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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Don't Burn Bridges

The publishing world can appear gigantic but don't make the mistake of assuming it is so big that the things you do or say will not be noticed. This goes for good and bad things. The path to publication is a long one and it is paved with frustration and heartache. With footing like that it is easy to become disheartened and say or do things you might regret later. When this happens always think before you speak and think twice~or more~before you tweet, blog, or write on one of your network pages. Trust me, do it, you'll thank me for it later.

People in the publishing world all know each other, and even if they don't it's safer to assume they do. Agent and editors go to a lot of the same conferences, workshops, and book fairs. Just like writers, they hang out with their own kind, and they talk. If you send an agent a rude, abrupt or threatening email after a rough rejection you can bet he/she will talk to their colleagues about it. They're not evil, they're just human. They don't want their friends and colleagues to have to endure the same lashing they did.

Don't worry, this doesn't mean you can't vent, you just need to be cautious about where and how you do it. The safest way is to call your friends, or to send them an email. Don't DM, IM, or PM on a social media site though. Those sites often have glitches and sometimes private messages are seen by the public. Your best bet though is, if you don't want someone to see or hear it, don't say it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Agent & Editor Advice

Twitter was hopping with great advice and tweets for writers this week. I could hardly keep up with it all! Check out what an editor of Kensington books had to say about receiving an offer from a publisher:
@meganrecords Don't be coy if you have an offer. Don't simply inquire about status at other pubs, TELL THEM YOU HAVE AN OFFER. (cont) #pubtip
@meganrecords Will try to get to it quickly if you tell us. Otherwise, you'll wait your turn like everyone else. And don't lie to get faster read. #pubtip

Agent Mandy Hubbard was kind enough to let us know what trends she has been seeing in her inbox:
@MandyHubbard Today's trends: Dystopias, Angels, Dream worlds or living in dreams/meeting boy of your dreams IN a dream. #queries

Chuck Sambuchino from Writer's Digest shares some very encouraging words:
@ChuckSambuchino Wrote a guest column for @RachelleGardner today: You Can Write for Love AND Money http://bit.ly/b1ipSt

This is a different genre from last month's contest so be sure to check it out if you write YA. You could win a critique from an agent who just might like your work enough to consider representing you:
@WritersDigest Free contest for YA writers!! -- judged by lit agent Tamar Rydzinski of Laura Dail Literary: http://t.co/YOL3PQ3

This post is a must read if you have questions about contracts, copyright, or legal issues, which most of us do! I definitely learned a thing or two.
@ WritersDigest Have questions about contracts, copyright or legal issues? Amy Cook reveals all http://tinyurl.com/2covwwk

The fabulous new agent Weronika Janczuk sheds light on questions in the literary world with her new blog feature *Ask Weronika*. If you're not following this lady, you should be!
@WeronikaJanczuk New blog post! *Ask Weronika* -- Picture/MG/YA Books & Me: Jennifer asked:I was wondering if you represent childre... http://bit.ly/bMZM1l

Non Twitter peeps let me know if these were helpful! Twitter peeps, let me know if I missed anything else great!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Reality Of Author Advances

We all dream of the big six figure advance and hope that one day it will be handed to us. Unfortunately the reality is that with the tumultuous state the publishing industry is in, the six figure advance has become extremely rare. Brace yourself for a much harsher reality of four or five figures.

But there is good news! Smaller advances means you'll make them back for your publisher faster which is a very good thing. When you make back your advance for your publisher they are more likely to buy your next book. That also means you'll start to get royalty checks faster, which is where you're going to make your real money anyway, as long as you're prepared that is.

Smaller advances mean less money for marketing as well so be ready to do a lot of your own promoting. But that is a post for another day! A good friend of mine, Lindsey Edwards gave a fantastic link on her blog to someone who researched average advances. Check it out here, but brace yourself.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Manuscript Request Etiquette

Getting multiple requests to read either a partial or your full manuscript can be a wonderful, confusing, and scary thing. It is a problem I sincerely hope every one of my aspiring author friends has. Now that I've wished that upon you, how do you deal with it? The good news is there is a sort of etiquette to it, the bad news, as you probably already know, is that every agent is different.

We'll start with partials. If you are lucky enough to have multiple agents ask for a partial of your work (which is typically 30-50 pages depending on the agent's preference) then you know you're on the right track. You don't have to notify agents that someone else has a partial of your work but it certainly wouldn't hurt anything. In fact, it may help. If they're aware that someone else has requested it then they know others have shown interest and they may get to it faster. If you aren't sure how much they want when they ask for a partial don't be afraid to ask.

Things change dramatically when someone asks for your full manuscript. This isn't just a casual read in one sitting kind of situation anymore. Now the agent is really interested and has committed to investing a good chunk of their time to your work. Do not take full requests lightly. If you get a full you don’t need to tell everyone else who has a partial of it, but again it can't hurt. However, if you get more than one person requesting your full manuscript you need to tell all the agents who have requested the full that it is out to other agents.

Some agents might ask for an exclusive look at the full. This means you cannot send another full out to anyone else who requests it until that agent gets back to you, if you agree. You have the power to say no. If someone else already has the full just tell the agent who is asking that an exclusive is not available because someone else already has it. I'm on the fence about exclusive requests. If you really believe that particular agent would be a great match for you, then I say go for it. But if other agents are asking and you want to keep your options open, then you can say not at this time. Multiple offers is a post for another time. Best of luck!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Writer's Cruise, Agent Critique, & WriteOnCon

I'm sorry peeps, I didn't get on Twitter much this last week at all! Chances are you caught more links than I did. But I did have a few really good ones for you. This first one is a writer's cruise retreat with super agent Deirdre Knight of The Knight Literary Agency. I'm keeping a space in my calendar clear for it just in case I can make it! Check out her tweet about it here:

@DeidreKnight Hey, tweeps! Want to come on a writing cruise with me? Deets here: http://bit.ly/9zDSx1 

The fabulous ladies from WriteOnCon have put together another excellent chat with literary agent Sara Megibow. You don't want to miss this one! It's occurring one week from now! Get the details here:
@Casey_McCormick Did ya see? Didja? We have Sara Megibow for our next WriteOnCon Live Chat! http://bit.ly/cwOkl8

Here's an opportunity to have your first page critiqued by an agent from The Knight Agency! Check it out here:
@KnightAgency Hey tweeps! We're starting a 1st pg critique feature on our blog very SOON! Get deets on how 2 enter ur 1st page: http://twurl.nl/lslmsh

I know I missed a bunch of great tweets so feel free to fill me in on them in the comments!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday's Muse~Giant's Causeway

This breathtaking picture isn't something from a sci-fi or fantasy movie, it's the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland and it has been my inspiration for the last week. More than a few intriguing legends surround this wonder of nature and no doubt a touch of that will make it into my novel. I'm blown away by how inspired I am by the things I'm discovering about the world we live in. I've always been a hard core fantasy person who loved new and strange worlds, places that take me away from this one. But that was before I started researching and studying the history of the world around me. Now I'm filled with inspiration for stories that take place right here on Earth. Who would have thought?

I'm thoroughly enjoying Blood Promise (click on the image to the right to check it out). It has nice creepy feel to it, is filled with vampires, secret societies, and takes place in Russia. What more could a girl ask for in October? Well okay, a few werewolves would round it out nicely but I don't expect they'll make an appearance in this novel.

As for music, my MP3 player is still on shuffle, but I did hear a rumor that Avril Lavigne has a new CD coming out soon. You can bet that will by on my new novel's playlist! On a side note, a shout out to Kari from Under The Fairty Dust who just gave Heather's Odyssey the One Lovely Blog award. Thank you Kari! Be sure to check out her blog it is fantastic!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Digging Deep For Character Motivation

What truly motivates your character? I'm not looking for the easy answer here. I want you to dig down deep into their psyche and figure out what is really motivating them. Take my new main character for example. It's easy to say she wants to avenge the death of her brother. But that is what she wants, it isn't what motivates her. What motivates her is the tremendous hole eating it's way through her soul because he died fighting on the battlefield and she wasn't there to help him. What motivates her is that he was the only one in her family that saw her for who she was and supported her dreams.

To figure out what their motivators are look to their past. Is there something about the way they were raised that may affect their motivations? Is there a relationship that may be a driving force for them? Family, loved ones, or lack thereof all affect your character. What are their beliefs, culture, customs, occupation? All of those factors affect motivation and the way a person deals with life.

After you've figured out your character's motivations you must figure out what they want, which should be easier to do now that you've dug deep. My main character doesn't want to kill the man who killed her brother. What she truly wants is to feel supported and loved and to know that her brother didn't die in vain. Will she get that? We shall see. Do you know what your characters' motivations and desires are?
 
For more advice on characters check out this great post from Writer's Digest on How To Up The Ante For Your Character.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Agents, Conferences & Literary Advice

This was another busy week in which I didn't get to spend much time on my favorite social networks but I did glean a few really good links off Twitter for you. Here is a prime example from Agent Natalie Fischer about why aspiring authors should be on Twitter:
@Natalie_Fischer Twitterbugs, keep on twittering: agents are reading! http://bit.ly/725ig  #PUBTIP

It's easy to be impatient while sitting on the writer's side of the computer but check out this tweet about what it's like on the agent's side from agent Weronika Janczuk:
@WeronikaJanczuk Ever wonder why agents need a week to decide whether they want to offer rep? And why offering rep isn't so easy? http://bit.ly/9pWFMw

See a conference from the agent's point of view:
@Natalie_Fischer Wondering what my conference horrors were? Read on! http://bit.ly/b3nzq9  #pubtip, #conferences

Excellent advice from Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest:
@ChuckSambuchino Generic phrase to avoid in a query: "Turns her/his life upside down." #pubtip #writing

What to do when the magic has gone out of your author/agent relationship:
@lkblackburne When You Discover Your Agent's Not That Into You http://t.co/bSSUWGJ  via @NathanBransford

I know I had to have missed a few good links so feel free to drop a few in the comments! On a side note, congratulations to Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia, it's release day for Beautiful Darkness, the sequel to Beautiful Creatures!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday's Muse~Ancient History

I spent almost every free moment I had last week researching for my new novel, a historical young adult fantasy. It's set in Ireland, hence the picture of this amazing old castle. Researching this has been so much fun. I've started outlining now and can hardly wait to begin writing it. This one feels like it's going to be special.

My sources of research ranged from the internet to the real world. My favorite place to search for anything is Google and Wikipedia. But, as with anything you discover on line, you have to double check your facts. I love libraries and believe they are one of the best places to go for research and fact checking. However, the library in my town barely has more books than I do in my personal collection (it's a very tiny, isolated, town). In the absence of a library I go to Barnes and Noble's on line store and pick up the best books on the subject I can find.

Since I'm moving on to outlining my new novel I'm going to have to put together a playlist for it. Until then I've just put my MP3 player on shuffle. How about you, what is your favorite means of research when it comes to information for a novel?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Social Media Shout Out

You may have noticed that I've added a few links to my Where Else You Can Find Me box. I finally found the time to join a writer's social network I've been meaning to join for a long time, Scribblerati. I'm really glad I did and am sorry it took me so long. It is filled with fantastic people, tons of information on submitting, query letters, contests, and they host a fabulous chat on Twitter every week. If you need support, encouragement, or help with the writing or submitting process, it is the place to go.

I've also joined Goodreads because I love reading and talking about the books I've read. It is like the biggest book club you could possibly imagine. One of the coolest parts is, all my favorite authors are on it. It makes their day to see someone add their book to their 'to be read' list or write a great review. Surprisingly, joining these two hasn't been taking up much of my time either. I just pop in and out real quick. That's the beauty of these sites, they aren't time consuming unless you want them to be.

Heather's Odyssey has been handed a few awards and I'd like to give a shout out to the fabulous bloggers who awarded them to me. Kari over at Under The Fairy Dust awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you so much Kari! She is an aspiring author with a beautiful blog. Be sure to stop by and check it out. Writer TS Tate has awarded me the One Lovely Blog Award. TS is one of the most supportive ladies you could ever hope to know, and she's a great writer on top of it. If you don't already follow TS's blog or follow her on Twitter be sure to check her out.

I'm off to get a bit of outlining done. Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Barnes & Noble's Answer To Self-Publishing



Many writers have at least entertained the thought of self-publishing but there is the big question of what self-publishing company to go with. Now a known and trusted name, Barnes and Noble, has jumped into the world of self-publishing. They're calling it pubit.

At 60% (40% in some cases) royalties paid to the author they're being extremely competitive. It is e publishing only so there is a drawback if you want to see your book in print. However, there is no charge for publishing your novel. Really, I even read the fine print. To learn more check out the FAQ's here. And you can browse Barnes and Noble's EBook store here.

Will I be jumping into the self-publishing pool? No. I have a powerful compulsion to fight the good fight of traditional publishing a bit longer. But, I will be checking out the titles on their site!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October's Featured Debut Author~Denise Jaden

This month Denise Jaden, author of the young adult novel Losing Faith takes a bit of time to drop in and answer a few questions about her novel. First a bit about Losing Faith.

A terrible secret. A terrible fate.

When Brie's sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie's world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral farther and farther off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don't know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but.

As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don't line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith's final night...a secret that puts her own life in danger.

Those two paragraphs were all it took for me to pick up Losing Faith and carry it to the register. And wow am I glad I did! I connected with the main character Brie immediately and wanted to know more about her from page one.

Please welcome Denise! Your website profile is amazing Denise. I see that you've been a professional Polynesian dancer and fitness competitor to a mushroom farmer and church secretary and are now a mom and an author. Thanks for taking time out of your busy life to visit us!

The death of a sibling is a tough subject and I've rarely seen it covered so sensitively and tastefully as you did in Losing Faith. What inspired you to write this novel?

Well thank you! I’ve never had a sister (though I’ve always secretly wanted one) and I’ve never lost a sibling, but I did lose a close friend when I was sixteen. That loss, and realizing how much I hadn’t known about my friend until it was too late, was likely the seed that started Losing Faith.

Often a best friend is like a sister. That had to be hard. What was your favorite part of the writing process?

I love first drafts! When the world is wide open and I can write anything and just let the characters emerge – that’s the fun part for me. I don’t mind revising either, but it often takes me a while to get into the swing of that part. I feel like I could sit down and write a new first draft every day.

I envy your love of first drafts. That's my least favorite part of creating a book! Can you tell us a bit about Losing Faith that we may not know from the synopsis?

One of my favorite characters, Tessa Lockbaum, who takes over every scene she’s in, was not in my original outline. She just dropped in out of nowhere during the writing of the first draft and hasn’t left me alone since!

I love it when characters surprise even the writers. So tell me, are there plans for another novel in the works? A sequel or stand alone perhaps?

There’s no sequel planned, but I’m now considering writing a companion novel where I would tell more of Tessa’s story.

That would be awesome! I'd love to know her side of things. Is there anything in the publishing process that surprised you?

So much of the process surprised me! The waiting, at every stage, is excruciating…and then about three months out from publication, it’s like everything moves on fast forward and there is no time for anything. Also I wasn’t expecting to deal with so much self-doubt as a published author. I always thought a little bit of validation from industry professionals would help with the self-doubt, but I guess even that doesn’t hold up against the process of making your work very public. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie between published authors. Maybe I’ve just lucked out, but it seems everyone I meet, virtually or otherwise, is so incredibly encouraging and helpful.

The waiting truly is excruciating! The writer community is pretty awesome, I have to agree. Any closing thoughts you'd like to leave us with?

I love to hear thoughts from readers—good or bad—so please drop me a note through my website if you decide to give it a read!

There you go peeps, an open invitation to drop in and let Denise know what you think of her novel. To get a copy of Losing Faith click on the title and to learn more about Denise click on her name. You can also find her on Twitter here. If you've read Losing Faith or plan to I'd love to hear your thoughts on it!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Editor & Agent Advice

It was another great week on Twitter for writers. I even had the opportunity to jump in on a few great, spontaneous chats with agents and editors. Here are some of the best links I found last week:
@jsubject There Are No Rules - Back to Basics: Why Am I Getting Rejected? http://goo.gl/VWCa via @JaneFriedman

This is an excellent post by agent Nathan Bransford on banned books week. I'm very lucky that @jsubject re-tweeted it because I missed it!
@jsubject Banned Books Week in the Internet Age http://t.co/HkzAxIr via @NathanBransford

I found another fabulous editor to follow. You can learn a lot by doing that, case in point:
@rantyeditor This is who can write query letters referring to the author in third person: agents. This is who should not: everyone else.

If you are on Twitter you really should be following Chuck from Writer's Digest. Here is an example of why:
@ChuckSambuchino Very simple stuff here but worth repeating: RT @JanetKGrant - 10 Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Website: http://bit.ly/9tOMJE

Here is an encouraging tip from one of the best agencies in the business:
@KnightAgency TKA Tip:Not every project is going to be the right fit. Don’t let a rejection stop you from fulfilling your quest for representation.

Tired of querying and getting nowhere? Then you must read this:
@JaneFriedman If you prefer to avoid the cold query process for finding an agent, here are the strengths/skills you need to build: http://bit.ly/bqlJxy

Agent Nathan Bransford does an excellent post every week about the news in publishing.
@jsubject This Week In Publishing 10/1/10 http://t.co/B8WTsf4  via @NathanBransford

This is a really interesting post about what happens after you sell your book.
@WeronikaJanczuk Click here for an in-depth look at "life after the sale" -- http://bit.ly/anQJjU

If you are a writer on submission and you haven't taken the Twitter plunge yet, this might convince you.
@EgmontGal Twitter success story: we bought @taliavance's book Spies and Prejudice in large part because we know each other's tweets

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday's Muse~Character Inpiration

This picture of Kellan Lutz makes me think of my main character for the novel I'm currently editing. While the resemblance isn't spot on it's close enough to be very inspiring. ;-) I just finished the red pen stage of the editing process and I'm moving on to my read aloud stage. I love this part!

I finished reading Shadow Hills and loved it! It is a unique look at things like telekinesis and telepathy. If you love young adult paranormal novels it is a must read! I'd say it's easily one of my favorite books of the year. Now I'm reading Losing Faith by Denise Jaden. It's about a girl who's sister dies suddenly. She didn’t get along with her which complicates the grieving process. Worse yet, it starts to look like her sister's death wasn't an accident. I love Denise's writing style. Be sure to stop by this Wednesday when I interview her about Losing Faith!

What's inspiring you this week and what are you reading?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Contests For Readers And Writers

Today I want to highlight two excellent contests, one is for writers and the other is for readers. Writer Bethany, over at A Writing Journal, is running a contest in which she'll critique your entire manuscript and you can win a $25 gift certificate from Amazon! An extra set of eyes on that manuscript can't hurt and you never know, you might find yourself a critique partner out of it. I'll wait while you check out the link and enter.

Literary intern, Amanda Johnson, is doing a fabulous book giveaway. If you love adult books she's giving away Soulless by Gail Carriger and Stray by Rachel Vincent. But if you're like me and you love YA she's giving away three of the best YA books out there right now, Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready, Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, and Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld.

Don't miss these! Best of luck.