Want to enter the Frasier and wondering how to write a 500 word synopsis?

I have talked to a number of people want to enter the Frasier contest, but are daunted by the “500 word synopsis.” 

So…I thought I’d try and help. 

First, you’re among friends at My Book Therapy.  We understand how difficult it is to condense your epic down to 500 words.  Remember, the synopsis in the Frasier contest, like the synopsis for your agent or editor is entirely to tell your editor/agent/judge that you have put together a solid story.  Yes, you want to woo them with words (and a well written synopsis can be a thing of joy and beauty.  Not long ago, I actually teared up reading the amazing synopsis of one of my clients!)  However, first you want to prove to them that you have all the pieces of the story in place. 

But what are those pieces? 

Before you start writing your synopsis you need to know some basic questions, (hopefully ones you’ve already thought through). 

1.       Hero and Heroine Identity:  Who is your hero/heroine? What do they do?  The A/E/J  (Agent/Editor/Judge because I just can’t keep writing that out), needs to understand who the story is about – and so do you.


2.      Goals:  What do the H/H WANT from their life – what are they after?  If you’ve been hanging around MBT for any length of time, or were with us last year when we created a proposal for our Blog-A-Book, you’ll know that I usually ask a question to determine this answer:  What is your hero/heroine’s Greatest Dream.  If you’re starting to panic, ask your character this: What was the happiest moment in your life?  (usually something in their childhood) and Why?  Usually your character will be trying to recreate the essence of that happy moment.  Taking a good look at that will help you understand how to construct their tangible, specific and measurable goals.


3.      Motivations:  Why does the hero/heroine have the goal they do?  Asking the above question helps you nail down the WHY of the synopsis.  What propels them through the story after their goal? 


4.      What is your Character good at? (Also known as their competence)  Your characters need to be GOOD at something – meaning, what are they going to do to accomplish their goals?  You’ll also use this competence to try and hurt them…but that’s another class.  J  For now, we just need to know how they plan to go about accomplishing their goals.


5.      What is the Trouble they’ll see?  Or what disappointments and disasters will you work into the story to pull them away from their goals?  You know the old adage – help us fall in love with your character, and then get him into the most trouble possible.  So…what trouble is in the way of your hero/heroine and their goal?


6.      What is their Black Moment?  Every character will have a moment in the story when everything goes bad – worse than they can possibly imagine.   At this moment, they usually have what is called an Epiphany (which we’ll get to next).  But a Black Moment is built on asking your character what his Greatest Fear is – some event in the past that shaped them and that they would do anything to avoid.  Anything.  What is that great fear…and how will you use it to create the black moment?


7.      The Lie and the Truth:  Your character needs to have a spiritual or truth journey of some kind. This is embodied in asking:  What is the lie your character believes, and what is the truth that sets him free? The lie is often embedded during that Greatest Fear event in their past….and it is where you find your character at the opening of the novel.  The truth of course is some revelation they have that sets them free from the lie and allows them then to win the day. 


8.      What is the spiritual takeaway for the novel, and how does the title tie in with the takeaway? 


Gather up those building blocks….And then it’s a matter of laying it out, weaving in all the story layers.  Think of the synopsis like a braid…you’re starting at the source, then weaving the hero and heroine’s pov together until you get to the climatic ending and spiritual takeaway that ties it all up. 

Or…for the Type A’s out there:   

  • Introduction of hero/heroine
  • Statement of their goals/motivations
  • What stands in their way
  • Elements of the story (the disappointments) (this should comprise the bulk of your synopsis)
  • The black moment
  • The epiphany
  • The resolution/happily ever after ending
  • The spiritual takeaway/title tie-in.
  • Do this for both of your character (omitting the subplots for now), and you’ll have laid down the backbone of your story. 
  • (Then you just need to add the color words — words that add texture and life to your synopsis and you’ll have a synopsis that woos you’re A/E/J into your book!) 
  • For more information about writing a synopsis, go to the MBT Archives [Look under Proposals}, and if you have further questions, post them at Club Book Therapy: Frasier Questions!
  • And don’t forget – the deadline for entering the Frasier is March 31st!  Find out more here!

Hope that helps!  Happy…um….synopsis-ing? 

Susie May 



One Thing Marketing: The Three Bs—Buy In!

For the past couple weeks, we’ve been talking about the Three Bs of marketing:

1)      Brand

2)      Bio

3)      Buy-in 

We focused on “brand” two weeks ago and “bio” last week. Today’s topic: Buy-in.

It’s possible I may or may not have picked the term “buy-in” solely so it’d fit into the alliteration. 😀  But I think it works.

When we buy in to something—an idea or a product—we’re giving it our support. We’re agreeing to do something.

So in all of your marketing efforts—online, in print or in person—you should have a clear idea of what you’re asking the audience or the reader to do. Sometimes the buy-in will be obvious. For instance, if someone visits your Facebook author page, obviously you want them to “like” the page. But there can be other buy-in opportunities on your page as well—contests, questions for readers, etc.

Think about the buy-in possibilities in the following marketing areas…what do you want the read to do in each of these cases?

Blog/website: Let the reader know if you want them to leave a comment, subscribe via RSS or email or connect with you on Facebook/Twitter.

Pitch sheets: You don’t want an agent or editor just to read the thing, you want him or her to ask for more. So be clear on the pitch sheet that you’ve got a proposal or manuscript available.

Bookmarks: Your main purpose in creating a promo bookmark is not to help your reader mark her place in a book! J Think about what action you’d like the reader to take—Visit your website? Connect with you on Facebook? Buy your next book?

YouTube/Vlogs: Sure, getting the person to watch your video is a first step. But then what action should they take? Why not encourage them to share it with a friend? Or, in the video description, let them know how they can connect with you.

These are just a few examples. The main point is this: In each marketing strategy, think about the person on the other end and what action you’d like that person to take. Then, simply give them the opportunity to take that action. 

One Thing Action: Have you created an Ask, or “Call to Action” for each marketing strategy? Do this for your platforms!

Melissa Tagg pix 2013



Melissa Tagg serves as the MBT Marketing and Events coordinator.  When she’s not helping MBT, she serves as the Marketing coordinator for her other company, a non-profit in Des Moines, IA.  Melissa’s Debut book, Made to Last, hits the shelves in September 2013. find her at: www.melissatagg.com

The 2013 Frasier Contest is OPEN!

I’m so delighted to announce that the My Book Therapy 2013 Frasier Writing Contest is open!  Check out the video…and don’ t forget to enter!

Visit these blogs! Check out the Contest!

Thursday, January 31                 Alena Taurianen interviews last year’s Frasier winner at the MBT Ponderers blog



Friday, February 1                     My Book Therapy website




Monday, Feb 4:                          Lindsay Harrel



Tuesday, Feb 5:                         Johnnie Donley



Wednesday, Feb 6:                    Mary Vee



Thursday, Feb 7:                       Bethany Kaczmarek



Friday, Feb 8:                            Jill Kemerer



Monday, Feb 11:                        Jenn Soehnlin



Tuesday, Feb 12:                       Pat Trainum writing as Patricia Bradley



Wednesday, Feb 13:                  Gabrielle Meyer



Thursday, Feb 14:                      Casey Herringshaw at the Writers Alley



Friday, Feb 15:                          Rachel Hauck



Monday, Feb 18:                        Melissa Tagg



Tuesday, Feb 19:                       Carol Moncado



Wednesday, Feb 20:                  Ellen Andersen



Thursday, Feb 21:                      Michelle Lim



Friday, Feb 22:                          Sarah Thomas



Monday, Feb 25:                        Heidi Chiavaroli



Tuesday, Feb 26:                       Lisa Jordan



Wednesday, Feb 27:                  Michelle Weidenbenner



Thursday, Feb 28:                      Jodi Janz



Friday, Mar 1:                            Marney MacNall



Monday, Mar 4:                         Kimberly Buckner


A Whole New Year of Success, Part 4: Measure the Right Way

We’ve made some ground already in this brand new year. Hopefully, you’ve made plans and have worked that plan. Now that you’ve gained some momentum, you’ll need to periodically measure your success.

Do it the right way and it can fuel your fire. Measure incorrectly and you’ll extinguish it. Here are some do’s and don’ts of measuring your success:

Do measure your success daily. Seriously. Take just a few moments each day to count your successes and recognize those areas where you fell short of the finish line. That way, you’ll know where to pick up tomorrow.

Don’t measure by comparing yourself to others. Susie May Warren may write a book in ten days while Terri Blackstock takes a year. Both are magnificent authors. Both are very different in how they approach their writing.

Do celebrate each and every win. Literally. Stop what you’re doing and celebrate even the smallest win. That will give you the motivation to face the next challenge.

Don’t dwell on what you haven’t accomplished. You should recognizes what still needs to be accomplished but if you beat yourself up about it, you’ll get stuck and prevent yourself from moving forward.

Do seize the opportunity in the moment. Those how are mega successful don’t have a minute more in the day than you do. They seize the opportunity moment by moment and use it to move them toward their goals.

Don’t forget how far you’ve come. You’re not where you ultimately want to go but sometimes it’s good to look back down in order to see your progress.

Do remember that it’s a journey. The goodie is in the journey, not necessarily in the destination. If you focus on the destination only, you’ll miss all but the moment you cross the finish line. How tragic would that be?!

Don’t quit. Nope. Just [don’t] do it! Winners never quit and quitters never win. Oh sure, there will be times when you have to pull over and park for a while to rest but don’t abandon the journey. Never. Never. Did I mention never?

These are just a few of the things you can do and don’t each day. Warning: these are habit forming. And they are contagious. You could just change the world… or at least your world.

What are some do’s and don’ts you’ve come up with? Share them here!



Reba J. Hoffman is a natural encourager and Member Care Coach at My Book Therapy. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Counseling and is the founder of Magellan Life Coaching (www.magellanlifecoaching.com). She is the author of Dare to Dream, a Writer’s Journal published by My Book Therapy. She also publishes a motivational and encouraging blog, FindingTrue North. Contact Reba at reba@magellanlifecoaching.com.