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1. Happy Thanksgiving!


BookEnds is closed for Thanksgiving. We will be taking this time to enjoy ourselves with family and friends and celebrating all we have to be thankful for in our personal as well as our business lives (which are often intertwined).


We hope only the best for all of you and thank you for continuing to come back to the blog and participate.

--jhf

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2. Happy Thanksgiving



I'm profoundly grateful today for many things:

a job I love, in a city I love, with people I respect and admire;
the readers of and commenters on this blog who provide on-going enlightenment and entertainment;
health, happiness, and the friends to enjoy it with.

I hope you have a lovely holiday filled with the things that make you happy.

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3. Characters I am Thankful For

Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the US so of course I had to come up with a list of things I'm thankful for. Instead of the usual list of my clients, my BookEnds team or all of the blog readers, writers and editors who make me better at my job (see how I slipped that in) I thought I'd put together a list of characters who helped shape the me I am today.

Like anyone in the publishing business I spent most of my childhood with my nose in a book. I went to bed reading, falling asleep with the light on, and spent Saturday mornings curled up under a blanket reading a book from beginning to end. I'd actually hide in the corner so my parents wouldn't notice me and force me to go outside. During those years there were so many characters who shaped me and who I wanted to be like, characters who refuse to leave my head and in many ways have become my role models. People (because that's how I think of them) I still think of today.

Anne Shirley, that tenacious, spunky redhead who wanted to be a writer. I loved Anne of Green Gables and really, really wanted to be her. Well, honestly, I think I wanted to be all of these characters. Anne always said what she believed and despite so many obstacles that would make many sad, Anne was optimistic and confident. She was also determined and wanted to be a writer. Who wouldn't be inspired by that?

Jo March, if you read this blog you'll see Jo's name (or at least Little Women) come up again and again. In some weird way I feel like Jo is a good friend, someone I haven't seen in a while and miss dearly. Jo, like Anne, was spunky, tenacious, brave and determined to be the woman she wanted to be and not the woman everyone thought she should be. It broke my heart when Jo said no to Laurie, but part of me cheered her on. It was a shocking bit of bravery for anyone who dreamed of romance (which I did).

Betsy. I know Betsy has a last name, but I swear I have no idea what it is. Betsy was very similar to Anne and Jo. She wanted to be a writer, she spoke her mind and she stood up for what she believed. Betsy also had a thrilling imagination that often got her and her best friend Tacy, and later Tib, in loads of trouble. It reminded me a lot of me and my own best friend growing up. In the end though Betsy excelled and achieved her dreams. If you're unfamiliar with the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace please check it out.

Meg Murry is a little different from my other characters. Meg didn't want to be a writer, she wanted, if I remember correctly, to be a scientist. At least that's what her parents were in A Wrinkle in Time. Meg was one of the bravest characters I have ever known and everything she did she did for the love of her family. She was an adventurer, an explorer and such a cool nerd. Who wouldn't want to be Meg?

I'd love to hear who you're thankful for.

--jhf




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4. Winter weather!

ZOINKS!!
It's cold out here!!
The winter storm alert means we've
gone on vacation a little bit early.

What are you doing to stay warm?

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5. Submitting to Agents: What Not to Do

Or maybe this post would be better titled, What to Do Proofread and, if necessary, hire a copyeditor.

I've already been very honest about my shortcomings when it comes to grammar and punctuation so when I come across a query where I can see tons of grammar and punctuation problems I know there are problems.

Your query reflects your manuscript in every way and if its riddled with errors I'm going to be fairly certain your manuscript looks the same. Think of your query as the first page of your manuscript. You wouldn't send the book out until its shiny and perfect. Your query is no different.

--jhf

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6. Query Question: revising after rejections and how long to wait



You've suggested revising submission material after receiving either no response or rejections from agents and I'm good with that. 
However, as so many agents invite queries with pages/chapters in the submission, I'm unsure which to revise when that time comes. How to know where the "no" happened?
 
As for no response, if an agent is reading the query and pages/chapters, but doesn't offer a response window in the submission guidelines, is it reasonable to wait longer before closing it out? 

I'm not sure when I advised revising during the query process, but I'd like to see the source, since I think this might be out of context.

I think it's out of context for just the reason you mention in paragraph two. You don't know why/when/where there's a problem. Absent concrete suggestions for revisions, you run the very real risk of revising BADLY.

By badly I mean you don't know if an agent rejected your work (or failed to respond, nowadays the more likely situation -grrrrrrrrr) for something that had nothing to do with the quality or caliber of your work.

Take a look at the Chum Bucket post from last week. Fully EIGHT of the queries were for good books but just not books right for me. 

Look at the Chum Bucket results before that:  it's 14 good projects.

That's a substantial portion of the queries I get, and normally those receive ONLY a form reply.

If you're not getting the results you're looking for in the query process, that's when you invest some of your hard-earned dough in an editor, or a conference.  Get your pages in front of brutal, critical eyeballs.

Don't assume something is wrong with you if you're not hearing back; find out first.

As for timing, here's the definitive time table on dealing with scallywag agents who fail to reply to queries:

1. Send query.

2 A: IF agent auto-responds that query is received, wait prescribed amount of time plus 50% of prescribed time. Thus if they say they respond in 30 days, you give them 45. If they say six weeks, you give them nine.

2 B: IF agent does NOT have auto-responder, wait prescribed amount of time, then RE-SEND if no reply.

3. IF you are querying me, and you do not hear back follow 2B.

4. IF you are querying me, and you do not hear back after #3, email me or tweet to me. I respond to ALL queries that follow the general guidelines (Query Letter Diagnostics can help with that)


If you've tried twice, and not heard back, time to move on.

I find that incredibly rude and condescending in most instances, but so far I have yet to change the adoption of this course of action by many otherwise quite nice and polite agents whom I call my friends.
(Scoundrels!!)

 

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7. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 25

For today’s prompt, you have two options:

  1. Write a love poem.
  2. Write an anti-love poem.

*****

2015 Poet's Market

2015 Poet’s Market

Get your poetry published!

Learn how to get your poetry published with the premiere book on publishing your poetry: the 2015 Poet’s Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer.

This essential resource includes hundreds of listings for book publishers, magazines, journals, contests, grants, and so much more. Plus, there are articles on the craft of poetry, business of poetry, and promotion of poetry. Beyond that, there’s an hour-long webinar, a subscription to the poetry slice of WritersMarket.com, original poems, poet interviews, resources galore, and more-more-more!!!

Click to continue.

*****

Here’s my attempt at a Love and/or Anti-Love poem:

“poem”

every word & image has a target
audience & every line break

is meant to entice & move you
to reach out for the next phrase

how i love you & ache for your
return that moment when you

lift me up & read yourself
into me what i beg you to do

when you find yourself
completely alone with me

*****

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.

He began with love poems–so he always brings them along for every challenge.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

Find more poetic goodies here:

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8. 7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Nina Darnton

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by Nina Darnton, author of THE PERFECT MOTHER) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent — by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning.

(Never open your novel with a dream — here’s why.)

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 11.40.10 AM         Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 11.39.57 AM

Nina Darnton is a former psychologist and staff writer for Newsweek and
a former frequent contributor for the New York Times. Her suspense/thriller
novel, THE PERFECT MOTHER, publishes today, Nov. 25, 2014 from
Plume. The book, which is about a mother who learns her daughter has
been arrested for murder while studying abroad, has been praised by
thriller authors Robin Cook & Clive Cussler. Connect with
Nina on Facebook or Twitter.

 

1. Don’t wait for inspiration. Write a specific number of words a day—no matter what. Sometimes that means sitting with nothing to say for an hour or more. Sometimes it means writing your designated number of words and discarding them the next day. But it is a discipline that ultimately helps you get the book done. My husband, who published 7 books (two of which were best sellers), taught me this. He was a journalist and he thought in column lengths. He determined to write 1000 words a day, (which is a lot. I do more like 500). If he was in the middle of a paragraph when he reached his goal, he stopped. He wanted to be excited about starting again the next day. It worked for me too.

2. On the other hand, unlike my husband, there are times when I know I’m on a roll, and if that happens, I make use of it. On those rare days, I won’t stop writing until the well feels dry.

3. Carry a pad around (or use your IPhone or IPad) and jot down notes when you think of something. It’s like cute stories about your kids. You think you’ll never forget an adorable sentence they’ve uttered or an observation they’ve made, but you do. Keep a record.

4. You don’t always have to know everything before you begin. I heard an interview with Lee Childs in which he said he works completely intuitively. He doesn’t write an outline, for example. He says he doesn’t even really know the story until he begins writing. Others need a detailed outline, sometimes chapter-by-chapter.  I am somewhere in the middle. I like to know where the story begins and approximately where it ends. I know some of the characters. But in my recent book, “The Perfect Mother,” for example, my favorite character, a Spanish detective named Roberto wasn’t part of the plan. He just kind of appeared when my main character Jennifer needed a friend and took over. I don’t really know where he came from, but I was grateful he appeared. So you have to give your creative instinct room to work, even as you plan and structure the plot.

(How should you discuss a book’s series potential in a query letter?)

5. Take your inspiration where you find it. By that I mean, if you read something in the newspaper and it sets your mind wondering and inventing ramifications of that story, don’t be afraid to use it (another trick I used for my latest novel). If someone tells you a story or you observe something interesting, use it if you want to. Don’t be afraid that it’s already been done. Inspiration can come from anywhere. There are only a few stories in the world. It’s how you develop them creatively that takes stark facts and events to a narrative that resonates.

6. Write whatever you want to, even if you are worried that someone you know will be upset by it. I once sat next to E.L. Doctorow at a dinner many years ago and I asked him what to do if you had an idea for a book but were afraid executing it would hurt someone you cared about. His advice? Always write the book, but know that you don’t always have to publish it. I think that’s good advice.

7. In today’s book market, I think it is very important to know that your book may be wonderful and it still may not sell. This means that you should not write a book unless you really like the process of writing. Once it’s published, you do, of course, what you can to promote it. But you can’t count on commercial success. You may get poor reviews and feel hurt and humiliated. (I try to remember that a review is only the opinion of the person writing it and not sacrosanct). So the only reliable reward is the pleasure you get from the creative process itself.

 

Are you a subscriber to Writer’s Digest magazine
yet? If not, get a discounted one-year sub here.

 

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.

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9. How to Effectively Price Writing Projects and Negotiate the Best Fees

Editor’s Note: The following content is provided to Writer’s Digest by a writing community partner. This content is sponsored by American Writers & Artists Inc. www.awaionline.com.

Win Win Puzzle ConceptThis month we’ve tackled two important steps to making a living as a writer:

  1. How to find the best-paying assignments.
  2. How to land the clients who have them.

And now, to wrap things up with a neat little bow, I want to close out this series by making sure you feel comfortable with the most uncomfortable subject for writers …

Pricing!

Specifically, how to get paid as much as possible, and get paid what you’re worth, but without overpricing yourself out of the running.

Today’s topic is a biggie, and while I’m going to give you some practical advice you can follow whenever you sit down to price a project, know this …

You’ll become more confident with pricing and negotiating the more you do it.

There’s no single “right answer” that works for everyone … because like writers, every project, every company, and every product or service is different.

Now don’t get me wrong, some paths come with pretty standard ranges clients expect to pay, where there’s only a tiny difference between the high end and low end of the scale. Things like case studies, press releases, non-selling video scripts, etc. …

But even then, you can add more services to the projects to increase their value — things like designing the case study, optimizing the press release and disseminating it to your press contacts, or preparing the slide deck for a video presentation.

But, if you’re doing anything where there’s a sale involved —where your copy directly increases the bottom line — there’s potentially going to be a wider range of “acceptable” fees.

(Note: If you don’t know the pay ranges for the services you plan to offer, don’t worry … I’ll give you some resources in a minute.)

Now, here are a few things you should consider before setting your fees:

  1. Are you pricing by the hour or the project?

Of course you need to decide what’s best for you, but my recommendation is to always price by the project …

As you gain more experience, you’ll begin to work faster and more efficiently. You’ll gain speed, and you’ll have solid processes in place to help you handle projects more competently.

For example, the first time you write a landing page, it may take you five hours. As you write more of them, each one should take you less time. If you charge by the hour, you’ll end up making less money each time! But if you charge by the project, you’ll be maximizing your earning potential the more experienced you get.

Bottom line is, you should be rewarded for the expertise you gain, and charging by the hour doesn’t work to your benefit.

  1. Are you trying to build up your portfolio or do you have a lot of experience?

When you’re just starting out, it may make sense to charge less. You’ll be able to build up your portfolio quickly. And, you’ll collect testimonials and promotion results to show new prospects.

On the other hand, if you’re a skilled copywriter with more work than you can handle, you should be working your way up the pay scale.

  1. Are you writing for small businesses or big-name clients?

You’ll want to consider the size of the business when quoting fees.

There’s a big difference between writing for a cabinetmaker in Austin and writing for the headquarters of KraftMaid® cabinetry. Not only will their marketing budgets be very different, the revenue they’re expecting from their marketing efforts will vary greatly, too.

Which leads me to the next consideration …

  1. What is the project value to your client?

Will the client potentially make $10,000 or $10 million from the promotion? Obviously, there’s a big difference, and the more your client stands to make, the more you’ll be able to charge.

  1. Is the project scope complex or on the simpler side?

If you’re writing a sales page for a brand-new investment advisory service, your copy will inevitably be more complex than if you’re writing a product description for a new book by a renowned financial expert. You should expect to charge a higher fee for a more complicated project.

  1. What is your time investment and long-term income goal?

While I never recommend you charge by the hour, you still need and want to “take home” a rate you’re comfortable with. For every project, you should estimate how much of your time it will take to complete, and make sure the rate you quote provides you with a reasonable return for your time invested.

Remember, as you get more efficient and can do the work faster, the value of each hour goes up! Don’t charge clients less simply because it takes you less time.

And, if a client balks at your fee, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Resell the value. Show them what they’ll get in return for the expense.
  2. Revise the proposal taking away some of the services.
  3. Walk away. It’s going to happen! You’re going to pitch clients who simply can’t afford your fees, or don’t value enough the service you provide. But understanding the value of your time is an important lesson in building a successful writing business. And you may be better off in the long run spending that same time finding a new potential client.

Just remember, as a professional writer, you offer your clients an incredibly valuable service …

They NEED you, and should pay you well for your time and words.

But it’s important that you understand your own value too. If the thought of charging high fees for your services bothers you … well, you’re going to need to get over it.

I say that with love!

Because it’s true, you CAN make a living as a writer. But the only way to do it is to get paid what you’re worth.

To your success,

Rebecca Matter

P.S. I almost forgot the pricing ranges …

Since there are so many ways to make a living as a writer, it would be impossible for me to list all of the fee ranges in this blog post, but at AWAI, we typically include them in every promotion about a writing opportunity, and go over pricing in more detail within the program itself.

So, a good place to start is with the AWAI catalog and inside any programs you’re taking.

You can also check out a webinar I did for Writer’s Digest, Get Paid to Write: How to Land Paying Gigs Writing Copy and Content, where I go over a few of the best writing opportunities, including how to price and land them.

And then finally, we published Pricing Guides for two of the larger niches for writers that detail the various projects and their respective fees:

How to Price and Land the Top 7 Web Copy Projects

rebecca_matter-150How to Price, Quote, and Win B2B Writing Projects

If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, by all means let me know! You can post a comment here, or connect with me on Facebook at any time.

To your success,
Rebecca Matter

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10. New Literary Agent Alert: Melissa Edwards of The Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency

Reminder: New literary agents (with this spotlight featuring Melissa Edwards of The Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 11.45.41 AM

 

About Melissa: Melissa is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and Vanderbilt Law School. She is a member in good standing of the New York State bar. While Melissa began her career as a commercial litigation attorney, she always maintained aspirations to work in publishing. At present, Melissa handles foreign rights for Aaron Priest and is actively reading to develop her own list.

(Listen to agents define what makes a writer an ideal client.)

Melissa is seeking: Melissa’s taste ranges in genre from classic Victorian literature to hard-boiled crime dramas. She is interested in reading international thrillers with likeable and arresting protagonists, lighthearted women’s fiction and YA, female-driven (possibly small-town) suspense, and completely immersive fantasy. Ultimately, Melissa is looking for a book that will keep her glued to the couch all day and night, and continue to occupy her thoughts for weeks later.

How to submit: Submit a one-page query letter via e-mail that describes your work and your background to queryedwards [at] aaronpriest.com. Do not send an attachment, but if interested, you can paste into the body of the email the first chapter of your manuscript.

(Can writers query multiple agents at the same agency?)

 

2015-GLA-smallThe 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.

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11. Knowing Your Brand





I came across this on Pinterest one day and it struck a chord with me because it speaks to a blog post I've been wanting to write for a while.

Before we ever write a book or put ourselves out there as authors, agents and editors we're creating a brand. When we're in any public forum where we present as an author, an agent, an editor or whatever it is we are professionally, we need to think of that brand. 

What does it say about you and your brand if you show up at an appointment in jeans? What about a suit? I think most of us choose something in between. What does it say to you about an agent who shows up to an appointment in jeans or a baseball hat versus the one that wears a suit versus the one who wears a skirt and simple top? 

How we present ourselves is the first impression an agent or editor gets not just about us, but about our books. If you show up to an appointment in a baseball hat and yoga pants I'm going to wonder if you've bothered to polish your book or if you're really serious about your career. And I imagine if I showed up in workout clothes you're going to wonder where my priorities as an agent are.

What I really like about this quote is the part on trademark. It's something I've often thought about, but never put words to. I hear stories all the time about agents who are nasty or harsh or scary or snobby or sweet or funny or charming.... What about authors? Are you kind and thoughtful? What kind of trademark are you presenting to other authors, readers, agents and editors? Are you too busy to stop and chat, are you kind and present even if the conversation is boring you to tears? All of this is part of your Author Brand and all of it needs to be considered beyond just the hook, title and writing.

--jhf

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12. Query Question: Novel two with memorable elements from novel one



I’m preparing to query my second novel, a mystery, which features the same main character as my first novel. I made clear in the queries for the first novel that it had series potential, but both novels stand alone. I sent out about 40 queries for the first novel, with 5 requests for fulls and 3 for partials.

I plan to query four of the agents who read the full and gave me some useful feedback. I know they will remember the first novel and I feel I have enough of a relationship with them to let them know the situation. What I’m not sure about is how to approach agents who rejected the first novel at the query stage, some of whom I would like to query again.

The main character has a distinctive name and a memorable background, and I want to make clear that this is neither a revision nor a sequel. If I ignore the first query, I’m afraid they will think they’ve already seen (and rejected) it. But if I explain that this is a different, better novel, they might think it’s stupid to expect them to be interested in a concept they already rejected. Do you have suggestions as to how I can address this?

And yeah, I know I should have written something completely unrelated, but this wouldn’t go away, and I just decided to write what I wanted to write. I’m glad I did.



You're operating under the assumption that agents who rejected that first novel at the query stage will remember it, and that's probably not accurate.



When I receive a query that seems familiar, I look up the author's previous emails to me. (Yes, I keep ALL the queries and replies)


I look at the TITLE first.  If it's a different title from a writer,  I assume I have not seen the book, and read the query.  If it's the same title, I look at both queries to see if it's the same book. If it is, I mention that I've already responded to this project on such and such a date.  If it's NOT the same book (ie the query is substantially different) I read the query.


Here's what you need to remember first and foremost: we're all looking for work we can sell.  If the book sounds interesting NOW I don't care if you queried me 500 times before for the same title that DIDN'T.


So, the answer to your question is make sure the title is different, and write the query so it is clear this is a new project.







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13. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 24

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “I’ll Be (blank),” replace the blank with a new word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “I’ll Be Back,” “I’ll Be Late for Dinner,” and “I’ll Be a Monkey’s Uncle.”

*****

2015 Poet's Market

2015 Poet’s Market

Get your poetry published!

Learn how to get your poetry published with the premiere book on publishing your poetry: the 2015 Poet’s Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer.

This essential resource includes hundreds of listings for book publishers, magazines, journals, contests, grants, and so much more. Plus, there are articles on the craft of poetry, business of poetry, and promotion of poetry. Beyond that, there’s an hour-long webinar, a subscription to the poetry slice of WritersMarket.com, original poems, poet interviews, resources galore, and more-more-more!!!

Click to continue.

*****

Here’s my attempt at an I’ll Be Blank poem:

“I’ll Be a Poet”

and pull the stars from the sky
before turning them into elephants
stampeding through the suburbs

or perhaps I’ll fall asleep & dream
of a house on fire covered in lightning
bugs that all ascend together

on cue & silently lift up through
the clouds that just as silently part
to reveal the fireflies as the stars

*****

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.

He grew up chasing fireflies and watching sunsets turn into the night sky.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

Find more poetic goodies here:

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14. Sell Your Children’s Book: How to Write Amazing Novels & Picture Books for Kids — Dec. 5 WD Boot Camp (with Critique)

The world of children’s books—young adult, middle grade and picture books—has seen more growth in the last ten years than any other category in the publishing industry. Countless articles and op-eds have analyzed the booming success of now-iconic series like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Fancy Nancy. But while critics are debating the triumph of a particular series, readers—both children and adults—are clamoring for more books and new titles that will enchant and entertain them.

But in such a competitive market, how do you make your book stand out as a quality submission? How do you walk the fine line between capturing the attention (and purchasing power) of both child and adult reader? How do you find the best agents and markets to submit your work to? How do you know what category your book falls under?

In this brand new Writer’s Digest Boot Camp starting Dec. 5, 2014 called “Sell Your Children’s Book,” the agents of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency will answer all those questions and more. They’ll also critique your work and allow you to ask any questions you like. Registrants can choose to hear a tutorial on how to craft an amazing picture book, and then get their picture book critiqued—or they can choose to hear a different tutorial on writing MG and YA, and then get their first 10 manuscript pages critiqued.

This program will show writers of Young Adult and Middle Grade the following:

— What the difference is between middle grade and young adult, and why it matters to understand how the two categories differ
— What is commercial and what is literary in children’s books—and how that affects what agents and publishers you will target
— Why an agent will tell you, “I love this story, but I can’t sell it”
— How to start your work strong and create engaging characters for both editors and readers to love
— How to avoid the common mistakes of writing for MG and YA that sink submission chances—such as talking down to your reader, or having a story that begins too slow. (Sign up for the boot camp here.)

This program will show writers of Picture Books the following:

— How to come up with a great plot
— How to create page-turning points
— How to make a dummy book, and why you need one
— How to use language to reach a very young audience
— How to think visually
— How to avoid the taboos in writing for children
— How to handle illustration – what to do if you’re an illustrator, and what to do if you’re not
— How to learn from all of the great picture books throughout history that changed the way we write for children today.

Here’s how it works:

On Dec. 5, 2014, you will gain access to two special 60-minute online tutorials presented by literary agents from Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. Jennifer De Chiara will present a tutorial on writing picture books, and Roseanne Wells will present a tutorial on writing and selling Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction. (Sign up for the boot camp here.)

After listening to your choice of presentations, attendees will spend the next two days revising materials as necessary. Also following the tutorial, writers will have two days in which to log onto the Writer’s Digest University boot camp message boards and ask your assigned agent critiquers questions related to revising your materials. The agents will be available on the message boards from 1-3 p.m. (ET) on both Saturday, Dec. 6 and Sunday, Dec. 7. No later than Monday, Dec. 8, attendees will submit either their completed picture book text (1,000 words or fewer) or the first 10 double-spaced pages of their middle grade / young adult manuscript. The submissions will receive feedback directly from the boot camp literary agents.

The agents will spend up to two weeks reviewing all assigned critiques and provide feedback to help attendees. (The agents reserve the right to request more materials if they feel a strong connection to the work and want to read more; note that multiple agents have signed writers before from WD boot camps.) No later than Dec. 22, agents will send their feedback to writer attendees.

Only registered students can access the Writer’s Digest University boot camp message boards. You’ll also be able to ask questions of your fellow students. Feel free to share your work and gain support from your peers

Please note that any one of the agents may ask for additional pages if the initial submission shows serious promise.

In addition to feedback from agents, attendees will also receive:

Download of “An Agent’s Tips on Story Structures that Sell,” an on-demand webinar by literary agent Andrea Hurst
1-year subscription to the WritersMarket.com Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market database

PLEASE NOTE: Only Jennifer De Chiara and Roseanne Wells will be on the discussion sessions. Jennifer will handle questions related to Picture Books, and Roseanne will handle questions related to Middle Grade or Young Adult books. However, all the agents will be assisting in critiquing submissions. Jennifer De Chiara and Stephen Fraser will be critiquing Picture Books. Marie Lamba, Linda Epstein, and Roseanne Wells will be critiquing Middle Grade and Young Adult.

Sign up for the boot camp here.

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15. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 23

For today’s prompt, write an alone poem. Some people covet “alone time.” Others prefer not to be left alone. Many like a certain balance. But this doesn’t have to just be about people. Maybe a forest wishes to be left alone, or there is a product left alone on a store shelf (how the children’s story “Corduroy” begins).

*****

2015 Poet's Market

2015 Poet’s Market

Get your poetry published!

Learn how to get your poetry published with the premiere book on publishing your poetry: the 2015 Poet’s Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer.

This essential resource includes hundreds of listings for book publishers, magazines, journals, contests, grants, and so much more. Plus, there are articles on the craft of poetry, business of poetry, and promotion of poetry. Beyond that, there’s an hour-long webinar, a subscription to the poetry slice of WritersMarket.com, original poems, poet interviews, resources galore, and more-more-more!!!

Click to continue.

*****

Here’s my attempt at an Alone poem:

“gadgets”

as long as I have my internet connection
& smart phone I have this feeling that I can’t

possibly be alone. I consider going into hiding
until I remember my faith & the fact that even

before the internet I was never alone & ditching
all my gadgets & connections won’t change that.

*****

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.

He has moments when he feels alone–like anyone–but then he usually comes to his senses. He’s thankful for the community of poets here that help lift each other up throughout the month and year.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

Find more poetic goodies here:

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16. Have a lovely day filled with good surprises!


Toronto Maple Leaf fans (that's Toronto Canadia, our non-US neighbors to the north) finish singing the AMERICAN national anthem when the mic kicks out. So, how many of us could even START the Canadian national anthem? (Let alone finish, on time, and largely on key?) Way to go Leafs fans!

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17. How I Got My Literary Agent: Lisa Doyle

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Lisa Doyle, author of MILKED. 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.

GIVEAWAY: Lisa is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 1.59.45 PM     Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 1.56.02 PM

Lisa Doyle is a communications manager and freelance writer. Her debut novel
is MILKED: A MODERN MOMMY TALE WITH A RETRO TWIST (Simon and Fig,
Nov. 2014, fun women’s fiction). She spent several years editing business-
to-business publications for the personal care industry before moving to the
nonprofit sector, and currently works in advocacy for homeless families. She
resides with her family in the Chicago area. The only child she has ever
breastfed has been her own. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

 

AFTER NANOWRIMO

I emerged from the month of November 2012 as a second-time winner of NaNoWriMo. I had a promising rough draft, many empty bottles of wine, and a lot of work to do….at some point. I knew in my gut that this novel had a little something special to it, a little spark that had the potential to really set readers’ minds alight.  This novel, MILKED, had stemmed from so many questions I’d asked myself when I was a new mother, and so many anxieties I’d had about “doing it right.” What I really wanted was to take these issues and put a humorous spin on them, and I had a sense there was a market of frazzled moms like me – or once-frazzled moms – who would identify and laugh along with it. But, I also knew it needed a lot of finessing before I’d show that pony anywhere.

Then, in January, a friend alerted me to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Intrigued, I checked my calendar. I had less than two weeks to finish. I got right to work, nearly doubled the length of my manuscript and submitted it.

I made it to round two of the contest, but was booted before round three. I did take the judges’ comments very seriously, and used them to further improve the novel. I shared my draft with friends, family and even strangers, and was buoyed by the positive responses. Finally, I felt ready to start querying.

THE QUERY PROCESS BEGINS

Now, I knew that I’d have a tough road ahead of me, as my novel falls somewhere in between the categories of chick lit, mom lit and women’s fiction. I had to keep the dream alive, though, that I’d find an agent who’d think, “Down-on-her-luck, single mom becomes unlikely wet nurse to rich and famous families in Chicago? Obvious bestseller! Where do I sign?”

After some Google searches, I started to query agents that summer. I did receive some requests for the full manuscript, but ultimately, the responses were always in the “it’s not you, it’s me” category. Then, I noticed a “New Literary Agent Alert” post on this very blog for Claire Anderson-Wheeler of Regal Literary, seeking commercial women’s fiction driven by strong contemporary issues. Since breastfeeding is clearly the new black, I queried her right away with 10 sample pages attached.
She responded quickly, asking to see the entire manuscript. After hyperventilating, forwarding the e-mail to my mom and husband with about 90 exclamation points, I calmly and professionally replied that I’d be happy to do so, and sent it to her that night.

About a week later, she e-mailed again. She said she liked my voice, my protagonist and my concept, but she thought that the story structure could use an overhaul. And, would I be interested in working on a rewrite with the end goal of her representing me, and selling the socks off it?
Would I? I shrieked, called my mom and husband, executed a series of celebratory roundhouse kicks, and then, somewhat less calmly and professionally than before, replied to let Claire know that I was 100% in.

I CHOSE CLAIRE

I did have some queries still out there, but I joyfully broke the cardinal rule of querying by immediately accepting Claire’s offer. I had a gut feeling about her from the start, and because she saw potential in an imperfect draft, and wanted to see me to improve it rather than just rejecting it altogether—I knew that she was invested not only in the story, but also in me.

We chatted on the phone a week later to discuss the different directions my story could go. I wrote every night, changing characters and altering outcomes, and sent her a new draft within a month. And in truth, Claire could teach a doctoral-level seminar on the fine art of constructive criticism. Through her gentle encouragement and spot-on advice, I was able to take this novel from the roughest of drafts to a publication-ready piece within a few mere months of revisions. She’s been a true partner on this journey as a new author, and I’m grateful for her expertise every day. Keeping myself open to suggestions about developing my novel was really key to its evolution, and I highly recommend this attitude to anyone.

Before long, Claire sold MILKED to Simon & Fig, a publisher that specializes in women’s fiction and chick lit, and it’s coming out on November 21, 2014. And, I’ve got a gut feeling that this is only the beginning.

GIVEAWAY: Lisa is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).

 

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 4.12.53 PMDo you have an idea for a great novel? Are you at a loss
for where to start? Look no further.
You Can Write a
Novel, 2nd Edition
, gives you
concrete, proven
techniques to get from idea
to manuscript to bookstore.

 

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.

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18. Query Question: social media is not fungible

 I really despise facebook and twitter.  It's a personality thing I am sure.  I find it also addictive and confusing.  It feels like many of the agents and other writers and youtubers etc, they just are sort of using each other for numbers or something. Does that really work? Do numbers of followers equate to sales really? Many of the writers I followed seemed more like tweeters than real writers. I want to be joyful about my career path and it feels like facebook and twitter suck that away and un-motivate me. Could I just have my platform efforts be selective as I go along, just youtube and a blog?  Vlogging is a lot of fun.  I could do it regularly and improve at it.  Is it necessary I try to gather numbers of followers and friends?  I know you have said it doesn't matter in some ways, but I also think it seems to. There is so much referring to twitter and facebook.






It's ok to despise Facebook and Twitter. It's NOT ok to ignore them as useful tools. When  your book
is published, you'll want to be skilled in a variety of social media platforms because you want to be able to reach your readers where THEY are, not where  you are.


That said, it's totally ok to prefer one platform to another as you start out. Get good on one, learn another. If you're good at vlogging, and youtubing, build your audience there. Then learn how to promote your vlogging and youtbuing on Facebook and Twitter. You don't have to like it to utilize it.


As to whether it sells books: like all publicity methods there is no way to quantify results. I know that drives many people nuts. (Some of those people are my clients in fact.)  My philosphy as a publicist (back in the day) was "do everything you can to promote your book, and then one more thing." Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I do know for an ironclad fact that people don't buy books they've never heard of.



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19. Chum Bucket tonight





Chum Bucket tonight.
7pm

Remember: do not link to this post from elsewhere (your blog or Facebook page), or post/tweet about it.

Chum Bucket works because everyone who participates has invested some time in learning how it works.  I LOVE doing Chum Bucket so I really want to keep it to those people who buy in to the premise.

The premise is that if you query me between 7pm and 8pm tonight, I will reply to you personally, not with a form letter.

The response can range from "this isn't for me" to "send full" but you'll know I'm sitting there typing it out when I get your query.

Of course, I often do reply with more than "not for me" because I think it's helpful to say why it's not for me. Sometimes it's because I'm not much on eyeball removal (eww!) and sometimes it's cause you
think a 240,000 memoir is publishable.

If I think I can help you, I'll try to do so.

Chum Bucket is NOT a critique.

And your part of the bargain is you will not email me back telling me I'm a cretin of the first order for failing to appreciate your masterpiece.  (While that may be true, we will observe the social niceties of not stating the obvious.)

The reason I ask you to NOT tweet or link is that people who aren't regular blog readers, or twitter followers, who only see the announcement, may not know about the social contract not to reply with venom.  I really want to keep doing Chum Bucket so the longer we can keep it to invested readers, the more likely it is to continue.

Questions?
The comment column awaits.


And in case you're interested, here's the run down from last week's Chum Bucket:

Total queries: 19


1. Not for me/some comments on why: 5
2. Suggestions to improve red hot mess queries: 5
3. Request full: 3
4. Not for me/suggest other agents: 2
5. Misc. 2
6. Not for me/some comments on correct category: 1
7. Writing needs a lot of work 1

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20. The Power of Journaling

Overcoming a painful past usually involves sharing one’s story and the associated feelings. Developing insight into past hurts, and connecting the dots between then and now enables one to make better choices moving forward. Journal writing is a powerful tool that opens the path to greater insight and self-knowledge.


 

Randy_Kamen_Gredinger 300 dpi colorBTD_Paperback_tone This guest post is by Randy Kamen, ED.D., author of Behind the Therapy Door: Simple Strategies to Transform Your Life. She is a psychologist and educator who helped pioneer new territory in mind-body medicine at Boston University’s School of Medicine and Harvard’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. She has long been on the leading edge of her profession, integrating insight oriented and cognitive behavioral therapy with holistic methods in her research and clinical work. She helps women build on their strengths and implement new strategies to deepen their experience of insight, healing, and happiness. Dr. Kamen has appeared on numerous TV and radio programs. She writes for the Huffington Post and other media outlets. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook @DrRandyKamen to learn about her speaking engagements and women’s retreats on Martha’s Vineyard and around the country or visit her website DrRandyKamen.com.


 

The pioneer work of James Pennebaker in his book Writing to Heal and subsequent research on the topic of journal writing, confirms what many of us already know intuitively: Journal writing is a highly effective way to manage stress and alter a wide range of problematic behaviors. Strongly encouraged in the field of psychology and medicine journaling fosters deeper insight, self-awareness, and behavioral change. Behavioral psychologists often say, “If you can track it, you can change it.”

Journaling opens the door for the writer to express personal impressions, daily experiences, and evolving insights as well as reflections about the self, relationships, experiences, dreams, fantasies, and creative musings. This can be done without judgment or restriction. Reviewing earlier entries cultivates the writer’s ability to learn from past events and circumstances that might otherwise go unnoticed. A repetitive, self-destructive behavior becomes more apparent when seen through the lens of these journal entries.

A Vehicle for Mindfulness

Journal writing can be a vehicle for deepening mindfulness as it helps to clarify and refine thoughts and emotions and brings the writer into the present. Like meditation, journal writing helps to clear the mind by transcribing emotional clutter onto the written page. The writer becomes a witness to his or her past behaviors which then paves the way for fresh thought and perspective. Journaling provides a forum that can be both cathartic and revelatory.

A journal creates a great companion wherever you go. It is a resource for observing shifts in your inner world and outer behavior.

Getting Started

Begin the journaling practice by buying a notebook that you can slip into a pocketbook or even a pocket. Consider keeping a separate notebook by the bed to record dreams. Keeping a journal as a private file on the computer is another option. Choose any method that enables you to write consistently for at least ten minutes a day. Some people find that lingering over the writing takes them into a state of reflection about the past, present, or future. Others prefer to track their thoughts about particular subjects, such as dreams, and certain behaviors like smoking, eating, or mood variations. Journaling helps to identify and clarify goals, wishes, and emotional reality without inhibition. Consider a brief meditation as a prelude to journal writing. At a minimum take a few deep breaths for grounding purposes before beginning each new entry. In this way, you will create the condition for even greater focus and lucidity in capturing thoughts and writing.

There are many ways to keep a journal. You may wish to consider the type of journal you would like to keep. There are four kinds of journal that I am proposing here: free associating, gratitude, sentence prompts, and dreams.

Free Associating Journal

In a free associating journal the writer records what- ever comes to mind. This type of journal helps with processing events and clarifying thoughts. It is a venue for noticing feelings, insights, and matters of the heart. This kind of journaling also creates an opportunity for recording life lessons and reflecting on important questions.

Gratitude Journal

In a gratitude journal the writer makes daily recordings about several events for which she is grateful. The idea behind the gratitude journal is to strengthen the part of the brain that focuses on positive thoughts and deepens the capacity to appreciate. This type of journaling is strongly associated with diminished depression and the heightened experience of inner peace and well-being.

Sentence Prompts Journal

In a sentence prompts journal the writer uses open- ended questions or incomplete sentences to evoke (unique) thoughts, feelings, and associations. For example: My relationships will improve when…A risk I am willing to take today is…My life feels most harmonious when I…My goal today is…I believe that…I have always wanted to…I have decided to…My greatest strengths are…I am grateful for…I love…I am happiest when…

Dream Journal

In a dream journal the writer records her dreams upon awaking. Dreams can be a powerful source of insight. Once you begin keeping this kind of journal, you are likely to improve your dream recall. Your dreams are a window into your subconscious mind, which is a powerful way to understand your inner world. Sometimes, in the time it takes say “Good morning” to your partner, your dream can slip away. At first, you may only remember fragments or images from your dreams, but in time you will find that you have access to more vivid recollections.

Healing Childhood Trauma through Connection

Getting in touch with one’s early childhood memories, particularly memories from a challenging history, can cause old emotional pain to resurface, sometimes with a vengeance. Journaling can be a powerful tool to rethink your past, your current behaviors, and explore opportunities for change going forward.

Enjoy the process

Journal writing can become your guide and confidant. Most importantly you can tap into your authentic self without inhibition or judgment. The precious time spent journaling will deepen insight, and wisdom. You may find that your journaling ushers you into a healthier and happier place within yourself and with others.

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


Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Sign up for Brian’s free Writer’s Digest eNewsletter: WD Newsletter
Buy Brian’s book OH BOY, YOU’RE HAVING A GIRL, A DAD’S SURVIVAL GUIDE TO RAISING DAUGHTERS

 

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21. Selfishly, Rudely Running Late....Or Not?

I've always been the type of person who obsesses over being on time. I think in 15 minute increments which means even if I know it will only take me 20 minutes to get somewhere I leave 30 minutes before. I'd always rather, in fact prefer, to be 10 minutes early. If I arrive and the other person is waiting I always feel like I'm late, even if we're both early.

Now I'm not perfect and I think its gotten harder for me to be regularly on time as my life has gotten busier, but I'm still pretty determined to do my best. It's why this article, You're Not Running Late, You're Rude and Selfish  really rang true for me.

The one thing I've always thought about people who are perpetually late is that it's just rude and inconsiderate. Like you, I could have used an extra 20 minutes in the office, or 10 minutes getting ready, but I was on a schedule, a schedule to meet you and I had to get out of there.

Which is why the issue of agent response times has always been a stickler to me. As we say on our website, we work really hard to respond in a timely manner, but our clients have to be our first priority and that sometimes (often) means that submissions and queries get placed on the back burner. Our clients are the people we promise arrival times to and those are the times we need to make (and let's face it, even that doesn't always happen).

Being on time, with submissions, reading for clients, phone calls, and appointments is something I'm always working harder on and beating myself up over. But I'm curious, what do you think about submission response times? Our website reads this:

BookEnds agents do reply to all submissions and queries and hope to do so in a timely manner. Our response time goals are 6 weeks for queries and 12 weeks on requested partials and fulls. Unfortunately, at times circumstances mean we fall behind in our responses. We do try to post status updates through Twitter and Facebook. For updates on where we are with queries and submissions, as well as what we're most actively looking for, please check out our Facebook page:

As you can see we used a lot of disclaimers, but if we're far later than 6 or 12 weeks do you see this as an agent missing an appointment? or do you hope it means that the agent is making all other appointments, especially those you hope to have at some point?

--jhf


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22. The NaNoWriMo Progress Report: How Are You Feeling?

Just about three weeks of participating in National Novel Writing Month can leave even the best, consistently faithful writer sleep-deprived, ornery, and a little nonsensical. But if you’ve made it this far, that’s something worth celebrating.

The question becomes, are you writing now just to hit your goal of 50,000 words? Are you simply trying to meet a word count to say you did it? Or are you trying to construct something meaningful and worthwhile, even if it’s something that you won’t let see the light of day for quite some time?

In short, how do you feel about your writing right now? Are you satisfied with how NaNoWriMo forces you to work? Do you enjoy the quickened pace and constricted guidelines, forcing your inner-critic and inner-editor to take a backseat (until December)? Or do you wish you could plot along more, fine-tuning and tweaking?

What’s your plan for the final stretch? Share it with us in the comments!

Have you missed any of the other posts in our NaNoWriMo blogging series? Be sure to check the others out:

Question: Have you been disappointed or pleased with your NaNo efforts thus far? What has made it so? How do you plan on improving or keeping it up over the final 2+ weeks?


Natania Barron: I’ve honestly been really pleased. I don’t want to say it’s the easiest NaNo, but it’s a different kind of NaNo. Part of it is having a responsibility to another writer. Part of it is being in a different place, writing for a different reason. I had enough of a slow gain leading up to the weekend that I didn’t have to write much at all—it was my 10th anniversary—but I still wanted to, and I was still thinking about the story a great deal. It’s compressed creativity, but this time around it doesn’t feel like so much work.


Rachel Herron: Oh, boy, I’m always disappointed by my NaNo words. I think it’s healthy and normal to be that way. We’re sprinting here, folks. Remember: the only goal is TO MAKE WORDS. Awful, terrible, furiously bad words are par for the course. Everything can be fixed, but we don’t do that in November. We write the worst things we’ve ever written in November, and then we brag about how badly we’re writing. Here’s an excellent example, straight out of my manuscript: “Fern was even paler now, if that was possible, but her eyes were twin blackened marks of heat WEARS A LOT OF EYELINER.” (I make myself notes in all caps, wherever the idea occurs to me. This keeps me from going backward.) And no, I’m not going to try to write better words. I’m just aiming for that 50,000 mark. Better words are what we make out of crappy words, later. I aim for quantity, not quality. And man, am I good at it. 


Nikki Hyson: Until a couple days ago I was very disappointed. I didn’t feel like I’d taken care of my time management very well during the first week and my word count suffered in major ways (okay, so I was exhausted and sleeping through alarms, but still!) Then, this weekend, I hit my 2nd (or maybe my 3rd) wind and powered through 9,600 words in about 33 hours. I just crested the 20k on the evening of the 15th which is (kinda) close to the middle. To maintain momentum I think it’s time to take my novel on the road: to work, to doctor appointments, to the coffee shop, anywhere and everywhere. Just jotting words in whatever chunks of time I can find will keep me from needing a full-on marathon at the end. Although those are seriously a lot of fun.


 

November/December 2014 Writer's Digest

 With resources, tips, and advice from a bevy of experts the
November/December 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest is a surefire
way to help you finish your goal of 50,000 words during November.


Regina Kammer: I’m befuddled, really. Two of my characters are darker than I had originally intended. Another is surprisingly heroic for a minor character. So maybe this means I’m pleased because the magic of NaNoWriMo is happening.

On the other hand, I have a target publisher , so I’m spending way too much time ignoring my own advice of just writing and suppressing the inner-editor. I’m worried that the work might not be what they’re looking for. I need to stop that.

All I can do for the final two weeks is keep writing. I still have the pivotal scene and the climax to write, so those are like proverbial carrots on a stick. I need to take my own advice and just write the parts of the story I’m sure about!


Kathy Kitts: Here is a great anecdote that helps me get through the tough slog that is the 30 thousands. Ray Bradbury had just given a lecture and was taking questions. An undergraduate asked him how he could be so prolific. How he could write when he wasn’t in the mood? He replied that writing took care of those moods.


Kristen Rudd: My novel took a turn that I was completely unprepared for, and I’ve spent the better part of several days trying to get it back on track. So, on the one hand, I’m pleased that it seems to be its own living, breathing beast. On the other hand, I’m bummed because it seems to be its own living, breathing beast. It all happened from what I thought was an innocuous line of dialogue. I followed it where it led, and I’m worried I may have written myself into a corner. When I vented, a friend asked me, “But is the corner defensible? Does it have a nice view?”

I am determined to let the story lead me and hope that it knows what it’s doing. So, yes. We are in a committed relationship, my novel and I. I have plenty of originally planned scenes I can always switch over to if I need. I am all of the prepareds. I will just keep writing, trusting that writing will solve all of my problems.


EJ Runyon: What’s pleased me is that I’m using excerpts from past NaNo’er for this book. That’s a great feeling, seeing work from a few years ago. And what’s disappointing is that it looks like 30K+ words will leave me with a finished How-to-Guide, and that leaves 20K +/- still to write on one of my WIP novels. Good thing this is a Rebel year. Maybe Ill turn that disappointment into a stab at more than one WIP, and touch three of them. Make the time count in a big way, instead of trying to just fill the time & word count


Jessica Schley: I’m behind schedule, but I’m actually very pleased with how this NaNo is going. This has been one of the first where more days than not, I’m hitting the word count and pushing my story forward. It also is shaking out pretty close to my outline—one thing I’ve discovered in revising my NaNo novels is that the pacing is usually WAY off in my finished draft, because while the fun of NaNo is that secondary characters and plot twists tend to show up ad hoc, that often means that a lot of explaining goes into them and they come in at the wrong point, making my novels out of whack. So I was hoping that this time, I could write something that was more evenly paced if I outlined a slightly more rigid 3-act structure.  The Act I turn happened right where I wanted it to, and the midpoint of the novel is on track to hit when I hit that word count. I’m very pleased with that.

How do I plan on improving? Just keeping on keeping on. I went to a great write-in this week with my NaNo community (we have a wonderful group here in the nation’s capital) and I’m going to hit up more of those to keep me going. Plus, I’ve won two NaNos with 10,000+ word counts on the final day (one was 20), and with half the month left to go, I still have a very reasonable daily word count to hit. So, I’ll just hit that. :) Easier said than done, I suppose, but as I said in the last post … it’s really hard not to finish once you cross 35K. Even if you cross 35K in the morning of the 30th of November!


Brian Schwarz: I have been happy with my efforts. I had lofty goals prior to NaNo that included finishing the first book in my series prior to November (I had 3 months) and then the second book during Nano, but instead I ended up with 10k words on the first one in 3 months. Given that I’m at 18k more in 16 days, I have to be pretty satisfied with that. If NaNo ended tomorrow, I could accept my progress as is. But, being that I’m a driven over-achiever, I do not plan on relenting. I am going to increase my word count, trying to furiously catch up (one day last week i actually wrote 8k words in a day) and I’m going to be happy when I make it. I have a rhythm now, which isn’t exactly one I was hoping for. I spend my weekends pretty much forgetting about writing while I spend my work-week going into work an hour early and writing furiously to make up for the two days lost as well as the previous days missed. I won’t question my flow, and I’ll just try to be more productive in it. For some reason writing before bed or in the morning hasn’t been as productive or effective this time round (whereas last year I did a vast majority of my book at night before sleeping), but I don’t mind how it happens. I just know I will find a way to make it happen.

*     *     *     *     *

Question: What is one weird word to describe your novel so far?


Natania Barron: Spiderpunk.


Rachael Herron: Erratic.


Writer's Market Deluxe Edition“The Writer’s Market book is an incredible resource on its own, just as the WritersMarket.com website is a wonderful resource. Combine the two, and a 60-mintue webinar on freelancing, and you get the power-packed combo of the Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition. It’s the same Writer’s Market print book, but it comes with an activation code good for a one-year subscription to WritersMarket.com, which houses more listings and more updates throughout the year.”

-Robert Lee Brewer, Writer’s Market Content Editor


Nikki Hyson: Unpredictable. At least while writing it. I don’t know. I may reread it in a month and realize you can see every plot twist a mile off. Right now my characters are toying with me.


Regina Kammer: Compost.

(Layers of rich well-developed material with a bunch of rough and green bits thrown in.)


Kathy Kitts: Sidestepping.


Kristen Rudd: Alive. My novel is like Frankenstein’s monster. It’s no longer under my control and is going wherever it damn well pleases, apparently. I’m just chasing after it at this point, trying to keep up.


EJ Runyon: “Simple”—that’s it. I’m rebelling this month, and revising a How-to-Write book on Revisions. Like my Tell Me (How To Write) A Story, (NaNo 2008, published 2014) this one also shows simple ways of looking at your work. Novembers come to a close, and in the time that follows, something simple is needed to keep a writer going. Hopefully this “simple” guide will be one of those things.


Jessica Schley: Convoluted. I don’t know if that’s a very weird word. But every scene I write introduces a new twist. So it is turning out very twisty. I hope I can bring all these threads together in Act III! 


Brian Schwarz:  I’d go with “Barmicide”. Look it up! :) God knows I did.

*     *     *     *     *

Write-A-ThonFind the focus, energy, and drive you need to start—and finish—your book in a month. Write-A-Thon gives you the tools, advice, and inspiration you need to succeed before, during, and after your writing race. With solid instruction, positive psychology, and inspiration from marathon runners, you’ll get the momentum to take each step from here to the finish line. You’ll learn how to: train your attitude, writing, and life—and plan your novel or nonfiction book; maintain your pace; and find the best ways to recover and move forward once the writing marathon is finished and you have a completed manuscript in hand!


Cris Freese is the associate editor of Writer’s Digest Books.

 

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23. Query question: can you have Stockholm Syndrome without Sweden?

I wrote a scene in my fantasy WIP where a character was beginning to agree with the antagonist. Later on in the work, a supporting character asked him if the MC had Stockholm Syndrome. Then my brain, with a very good catch, thought of something really interesting that made me stop in my tracks.

In a fictional work, specifically works that do not take place in the world as we know it, is it even possible to use a phrase like "Stockholm Syndrome" when Stockholm never existed and the Norrmalmstorg robbery never happened? I tried thinking of other words or phrases to describe this syndrome, but none of them are as concise. I'm stuck on this one, and my research has proved unfruitful. What's your take? Yay or nay?




VERY interesting question.


If we take the lead from historicals, then the answer is no. The always Fabulous Gary Corby's great crime novels set in ancient Athens can't refer to things that the ancient Athenians didn't know or have.  Let me tell you, that's a really interesting list. You can be if we miss something, his discerning readers let us know pronto.


However, if the world is fictional, who's to know what happened or when?  I think Stockholm Syndrome which is so closely identified with a modern event, and entered the lexicon relatively recently is more problematic than say January, which indicates have a concept of linear time and cyclical seasons.


Not being able to use Stockholm Syndrome, or 23Skidoo, or QueryShark, or selfie, is a high price to pay for writing fantasy.  On the other hand...dragons!


I don't think there's a right or wrong answer here, but if you use it, you'll hear from readers who do have strong opinions one way or the other.

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24. Have We Learned Nothing

Have we learned nothing from the recent news about authors trying to get rights back from their publishers? Authors who signed contracts without an agent, a lawyer or anyone paid to protect the author's rights?

As I'm sure some of you have heard I'm not always that fast on queries or partials. I can be really good at times, but throw in a week off, an influx of queries or clients who need me to read their works and I lose ground fast. Recently I heard from an author whose manuscript I had (for about 4-6 weeks). The author had received a contract from a publisher and, in her words, "didn't need an agent's help."

I'm an agent. Of course I'm going to tell you that you need an agent, but I'm telling you that not because I'm dying to get my 15% of what can often be very little, but because I've seen too many authors make career mistakes because they wanted to save that 15%.

These are the authors who find their books trapped with a publisher because they signed a contract without any sort of rights reversion or out of print clauses. I've seen authors who signed contracts which basically calls anything else they could write in their professional expertise competition. In other words, they can only write the one book they wrote. I've seen authors sign away copyright without even realizing it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that while I see why you might want to hold on to that 15%, I have a sneaking suspicion that in the long run you're going to end up paying far more by not giving up 15%. If that makes sense.

--jhf

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25. CLOSED TO QUERIES 11-21 to 1-12

Hi gang,

I have a lot of travel + bookstore stuff + general busy-ness going on in the next six weeks, so as I do every holiday season, I am officially CLOSING TO QUERIES as of tonight (say, midnight eastern time) -- and I'll re-open January 12, 2015.

The exceptions being Referrals and Conference submissions.  If you are either of these, I urge you to SAY SO IN THE SUBJECT LINE. I will also, of course, look at material that I've explicitly asked to see.

This gives me the opportunity to catch up and clear out for the new year, and it is much needed. And you may well hear from me during this break, as I have a LOT to catch up on! ;-) Anything already IN the inbox before tonight will be responded to. All other new queries will be deleted.

So, what to do? Well, if you want to choose any of the other lovely agents at ABLA who are open, you may of course feel free to do so -- if you'd prefer to query me specifically, please do so today, or wait until January.

Let me know if anything is unclear! And have a great holiday season.

Jenn


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