Geaing Up To Get An Agent

Are You Geared Up To Get An Agent? 

Meet & Greet: Let's Get it on

If you are here for the  What I Did Last Summer: Fact or Fiction bloghop, I will post my story this evening. This post is already quite lengthy as is my fact or fiction story and I did not want to overwhelm my readers. Please check back at 9:00 P.M CST.

Deana Barnhart
It is time to meet & greet and get to know one another. I have been waiting for this day since last year. I started blogging during the month of September 2011, and I was so bummed that I missed the deadline and was unable to participate. Like I always say, we are exactly where we are supposed to be. What do I mean by that?

 I couldn't have known it, but this time last year,  I was not even close to ready to begin querying agents. This past year I have learned so much from blogging and from the amazing people I have met through social networking.  If I had signed up last year I would have struck out and thankfully I have learned enough to understand why.  I am certainly not saying that my writing has improved so much that I will land an agent during this years GUTGAA.  I am saying that at least I can make it up to bat.

Thank you Deana Barnhart for hosting the Gearing Up To Get An Agent (GUTGAA) blogfest.

If you are here for the  What I Did Last Summer : Fact or Fiction bloghop, hosted by Emily R. King and Melodie Wright. I will post my story at 9:00 PM CST. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. I don't want to overload you with a mega long post.

About Me:

I am a full time mom and a part time lawyer and a writer. My husband and most people I know think I am odd or quirky (but not in a bad way- so I am told ). Maybe I should be worried.  l love life and my family is so important to me. I was a prosecutor for twenty years in Louisiana, and Florida, before going into private practice as a criminal defense attorney. I love to write (duh),  read and spend time with my family at the beach.

 In fact I like doing anything that involves water-swimming, skiing, boating, anything. I live in Louisiana and I am proud of our culture. I am outgoing. I am a very loyal person and I detest backstabbing, gossiping (the kind intended to hurt someone) and bullying. I eat peanut butter on just about everything. I wear mismatched socks and once I even wore one blue and one black shoe to court. This is a true story. They were the exact same shoe, just different colors and the blue was very dark.  I write mystery, suspense, and thrillers. I read every genre. I've made a lot of mistakes, but feel fortunate to have learned from them. I don't know if aging has matured me or what, but am no longer bothered by small stuff or petty people.  That's me in a nutshell.

Where Do you Write:  

Anywhere & everywhere. My favorite place to write is in the car. I accomplish so much while I am waiting in carpool lines or for my kids at soccer or cheer practice. I am alone, without distractions and because I have a reason for being parked for over an hour in the same spot, people don't look at me like I am some kind of crazed stalker. I love the freedom of writing in a parked car. I control whether or not I will answer the phone. I get into a zone and churn out thousands of words and I am a little sad when I realize that the hour is up and the car must roll forward.

Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?

This is embarrassing.  I see a pack of cigarettes, a lighter, an ashtray , two empty diet coke cans, one full can, and my cell phone sitting on top of Larry Brooks' Story Engineering. (I have a desk next to my bed where I usually write at home, but I am outside writing by the pool because the weather is so nice) That's my pitiful excuse for the cigarettes.

Favorite Time To Write: 

Late at night. I am most creative and productive from about 10:30 PM  - 1:30 AM

Drink Of Choice While Writing:
Iced tea or sometimes white wine

When writing, do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?

I am really weird. I cannot write to music. I find it too distracting, but I can write with the television on low in the background. I do not like complete silence-ever.

What was the inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

I prosecuted a woman about ten years ago and early on I had some real doubts about her guilt. This changed as the investigation continued. She eventually confessed in exchange for a plea bargain. We took the death penalty off the table and she plead guilty to second degree murder with a life sentence. The victim was an influential, powerful, married man. So I started thinking: What if someone like this woman was charged with murder? What if she was truly innocent? What if no one believed her because of the victim's political connections? I added things like a pregnancy, a judicial cover up and so on, but that one petite, pretty woman who looked more like a school teacher than a cold blooded killer stayed with me for years - until I finally had to explore someone like her by writing a story.

What is your most valuable writing tip?
I already knew this answer, but recently discovered how valuable it can be. I am not a plotter, but lately I'm working to change that. I took a course offered by Holly Lisle and I recently read a short, but powerful book written by Cathy Yardley,  Rock Your Plot.  In Rock Your Plot, I completed a detailed scene outline and then a second more succinct scene outline that included only the chapter number, scene number, POV, and the goal, motivation, conflict and disaster for the main character of each scene. Only one line is allowed per scene. For Holly Lisle's workshop, it was called the sentence lite card.
For each scene you write one sentence (if you need more than one, you are not doing it right), that includes what the protagonist wants and why, what the antagonist wants and why, what happens (conflict), where it happens (setting) and the twist.

My husband recently lost my briefcase and I was hysterical. I had a few of my notebooks inside. I write my entire first draft with pen and paper and then transfer it to my computer. The notebooks contained several scenes that I had not transferred to my laptop. I thought I would lose my mind and kill him (I was going for an insanity plea at my trial, lol)
 But, then I remembered the work I did with Lisle and Rock Your Plot. Much to my amazement, I was able to rewrite the ten missing scenes quite easily because of my GMCD and Sentence lites. 

So my tip: Have a backup of everything you write and it can only help if you plot your scenes with note cards or Scrivener before you write . I love Scrivener.

And a general tip that I learned from Martha Alderson, author of The Plot Whisperer. This is my mantra:

I will not go back to the beginning until I reach the end.

The second winner of Jennifer Hiller's thriller, Freak, has asked that I remove his name from the drawing and draw again. He already owns a copy of Freak. Thank you for being so gracious. So tonight when I draw the 3rd winner, I will also draw another winner from my second post that offers this prize. 

In case you are wondering what I am blabbing about. I am selecting one person randomly from the comment section of my blog post. There will be ten winners in all. For each of my next eight post, a new winner will be announced. The prize is a copy of Jennifer Hiller's latest thriller, Freak.

It is nice to meet you all and I am looking forward to making new friends. Please check back tonight for my fact or fiction story that is part of the What I Did Last Summer bloghop. 


  1. Your WIP sounds awesome! I'm so glad you are participating in this!

    (Just posted my meet and greet as well:

    Best of luck to you! :)

  2. Wow! I'm hoping to be more of a plotter myself. And its really hard to write the whole thing w/o going back. I'm trying that now with my new WIP.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  3. Hi, my family is from Louisiana. I also love the culture, lol. Nice to meet you.

  4. Hi Melissa, it's great to meet you, I enjoyed reading your post and getting to know more about you. I think it's great that your novel was inspired by something in real life, sounds like a real interesting, twisty plot =) I would lose my mind if I lose my writing or notes, so I definitely believe in backing up, I back up three ways! lol

  5. Good to meet you. Best wishes with you "at bat". One of my favorite author buddies is also a lawyer. I've seen quite a few of you around GUTGAA today. ^_^

  6. I can't write to music either. If I have to blog out the sound of a neighbour's angle grinder or whatever, then I'll listen to music without lyrics, but that's as far as it goes.

  7. I am glad I started the change because if I had not, I would have been SOL.

  8. Nice to meet you. Thank you for visiting

  9. Nice to meet you as well. Back up-Back up- Back up. I cannot say it enough.

  10. I've noticed that as well. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Thank you, Kyra and thanks for visiting.

  12. I love Scrivener, too :D Any I agree with Kyra - your MS really does sound awesome - way to take inspiration from your daily life!

  13. I always save my work to a flash drive and the harddrive. But there's been a few times I can't find the flash drive, and I start getting nervous. I worry about my idea notebooks too, losing them. That would be horrible.
    My kids are not old enough to where I only drop off and pick up at activities--but that is a great idea to sit in the car and work like that. I've gone to the park and sat in my car because I didn't want to go to the library and didn't want to go pay for a drink at the coffee shop. I feel kind of funny just sitting in my car, but I do have my laptop, so it's not like I'm staring at the playing kids.

  14. We do have a lot in common!! I need to start following your mantra of not going back to the beginning until I read the end. I think Scrivener is GREAT for this, I use the chapter notes to pop back and find where I might need to tweak something early to make a later action make sense and I put my note there, rather than dive back into the manuscript. Fingers crossed you find a beta reader on Wednesday!

  15. I definitely understand the silence thing. I also often write with the t.v. in the background!

  16. It's painful to lose a file! I had my contemporary historical Bildungsroman on hiatus for 16.5 years because the first (very long) file got some kind of virus or whatever. I'm so glad I finally went back from scratch and memory, since when that long-assumed-lost file was miraculously resurrected last spring, I was horrified at how awful and unsalvageable it was. I've been fanatical about constantly saving for years, due to that and other losses and close calls with files. I'll hit Command S literally like every 15-20 seconds, it seems!

  17. Ok - I'm impressed you practice law in Louisiana. In law school, I remember the professors saying, "Well, it's like this in most of the country, except Louisiana." :)
    I love your writing tip! I read something similar to this not too long ago, and I think it's a great idea.

  18. Hi there, pleased to meet another GUTGAA-er. :) You're blog is gorgeous - love the design and so much interesting stuff there (I followed by email, :P ). Thanks for visiting my blog too (Beyond The Hourglass Bridge). I couldn't add Google Friend connect because at the time I tried it said the service was being phased out so I've got email, networked blogs or RSS if that helps?

  19. I love Scrivener too. Best $45 I've ever spent. Good luck with GUTGAA!

  20. Sorry I'm so late commenting! I'm the same way about tv vs music - I can write with the tv on in the background, but not music. And your book sounds intriguing!

  21. Hi Melissa, Pretty blog! Nice to meet a fellow GUTGAA'er!


  22. Hey--I'm currently public defender! Nice to see you've finally come over to the good side! :D Also, I'm glad cases haunt prosecutors, too.

  23. Rock your plot is going to be my new motto :)

  24. Melissa, your WIP gave me chills. That's a book I would love to read. Sounds very John Grisham-like. (I love him.) I wish you the very best of luck with it, and with GUTGAA.

    Thank you for visiting my blog! It's so nice to meet another lawyer-writer! (Though I'm in corporate--dead boring compared to what you do.)

  25. I just found you. Wait, were you lost? No? Then it was probably me. Nothing unusual.

    Great blog! I lived in SW LA for two years. While I love the people (and keep in touch often) and the food - those little helicopters and eight legged freaks, plus bull alligators behind my house and humidity just pushed me home to my mountains. Alligators don't like snow.

    I attempted to plot outlines, did my best to be organized. I really did. But much like my own college days, I am too chaotic to make sense out of organization! You have my undying admiration.

    Your MS sounds like it is a great read! Good luck in GUTGAA :)

  26. Scrivener and Rock Your Plot with Cathy Yardley? Girl, where you been all my life? Love this and howdy from Texas!


  27. Yes! Another late night writer... tonight, when I'm ponding away on the laptop, I will think of my people who are doing the same!!! And yes, Scrivener is awesome... I save it to dropbox so I can never lose my work. AMAZING! Looking forward to learning more about your WIP... it sounds fascinating!

  28. I loved reading your introduction and the answers to your questions. I feel like we sat down and had coffee together!
    Nice to see you here for the GUTGAA and hope to see you around this month. est wishes!

  29. I also draft by hand! There's something so freeing about it? Also, pen and paper makes it impossible for me to go back until the draft is finished. See? We even share the same mantra. :-P


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