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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Twitter Tuesday~From New Agents To Marketing

I hope you all had a great Memorial day weekend and enjoyed tons of excellent barbequing, visits with family, and reflecting on all that others sacrifice for us. With the mushy stuff out of the way, let's get to your links! This first one is a flash fiction contest from agent Sarah LaPolla:
@sarahlapolla For other flash fiction contest needs... I'm judging @womenonwriting's Spring 2011 contest! Details here :http://bit.ly/1rk1uz
 
For those who were under a rock and didn't know, last week was BEA (Book Expo America), the biggest book expo on our lovely continent. Writer's Digest brings us this list of trends from the Expo that writers need to stay on top of:
@WritersDigest 3 Publishing Trends Writers Must Stay On Top Of - This week marks the publishing industry's largest trade show, Book... http://ow.ly/1cPue5
 
Agent Jennifer Laughran throws down for her client (and makes me glad my checks won't be coming from a 'traditional' publisher):
@literaticat Oh hi, publisher who has owed my client money for 8 months. I'M RIGHT BEHIND YOU, & I KNOW WHAT YOU PAID FOR THIS BOOTH. #schmucks #bea11
 
Agent Sarah LaPolla brings us this video on sex scenes in YA:
@sarahlapolla If you are a YA writer thinking of writing a sex scene, might I suggest watching this video? http://t.co/XKaJCLj
 
Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest brings us another great new agent interview:
@WritersDigest New lit agent seeking literary fiction, young adult and more: Rachel Stout of Dystel and Goderich http://tinyurl.com/3zlb99f

And this one is just because I love the author Leah Cypess and am dying to read her next book!
@MarthaMihalick Neat-o alert! @LeahCypess is doing a "Making of Nightspell" blog tour. Part 1: http://bit.ly/m2KlNQ

Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest warns us not to go it alone when it comes to marketing:
@JaneFriedman A critical marketing secret: Don't go it alone (my guest post today for W-Unboxed): http://bit.ly/iuhdrM
 
Hopefully next week I'll have a few more for you. I was super busy last week working on my back cover and flap text (so much fun!). Don't worry, I'll be writing a detailed post about my experience soon. Tomorrow though I have something special for you, an interview with debut author Myra McEntire!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday's Muse~Memorial Day Weekend


Memorial day is all about honoring those who gave everything they had to give for our country. I want to thank each and every one of them. This picture is of my dad, who didn't die in a war, but he died because of one. For his story go to my special post on author Catherine West's blog. Those who gave so much are heroes. Though my dad was not perfect in many ways he was a hero to me. Which leads me to think of heroes in the literary world and in my own writing. 

There is nothing so wonderful as a flawed hero. Through their quirks and flaws we learn to sympathize with them and love them. Such things make them more human, more relatable. But there is more to them than that, so much more. Think of your hero, or take mine for example. I'll use my favorite literary hero, Buffy. Aside from her fun, relatable quirks, what makes Buffy my hero? For one she's a girl that kicks but and doesn't need anyone to take care of her, yet at the same time she understands the value of friendship and loyalty. But the deep down part that really makes her a hero is her self-sacrifice, the way she puts it all on the line to fight the good fight. It is that final quality that Buffy has in common with many of my favorite heroes, both literary and real life. 

Every bit of that is important to bring out in the heroes of our novels, what makes them who they are and why. For more help on the subject check out what my friend Stina on Seeing Creative wrote on characters last week. The first is Creating Non-Stereotypical Characters, and the other is Realizing Your Character's Fears. For more in honoring heroes both in your writing and real life, join us tonight at 6pm PT on Twitter for the #WritersRoad chat.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Twitter Tuesday~Trends, Contests, And Industry Advice

Since I was editing until my eyes bled (not really, don't worry, it just felt like it) I didn't make it on Twitter much last week. But I did catch a great contest and some good advice for you. This first one is from agent Sarah LaPolla brings us this tweet from an agent who answers the ever popular word count question: @sarahlapolla Children's/MG/YA Writers: If you're still questioning what your word count should be, read this post by @literaticat: http://bit.ly/ke1Wgp

Would you like your first 30 pages critiqued by an editor with a great mid-sized house? Then check this out:
@HeatherMcCorkle Fabulous interview & giveaway with @EgmontGal editor with Egmont USA! http://tinyurl.com/3rvaxt2 Not to be missed! #WritersRoad #writing

Agent Sarah LaPolla muses upon the evolution of YA:
@sarahlapolla In which I talk about the evolution of YA literature... w/ no real conclusion: http://bit.ly/kH1Z4X

Agent Ginger Clark brings us a tough truth about traditional publishing:
@Ginger_Clark Authors: it's a sad fact, but the title you have your heart set on probably won't survive marketing and publicity's input

Wondering about trends in YA? Agent Mandy Hubbard dishes:
@MandyHubbard After 37 meetings at every major publisher, I give you: An Epic Post on Trends in YA and MG: http://tinyurl.com/3wtzwh3 #Kidlitchat

Have a YA contemporary about teens and their summer job? Agent Mandy Hubbard wants to see it if so:
@MandyHubbard You know what I would *LOVE* for my list? A contemp YA built around a group of teens and their crappy (summer?) job. Snarky & fun.

Writer Shelley Watters brings us another fantastic agent-judged contest. Hurry and sign up!
@Shelley_Watters Speaking of contests - go check out my blog - I've got an agent-judged contest starting soon! Go sign up! http://shelleywatters.blogspot.com/

Feel free to leave a link to anything great I may have missed, even if it's one of your own tweets!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday's Muse~Exciting Things Coming

This picture is one that has inspired The Secret Of Spruce Knoll from the start. The edits of are complete! Whoo hoo! Well, complete is a subjective word. My final, personal round are complete and now it is off to… oh wait, I can't tell you that yet. ;) Soon my peeps, soon. This round of editing was particularly eye-opening for me. It feels so polished and wonderful but I must admit, I was surprised at some of the things I found. I don't even want to tell you how many times I had to delete the words 'just' and 'actually'. I might just forbid myself from ever writing those two words again. Oops.

I'm reading Popular by Alissa Grosso and am really enjoying it. My luck has been amazing this month. I won Hourglass by Myra McEntire from Lydia Kang over at and Possession by Elana Johnson from Bella at Paranormal Obsession. If you don't already follow those lovely ladies click on their names and check them out! They are amazing.

What inspired you this last week? What goals or accomplishments did you achieve?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Industry Advice~What To Take

With all the conflicting advice in the industry it can be hard to figure out which advice to take and which to leave. If that advice comes from professionals that you respect then it becomes even harder. I've been to a lot of conferences, workshops, and retreats and  often the information that comes out of it can be overwhelming. Agents and editors are often looking for different things and they all like slightly different styles. Like you and I, they are individuals.

"Hold the presses Heather! You mean to say the Gatekeepers are human?!"
"Yep, that is precisely what I mean."

I've had agents tell me they didn't like my beginning because it was a prologue. Several have told me don't use prologues, they are awful, no one likes them, people skip them...and all manner of negative feedback on the subject. On the other hand, I've had agents who loved the prologue beginning of my novel and felt it set exactly the right tone. When something like that happens (and there is still no offer) what do you do? There is only one thing you can do. You must stay true to your vision for your novel.

Good advice is that which will improve your novel but not alter it into something unrecognizable. Of course advice on grammar, structure, and spelling is always good. When it comes to character, plot, and story structure that is where things get sticky. A good rule is to follow the advice of those who either love your story idea or are vested in it, such as a signed agent (or one with the potential to sign who has asked for a rewrite), your critique partners, or beta readers (so long as they are the constructive kind).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Twitter Tuesday~From Book Giveaway To Industry Advice

From book giveaways to industry advice, I've got a lot of great links for you today! They are tweets of a different flavor than you may be used to seeing so I hope you enjoy them and find them useful. This first one is a contest to win the bestselling YA novel Divergent!
@HeatherMcCorkle Win a signed copy of DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth from the lovely Carolina Valdez Miller! http://tinyurl.com/436gc7m
If you write non-fiction, YA, thrillers, or international fiction and are looking for an agent then don't miss this new agent feature by Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest:
@WritersDigest New Agent Alert: Jeff Ourvan of the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency http://ow.ly/1cBd6G

Agent Mandy Hubbard brings us a few great publishing tips:
@MandyHubbard #pubtrip scoop: almost universally, pubs are short on MG stuff. Some say only 10% of their subs are MG!
@MandyHubbard #Pubtrip scoop cont: some eds still have not acq a dystopian and are looking, but feel it needs to happen soon or they miss the boat

If you're researching or will be soon you don't want to miss these tips from Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest:
@JaneFriedman 5 excellent research resources you may not know about (+ search tips and tricks):
http://bit.ly/lfuG0l

If you've thought about self-publishing then you need to reach this!
@WritersDigest Should You Self-Publish After a Near-Miss? - Writers often ask if it's wise or helpful to self-publish their work if... http://ow.ly/1cC6ud

Think all self-published books are crap? Love self-publishing and think it's the future? Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest explores the debate:
@JaneFriedman The "Self-Pub Is Crap" Debate: http://bit.ly/mUoIAE  (Let's stop taking sides)

I hope you enjoyed the different flavors of tweets this week. I thought it would be fun to mix it up a bit.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday's Muse~Spruce Knoll

I'm so happy to see that you're all still with me after the Blogger gremlin invasion last week! I had no idea how much I loved the blogging community until I couldn't interact with it. There may or may not have been heavy objects thrown. I will never tell. Last week I took a break from my new work in progress to go back and do some revisions on The Secret Of Spruce Knoll. This picture is one of the one's that inspired me for my main character.

There may be something exciting in the works with this novel but I can't say just what yet. This latest revisions fleshed out my characters and gave them wonderful depth. I'm really excited with the end result and will soon be sending it off to my Critique Sisters. After that, well you'll just have to wait and see!

I'm reading Popular by my friend Alissa Grosso and am loving it. This novel was well worth the wait. If you haven't checked it out yet definitely do, you won't be sorry. Up next is either Possession by Elana Johnson or Hourglass by Myra McEntire, whichever arrives first! I won Hourglass from Lydia over at The Word Is My Oyster (thank you so much Lydia! And if you aren't already following this great lady OMG why not?!) and I have pre-ordered Possession. Reading books written by my friends adds something special to it that I just can't explain but LOVE!

While revising Spruce Knoll I have reverted back to old Avril Lavigne CD's and Allison Iraheta. I'm so happy that circumstances drew me back to this novel because I had forgotten how much I loved it. Have you ever gone back to something you were almost ready to shelve and breathed new life into it? Have you ever shelved a novel you wish you hadn't?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's Not You, It's Me

The most common theme you're likely to see in a rejection of your manuscript is, "this just isn't for me" or "I didn't fall in love with it." The big question you're left with is, is it your manuscript or the agent's preference? If you have revised and polished your manuscript and have had either beta readers or a critique group read it and give feedback, then it truly might just be that it isn't what the agent is looking for.

"But wait, how can this be?" You ask. "I researched the agent thoroughly and it says on their website, blog, or Twitter feed that they're looking for my type of novel." You say. I trust that you did and will have a glass of wine with you to help take the sting out.

Unfortunately there is more to finding the right agent than writing a good book and identifying an agent who is looking for your type of novel. I know, I know, please don't throw things at me. The industry is still in turmoil and no one knows what it will look like when the tornados of change are done with it. Agents and publishers are both apprehensive and run business with extreme caution. Your idea must be outstanding, your writing must be outstanding, your timing must be outstanding, it doesn’t hurt if your online presence is outstanding, and last and most important, your luck must be outstanding. Ah go ahead and throw things, I don’t blame you. In fact I'll join you. I didn’t need that paper weight anyway.

There are agents out there (so I hear) that are willing to take you on and help you polish your work. However, that falls under the outstanding luck and to get that you still have to have an outstanding idea, writing, and timing. To obtain those things all we can do is write, revise, get feedback, and repeat. When is it polished enough? When do you stop? I wish I had the answer. This industry is pushing us writers to either excellence or madness, I haven't decided which yet. When it seems as though you're ready for the straight jacket (I've been pre-fitted for mine) remember that the industry isn't necessarily changing for the worse and you have options.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Twitter Tuesday~Book Giveaways, Industry Advice, And WriteOnCon

Get your clicking finger ready because I've got a great list for you today! This first one is from Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest on questions about writing and publishing:
@JaneFriedman My latest Q&A on writing & publishing with @ShariLopatin: http://wp.me/pVVIy-bX

If you've ever wondered (or hopefully are getting close) what to ask when you get the Agent's Call for representation, agent Vickie Motter lays it out nicely for you here:
@Vickie_Motter The Call and questions you should ask the offering agent. Also, share your own Call story: http://www.urltwit.com//8tc6

If you're getting ready to pitch or query don't miss this one. Agent Natalie Fischer gives us a great review of her workshop on writing the perfect hook:
@ Natalie_Fischer As promised, a review of my workshop: how to write the perfect hook: http://bit.ly/lFNOX2  #ppwc11 #amwriting #askagent

Agent Weronika Janczuk brings us this tweet that clarifies doc vs. docx and why it's important:
@WeronikaJanczuk From lit agent Mary Kole: ".doc is not .docx" - › Why? Because Microsoft upgraded Word and wanted everyone... http://tumblr.com/xlp2dwfw0y

Because I love Elana so much and YOU I wanted to give you this chance to get in on winning her debut novel:
@HeatherMcCorkle Want to win a signed copy of POSSESSION by @ElanaJohnson? You know you do! http://tinyurl.com/64kfytf  Click link to enter. #writing

Agent Sara Megibow helps us with writer's platform:
@SaraMegibow Wow - awesome blog post "why your platform is growing slowly" at Savvy Authors: http://tinyurl.com/3tl9ae4

Agent Kate McKean brings home the reality about marketing:
@kate_mckean Everyday I get a query that says "I tried to self-publish this, but I didn't have time to market it, so I want a traditional publisher now."
@kate_mckean Either way, traditional or self-publishing, you need to have time to help market your work.

Editor extraordinaire Molly O'Neill brings us this Tweet about the upcoming WritOnCon even this May (I'll be there and hope you will too!):
@molly_oneill Super excited for this (FREE!) #WriteOnCon event w/ @JoSVolpe & @michellelit! RT @ElanaJ TRIFECTA OF AWESOME, May 16: http://bit.ly/lQBM3g

Writer Lydia Kang is doing a great contest where you can win the book of your choice. Don't miss this one!
@HeatherMcCorkle Need a great book to read? Enter Lydia Kang's contest: http://tinyurl.com/3hbnw6u  #WritersRoad #writing

Hopefully your clicking finger doesn't get cramped up clicking all those. ;)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday's Muse~Orion Nebula

My new main character loves astronomy which is awesome because it means I had the chance to research it, learn more about it, and find awesome pictures. This one is a photo of the Orion Nebula from Hubble. You'll be seeing a lot of these as I write this novel! Her love of astronomy was a surprise that developed as I was getting to know her and start to form the outline of the story. I love it when that happens, it's one of my favorite parts of the writing process. As of today I have 4,000 words on this new novel!

I'm still reading Paul Of Dune because like many Dune novels it is MASSIVE, but well worth the time. There is a lot of character development in this one and that's exactly what I need to read right now. Next up is POPULAR by Alissa Grosso and I'm really looking forward to it (and not just because she's a friend of mine!).

Music for this novel is still eluding me. This weekend though I'm going to sit down and try to come up with a playlist. Since it's steampunk (though some are telling me it's cyberpunk~which makes me realize I MUST research the difference!) and my character is spunky I'm looking for something a bit edgy and wild. Suggestions are welcome! What inspired you last week?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May Featured Debut Author~Elana Johnson

This month it is my pleasure to feature my friend Elana Johnson as May's debut author. Her young adult novel, Possession from Simon & Schuster, is releasing next month! I won the first chapter in a contest and I've got to tell you it was all kinds of awesome. I'm dying to read the rest! Before we meet Elana a bit about Possession:

Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

Welcome to Heather's Odyssey Elana! It is a pleasure to have you here and to be celebrating the release of your debut novel with you. Tell me, what inspired you to write a young adult dystopian novel?
Elana: Dystopian was not something on my radar when I started writing. But with writing came a lot of reading (something I’ve always enjoyed), and I read a dystopian novel. When I finished it, I thought “I want to write a novel like this.”  

So I did. (After much research *shudder* about what dystopian even meant.)


Inspired by another author, I love that! While writing what is the one thing you cannot do without?
Elana: Depends on which part of writing I’m doing. During drafting, I need time and someone to be accountable to. (My CP’s sort of hate me. *wink*) During revising/editing, I need very loud music and an endless supply of sour patch kids. During polishing, I need Twitter. (Ha!) 

I love that your needs change with the stage of the process! What was your favorite part of writing Possession?
Elana: My favorite part of writing Possession was crafting the relationships between the characters. Whether is sibling, romantic, a parent to a child, relationships fascinate me.

Me too! It is often the best part of the novel for me. Is there anything you can tell us about Possession that we may not know from your website or blog?
Elana: Well, I haven’t posted much about Possession, except for the official back cover copy. I have revealed a little bit about the world and technology, and that’s it. 

So juicy stuff? How about that I wrote the entire draft in 17 days? #lame

Maybe: It took me 13 months to revise before I queried agents. #doublelame

Maybe: The first scene I wrote is now on page 130. #PossessionIsn’tOutYet

Okay, how about that Vi is similar to me in some ways, and my complete opposite in others. #closer?

Did you know there’s kissing in Possession? #ILikeKissing

I don’t really have anything else. Mostly I just can’t wait to hear what readers think about it!
Awesome dishing! Wow, 17 days to write and 13 months to revise! I have to admit I'm excited about all the kissing. ;) What do you have in store for us after Possession? A sequel or a new novel perhaps?
Elana: I have written a companion novel to Possession. New characters, new story, same world. I can say that you will see some Possession characters in the companion. I can’t say who. ;) 

That sounds excellent! With that in mind, which character did you enjoy writing the most and why?
Elana: I love writing from Vi’s POV. She was very therapeutic for me. My favorite character in the book is Jag—I love the relationships he has with his brothers. The character I wish I could spend an afternoon getting to know better: Zenn. 

Not picking favorites I see. That must mean they're all equally awesome! Any closing thoughts to leave us with?
Elana: I’m going to go all sappy. Are you ready? I’ve been so grateful for everyone in the virtual world who’s supported me. Whether that was with a tweet, a blog comment, an email, or offering to host me/my book on your blog, it’s been nothing short of amazing. So I just want to say thank you.

Aw, now you've got me all sappy! I was so not ready for that. You're welcome! It has been a pleasure supporting someone as giving and generous as yourself. Here's wishing you and Possession monumental success! Okay peeps, join me in clicking on the title to pre-order this amazing lady's book. You won't regret it, I guarantee it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Twitter Tuesday~Submitting, Contests, Book Giveaways, And More!

I've got some good stuff for you this week! Get your clicking fingers ready. Agent Suzie Townsend and her lovely associates over at their blog Confessions From Suite 500 are doing first page critiques! Get in on this peeps for fantastic feedback from fantastic agents!
@sztownsend81 And I've posted another critique on the blog: http://tinyurl.com/n84osb

Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest brings us this detailed list of genres (always useful when submitting):
@JaneFriedman Ever wanted a detailed list & description of fiction genres? Here's a useful genre map: http://bit.ly/hLmYak

Have you written an excellent women's fiction, romance, lit fic, thriller, or epic fantasy? Looking for an agent? Then look no further:
@WeronikaJanczuk A call for manuscripts: http://bit.ly/lflaVt.  Still *actively* looking for women's fiction, romance, lit fic, thrillers, + epic fantasies.

Interested in being a literary agent? Starting as an intern is the way to go and agent Jenny Bent is looking for one!
@MandyHubbard Hey guys! Amazing Agent @jennybent is looking for a couple of interns! Info here: http://tinyurl.com/4ydyrbh (you need to love adult fic!)

Yep, I am shamelessly featureing my own tweet, but it's for your benefit! Enter to win a great looking novel from one of my blogger buddies:
@HeatherMcCorkle Great giveaway of the novel SWEETLY: http://tinyurl.com/4ycbesk  by @jillscribbles Don't miss it!

Because I loved The Lipstick Laws and think author Amy Holder is The Bomb, and I love Mundie Moms, I had to feature this one for you!
@MundieMoms Debut author @amyholderbooks is on our site today talking about her book The Lipstick Laws http://tinyurl.com/3lhvluv

Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest brings us another great interview with a new literary agent:
@WritersDigest New Agent Alert: Kathryn Beaumont of Kneerim & Williams - Reminder: Newer agents are golden opportunities for new wr... http://ow.ly/1cqUiM

If you're submitting you'll want to read this:
@YAFantasyGuide Query/Submit Questions? New Interviews with Literary Agents from Nelson , Laura Dail, & Folio Literary Agencies http://tinyurl.com/2bw5a3g

And because I want to share the love I'm bringing you this tweet a week out of order. If you have a novel that is ready to submit which you think would be a good fit for Sara Megibow of the Nelson Agency then you don't want to miss this contest on Friday:
@SaraMegibow: Twitter Pitch Contest! Please RT. I'll be reading 30 pgs from the winning twitter pitch.DETAILS: http://tinyurl.com/3pybpcd

Okay, get clicking then come back to comment, cause I do love your comments so. :)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Monday's Muse~Spring Time

What do flowers have to do with my work in progress you might be wondering? Well, nothing actually but they have everything to do with my muse. Since it's May the flowers blooming everywhere are inspiring me! And who knows, a few might even work their way into my work in progress. I've finished outlining my new novel (yay!) and this week I'm going to start writing it. It's a young adult steampunk, title to be announced. This one is very different from anything I've written and I'm pretty excited about it.

The read feeding my muse is Paul Of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. I'm a huge fan of the Dune novels, both by this pair and the originals by Frank Herbert. They're not for everyone but if you can handle multiple POV, rich descriptions, and deep intrigue, then they are awesome. Several of my friends' novels will be coming out in the next few months and I'm super excited for them. Look forward to a bunch of fantastic author features coming soon! The first of which will be this Wednesday!

I'm open to suggestions for music to feed my muse on this novel. I have no idea what to listen to for a steampunk novel. Any ideas for me? What inspired you last week?