Showing posts from August, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~All Over The Writing Board

This week's top tweets that I caught are all over the board of writing topics, which is kind of where I'm at right now, all over the board. I'm wrapping up the final read through edit of The Secret of Spruce Knoll , am searching for an agent for Trouble With the Dragon Empire , and am writing The First Dragonwatcher  which just tipped over 75,000 words! Whew. This first one is a link for those of you who need help on your synopsis: @ inkyelbows  Excellent synopsis-writing tips from @ Becky_Levine : This one is an interview by Chuck Sambuchino of a new agent that is searching for children's books: @ alicepope  Today on the @ SCBWI blog --Agent Interview: Mary Kole @ Kid_Lit   Andrea Brown Literary Agency. If you haven't heard about the Wylie agency e-book deal with Amazon you have to read this! It's huge news in the publishing industry and affects all authors: @ WeronikaJanczuk Have you heard? Wylie-A

Monday's Muse~Frozen Islands

It seems appropriate that my muse has taken me to a frozen island just as the weather has decided to change and remind us that winter is around the corner. In this week's chapter my main character discovers that the path he has chosen is controversial enough that it could cost him his life if he isn't careful. Despite the dangers he realizes it was what he was meant to do. Though I outlined the novel it continues to surprise me with where it takes me and I love that. The book that's feeding my muse this week is Shadow Hills  by Anastasia Hopcus . From the very first sentence this book yanked me in and wouldn't let me go. I love the main character's voice, the setting, everything! I can't wait to get deeper into it. The song that inspired me this week was The Sting Of The Bumblebee  by Manowar. This is the first novel I will have written that has its own soundtrack of sorts! This is so much fun that now I'll have to put together a playlist for every book

What Agents Go Through

As I step into the query coliseum again I do so with a heavy appreciation of what agents go through. Impressing an agent is so hard that sometimes we writers forget their job is hard too. Being patient while waiting for someone to judge the culmination of your hard work can be difficult. Agents sometimes receive thousands of query letters a month. If you work a forty hour work week that's 50 queries a day. If that sounds easy don't forget agents also have workshops, conferences, retreats, and book fairs to attend. Not to mention they have other clients who's work they have to sell which means meetings with editors, as well as phone calls and e-mails to those clients and editors. I actually heard a few complaints from writers who were rejected that the agents responded too fast. If you don’t understand how an agent can decide so quickly then you need to read The First Five Pages  by Noah Lukeman. That book explains how an agent can tell so quickly and from such a small sam

The Tao of Novel Pacing

Your novel should be like the nature of water. It should rise, fall, speed up, slow down, and rush toward an inevitable end. But above all, it must be a ride the reader doesn't want to get off of. To create the perfect ride you must perfect your pacing. If your scenes are filled with page after page of description then your pacing may be too slow. Maybe your novel is the opposite, so fast paced that the reader is going to end up with whiplash. The sweet spot is somewhere between description and dialogue, a perfect balance of the two. When I'm finished writing my outline at the novel's beginning stages I go through and what each chapter is. In the margins I write action, tension, or development . Action means the chapter is fast paced with a fight scene or something exciting happening. Tension means a tense point in the story that isn't necessarily action but isn't down time either. Development might mean character or plot. It's a point in the story where so

Query Wars

I'm back in the trenches battling to land a new agent and things are different this time. Why? For one, I didn't bring a knife to a gun fight this time. In fact, not only am I wearing my armor~see Slaying a Titan  ~I'm armed with a weapon that is not only polished to a high shine, but is top of the line. And I know how to break through the defenses. Querying is a battle where only the best are left standing. Anyone who's been at it for a while or has done it and been successful knows that it is one of the hardest challenges an aspiring author faces. So how can I have such a positive outlook? Read on and I shall share my secrets with you. First you must write the best possible book you can, then you have to make it even better. Hone your skills until that novel is absolutely top of the line, not just good enough. Then write a great query letter. The second part is often harder than the first for some mysterious reason, yet many people rush through that part as if it

Twitter Tuesday~Querying Trenches

Since I'm now back in the agent querying pool I've been quite busy and my Twitter time has suffered for it. This means I didn't get a lot of links for you this week and the one's I did get are, you guessed it, query related! The good news is, if you need help on your query these links are really good! The first one was written by super agent Nathan Bransford   with Curtis Brown LTD . If you don't know who Nathan is then you need to find out! @thecreativepenn How to Write a Query Letter  via @NathanBransford This one is by a new agent, Weronika Janczuk   with D4EO literary .  Those who have been querying a while know that a new agent is great for new writers because they're building their client list. Not to mention, Weronika is awesome. You definitely want to check her out. @WeronikaJanczuk New blog post! A Note About Reading Queries: Since, in addition to being an agent, I am also a writer, I am a memb... T

Monday's Muse~Battles & Avatar

Of course this picture is from the amazing James Cameron film Avatar . If you haven't seen it and you love the fantasy genre, crawl out from under your rock and run, don't walk, to the store to buy it. It's one of those movies that is so amazing they are re-releasing it in the theaters. As with every great vision, there are critics who don't agree with my take on the movie and that's okay. It inspired me and that's what was important. This week in particular it inspired me while I wrote my latest chapter in which my main character risks everything for the sake of his friends. The chapter was another huge turning point for him, one that changes him forever. It was hard to write because it was hard for him. My reading muse this week was You Wish  by Mandy Hubbard . It was a blast to read! It took me right back to the magic and pressure of being sixteen. If you love YA you’ve got to make time to read this book! The song that helped keep me inspired while writ

Friday Writers Advice Flash

"Great characters are the key to great fiction. A high-octane plot is nothing without credible, larger-than-life, highly developed en-actors that make it meaningful." ~Donald Maass, Writing The Breakout Novel . The words of super agent Donald Maass are hard to argue with, especially when they ring so true. Characters are the soul of our novels and they must be treated as such and developed just as thoroughly as the plot. If you haven't read Donald's book yet you should. It could be what gets your novel out of the slush pile and into the contract pile. Click on the title for a direct link to my favorite bookseller who carries it. Happy reading and writing! I'm off to do a bit of my own.

When To Let Go Of Your Book

Despite parting ways with my agent I am in my happy place this week; revising! Due to his changing business model my agent could no longer invest time in critiquing unpublished clients. While I was disappointed I understand. Things are tougher than they've ever been and not just for us writers. So what is a writer to do when their manuscript has been on submission for nearly a year and they suddenly find themselves agentless and not yet published? Have your moment of sadness. Go ahead, you have permission. Done now? Get back to work! There is still a chance for that novel, in some form or another. Sometimes you have to let your manuscript go. Knowing when to do that it isn't easy. Like I've said, you have to look deep into the heart of the novel and your characters. If you cannot change the muscles, sinew, and flesh of the novel and it won't sell, then you must let it go. However, if you can maintain the heart and the skeleton and transform everything around it, and

Getting To The Heart Through Revision

As my working relationship with my agent comes to an end I find myself inspired to completely re-write my novel that just spent close to a year on editor submission. The theme of the story is fading out of popularity and much of the feedback I received from editors said they would have bought it if it wasn't about that theme. I received a lot of really positive comments saying how much they loved the writing and enjoyed the story. Before I decided on this massive re-write I had to look deep into the heart of my story to make sure I didn't compromise it or give it up. I'm a firm believer that you should never edit the heart out of your story, especially not for the sake of a sale. So I took a close, honest look at it and admitted to myself what it was really about and what mattered to the characters and story. What I came up with was eye-opening and inspiring. The rewrite will be completely different and yet very similar in many ways. The main theme will change but the u

Twitter Tuesday~Best of Week 8/2/10

Despite being really busy this week I managed to pull some of the best Tweets for writers from Twitter. There is some great stuff in here. From the big question of self-publishing to making a living at writing and agents, it's all in here! @ThoughtfulPen Is There Ever A Time To Self-Publish?  #publishing #writetip #writechat #amwriting (all the hashtags after it means this tweet will show up in each of those chats/searches.) @Jolina_Joy An #Agent on Making a Living at #Writing: (via @elizabethscraig) #writetip @ChuckSambuchino 2011 Guide to Literary Agents is out!!! 3 commenters will win a free copy! @juliemusil RT @johannalive: Too often the good stuff in a query or pitch is in the end. Put it in the first sentence. -Stephen Fraser (RT means re-tweet. It's what you put before something someone else said that you want to re-tweet because you liked it enough that you want your followers to see i

Monday's Muse~New Frontiers

It has been a very interesting week. With all the excitement of WriteOnCon I'm behind on reading everyone's blogs. I'm working on it though! During all the commotion I managed to get a bit of writing done. This picture of a nebula inspired me because my character is not only learning about the world around him but he is reaching greater depths of his personality. I love it when a character arc starts to come together! As my one year mark with my agent nears its end he has informed me he is changing the focus of his business model and will no longer be able to focus on unpublished clients. Put less gently, he's downsizing and we're parting ways on excellent terms. Imn the hunt for a new agent for Trouble With The Dragon Empire , a young adult fantasy. The good news is that my agent was happy to give me a recommendation and that I also have the recommendation of a few of my published author friends. Now I just have to polish off those query letters and jump back i

WriteOnCon Highlights

If you are a young adult or middle grade writer you were probably attending the online conference WriteOnCon over the last few days. If not I'm really sorry because you missed one monumental event. Agents, big publishing house editors, authors, and hundreds of writers were in attendance. The content was easily some of the best I've come across at conferences yet. And the big kicker, it was FREE. Yep you read that right, FREE. If you did miss it have no fear, they're already planning for next year! I've been pretty absent from Twitter because WriteOnCon kept me so busy~and I was a bit sick~and I'm behind on reading everyone's blogs. I plan on catching up today I promise! But before I do here are some of the highlights from the conference tweeted by the organizers and publishing pros for those who missed it: @ElanaJ Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start a Revision by editor Kendra Levin @ElanaJ In Defense of a Less Than Huge Advan

The Learning Process of Querying

In the beginning of the submission process we all feel the charge of sending our babies out into the world for the love and adoration they so deserve. But then the clock starts to tick and the second guessing begins. Days pass, then weeks, sometimes even months. That's when you really start to wonder about how well you edited your work. Hopefully this doesn't happen to you but chances are high that it will with your first book. The good news is, you're not alone. Most of us don't edit our first book well enough because we haven't figured out quite how. It gets easier with each book as long as you keep learning about the craft of writing and push yourself to get better. Use critique groups, buy books on the craft of writing, or attend classes or retreats. The waiting is terrible and it's best to use your time to learn and improve. Rejections will most likely start coming in after you've been waiting for a while, or even right away sometimes. Don't let

Are You Ready To Submit Your Novel?

Many writers sit on the fence and wonder if their work is polished enough while others toss it out there too soon. But how many really know if their book is actually ready to submit? I sure didn't my first time out. It took a lot of trial and error for me to figure it out. Its all about whether or not your work is polished enough and is right for a particular agent. First there is the work itself. Is it going to grab the readers and therefore, an agent? Is it edited to the point where it looks professional and clean? Is the story strong enough or original enough that the agent will be able to not only enjoy it, but foresee selling it? These are very important questions that you must ask yourself. Second is platform. Who is your audience and have you conveyed the book well enough that they will want to read it? Is it good enough that they'll recommend it to others? People buy and support books that grip them and make them feel something. Make sure you've tapped into tha

Do's and Don't's of Twitter

If you are a writer working on your platform and you decide to add Twitter to it there are some things you are going to want to take into consideration. The wonderful thing about Twitter is that it is like the adult coffee shop version of Facebook. On Twitter you'll find agents, editors, authors, and all manner of publishing industry people, and they'll find you. Be aware of that when you tweet. The image you portray can hurt or help you. Here are some do's and don'ts to help. Do post something under your bio. People won't follow you if you don't tell them a bit about yourself. Something as simple as 'aspiring author' along with the genre you write will work. Do upload a picture. It doesn't have to be of you. It can be anything that you feel represents you as a writer. A quill or pen will work. Do add a link to your blog or website. People are more likely to follow you if they can find out more about you through a blog or website. Plus, it l

Monday's Muse~Meteora Monastery

This amazing picture is of the Meteora Monastery in Greece. It inspired me because my main character visits a place similar to it and has to come to terms with his limited views of the world around him. A lot changes for him in this chapter which made it both challenging and fun to write. I just passed 63,000 words on this book! My reading muse this week is Ondine  by Ebony McKenna . It’s a fun, quirky story about a girl, a boy, and a curse. It reminds me a bit of The Princess Bride and Ella Enchanted. It's the perfect light hearted book to follow the heavy one I just read~which I also loved.  The song for this week's chapter is Infinite Dreams  by Iron Maiden. How are you guys doing on your work in progress? Or are you reading anything really good? I'm going to need a great book suggestion once I'm done with Ondine. And, are all you young adult and middle grade writers out there ready for WriteOnCon?

Conferences & Critique Partners

A little while ago I got to spend a few days with my critique partners the Scribe Sisters while they attended the  PNWA conference. We had a great time catching up and I got to see a bit of Seattle Washington. That's me on the right with Karlene Petitt in the middle and Linda Gray on the left. The fourth Scribe Sister, Jule Rowland, hadn't arrived yet when we took this picture. I didn't attend the conference because I didn't have time to stay for most of it but they did take me as a guest to the opening note dessert where I got to hear bestselling author Andre Dubus. Though I didn't agree with everything he said about writing he was a very dynamic speaker and I liked him so much I bought his book The House of Sand and Fog and got it signed by him. You can read my take on his opening note here . My friends each did fantastic at the conference pitch sessions. They were all asked for their novels by both agents and editors! A huge congratulations to the Scribe

Backing Up Your Blog

Every writer's nightmare is to have something they've written dissapear or worse, be hacked and messed with. But how many of you bloggers out there worry about it? Not many? Well you should. It's one of those things that no one thinks can or will happen to them, then it does. I always thought no one would mess with my blog because I'm just a harmless writer who blogs about writing and books. I thought after I got published I would worry about things like people hacking my blog. But then an author friend of mine who was weeks away from debuting, had her blog hacked. She couldn't log in. They'd changed her passwords and messed with everything! It wasn't a friendly joke either. She lost material she'd written years ago. It threw off what she had planned to do on her blog for her debut. Ever since that happened to her I've been backing up my blog. It's easy, even for non technical types so don't worry! I'll walk you through how to back up

August's Featured Debut Author~Kristina McBride

The featured debut author for August is Kristina McBride! First a bit about Kristina's haunting book, The Tension of Opposites . Here is a bit about her: Kristina McBride , a former high-school English teacher and yearbook advisor, wrote The Tension of Opposites in response to the safe return of a child who was kidnapped while riding his bike to a friend’s house. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two young children.           And now for a bit about The Tension of Opposites: Sometimes I saw Noelle sunning herself on a tropical beach, away on an endless vacation. But like my old therapist had told me, it isn’t healthy to ignore reality. Most of the time, I envisioned Noelle in a dark basement, chained to a moldy wall. But that went directly against the information I had found online the day the crisis-intervention speaker came to our middle school and tried to soften the blow of Noelle’s absence. In my worst moments, I pictured Noelle’s clean bones peeking up from a pile o

Twitter Tuesday~The Best Of

This week I decided to start something new for Twitter Tuesday. I wanted to spotlight some of the best tweets for writers and book lovers. I'll be doing so every other week and writing about a great person I found on Twitter the other weeks. You aren't going to want to miss these tweets, they are fantastic! The @ symbol before a person's name means it is their Twitter name. The # symbol means it's a hashtag, or ongoing conversation that can be followed by looking up that word. See my post on Twitter hashtag's  for a more in depth explanation of that. @WritersDigest Agent Advice: Seth Fishman of Sterling Lord Literistic - "Agent Advice" is a series of quick interviews with literar... @thecreativepenn The Write and Wrong Way to Promote Your Book via @bookgal @NathanBransford The one question writers should never ask themselves when reading: @JaneFriedman No. 1 thing that sells books i

Monday's Muse~Stormy Weather

The tension in my novel is really ramping up this week, as my picture inspiration probably indicates. I've passed the halfway mark of my book and with each page that passes things are rolling faster toward the inevitable climax. This week's chapter involved storms and dragons and was all about my main character learning he has to trust someone besides himself. I'm currently sitting at 56,000 words! I think it will mature between 80,000 and 90,000 so I'm over halfway there! I'm still reading The Tension of Opposites and it has me absolutely hooked. It is so hard to put this book down! Check in this Wednesday to find out more about it when I interview the author Kristina McBride . The song for this week's chapter is Enter Sandman  by Metallica. What's inspiring you this week? Are you reading any great books?