What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(from the Agent category)

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
<<August 2014>>
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts from the Agent category, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 14,486
1. still gone

Yup, I'm still on vacation.

0 Comments on still gone as of 8/30/2014 9:11:00 AM
Add a Comment
2. Does Your Dog Go Suffer With Panic Anxiety Because of Loud Noises? Here's the Cure!

Does your dog seem to experience panic anxiety when he or she experiences loud noises such as thunder, lightning, and fireworks? Does your dog or your cat for that matter start to shave and quiver? Hide under furniture or behind furniture? Cower in the bathroom near the toilet.

Symptoms of Stress

If you see any of these signs, your animal is experiencing storm or loud noise phobia. There is a litany of other symptoms that you may see: your dog is pacing; your dog is looking for a place to hide; your dog pees on the floor; your dog is a nervous wreck; your dog looks at you with big brown eye that say “Please do something, just don’t sit there!”

A True Story

And how do you feel about all of this? Do you wish that you had a possible solution up your sleeve? Well, I’ve been there and done it. I’ve felt like racing to the vet through a howling storm, where all the traffic lights in my town and the next were down. I actually did this, and intersections were a gamble on living or not because there were other crazy people on the road, but not all were headed to their vet. Yes, there were a few close calls. And what did the vet do? The vet prescribed some mild medicine for Roscoe. So, that’s one solution: doggy medicine to calm raw nerves.

Other Possible Solutions?

1.     Hug Therapy —Maybe your dog just needs some extra hugs and reassurance. Snuggle up in a blanket and whisper soothing words to your dog. Don’t feed them a stack of treats. This might reinforce the behavior that you want to see fade. Just let your four-legged family member know it loved, and the world isn’t really ending.                               

2.     Thundershirt Therapy--for your dog or cat—According to the manufacturers, this shirt or sweater is 80% effective in reducing the stress of storms, travel, separation, and other anxiety causing events. Check out what PetSmart.com has to offer you and your four-legged buddy. The odds are in your favor.

3.     Be Proactive Therapy —Let rover become used to noise in general, especially if you get your dog as a puppy. Play your CDs periodically in the house over an extended period of time, and from day to day increase the volume, while rewarding him or her with treats. This will develop a liking for music and noise. It won’t become a big deal.
4.     If All Else Fails Therapy—race through the storm to see the vet, but be careful on the wet, slipper roads. Or better yet, be prepared with mild, safe medicated treats. If prescribed correctly, they will not turn your dog into a four-legged zombie. Certified veterinarians Know what they are doing.

BONUS: Ah, now you can relax, you have solved your dog’s problem by implementing one of the above four ideas.  So pour yourself a lemonade with lots of ice, and consider writing in your diary or journal how you solved this problem. Enjoy a laugh about the whole situation. If you have any emotional pain left you could even write about traumatized dog to get the pain out.

Does that suggestion sound farfetched? Like I said, I have been there, and here’s a poem that I wrote for Picture Poetry on Parade! Yes, it contains bathroom humor, but it also contains a subtle message: if your dog has this problem, it’s time to do something about it. And please don’t punish your dog for misbehaving. He’s not a “bad dog.”





  PITTER! PITTER CRASH!                                 

My dog who is afraid of nothing

is afraid of thunder & lightning.                                     

He hates BOOM! BOOM!


He hides under the table,

 shaking in terrible fear, 

refusing to do his “business” outside

 on the dark, wet lawn.                 


Poor Roscoe, hunched under the table… 



 PLOP! Oh, no!

That’s mom’s new rug!  

She’s going to call you “BAD DOG! 

But you just hate thunder & lightning.
“I love you, Roscoe.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       but I don’t like cleaning up.

0 Comments on Does Your Dog Go Suffer With Panic Anxiety Because of Loud Noises? Here's the Cure! as of 8/30/2014 3:03:00 AM
Add a Comment
3. Examining the Wonderful World of Steampunk: Maritime Terrorists, Time Travelers, and Mad Science

We have been writing Steampunk since 2009; and even after five years, we still face the question of the ages: What is steampunk? Perhaps a lazy, shallow way to look at the genre is to simply call it “Victorian Science Fiction” and that be the end of it. Truth be told, this is merely your first step.

While history looks at the 19th Century as the Industrial Age and the late-20th century as the Computer Age, the concept of computing devices were realized by mathematician, inventor, and engineer Charles Babbage as early as 1812. His mechanical computation devices at the time were considered more of a curiosity rather than innovation, but Babbage’s theories served as inspiration for The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. Best known for their offerings in cyberpunk, Gibson and Sterling created an alternative Industrial Revolution where Babbage’s inventions were the norm, creating a struggle between the working class Luddites (who fear technology) and an “enhanced” elite that wanted as much integration with these technological wonders as possible.

(What is the definition of “New adult”? That, and many more definitions explained.)


pip-ballantine-tee-morris      dawns-early-light-novel-cover

Column by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris, who have been writing professionally
for over a decade, but The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series is their first
collaboration as writers. Their first title in the series, Phoenix Rising, won the
2011 Airship Award for Best in Steampunk Literature, while both Phoenix Rising
and The Janus Affair were finalists in Goodreads Best in Science Fiction of 2011
and 2012. In 2013, they released Ministry Protocol, an original anthology of
short stories set in the Ministry universe. The collection won the Best Fiction
category in Steampunk Chronicle’s 2014 Readers Choice Award. Following a
Parsec win for their companion podcast, Tales from the Archives, Tee and Pip
celebrate the arrival of their third novel, Dawn’s Early Light, released by Ace
Books and Tantor Audio.



Here’s where Steampunk becomes far more than just “Victorian Science Fiction.” Steampunk envisions an Industrial Age that brought to fruition theoretical designs like Babbage’s analytical engines, flying machines, and advanced electrical engineering. How would society react? What would be the impact on a global scale? What would happen not only on a sociological level, but on a political one as well?

Early realizations of Steampunk, pre-dating author K. W. Jeter’s coining of the term, can be found on film. Walt Disney’s lush, lavish, and epic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea serves as a warning of technological achievements potentially turning on society. Jules Verne was not a stranger in using science fiction as a vehicle for cautionary tales, but Disney’s 20,000 Leagues adaptation fulfills Verne’s intentions while remaining true to the luxuries and indulgences of the 19th Century. Another memorable motion picture encapsulating the definition of Steampunk is Nicholas Meyer’s Time After Time. In this film, H.G. Wells invents a time machine, intending to witness the futuristic Utopia he has speculated will occur. Instead, his best friend, Dr. John Leslie Stevenson (revealed as Jack the Ripper) uses Wells’ creation to escape capture by Scotland Yard. Here, the underlying theme of this adventure across centuries is responsibility and atonement, something Victorians rarely took in account in the pursuit of science or innovation. The question Wells faces is not “Can I build a machine that can travel through time?” but “Should I have invented a machine that can travel through time? Are we responsible enough to wield such technology?” Quickly, he discovers that some inventions, regardless of the intentions behind them, can affect not only societies of the present, but societies that have yet to happen.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 10.39.18 AMWhether it is The Wild, Wild West or the “Castle” episode “Punked”, the works of K.W. Jeter (Morlock Night) or Gail Carriger (The Parasol Protectorate), or the podcasts, role playing game, and novels from our Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, Steampunk offers you a variety of historical watersheds to choose from, now integrated with technology that can either be new, familiar, or exploited by your work’s protagonists and antagonists.

But where exactly does the “punk” comes into play in Steampunk?

Beyond romantic Victoriana, goggles, airships, and brass fixtures, the “punk” in Steampunk comes from going against convention, not necessarily in undermining establishment but through creativity and declaration of one’s individuality. That individuality can come across through style, gadgets, or attitude. In our own work, the “punk” is embodied in Eliza D. Braun, an agent from the farthest reaches of the Empire where women have the right to vote, where “natives” co-exist with “colonials,” and where everyone speaks their mind frankly and honestly. Eliza goes against the standard norms at the home office in London, England. She is everything her partner, Wellington Thornhill Books, Esquire—a man to the manor born now serving at the Queen’s pleasure—is not; and it is their chemistry and unorthodox approach to peculiar occurrences that make them unique within a society striving for conformity.

(What are the best practices for using social-media to sell books?)

We’ve been a gateway for many people into Steampunk, but that doesn’t mean we have stopped learning, or even changed a few opinions, about the genre. Steampunk is a voyage into science, ambition, imagination, and adventure; and all we can hope for is that in the years to come, people will still want to undertake this journey with us into the Past That Never Was. It’s been a fantastic ride since 2009, and now with seven awards, two of them Reader’s Choice Awards from The Steampunk Chronicle, we believe we must be doing something right.

Why not see how far we can go together in this journey? Make yourself at home in the Archives. I’ll put the kettle on.


What could be better than one guide on crafting
fiction from wise agent Donald Maass? Two books!
We bundle them together at a discount in our shop.


Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:


Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more.
Order the book from WD at a discount.




Add a Comment
4. not yet!

Trying out new things on vacation!

0 Comments on not yet! as of 8/29/2014 7:29:00 AM
Add a Comment
5. Find Me Online

Books & SuchI blog every Wednesday at our agency site, Books & Such. To read my posts and participate in the comments, click HERE.

I have an agent page on Facebook. You can follow me on Twitter. Check out my Pinterest boards. Or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Scroll down for the latest posts here at my blog.



The post Find Me Online appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

0 Comments on Find Me Online as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment

We at CAT agency are so happy to help Launch the wonderfully friendly new series about the Hamster Humphrey and his Tiny Tales from Penguin Putnam!  See his first two books here, and a little video about how he is created by our artist PRISCILLA BURRIS         https://vimeo.com/104481200

Humphrey1 (3)

Humphrey2 (3)

1 Comments on WELCOME HUMPHREY!: BK Launch!, last added: 8/28/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
7. What?? No blog post today??

Sorry readers, I'm on vacation.
I'll be back next week.

0 Comments on What?? No blog post today?? as of 8/28/2014 8:53:00 AM
Add a Comment
8. Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 277

How appropriate that today’s post took a while to get on the site. I had already planned on providing an update on the 2014 April PAD Challenge results. They’re coming, and I hope to have a final list in the next 10-14 days. Fingers crossed.

For today’s prompt, write a malfunction poem. Yes, I changed today’s originally planned prompt to fit today’s circumstances. Sometimes you just gotta have that kind of flexibility. However, not everyone handles malfunction the same: some roll with the punches, some throw punches, some throw fits, some quit, some try again, and so on. Plus, there’s any number of malfunctions out there: wardrobe malfunctions, mechanical malfunctions, and heck, I think many of my poems suffer a malfunction or three. Let’s get at it.


2015 Poet's Market

2015 Poet’s Market

Publish Your Poetry!

Learn how to get your poetry published with the latest (and greatest) edition of Poet’s Market. The 2015 Poet’s Market is filled with articles on the craft, business, and promotion of poetry, in addition to poet interviews and original poetry by contemporary poets.

Plus, the book is filled with hundreds of listings for poetry book publishers, chapbook publishers, magazines, journals, contests, grants, conferences, and more!

Click to continue.


Here’s my attempt at a Malfunction Poem:

“My Robot Brain”

“It’s not fair,” he says as he tosses
one more toy away. “None of them work.”

And I can’t help but quip, “Toys don’t work;
they play,” to which he merely tosses

an angry look my way. He tosses
another down and frowns, “Make it work.”

So I pick it up, say, “I can’t work;
I play.” My robot brain, he tosses.


roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

A former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, Robert has been a featured poet at events across the country and is married to poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets. He’s written and shared more than 600 original poems on this blog over the years.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


Find more poetic goodies here:


Add a Comment
9. Query Question: Sequels

At LonCon last week I had a conversation with a published author about sequels. Now, if you were to believe the internet, when unpublished, you shouldn't really write sequels and should instead work on making the first book a stand alone. According to the internet, it's pointless working on sequels because the first book might not sell well, meaning you'll be left with a backlog of books that no one wants.

But during my discussion, I heard of two book contracts where these particular authors were given deadlines to hand in the sequel to their first book...before the first book had even gone on sale.
Now I know the demand for a second book would probably happen with two stand alone books, but both authors expressed a little bit of angst at having to produce something that would have - to some degree - been finished had they just written the sequels in the first place.

So what's the truth? Is it better to finish that trilogy before pitching? Or is it better to just plan the hell out of the second book and move on? Or are these simply isolated cases? And are most debut authors asked to produce a second book regardless of the sales of the first? 

You're missing a key piece of information here: what does the contract say?  Most first time authors that I represent get deals with a contract asking for two or three books.  Not stand alones at all. SERIES.

So yes, it's good to have that second book well underway when you get a deal.

Here's what I think you've heard and misinterpreted: don't say you have a series in a query letter.

What that means is you focus on querying the book you have in hand. Don't mention it's the first of N more books, because if I don't like this one, I don't care how many more you have.

Most publishers want books (at least in the categories I rep) that can be built into series. They want this cause once they've invested in you, they want readers to come back for more, and More means More of the Same stuff we loved in Book One.

Focus on writing the very best book you can. Query that book. While you're waiting for us to get off our slacker asses  read our queries, you work on Book Two.

0 Comments on Query Question: Sequels as of 8/27/2014 7:19:00 AM
Add a Comment
10. How to Map Out Your Hero’s Adventure in Your Manuscript

How do the most successful authors of our time construct their stories? If you read them, and if you also read some ancient myths, you will begin to see parallels. You will feel smacked upside the head with parallels. You’ll realize that the top authors of today use storytelling techniques that writers used back when plans were being drawn up for the pyramids.

An excellent book about ancient myths is The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. The title says it all. Across cultures and generations, some variation of a hero figures into every beloved story. And the typical story is about an individual who goes on a quest or a journey. By the end, the individual becomes a hero. This is called the Hero’s Adventure.

elizabeth-simsyouve-got-a-book-in-youThis guest post is by bestselling author and writing authority Elizabeth Sims. She’s the author of seven popular novels in two series, includingThe Rita Farmer Mysteries and TheLillian Byrd Crime series. She’s also the author of the excellent resource for writers, You’ve Got a Book in You: A Stress-Free Guide to Writing the Book of Your Dreams, published by Writer’s Digest Books. Click here to order now.

The Hero’s Adventure is the most archetypal story of all because it’s the basis for more novels than any other kind of story. Novels of all different genres, from romances to thrillers to sci-fi, are based on the Hero’s Adventure.

So what is the Hero’s Adventure? You know it already, and you may even have elements of it in the story you’re working on. But I suspect you haven’t yet methodically and thoroughly appropriated it for yourself.

[Learn important writing lessons from these first-time novelists.]

The Hero’s Adventure Basic Recipe

Here is a basic recipe to demonstrate how the Hero’s Adventure plays out. This is a template you can apply to your own work-in-progress—you might be surprised by how closely it matches elements you already have in play.

  • A messenger comes. The messenger might be human, or a message might come from an experience—like a brush with death or a dream. At any rate, something has gone wrong; the natural order of the world has been disturbed.
  • A problem is presented. Perhaps something has been taken away from the tribe, or some misfortune or malfeasance has occurred.
  • Someone is marked out as the person to solve this problem. She is chosen according to some past deed of her parents or by her own reputation or happenstance. This person, of course, emerges as the hero at the end.
  • A challenge takes shape. The challenge may be refused, at first. “No way, I’m not going to risk my neck for that!”
  • A refusal, often. But eventually the hero decides to accept the challenge. She might even be forced to accept it by circumstances.
  • The challenge is accepted. The adventure begins.
  • The hero leaves the familiar world. And she sets off into another world. It’s dangerous. The hero could use some help, and very often …
  • Helpers materialize. A helper might have special skills the hero doesn’t have, or he might have special insights or wisdom, in which case he takes the form of a mentor.
  • Setbacks occur. The hero is tested, she makes gains, she endures setbacks, she fights for what is right, she resists evil. The going’s tough!
  • The hero regroups and gains some ground again. Maybe she needs another visit to a mentor, or maybe she makes a personal breakthrough and overcomes a great inner obstacle, perhaps her own fear.
  • The foe is vanquished or the elixir is seized. Eventually she defeats the foe or comes into possession of something that will restore the natural order—a cure, or new knowledge that will bring justice or the return of prosperity.
  • The hero returns to the familiar world. And the problem is fixed, or justice is done. The natural order is restored.

The person who accepts the challenge and prevails is elevated to a special position, somewhere above human, somewhere below god. She is the hero.

[Here's a great article on how to structure a killer novel ending.]

The Hero’s Adventure at Work

Famous stories from King Arthur and Excalibur to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to The Little Engine That Could to Harry Potter are based on the Hero’s Adventure. Let’s look at a concrete example from a well-known source: the Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

  • A messenger comes. Holmes and Watson are hanging out in the familiar world of 221B Baker St. when a young lady comes calling.
  • A problem is presented. The young lady tells Holmes that her sister has died under strange circumstances, and she now fears for her own life.
  • Someone is marked out as the person to solve this problem. Knowing of Holmes’ reputation, the young lady asks him for help.
  • A challenge takes shape. Holmes asks many questions, and perceives the seriousness of the situation.
  • A refusal, often. Holmes rarely refuses a challenge, though he has been known to be reluctant at times. In this case, Holmes senses great urgency, so he doesn’t waffle.
  • The challenge is accepted. The adventure begins.
  • The hero leaves the familiar world. Holmes sets off from 221B Baker St. and enters the busy, raucous streets of London, thence to a creepy old mansion in the country. It’s dangerous. The hero could use some assistance.
  • Helpers materialize. And guess what? He’s got Watson at his side! Much investigation occurs, with progress, and then …
  • Setbacks occur. Things go wrong, problems turn out to be more difficult than anticipated.
  • The hero regroups and gains some ground again. After a nail-biting, death-defying climax, Holmes prevails, discovering a deadly plot and a bizarre method of murder. The perpetrator is killed by the very method he had used to kill another.
  • The foe is vanquished or the elixir is seized. Holmes and Watson wrap up the case for the local police and return to their flat in London.
  • the Hero returns to the familiar world. And we feel secure because we know justice has been done; the killer cannot kill again. The natural order
    is restored.

Read practically any good, successful dramatic novel and you will find similar story bones. This is not by accident. Good authors have an instinct for such things. We can sharpen our instincts by studying, as you’re doing right now, and by writing, which you’ve been doing all along.

[Do you underline book titles? Underline them? Put book titles in quotes? Find out here.]

You might be thinking, Must my Hero’s Adventure begin and end in exactly the same place, like the Sherlock Holmes stories?

It can if you want, but no, it doesn’t have to. Many terrific stories end with the natural order being restored but not necessarily in the same physical or psychological location as the beginning. A Hero’s Adventure can begin in Chicago and end up in Los Angeles.

The Hero’s Adventure is a fail-safe model for storytelling. However, it is not the be-all and end-all. As you can see, it’s simply a way of planning, organizing and/or linking your scenes for maximum effect. It was good enough for the ancients, it was good enough for the most memorable authors of recent centuries, and it’s good enough for us.

Best of all, it’s flexible. You can follow it quite literally, or you can use it as a general guide. The template I’ve presented here is simple and stress free. You can use it to make your novel reach deep into your readers’ minds and hearts.

The more I think about it, the more I bet that the story you’ve been working on, however much of it you have, contains elements of the Hero’s Adventure already. Have you been yelling that to me through the time/space continuum?



Thanks for visiting The Writer’s Dig blog. For more great writing advice, click here.


brian-klems-2013Brian A. Klems is the online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Sign up for Brian’s free Writer’s Digest eNewsletter: WD Newsletter

Add a Comment
11. ‘New box of crayons’ time…..

Oct Bk to Sch blast

0 Comments on ‘New box of crayons’ time….. as of 8/26/2014 3:01:00 PM
Add a Comment
12. How I Got My Literary Agent: Stephanie Wahlstrom

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Stephanie Wahlstrom, author of THE ACCIDENTAL SOCIALITE. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

(What query letter mistakes will sink your submission chances?)


 stephanie-wahlstrom-author-writer       accidental-socialite-cover-wahlstrom

Stephanie Wahlstrom grew up in Edmonton, Canada. A significant amount of her
time was spent making up and acting out stories. She graduated from the University
of Alberta with an English and Sociology degree and I also have a Bachelor of
Motion Picture Arts (that’s a fancy term for Film School) from Red Deer College.
Later, she went back home to write “My Green House,” a factual TV series.
Her debut novel is THE ACCIDENTAL SOCIALITE (Swoon Romance),
humorous women’s fiction. Find her on Twitter.



On January 1st 2013 I made a resolution: I was going to get published by the end of the year. At this point I hadn’t even properly edited The Accidental Socialite, never mind looked into agents or what the publishing process entailed. I polished my ms and started sending it out in February, which was probably too soon as I ended up doing more severe edits after the first round of feedback. I had a few requests, but it was always “I like it, you have a great voice, but I’m not passionate enough to offer representation.” Every. Single. Time.  Then I heard of the PitchMadness contest by Brenda Drake. The request window for agents opened on my birthday and I took it as a sign.

And then I was rejected a further 25 times. It was the end of June when I started to think about self-publishing.  I absolutely could not fail at this goal, and although it wasn’t the way I wanted to go, self-publishing was looking like the only option. I had myself a little cry for my publishing dream that never was, put my big girl pants on and started researching cover designers.

Deep down, I knew I didn’t really want to self publish, so I threw out a Hail Mary at the beginning of July and tried one last contest: PitchMas.


This time the requests weren’t from agents, but from publishers.

I sent the ms out on Thursday night, and by 5am on Friday I had an e-mail with an intent to offer from a publisher. I was supposed to meet my boyfriend in France for a weekend away in six hours, so I quickly let everyone who had the ms know what the deal was. I felt terrible because it didn’t give the publishers who had received the ms the night before any time, but I didn’t know what else to do. The plane landed in Cannes and I totally ignored the “Don’t turn on your phone until you are safely inside the terminal building” (or whatever the equivalent in French was) and turned on my phone to find an offer from publisher two. I’d already told the woman next to me my life story, so I updated her on this development and she very kindly pretended to care and promised to buy the book.

By the end of the day I had two very different offers for multi-book deals from publishers and did not know what to do with myself … so on Monday I went to the Manolo Blahnik sale to celebrate my almost book deal and bought a pair of nude patent Mary Janes for 80% off. I was winning at life that week.

In late 2012 I’d taken a course with Curtis Brown Creative on writing for children taught by agent Stephanie Thwaites and writer Tony Bradman.  I e-mailed Stephanie asking for a cheeky bit of advice because I really felt I needed the help of an agent to choose/negotiate the best deal possible.

(How successful writers are using the Internet and social-media to sell more books.)


To my surprise, Stephanie actually asked to read The Accidental Socialite, so I sent it to her and in a few days she started talking about what “we” could do. I got stupid excited and awkwardly asked if she was my agent, because it would be really cool if she was, or not, you know, playing it cool over here and not like the girl in the corner at prom who finally got asked to dance, and by the most popular boy at school no less. FYI Stephanie isn’t a boy and there wasn’t dancing involved – or at least not on her part – I spent most of the whole month of July and August doing happy dances. Anyway. She said yes and fund me a co-agent in New York at ICM Partners (was Lyndsay Hemphill, now Tina Wexler).

I was all like, EMERGAHD! I have the same agent as Winnie The Pooh! Not only had my dream come true, I’d hit the jackpot when it came to agents with Stephanie and Tina. I sat down with Stephanie and she talked about my career… implying I was going to have one.  This was real!!!

Stephanie worked her magic and in the end I actually had three offers from publishers. Then it was decision time. The first publisher who had shown interest was super passionate about The Accidental Socialite and seemed to really get it which I think is the most important thing you can find when you work creatively with anyone. I felt really comfortable with Georgia McBride and Stephanie agreed, which is how The Accidental Socialite ended up with Swoon Romance in North America. Happy dance!


The 90 Days to Your Novel 2-Pack is an inspiring
kit that will be your push, your deadline, and your
spark to finally, in three short months, nail that
first draft of your novel. The two items are
bundled together in our shop for a discount.


Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:


Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more.
Order the book from WD at a discount.



Add a Comment
13. The Board of Education

The fight has been raging for three days. The teachers on their end, toting rulers, eraser canons and textbook grenades, and the students on the other, with only school-approved items found in their bookbags. Both sides have suffered casualties and people are wondering, what happened three days ago at Winston Waters High that started this mess? Start your story three days ago.

writing-promptsWant more creative writing prompts?

Pick up a copy of A Year of Writing Prompts: 365 Story Ideas for Honing Your Craft and Eliminating Writer’s Block. There’s a prompt for every day of the year and you can start on any day.

Order now from our shop.






Add a Comment
14. Query Question: How the hell can you know this?

What is this magic future-seer gizmo agents have and where can I get one?
I have the test results and they say "yes".

I have attended a few writing conferences this year and another one is coming up rather quickly in a few weeks 'round my parts of the sea. I always shell out the extra money to have a pitch session/practice with the agents brave enough to sit all day with eager writers. I've swam through the chum, followed The Shark (tm) query letter guidelines for over a year now and practiced, practiced, practiced my pitch along the way. Feeling confident-enough, I sent my letter out to agents. The responses are all over.

I have some replies that tell me "... I'm not sure how these types of books are doing with all the success of the xxx and xxx series out now. It sounds super interesting and I hope you hit on an agent that knows this market well," or , "The concept grabbed me, and you deserve an enthusiastic agent who can champion your work..."

I am not writing anything YA, distopian, Twilight-y at all. I am writing for another, younger, age group that I have at least 3 years of weekly hands-on experience with that equates market research for my book. I have adults in my critique group that try to pry the next scene from my carpel tunnel hands before the next group meeting because they cannot wait.

I'm sorry, but most of these agents I meet in person or have queried cannot possibly have had any interaction with a group of children like this since they were children themselves. Most are fresh off the college circuit (which is completely fine), travel frequently, etc. How do they know what my age group wants if they have no/ limited experience with the end user? Are agents just following trends? I know a variety of books are selling, but many would be selling anyway because that is all that is out there. How is a writer to know which seashell is a good sell down by the seashore?

Snarly Seahorse

Dear SnarlyOne,

You can't conflate the agents who attend writing conferences with the agents who are reading your queries/manuscripts. A lot of us aren't on the conference circuit. And guess who REALLY isn't on the conference circuit: agents with kids.

The other thing you're missing is that agents don't work in a bubble.  We hear from readers via our authors, and we see the feedback from school visits, and we watch what librarians are interested in like hawks. Librarians and teachers make the buying decisions for a lot of middle grade books (which is what I assume you're writing)

In other words, its our job to pay attention to what sells, and we do.

Also you don't have test results.  You have friends and people you know telling you they like the book.  A book they didn't have to pay to read I might add.  There's a world of difference between "did you like my book" and "hey, will you pay me $15 to read this?"

I've recommended the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators before.  You should join and hear from the people who are in the field you're writing in.

0 Comments on Query Question: How the hell can you know this? as of 8/26/2014 8:45:00 AM
Add a Comment
15. Why is my Dummy still a Dummy?!

Writers and artists work so hard at conceiving, then executing wonderful stories and images for potential picture books, only to be left holding rejection letters and wondering “WHY NOT?”

I wish I had answers…it would make an agent’s job much easier!  But I do have some possible reasons to share with you today.  Number one, your manuscript (ms) and your images (dummy) need to be as ready for publication as possible.  Not just a ‘good idea.’  Those are everywhere.  Not just a few sketches, but a well thought out flow of visual story telling.  OK, now you are ready to be ‘snapped up.’

There are good market reasons that even the BEST stories might get missed or rejected by well meaning houses.  First of all keep in mind that picture books are VERY expensive to print!  When the economy is down or slow (!) it’s likely that houses might not do as many.  When the dollar is weak, as it is now, it’s more expensive to print even in China! Fewer books means more care in selection.

PREFERANCES also vary yearly and are very cyclical. “Spunky” over “quiet” etc.  What was ‘hot’ last year, might not be this year.  Your story might have been perfect for last year, but not this.  But remember it might be perfect 3 years from now again! This past year or two, more novels have been published than picture books.  They are all the rage, and without pictures, much cheaper to print. Yet picture book sales have held their own, proving that they ARE worth the expense in the long run.

Speaking of the long run, the Back List effects what they take on new.  Editors need to bring in books to ADD to the bottom line, and which promise to ADD to the strong Back List for the house.  Often they ‘borrow’ from that back list and redo books that are strong. This all means they won’t be able to publish all the new stories they might want to. I’ve noticed that this seems to be a trend these days (which is nice for illustrators!). They are constantly ‘balancing’ their lists as well as adding to the imprints list balance.  A Publisher may have 2-4 lists a year.  Each tries to add balance and income, minimize risk and loss.  The “P & L” (profit and loss) is ALL important these days! They project several years in advance! Your book might not pass that test. They want to add new writers and illustrators, but will they ‘last?’  Will they produce on-going to add value to the imprint? And of course, the bottom line: will they sell well?

Another trend I see is ‘in house’ ideas being developed, particularly for series ideas.  They go through the same scrutiny as other proposals, but that might make it harder for ‘outside’ ideas to be considered.  Often writers worry as well that their ‘ideas’ will be ‘borrowed.’  That is possible of course, but I find it rarely a problem in this honest, supportive industry. That does bring us to another LEGAL point that might mean they do NOT take on your dummy.  Many houses will not accept unsolicited  manuscripts.  One legal reason is that they might find themselves turning down an idea that is actually being developed in-house currently!  This can LOOK like a ‘stealing of ideas’, when it is pure coincidence.  If you look at new lists in stores, you will see how often this does happen even between houses!  Two ‘bird’ books, or three ‘princess’ books etc. that are too close in feel.  Trends happen and it’s like a wave at times!  So houses protect themselves by not taking on ‘outside’ ideas at all.  Therefore, your ‘perfect dummy’ won’t even be looked at by these publishers.

It’s a tight market these days, and the stakes are high. Do your best, understand it’s NOT personal, and keep trying! A good story, well done, will find a publisher at the right time.

and I had to share this ‘artist’s block’ image of my 21 month old granddaughter, Billie….. we all know the feeling! (thanks Christy!)

artist block

0 Comments on Why is my Dummy still a Dummy?! as of 8/25/2014 10:11:00 PM
Add a Comment
16. A List of Upcoming Online Courses From Writer’s Digest University

WDUInterested in improving your writing skills? Your blogging skills? Want to become a copywriter master to make a good living on the side (to support your creative writing)? It’s time you checked out Writer’s Digest University slate of online courses, designed to help you improve your technique and reach your writing goals.

You’ll get weekly assignments to motivate you to keep your writing on track and you’ll get specific advice from our professional writing instructors, guiding you and making sure you’re making strides in becoming a better writer.

Here’s a list of upcoming courses. Click on the course titles below to sign up for any and all that interest you.

Thanks for visiting The Writer’s Dig blog. For more great writing advice, click here.


brian-klems-2013Brian A. Klems is the online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Sign up for Brian’s free Writer’s Digest eNewsletter: WD Newsletter

Add a Comment
17. WriteGirl Get Inspired Fundraiser – How You Can Help Support This Great Cause

If you’re a writer and looking to support a good cause that’s focused on giving others (namely teens) the opportunity to learn and become better writers, you’ll want to check out WriteGirl’s Get Inspired Fundraiser.

Launched nearly 13 years ago, WriteGirl is a foundation that focuses on teenage girls who do not have access to creative writing or mentoring programs. The group brings the energy and skill set of professional female writers to these young writers in an attempt to give them all the help they can in achieving their goals of becoming better writers (and getting them in to college).

By donating to the Get Inspired campaign, you’ll receive writing prompts and award-winning anthologies from the teen girls at WriteGirl. Plus, you’ll be supporting a great cause.

For more information, visit WriteGirl.org. The fundraiser ends September 4, 2014.

Add a Comment
18. Have You Successfully Marketed Your Self-Published Book? Then WD Wants to Hear From You!

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 2.33.15 PMCalling all self-published / independent book & e-book authors: Tell us about the promotional strategies that worked for you, and you and your book(s) could get even more visibility in the pages of Writer’s Digest magazine.

We’re looking for the inside stories from indie authors who’ve developed successful strategies for marketing their own books. If you credit your self-made promotional strategy for your book’s popularity, profitability or sales, we’d love to hear the details of what you did, how you did it, and what you’ve learned. Your insights—alongside your bio and information about your book—could appear in the pages of Writer’s Digest magazine.

To be considered for a spotlight in WD, simply answer the questions below and show us why you and your book(s) make a great example for other authors to follow. Email your responses (in the body of the email) to writersdigest@fwmedia.com with “IT WORKED FOR ME” in the subject line. Attach a hi-res cover image(s) of your book(s). In submitting your questionnaire, you are granting permission for your responses and cover image(s) to appear in Writer’s Digest magazine and other WD publications and/or on WritersDigest.com, and acknowledging that responses may be edited for space or clarity. Selected authors may be contacted for additional information.

Book/series title:

Genre (memoir, mystery/thriller, romance, mainstream fiction, etc.):

One-sentence description of the book/series:

Publication date(s):

Publication method(s) (specify print or e-book[s], and printing service or formatting service[s] used):

Distribution method(s):



Brief bio (beyond this particular book/series):


Social media handles:

My promotional strategy/philosophy, in a nutshell:

Why I decided to focus my efforts this way:

How I put my plan into action (specific steps taken, online and/or in person):

Which efforts worked best (including specific pricing, if relevant, and results, such as bursts in rankings or sales):

Other signs that readers were engaged (increased social media numbers, Goodreads buzz, etc.):

How much money and time I estimate to have invested in my promotional efforts:

Copies sold to date:

What I’d do the same with the next book:

What I’d do differently (or skip) with the next book:

Takeaways/lessons for my fellow writers:

Add a Comment
19. 5 Quick Tips for Writing in Multiple Perspectives

Let's Get Lost coverWriting a novel from one unique perspective can be challenging enough for many writers, but writing a character’s story through multiple perspectives will multiply the challenges, but also the rewards. Adi Alsaid’s new novel, Let’s Get Lost (Harlequin Teen, 2014), is an excellent example of using multiple perspectives to effectively tell the story of one character’s road trip while also keeping the reader enticed and invested for the entire ride. Here, Alsaid offers five quick tips for authors who hope to do the same in their stories.

* * * * *

I’ve always been drawn to multiple perspectives, both as a reader and as a writer. And as a person! I like getting into people’s heads. That’s what I love about fiction, the ease with which we can slip into someone else’s thoughts. So when I write, I like telling a story from as many perspectives as the narrative will allow. With Let’s Get Lost, I thought it would be really interesting to tell a road-trip tale through the eyes of characters who are stationary, who are going through their own issues, their own lives, when a mysterious girl comes crashing in. Here are my tips for writing in multiple perspectives.

  • Differentiate the voices. The easiest way to fail at multiple perspective is to not actually have any. Don’t give characters the same sense of humor, the same vocabulary, the same sense of right and wrong. When in doubt, read the different perspectives aloud.
  • Start small. Instead of trying to encompass an entire character’s persona, zoom in on a detail. A simple desire, one thought, a bite of pasta, even. It’s a lot less intimidating to start with a bite of pasta than with an entire backstory in mind. The rest will build from there, and will probably feel more authentic for it.
  • Explore. If you’re writing from different perspectives, at least one of them is probably wholly different to your own. That’s not a challenge, it’s a chance to explore what it means to be someone else. A parking lot, for example, looks different to a woman walking alone in her twenties than to a woman trying to keep two toddlers from running out into traffic before she reaches the target. What would it be like to be a teenager living in a war-torn region? You probably don’t know for sure, but you have a chance to find out if you start with a small detail and then explore from there.
  • Keep it personal. Just because the characters are not like you doesn’t mean they can’t have pieces of you in them. In some way, they should care about what you care about. Or maybe they have the exact opposite beliefs, or they have courage that you don’t. Whatever it is, consider the personal connection the character has with you as you move forward. If you don’t connect with the characters on a personal level, your readers probably won’t either.
  • Connection. This one may not be for everybody. What I love most about books—reading or writing them—is the chance to connect to others, the idea that people have similar thoughts and experiences, even though they may not know it. Do this in your stories too. Make connections, subtle or otherwise. Make them pass by each other a minute or two apart. Have someone in common in their backstory without them being aware of it. It’s the beauty of multiple perspectives, you can explore human connection in ways that we may miss in real life.

Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City. He attended college at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in class, he mostly read fiction and continuously failed to fill out crossword puzzles, so it’s no surprise that after graduating he packed up his car and escaped to the California coastline to become a writer. He’s now back in his hometown, where he writes, coaches high school and elementary basketball, and has perfected the art of making every dish he eats or cooks as spicy as possible. In addition to Mexico, he has lived in Tel Aviv, Las Vegas and Monterey, California. A tingly feeling in his feet tells him that more places will eventually be added to the list. For more, visit www.somewhereoverthesun.com.

Add a Comment
20. Query Question: I'd like to avoid fame, please

I have a question for you (I have only read so far back on your blog posts, so I apologize if you have addressed this farther back) regarding anonymity. My first novel that I am working on right now is a bit like Grisham, Crichton, and King having an orgy produced love child with Veronica Mars, including Big Themes about free will, power structures, Biblical metaphors, neuropsychogy, feminism and the nature of creative vs destructive genius all wrapped up in the palatable presentation of a suspense novel from a female perspective (with a tiny bit of sarcastic comic relief interspersed throughout to play with the tension - I have been writing/performing stand-up comedy for 2 years).

I would love to write across genres as I have always been a fan of horror, scifi, fantasy, and suspense. I also would like to avoid fame as long as possible so that I may continue to interact with real humans in order to continue widening my reality tunnel so I can understand as many diverse perspectives as possible.

Would a literary agent take on a writer who has the desire to avoid fame under one name, instead preferring to write under a variety of names, or is the publishing industry as such that they rely on the Cult of Personality to sell books?

I have found that people only pay attention to the message for so long before they begin deifying the messenger instead. I would rather people understand the complex scientific and philosophical concepts I am translatong into more common language through metaphor while enjoying the entertainment aspects instead of just blindly worshipping a favorite author. I am aware that it may sound like hubris to imagine myself as a literary rock star, but I have confidence in my wisdom and understanding of humanity and my ability to convey that in various metaphorical languages for wide audiences.

Given that I would like to remain relatively unknown for as long as possible, should I go the literary agent/publishing house or the self publishing route?

Thanks in advance and I hope that wasn't a duplicate question.

I think you're the perfect candidate for self-publishing. Make sure you hire an excellent book designer, a good copy editor and leave your author photo off the dust jacket.

0 Comments on Query Question: I'd like to avoid fame, please as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
21. Have a lovely restful day

0 Comments on Have a lovely restful day as of 8/24/2014 9:03:00 AM
Add a Comment
22. Literary Agent Spotlight: Mark Gottlieb of Trident Media Group

Today’s literary agent spotlight is with Mark Gottlieb of Trident Media Group. Mark is actively building his client list at the moment, and is definitely worth getting to know better. Learn more about him below:




About Mark: From an early age, Mark showed a passionate interest in his father’s work, his founding of Trident with Dan Strone, and the growth of the company. And his father Robert took great pleasure in being “grilled” regularly by Mark.  This focus on publishing continued at Emerson College, where Mark was a founding member of the Publishing Club, then its President, subsequently overseeing its first publication under the Wilde Press imprint. After graduating Emerson with a degree in writing, literature and publishing, Mark began his career as an assistant to the Vice President of the Berkley imprint at Penguin, working with leading editors at the firm.

(Headed to a conference? Learn how to approach an agent.)

Mark’s first position at Trident was in the foreign rights department, assisting the department’s agents in selling the books of clients around the world. Mark continued to follow the customary Trident development process by next assuming the position of audio rights agent. Since Mark has managed the audio rights business, the annual sales volume has doubled (for more information on audio books, please see the Audio Books page under our Services tab). Now while continuing to head up audio rights, Mark is building his own client list of writers.  Follow Trident Media Group on Twitter or on Facebook.

He is seeking: In fiction, he seeks Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Comics, Graphic novels, Historical, History, Horror, Literary, Middle Grade, Mystery, Thrillers and New adult.

In nonfiction, he seeks Arts, Cinema, Photography, Biography, Memoir, Self-help, Sports, Travel, World cultures, True crime, Mind/Body/Spirit, Narrative Nonfiction, Politics, Current affairs, Pop culture, Entertainment, Relationships, Family, Science, Technology.

How to submit: Use the online submission form here. Make sure you direct your inquiry to Mark.

(Can your query be longer than one page?)



The biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:


Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more.
Order the book from WD at a discount.


Add a Comment
23. Megan Volpert: Poet Interview

Please welcome Megan Volpert to the Poetic Asides blog! I met Megan earlier this year in Austin as we were both National Feature Poets for the Austin International Poetry Festival and from the Atlanta area. Anyway, I watched her read twice in Texas and enjoyed both readings.

Megan Volpert

Megan Volpert

Volpert is the author of five books on communication and popular culture. She is also the editor of This assignment is so gay: LGBTIQ Poets on the Art of Teaching. For the better part of a decade, Volpert has been doing three things: teaching high school English in Atlanta, living with ulcerative colitis, and driving a motorcycle.

Predictably, her website is www.meganvolpert.com.

Volpert’s Only Ride is a wonderful collection of prose poems that can be read in order, out of order, but especially out loud.

Here is a poem I really enjoyed from Only Ride:

We all fight, by Megan Volpert

I think it would be cool to own a switchblade. But that means carrying it around & then that means using it, which seems like no fun. I’m not a violent person. Go ahead & throw me under the bus though, because I can lift it with my tongue. No kid ever bullied me in school. For years, I didn’t understand it was because of my smart mouth. I didn’t even know I had one until my father put soap in it. All people are strong & most don’t know what their strengths are. The life is perfectly salvageable. It’s just the person is not yet interested in getting saved.


What are you currently up to?

Well, I finally watched all of Breaking Bad this summer. But work wise, there are a few things brewing. Most immediately, in May 2015, Gina Myers of Lame House Press is kindly publishing a chapbook of about a dozen weird little language experiments I built based on something Michel Foucault once said. So we are having a blast contemplating design elements for that.

But I’m also knee deep in research for a book of essays I’m writing about punk rhetorics of independence during the American Bicentennial year, which is like holding a seance for Hunter S. Thompson. That will be breaking some new nonfiction ground for Sibling Rivalry Press, though I don’t think there’s anyone left who doubts that SRP is blowing up all kinds of new avenues. Bryan Borland-Pennington is deeply visionary, and moreover, remarkably nice for somebody so successful.

A little further out, I’ve recently begun to collaborate with the amazing and tender performance artist Craig Gingrich-Philbrook. We are investigating the nature of failure, of shows we imagined but then tossed away before they could become realities. That will be CGP’s first book, to which a million people have been looking forward for a very long time, and I’m just proud he wants to make the leap on that with me.

Only Ride is your fifth collection of poems. Do you have a process for assembling poems for a collection of poetry?

Yes, I’ve basically stopped thinking about each piece in isolation. They each have to stand alone, of course, but more and more often I am beginning with the big idea then drilling down to determine its component parts. I know what sort of machines I’m after, so I really proceed more from what the total function of the book will be and then write bits and pieces as I stumble across applications of the project’s main functions in my daily life.

Only Ride, in particular, is based on a series of constraints. It’s all prose poems between 95 and 110 words, with titles that are complete sentences. My previous collection was the Warhol thing, which was so sprawling and research heavy that I really wanted to work on something more compact and minimal next. I typed most of them on my phone, on the train during my morning commute. I’d let a batch sit in my notepad for a month or so, then revise the whole pile over a couple hours on a weekend. I knew my subjects, so when I reached my target of 66 pieces, I laid them all out on the floor and organized first based on chronological order of the events in the poems then for the right emotional arch within each subject or time period.

Other stuff can present itself for more obvious arrangement, for example, the 1976 book will report historical events in a straightforward chronological order, one month per chapter. I do prefer organic methods like that. My first two collections still feel well organized, but I agonized over those little piecemeal frankensteins, which in hindsight seems unnecessary.

2015 Poet's Market

2015 Poet’s Market


Publish your poetry!

Reserve your copy of the latest (and greatest) copy of Poet’s Market today!

This poetic resource includes hundreds of poetry publishing opportunities, including listings for book and chapbook publishers, literary journals, magazines, contests and awards, grants, conferences, and more! Plus, there are articles on the business of poetry, promotion of poetry, craft of poetry, poet interviews, and contemporary poems.

Click to continue.


One of my favorite moments from this year’s Austin International Poetry Festival was watching you have the audience select random poems from Only Ride to read—kind of like a poetry jukebox. Was that the intention for this collection?

Intention is a strong word, but sure. In the design discussions, I was adamant about no table of contents and no page numbers. Life doesn’t have those, and I like it if the physical product of my books can surprise readers in useful ways like that. It contributes something beyond just the quality of the writing. Fonts choices are also of critical import to me, selecting the weight of the paper, and so on. I’m lucky SRP trusts me to participate in those choices.

But as much as I thought about how each poem would be performed aloud and live, it honestly never once occurred to me that I would have no system for putting together a set list. I think it looks silly to put sticky notes on so many pages, especially with these poems that are all just a minute long. I’d have like 20 tabs hanging out, and still the problem of whether to go through the book in order or not. I considered numbering the pages in my own reading copy for reference, but it really felt like cheating.

So I gave up control to the audience, and the first few times they loved it so profoundly that I just kept doing it. It allows me to be much more in the moment, enjoying the connections we make together. And it sure is nice not to have to sit down ahead of time for a half hour and fool myself into believing I know what those future moments of the reading should hold.

Only Ride, by Megan Volpert

Only Ride, by Megan Volpert

Each spread in Only Ride has a title on one page and a prose poem on the other. What appeals to you about the prose poem?

Ten years ago, I’d have said nothing appeals to me about the prose poem. In grad school, I was notoriously militant about the value of line breaks and could pontificate about the evil vagaries of the prose poem for an hour stretch without breaking a sweat.

But at some point, I gave up on the label of poetry. Truly, I know a lot of people categorize Only Ride as a collection of prose poems, but you could just as easily call them flash or micro-essays. I work in a hybrid kind of area and don’t see a lot of merit in genre classifications beyond their value as marketing tools. The Warhol book was hardly clear cut as poetry either. I don’t feel I’ve lost my capacity for line breaks, but I’m genuinely disinterested in them right now. I expect this trend to continue for awhile on into the future as I expand into making texts that are more easily identifiable as nonfiction, like the 1976 book and the collaboration with CGP.

I realize that doesn’t answer your question, but it does answer for some of the assumptions sliding around under the question.

You teach high school English. Do you find teaching helps or hinders your writing? Or the other way around?

Oh, teaching helps. No question about that. Because I am essentially a manic person, I am terrible at vacationing. After two or three weeks away from my students, I’m quite refreshed and ready to go back. I did just a sick amount of research and writing for the 1976 book during my eight weeks of summer break. It was so gross. I was inside all day, alone, staring at my computer. My back hurt, my vision got weird, and I went into that freaky liminal writing space for just too long too often. I couldn’t be a full time writer, and not because it doesn’t pay well enough. I get great inspiration from my students, plus I need the hamster wheel of the school to keep myself from being so focused on writing that I simply go nuts.

Do you have a writing routine?

It varies from project to project because it emerges out of the needs of each project, but I can at least say that I am more productive in the morning or afternoon and that I type almost everything now. I’ve always enjoyed writing in transit, on airplanes or trains especially, but have no explanation to offer as to why that might be. See also: above discussion of unhealthy manic behaviors.

One poet no one knows but should—who is it?

Brock Guthrie, no relation to Woody. We went to grad school together at LSU. His debut collection, Contemplative Man, is out now from Sibling Rivalry Press. When we would workshop together, I thought most of his comments were kind of dopey but all of his poems made me totally jealous. Envy is actually not an emotion I feel very often toward other writers, but wow, I just wanted to steal everything Brock ever wrote. Brock is still not good at promoting himself, or finding a publisher. I’ve been helping him out on those ugly business fronts, but as a writer, he nails it every time and I’m not going to attempt to encapsulate it for you. Just buy the book. Brock is the type of guy who will go unnoticed for 40 more years, then up and win a Pulitzer on the merit of the work alone. Get in on it while he’s still nobody famous, and later on you can join me in the I-told-you-so fest.

Who (or what) are you currently reading?

I used to be a one book at a time kid of girl, but now I usually have two of three things going. I read tons of monthly pop culture magazines, from Rolling Stone to Esquire. I’ve been checking out a lot of Erma Bombeck, which is a 1976 thing. I just finished Bob Colacello’s excellent old book about the Reagans’ path to the presidency. And I’m steeped in Lester Bangs just for the sound of him. I’ve always kept mainly to nonfiction and don’t read much new poetry, though I did love Bruce Covey’s new book. When I want poetry, I listen to new music. As I type this, I am listening to Tom Petty’s new album, Hypnotic Eye, on loop. When I want fiction, I watch television dramas like Rescue Me or Six Feet Under. Whatever the medium, I pretty much prefer a pile of snark with a dash of morbidity. Surprise.

If you could only share one piece of advice with fellow poets, what would it be?

Fuhgeddaboudit. Stop asking fellow poets for advice and do whatever you damn well know in your heart feels best.


Robert Lee Brewer is an editor with the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


Find more poetic posts below:








Add a Comment
24. Query Question: full requests, but no rep

I've been querying agents and have gotten a partial or full request from quite a few, but I seem to get stuck at the last step: an offer of representation. They give the same reasons - they like my writing, my plot, even my characters, but they just don't fall in love with the novel.

As an example, the last agent (who had a partial) said: "You have a great imagination - I love the premise - and you're a good writer, but I'm sad to say that I just wasn't passionate enough about this to ask to see more. I wish I could offer constructive suggestions, but I thought the dialogue was fine, the characters well-crafted, and the plot well-conceived. I think it's the kind of thing that really is subjective - why some people adore the book on the top of the NYTimes bestseller list, and others don't." I've received similar comments from other agents.

What should I do? I don't even know what I'm doing wrong.

You're not doing anything wrong, you're just not doing something that excites agents and gets them to keep reading.

My esteemed colleague Jenny Bent (who knows a thing or ten about good books) once tweeted that pacing was the single biggest problem she found in requested fulls that she didn't offer to represent.

Clearly you need help with something. This is where you find a brutal critique group or enroll in a year long class (Grub Street  offers this kind of workshop.)

You don't mention which novel this is for you: first, second or Nth.  I remember Jenny Milchman saying she wrote something like nine novels before her "first" published novel.

It takes a long time to learn to write a good novel.  Clearly you've got talent if you're getting requests, but maybe you're just not quite there yet.  (Remember the 10,000 hour theory made famous by Malcolm Gladwell)

0 Comments on Query Question: full requests, but no rep as of 8/25/2014 7:29:00 AM
Add a Comment
25. An Intimate Look at Working with an Editor


I have been blessed with a mutually respectful and affectionate relationship with the brilliant Jane von Mehren, my editor at Viking/Penguin for The Passion of ArtemisiaThe Forest Lover, and Life Studies, and at Random House for Clara and Mr. Tiffany. Due to the exigencies of publishing company shifts, I have lost her. Let this be a tribute to her guidance and support.

I loved our exploratory discussions of a fictional idea just as it was taking shape, and appreciated her open-mindedness. In talking about Lisette’s List, she encouraged me to think and invent freely, and said the paintings didn’t have to be real, nor did the people. In this way she moved me out of the limitations of tracing a researched portion of a painter’s life, into the realm of pure fiction, the challenge I needed. I was filled with excitement and eagerness.

When she approved of an idea, or gave me a solution to a narrative problem, it was always a thrill. After six months of researching Winslow Homer whose paintings I love, and writing 75 pages, I was still struggling with the framing of the novel. I admitted to her that his life just didn’t lend itself to having sufficient conflict to create the arc of a story. She very gently, in a soft voice, said, “Maybe this isn’t the novel that you should write.” Oh, how relieved I was to hear that! That freed me to conceive of Lisette’s List.

On an earlier occasion, I proposed a novel spun from van Gogh’s powerful but dark (some would say depressing) painting, The Potato Eaters. It would feature his troubled attempts at ministering to miners, his early experiences as a painter, and some unfortunate events with a woman. Jane said she thought it might work. Looking at his painting of a peasant family at their meager dinner, she asked, “But do we have to put these ugly peasants on the cover?” That was enough to dissuade me from that. “Can’t you find a painting that is more colorful and joyful?” she said, and that was when I found Renoir’s glorious Luncheon of the Boating Party.

Normally, I wrote nine drafts before she saw the text. Naturally, the harder part was reading her first critique letter. It generally began with a paragraph or

two of glowing commendations, identifying the strengths of the text, followed by many pages of carefully thought-out constructive criticism together with possible solutions to problems that she perceived, and ended with much needed encouragement.

That was followed by another draft or two on which she wrote abundant marginal notes. When I discovered a word of praise, I rejoiced. When I saw a directive, I either hastened to fix it in order to hide even from myself the foolish error I had made, or I sulked and ruminated until I found a way to resolve the problem.

Discussing a draft of The Passion of Artemisia over the phone, she pointed out that I devoted only one line to Artemisia having a baby, an event that would impact her painting life and thetherefore, the rest of the novel. She said that it deserved a whole chapter, and asked why I hadn’t given it more attention. I answered that I hadn’t written it out of avoidance because I didn’t know a thing about having a baby, never having had one. We laughed together over this obvious omission, and I went to work asking a slew of women what having a baby was like.

In The Forest Lover, I had to contend forcefully for keeping Emily Carr’s quirky expressions and sentence fragments which ran counter to Jane’s linguistic correctness. In fact, I had to write her a lengthy letter defending the voice I had created by citing passages in Carr’s journals, before she retracted this criticism. She never complained about my sentence fragments again. In that experience we both learned something–she, to recognize that an author can be right, I, to stand up for my work.

In each novel, we eventually arrived at a point where we were both contending over some few small things. This is the part I liked the least because I had to conquer my feelings of injury and often had to give up something in the text that I loved for the betterment of the book. For example, in draft 12.1 of Clara and Mr. Tiffany, I included this line very near the end of the novel: “Maybe my real lifework was loving.” She suggested, strongly, I recall, that I delete it because it

was understood. After much back and forth between the two of us, and after recognizing that the chapter title was “Lifework,” I took it out in draft 12.3. She was usually right so I trusted her judgment. I may have grieved a bit when I gave in, but it was Jane who gave in on the line, “I was awash with love for her,” which she agreed to keep in the same passage.

By the time I’m deep at work on another book, I’ve forgotten what all my fussing was about. So it has been a decade-long give-and-take, marked by generous encouragement and–dare I say it?–love. I remain humbled and grateful.

LisettesList_FotorSusan Vreeland (svreeland.com) is the internationally known author of art-related historical fiction. Four of her books are New York Times bestsellers. Lisette’s List presents one woman’s yearning for art at a time when her family’s collection of paintings had to be hidden in the south of France from Nazi art thieves. Clara and Mr. Tiffany reveals the talented woman who conceived of and designed the well-loved Tiffany leaded glass lamps. Luncheon of the Boating Party depicts Renoir’s masterpiece, the personalities involved in its making, and the joie de vivre of late nineteenth century Paris. Life Studies is a collection of stories of Impressionist painters told by people who knew them, as well as contemporary individuals encountering art in meaningful ways. Girl in Hyacinth Blue traces an alleged Vermeer painting through the centuries. The Passion of Artemisia illuminates Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi. The Forest Lover follows rebel British Columbia painter Emily Carr in her encounters with native peoples and cultures. What Love Sees, tells the love story of a blind couple who refuse to accept limitations. Four of these books have been winners of the Theodor Geisel Award, the highest honor given by the San Diego Book Awards. Vreeland’s novels have been translated into 26 languages, and have frequently been selected as Book Sense Picks. She was a high school English teacher in San Diego for thirty years.


Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts