling information  
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I upgraded my wordpress account and registered my domain name. You can now get to my blog by typing in You don’t have to bother with the wordpress part anymore. This upgrade will let me do a lot of other cool things with this blog, things that you can only do with a registered domain name. It is pretty exciting for me. I added some more widgets to the sidebar too. You can now subscribe to this blog and it will email you notices whenever I post up new stuff. Also I added a “share this” button that lets you share any post over pretty much every social media format in existence. So if you read something you like click on that button and help me get it out there! Try them out when you get a chance.



Published in: on January 12, 2010 at 11:17 am  Comments Off on  
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Sending Out Queries

I am sending out queries for Midnight In Vegas. I am trying to find the best matches for my book. I have been using my Writer’s Market book in conjuction with and have come up with a good system.

I have already gone through my Writer’s Market book with a highlighter and bookmarks and identified all the potential markets I might query. I then added them to the MyMarkets section of it has a handy tool you can use to track your submissions.

Then I find the website for the market I want to query and read all I can about the agents that work there. There is a great deal of information posted online. There is more than the simple lists of what they are interested in or not interested in. After reading about the agents I determine if they would still be interested in my work. I am surprised to find out how many this eliminates. You might think that eliminating agents is a bad thing but it isn’t. I don’t want to waste time submitting my work to someone who is predispositioned against it (or waste their time either, I wish more authors did this it would probably help the query process immensely.) Instead, I am sending my work to people who express interest in the type of book I have written (and are thereby less likely to reject it.) I am also looking for people who have similar business/writing philosophies to mine. I see an agent as a business partner. It is important to find somebody I think I can work with. I hope to have a lasting relationship with this person. A business relationship is often like a marriage, I don’t want to get stuck in a bad one.

After I have read the bios and selected an agent I carefully read their submission guidelines. Since I am being selective it is important to make sure that I send my work in the proper format. Every agent and agency wants something different. I don’t know if this is part of a test to see if writers are doing their homework or just the personal idiosyncrasies of the people writing the guidelines. Whichever it is (I suspect it may be a little of both) I carefully tailor my submission to match the given requirements. I don’t want my work thrown out because I sent in 5 pages instead of 10.

I am shocked by how time consuming this is. I thought that once I was ready to send out my query it would quick; just a matter of changing the names on the top of the letter and firing it out. This is definitely not the case. I suppose that in desperation you could do that, (I can even write a macro in Word that would do it for me) but I won’t. I think that part of the slush pile problem is too many people are doing that. My hope is that the time and care I put into this process now will pay dividends later.



Query Letter V3.0

Okay in addition to writing my synopsis I have been polishing the old query letter.

Here is my latest version.

Dear Agent type person

Jeff Heaven is a small time Ecstasy dealer working off-the-strip clubs pawning pills. Jeff’s friend Charles brings him a hit of a strange new drug called Midnight. The black pill is so dark that it seems to dim the lights around it. Jeff is concerned with the drug’s appearance but the effects are so incredible that he agrees to help his friend sell it.

As the drug spreads through the clubs and casinos, Jeff begins to realize that everything might not be what it seems. He hears whispering in the back of his mind and he doesn’t like what it is telling him. People who are using the drug start behaving strangely, violently, a crime wave breaks out in the city.

Niccolo Casciano is a straight laced Las Vegas Metro Officer, he knows little about street drugs and less about the supernatural. In one night he is about to learn a lot about both.

Tymon can feel the growing evil in his bones the way other men can feel approaching storms. The ancient priest scrambles desperately to find out what it is, and how to stop it.

Deep within the pastel shadows cast by neon lights a demon patiently watches as her essence is consumed by thousands. She grows in power and influence; soon she will have enough to return to our world and exact her vengeance.

Midnight in Vegas is a 125,000 word supernatural thriller that takes the reader from the high tempo club scene of Las Vegas and into the twilight realm of the Perimeter, the world between worlds.

 Thank you for your time and consideration, I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Lystra Pitts

Published in: on June 5, 2009 at 5:23 pm  Comments (2)  
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I have seen the elephant

In Victorian England the British Empire spanned the entire globe. It was so expansive that the Brits bragged that the sun never set on the British Empire, and it was true, there were colonies and commonwealths on every continent. No matter what the hour, it was daylight somewhere in the vast empire. During that time, the empire’s most unruly and combative subjects were found in Africa, India, and Asia. Veteran British soldiers were said to have “Seen the elephant.” because if they had gone into battle it was more likely than not that they had done so in a place which, quite simply, had elephants. Today the term is more loosely used to describe any veteran of any endeavor.

After Writers Digest’s BEA Writers Convention, I can say without a moment’s hesitation that I have seen the elephant and what an ugly beast it is.

I have to say on the whole the convention was great. Karin Slaughter was an awesome keynote speaker, the breakout sessions and seminars were informative and fun, the lunch speaker was great, and the pitch slam was exactly what I thought it was going to be.

At a safe distance any elephant can seem charming. Everybody loves elephants, in a zoo, behind a sturdy fence, maybe even a moat. Do you dare climb over that fence, swim that moat and cavort with the great beasts up close and personal? I did, and I’ll tell you what I saw.

In my next couple of posts.