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Results 26 - 50 of 14,040
26. 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 15

Want to learn more about me than you thought you could possibly handle in one interview? Great! One of my favorite poets, Nin Andrews, interviewed me over on the Best American Poetry Blog. The interview shares so many secrets that somebody will probably make a movie based off the interview. Okay, maybe not, but still, it’s a good read (I’ve been told by someone who’s not related to me). Click here to read

.

For today’s prompt, we actually have a Two-for-Tuesday prompt:

  • Write a love poem. Love, it’s such a big 4-letter word that can mean so much to so many for a variety of interpretations. Friendly love, sexual love, dorky love, all-encompassing love, jealous love, anxious love, love beaten with a baseball bat, hot love, big love, blues love, greeting card love, forgiving love, greedy love, love in a music video, and so on and so forth.
  • Write an anti-love poem. Well, kinda like love, but take it back the other way.

*****

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Become a Writing VIP!

Give yourself the VIP treatment with Writer’s Digest’s VIP program. It includes a one-year subscription to Writer’s Digest magazine, WritersMarket.com, a webinar, and more.

Combine the expert instruction on the craft and business of writing with thousands of publishing opportunities for writers trying to get publishedClick here to learn more

.

*****

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

“first sight”

i surrender you render me
as a fragile kite on your string
or as some flashy one-night fling
choose me use me baby bruise me
if that is what you want to do
to me i see where we are gone
begin the night don’t leave ’til dawn
amaze me crazy make me blue
but honey please don’t make me guess
let the sun rise let the sun shine
tell me sugar that you are mine
as i am yours yes i confess
if this is love let it be true
i’ve surrendered myself to you












*****

Today’s guest judge is…

Barbara Hamby

Barbara Hamby

Barbara Hamby

Barbara is the author of five books of poems, most recently On the Street of Divine Love: New and Selected Poems

(2014)  published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, which also published Babel (2004) and All-Night Lingo Tango (2009). She was a 2010 Guggenheim fellow in Poetry and her book of short stories, Lester Higata’s 20th Century, won the 2010 Iowa Short Fiction Award.

She teaches at Florida State University where she is Distinguished University Scholar.

Learn more at: www.barbarahamby.com

*****

PYHO_Small_200x200

Poem Your Heart Out

Poems, Prompts & Room to Add Your Own for the 2014 April PAD Challenge!

Words Dance Publishing is offering 20% off pre-orders for the Poem Your Heart Out anthology until May 1st! If you’d like to learn a bit more about our vision for the book, when it will be published, among other details.

Click to continue

.

*****

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems

. He’s fascinated by the constant balance (or lack of) between violence and peace. Learn more about him here: http://www.robertleebrewer.com/.

*****

Here are some poetic posts you may love:

.
  • Beth Copeland: Poet Interview
  • .
  • Gwawdodyn: Poetic Forms
  • .

     

    Add a Comment
    27. New Release - GAIJIN: American Prisoner of War by Matt Faulkner

    "Amazing art and a moving story drew me into this compelling, historically important graphic novel." -- Graham Salisbury, author of Under the Blood-Red Sun, winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction

    "Matt Faulkner has crafted a beautifully drawn novel that simmers with rage."  -- Matt Phelan, author/illustrator of The Storm in the Barn, winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction

    "Powerful. . . Matt Faulkner tells his tale with fierce graphics and moving delicacy." -- George Takei

    Based on an episode of Matt Faulkner's own family history, GAIJIN tells the tale of a half-Japanese boy in the 1940's who, along with his white American mother, is sent to an internment camp in Northern California after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. 

    The internment of Japanese-Americans is one of those things we don't really learn enough about in school. . . and it wasn't that long ago. Despite the fact that many of the people affected by the internment had been in America for generations, were home-owners, had businesses and were upstanding members of society, they were thrown into makeshift "camps" with very little warning, their homes and rights stripped from them, and they had no recourse. Could such a nightmare scenario happen TODAY? Spoiler alert: Yeah, absolutely. 

    GAIJIN is a beautiful graphic novel, and an important one. If you (or the kid in your life) are at all intrigued by history, this is a must-add to the library. Ages 9+

    Buy the book at your local independent bookstore, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or wherever fine books are sold.

    0 Comments on New Release - GAIJIN: American Prisoner of War by Matt Faulkner as of 4/14/2014 8:17:00 PM
    Add a Comment
    28. Online Exclusive: Q&A with Judith Gille

    The View from Casa Chepitos: A Journey Beyond the Border, by Judith Gille, is the grand-prize winning memoir in the 1st Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book AwardsMay/June 2014 issue of Writer’s DigestClick here for a complete list of winners from the competition.

    Add a Comment
    29. First Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards

    Writer’s Digest would like to congratulate the winners of the 1st Annual Self-Published e-Book AwardsMay/June 2014 issue of Writer’s DigestGRAND PRIZEThe View from Casa Chepitos: A Journey Beyond the Borderjudithgille.comextended interview with Judith Gilleblog post on self-publishingFICTION

    First Place:

    Elizabeth’s Landingkatypye.comSecond Place:The Clock of Lifenancyklann-moren.comHonorable Mentions (listed alphabetically):

    On the Linejnbwrite.comMist on the Meadowkarlabrandenburg.comThe Apollo Academykimberlypchase.blogspot.comKindertransport

     ($8.99, Kindle), CreateSpace – adrianjacksonbooks.comRedemption: Legends of Graham Mansion, Book Onelegendsofgrahammansion.comTales From Ma’s Watering Holekayelinden.comLiberty Frye and the Witches of Hessenlibertyfrye.comThe Spirit Roommarschelpaul.comThe Sword of Demelzawarriorechidna.blogspot.comUnveiling

    ($4.99, Kindle), Red Summit Publishers – swoffington.comNONFICTION
    First Place:
    The Exodus Roadtheexodusroad.comSecond Place:Help! My Freelancers Are Driving Me Crazy: 12 Keys to Driving Loyalty and Results from Your Creative Workforcedeardrfreelance.comHonorable Mentions (listed alphabetically):

    Swedish Lessons: A memoir of sects, love and indentured servitude. Sort of. natalieburg.comMinor Mercies & Big-Ass Miracles: A Writer’s Spirtual Journey That Stops Just Short of NirvanaAllah, Jesus, and Yahweh: The Gods That FailedStyle That Sizzles & Pacing for Power: An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fictionjodierenner.com Add a Comment
    30. Query question: link or list?

    My question - I won a national Canadian fiction award for a book published in 2012 by a small press. (It was actually the Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction <http://canadianauthors.org/conference/caa-award-for-fiction-2013-shortlist/> ).

    The award is not well known in the US, but it's totally legit. Is it okay to include a hyperlink to the award in a query? Or should I just list the award in the second to last paragraph and allow the agent to look it up?



    First, congrats!

    Second, I'm not a huge fan of hyperlinks in email for two reasons: 
    1. my email management program finds them too spicy and often spits them into the spam filter (Priscilla eats anything) 
    2. it offends my sense of aesthetics (this is just me, and clearly I'm deranged from paint fumes)

    I'd list the award but not the link.  Remember though: that's my opinion not an ironclad publishing standard.

     

     

    0 Comments on Query question: link or list? as of 4/14/2014 8:59:00 AM
    Add a Comment
    31. 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 14

    Yesterday, I mentioned how guest judges Daniel Nester and Vince Gotera suggested possible poetry prompts. Well, today’s guest judge, Jericho Brown, is only one who requested a specific day to be a guest: Today, April 14. I’m not sure if this is because it’s the day Pulitzer finalists and winners are announced

    , or if he has a thing for sonnets (14 lines), though it really could be as simple as it’s his birthday! No, really, it is his birthday–so say happy birthday and buy his book, Please.

    For today’s prompt, take the phrase “If I Were (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write the poem. Possible titles might include: “If I Were President,” “If I Were Smarter,” “If I Were a Little More Sensitive,” or “If I Were Born on April 14.” If I were you, I’d get poeming about now.

    *****

    2014_poets_market

    Publish Your Poetry!

    Learn how to get your poetry published with the assistance of the 2014 Poet’s Market

    , edited by Robert Lee Brewer. This book is filled with listings for poetry book publishers, chapbook publishers, magazines, journals, online publications, contests, grants, and more!

    Plus, it contains articles on the craft, business, and promotion of poetry. There are interviews with poets, original poems, and so much more!

    Click to continue

    .

    ******

    Here’s my attempt at an If I Were Blank poem:

    “if i were any more good looking”

    the sun would explode into a black hole
    & i’d be the event horizon that draws
    the universe in upon itself

    women would oooohhh
    & men would aaaahhh

    it would be impossible to keep a date
    because it would be impossible
    to get anywhere without numbers
    & underwear tossed in my direction


    lucky for me my dna stopped
    just short of perfection
    because if i were any more good looking
    i wouldn’t be able to find a mirror
    cloudy enough to pull me away
    from my wonderful reflection




    i’m not sorry for what i lack
    because my deck’s already stacked
    & besides from my point of view
    if i were any more good looking
    i’d be looking a lot like you



    *****

    Today’s guest judge is…

    Jericho Brown

    Jericho Brown

    Jericho Brown

    Jericho is the author of Please and the forthcoming The New Testament

    . His first collection Please won the 2009 American Book Award.

    Jericho taught at the University of San Diego until 2012, when he became a professor at Emory University (in Atlanta, GA).

    A former speechwriter for the Mayor of New Orleans, Jericho has had his poetry published in several publications, including The Iowa Review, New England Review, and Oxford American.

    Learn more here: http://www.jerichobrown.com/

    .

    *****

    PYHO_Small_200x200

    Poem Your Heart Out

    Poems, Prompts & Room to Add Your Own for the 2014 April PAD Challenge!

    Words Dance Publishing is offering 20% off pre-orders for the Poem Your Heart Out anthology until May 1st! If you’d like to learn a bit more about our vision for the book, when it will be published, among other details.

    Click to continue

    .

    *****

    Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems

    . He once ran into Jericho in a stairwell before a reading (and Jericho was super nice). Learn more about Robert here: http://www.robertleebrewer.com/.

    *****

    If I were you, I’d check out these other poetic posts:

    .
  • Triversen: Poetic Form
  • .
  • De Jackson: Poet Interview
  • .

     

    Add a Comment
    32. New Literary Agent Alert: Rebecca Podos of Rees Literary

    Reminder: New literary agents

    (with this spotlight featuring Rebecca Podos of Rees Literary) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.

     

    rebecca-podos-literary-agent

     

    About Rebecca: Rebecca Podos (Rees Literary Agency

    ) is a graduate of the MFA Writing, Literature and Publishing program at Emerson College, whose own fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, Glyph, CAJE, Bellows American Review, Paper Darts, and SmokeLong Quarterly. She represents YA books by talented clients such as Rin Chupeco, Jen Anckorn, Ryan Bradford, Sarah Nicolas, Jen Estes, Kenny Logan, and more.

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

    Genre Preferences: Rebecca is primarily interested in Young Adult fiction of all kinds, including contemporary, emotionally driven stories, mystery, romance, urban and historical fantasy, horror, and sci-fi. Occasionally, she also considers literary and commercial adult fiction, New Adult, and narrative nonfiction.

    (The skinny on why to sign with a new/newer literary agent.)

    Submission instructions: Submit a query letter and the first few chapters (pasted in the email) to Rebecca [at] reesagency.com.

    2014-guide-to-literary-agents

    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:It’s Not a Bad Thing to Write Your Ending First
  • Romance vs. Women’s Fiction: The Differences.
  • Agent Suzie Townsend Is Seeking Adult Fiction Clients.
  • Sell More Books by Building Your Writer Platform.
  • If You’re a Debut Author, Word Count Matters.
  • Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter
  • or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to write a query letter.

     

    Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
    Create Your Writer Platform

    Order the book from WD at a discount

    .

    Add a Comment
    33. And you thought *I* was harsh!


    Gossamer the editor cat renders his opinion


    Herewith the novel you sent me for consideration:

    Not enough cats.
    Too many dogs. 

    Revise. Resend. 

    0 Comments on And you thought *I* was harsh! as of 4/13/2014 9:33:00 AM
    Add a Comment
    34. 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 13

    I often come up with prompts for my weekly Wednesday Poetry Prompts on the fly. However, I try to get all my prompts for the monthly challenges set before the month starts–to avoid “prompt block.” For that reason, I had to turn down two good prompt ideas from the guest judges: Vince Gotera wanted to do something related to hay(na)ku and today’s judge Daniel Nester wanted to do a sestina prompt. I’ve done the sestina prompt before, and it drove many poets crazy (still littering asylums across the globe). I was tempted to change my prompt, but decided to hold firm–so nobody is obligated to write a sestina for today’s prompt (but if you want extra credit, both Nester and myself would love to see a few sestinas today). Click here to learn about the sestina

    .

    For today’s prompt, write an animal poem. Pick a specific animal or write about your animal spirit. Maybe you’ll get tricky and write about mustangs (meaning the car) or jaguars (meaning the American football team). Maybe you’ll do an acrostic, or even go crazy and write a sestina (crickets).

    *****

    2014_poets_market

    Publish Your Poetry!

    Learn how to get your poetry published with the assistance of the 2014 Poet’s Market

    , edited by Robert Lee Brewer. This book is filled with listings for poetry book publishers, chapbook publishers, magazines, journals, online publications, contests, grants, and more!

    Plus, it contains articles on the craft, business, and promotion of poetry. There are interviews with poets, original poems, and so much more!

    Click to continue

    .

    ******

    Here’s my attempt at an Animal Poem:

    “Animal Sestina”

    First thing’s first, I must pick an animal.
    My logical first choice is the cheetah,
    because I’m first and foremost about speed,
    though in high school I was often called horse–
    as much for my long stride as my long hair–
    still today, I resemble platypus




    as I’m hard to classify. Platypus,
    frankly speaking, is a weird animal:
    It has a bill, otter feet, and hair;
    did I mention it’s venomous? Cheetahs,
    on the one hand, are faster than a horse;
    every molecule seems built for speed,




    but there’s more to picking end words than speed.
    After all, some end words, like platypus,
    are harder to use. Meanwhile, the word horse
    is easier, not for the animal
    but syllables–three to one. The cheetah
    offers two syllables and spotted hair;




    they eat gazelles and zebras, even hares.
    Their sprinting prey dictates a need for speed;
    there’s no such thing as a chubby cheetah.
    Though they store fat in their tails, platypus
    are not the heaviest of animals–
    maybe five pounds. Definitely the horse




    weighs a lot more. For instance, race horses
    can hit 1,000 pounds. Beneath their hair
    are the thick muscles of an animal
    bred over generations for top speeds,
    kind of opposite from the platypus.
    Speaking of breeding, the shallow cheetah




    pool of genetics means there aren’t cheetah
    variations the same as with horses,
    though I’m not really sure on platypus.
    One thing is certain: I must prefer hair
    over genetics and relative speed,
    at least when we’re discussing animals.




    I’m an animal, but I’m no cheetah–
    lost my speed, though I may still be a horse
    with short hair, storing fat like platypus.

    ******

    Today’s guest judge is…

    Daniel Nester

    Daniel Nester

    Daniel Nester

    Daniel is the author of How to Be Inappropriate, God Save My Queen I and II, and is editor of The Incredible Sestina Anthology.

    His writing has appeared in N+1 The New York TimesThe Morning NewsThe Daily Beast, The Best American Poetry, The Best Creative Nonfiction, Third Rail: The Poetry of Rock and Roll, and Now Write! Nonfiction.

    He teaches writing at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY

    Learn more here: DanielNester.com

    .

    *****

    PYHO_Small_200x200

    Poem Your Heart Out

    Poems, Prompts & Room to Add Your Own for the 2014 April PAD Challenge!

    Words Dance Publishing is offering 20% off pre-orders for the Poem Your Heart Out anthology until May 1st! If you’d like to learn a bit more about our vision for the book, when it will be published, among other details.

    Click to continue

    .

    *****

    Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems

    . He studied under sestina master James Cummins at the University of Cincinnati–once writing more than 20 horrible sestinas in one quarter. Learn more about him here: http://www.robertleebrewer.com/.

    *****

    Feed your poetic animal spirit with these posts:

    .
  • Thomas Lux: Poet Interview
  • .
  • Sestina: Poetic Forms
  • .

     

    Add a Comment
    35. 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 12

    Wow! What a turnout this year for the poetry challenge! Chances are pretty good that by the end of the weekend, we’ll have more than 10,000 comments on the prompts–with a chance at surpassing 20,000 for the month. That’s a lot! And if you’re trying to follow a specific poet (even yourself), it can turn into a challenge (within the challenge).

    That’s why I’d like to thank Anders Bylund for continuing to make his poetry challenge search tool available to everyone. Go to http://gowrite.me/pad.pl?writer=&day=year_2014

    , find the name you want in the dropdown list (contains all the usernames) and click the “Search!” button. There’s even an option to get the results in pure text–in case you haven’t been saving your poems on your computer. Thanks, Anders!

    For today’s prompt, write a city poem. The poem can take place in a city, can remember the city (in a general sense), be an ode to a specific city, or well, you should know the drill by now. City poem: Write it!

    ******

    2014_poets_market

    Publish Your Poetry!

    Learn how to get your poetry published with the assistance of the 2014 Poet’s Market

    , edited by Robert Lee Brewer. This book is filled with listings for poetry book publishers, chapbook publishers, magazines, journals, online publications, contests, grants, and more!

    Plus, it contains articles on the craft, business, and promotion of poetry. There are interviews with poets, original poems, and so much more!

    Click to continue

    .

    ******

    Here’s my attempt at a City Poem:

    “cincinnati”

    shattered glass & cigarette butts
    she doesn’t need him anymore

    & he knows he’s a no parking sign
    every fire hydrant a marker

    keeper of unspoken secrets
    shoes hanging from phone wires

    they exist together but travel
    separately when trains pass

    they both think of escape

    *****

    Today’s guest judge is…

    Victoria Chang

    Victoria Chang

    Victoria Chang

    Victoria’s third book of poems, The Boss

    , was published by McSweeney’s Poetry Series in 2013.  Her other books are Salvinia Molesta and Circle.

    Her poems have been published in Kenyon Review, POETRY, American Poetry Review, Colorado Review, The Washington Post, Best American Poetry, and other places.

    You can find her at www.victoriachangpoet.com

    or @VChangpoet.

    *****

    PYHO_Small_200x200

    Poem Your Heart Out

    Poems, Prompts & Room to Add Your Own for the 2014 April PAD Challenge!

    Words Dance Publishing is offering 20% off pre-orders for the Poem Your Heart Out anthology until May 1st! If you’d like to learn a bit more about our vision for the book, when it will be published, among other details.

    Click to continue

    .

    *****

    Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems

    . He grew up in the suburbs but spent a few years going to college in Cincinnati. Learn more about him here: http://www.robertleebrewer.com/.

    *****

    Peruse “The Street” of the Poetry Blogosphere:

    .
  • 2014 April PAD Challenge: Guest Judges
  • .
  • Assembling and Submitting a Poetry Manuscript
  • .

     

    Add a Comment
    36. Have a great weekend!

    This map of the Imperial History of the Middle East is endlessly fascinating.  You might have to log in to StumbleOn to see it, but it's well worth it.

    0 Comments on Have a great weekend! as of 1/1/1900
    Add a Comment
    37. 5 Tips for Writing Historical Fiction

    The Peerless Four, based on the historical precedent of the first women allowed to compete in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics in track and field on a trial basis, was a departure from my previous story collection and novel, Drift and This Vacant Paradise, both set at the end of the 20th century in my fictionalized home-turf of Newport Beach, California.

    This is what I learned about writing historical fiction.

    *********************************************************************************************************************************

    Author PhotoVP

    9781619021778_p0_v1_s260x420This guest post is by Victoria Patterson, author of The Peerless Four and This Vacant Paradise, which was a 2011 New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, and garnered rave reviews in Booklist, the New York Journal of Books, the Hollywood Reporter, and other major publications. Her story collection, Drift, was a finalist for the California Book Award, the 2009 Story Prize and has been selected as one of the best books of 2009 by The San Francisco Chronicle. Her work has appeared in various publications and journals, including the Los Angeles Times, Orange Coast Magazine, Alaska Quarterly Review, and The Southern Review. She lives with her family in Southern California and teaches through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and as a visiting assistant professor at UC Riverside. For more info, please visit victoriapatterson.com.

    *********************************************************************************************************************************

    1. Try not to ask how much should be based on history and fact, and how much should be fiction.  

    I soon realized that this question didn’t help.

    It reminds me of those classmates in my high school English classrooms, raising their hands to our assigned creative free-writing stream-of-consciousness exercises and asking the teacher, But how long do you want it to be?  How many paragraphs? What do you mean write whatever I want?  What do you want me to write?

    These questions manage to drain the endeavor of the mysterious alchemy of creativity, its original purpose.

    2. That’s not to say that you don’t have to research.  Research! 

    I spent over a year reading and researching, discovering how to enter my novel.

    When I had all the facts at hand, I had to distinguish how to present them in service of the story.

    But I took to heart Robert Penn Warren’s advice from his Paris Review interview:

    When you try to write a book—even objective fiction—you have to write from the inside, not the outside—the inside of yourself.  You have to find what’s there. You can’t predict it—just dredge it up and hope you have something worth dredging…you don’t choose a story, it chooses you.  You get together with the story somehow; you’re stuck with it.  There certainly is some reason it attracted you, and you’re writing it trying to find out that reason…I can always look back and remember the exact moment when I encountered the germ of any story I wrote—a clear flash.

    3. Recognize your flash and then let it take you wherever it leads. 

    For me, the instant came from happening upon David Collier’s comic about the Canadian high jumper Ethel Catherwood.  I couldn’t stop thinking and wondering about her, and so I began to read about her Olympic teammates.  From there I started thinking about sports novels, and sports, and women athletes, and reading more.  I kept in mind Daniel Orozco’s admonition to avoid what he termed “research rapture,” in a Story Prize post, wherein “one lingers in the pleasures of story research in order to put off the actual writing of the story.”

    But at the same time, I allowed my interest to wander.

    4. Try to recreate life and meaning in such a way that you restore the experience, whether historical or not. 

    In writing fictionalized history, the writer’s use or avoidance of real events depends on what it will do for or against the narrative.

    Life, however much we may try to program, ritualize, or control it, continues to be mysterious, and much of this involves the mystery of the future.  In historical fiction, we need a certain amount of maneuvering to keep the future unknown and mysterious, but otherwise the goal is similar: to take psychic possession of a happening and re-realize it, so that an engaged reader forgets she is reading, but rather feels herself as a witness to the experience itself.

    5. Try to let your research have the spirit of a meditative walk in the evening air. 

    Robert Penn Warren, from his Paris Review interview, also states:

    You see the world as best you can, and the events and books that are interesting to you should be interesting to you because you’re a human being, not because you’re trying to be a writer.  Then those things might be of use to you as a writer later on.  I don’t believe in a schematic approach to material.  The business of researching for a book strikes me as a sort of obscenity.  What I mean is, researching for a book in the sense of trying to find a book to write.  Once you are engaged by a subject, are in a book, have your idea, you may or may not want to do some investigating.  But you ought to do it in the same spirit in which you’d take a walk in the evening air and think things over.

    There’s a sense of exhilaration in thinking of research as similar to a meditative walk in the evening air.

    Not only did I read, I watched sports movies and television programs, whether hokey or not, and documentaries.  Nothing was off limits, whether it be Friday Night Lights (book, television series, and movie), Personal Best, or a biography of John McEnroe.  After reading a few books on running, I began, much to my surprise, to jog in the late afternoons.

    I thought a lot about running while I jogged, and eventually, the narrator of my novel, Mel, was born in my mind.  A former runner sidelined from exercise by doctors’ orders, now chaperoning the women’s Olympic team.

    With her melancholic and searching outlook, Mel gave me my way in, an insider and an outsider.  I saw her first while looking at old photographs of women’s Olympic teams, and noticing, off to the side of one photo, a chaperone standing beside the athletes, not named in the caption.

    “That’s my narrator,” I thought, staring at the anonymous woman.

    At some point, I realized I was done researching.  I’d filled myself up—brimming with thoughts and ideas and questions—and it was time to try to make sense of it all.

    The best fiction, whether historical or not, produces a spell where the characters live.  This takes a combination of instinct and skill, and a concentration aimed toward appreciating and rendering complexity.

    My characters in The Peerless Four have become so real to me that now I have trouble distinguishing the “real” from the fictional.  What did I make up?  What really happened?  I’m not so sure any more.

    I know certain facts—for instance that the javelin wasn’t included in the five track and field events permissible for women in 1928.  But for my purposes, I included the javelin anyway.  But the characters and what happened are not as clear-cut.  Did I make it up?  Or did it really happen the way that I wrote it?  My fictive characters have blurred in my mind with their real life counterparts.

    I’m taking this as a good sign.  It reminds me of the power of the writer’s imagination, and the reality that it can create for an artist; and strangely, of Balzac’s physician, Dr. Bianchon, whom Balzac invented for his Comédie.  On his deathbed, it’s reported that Balzac called for his fictive creation, saying, “Only Bianchon can save me…”

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

    .

    *********************************************************************************************************************************
    brian-klems-2013

    Brian 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: @BrianKlemsWD Newsletter

    Add a Comment
    38. Query Question: More on comp titles

    I've seen some agents say they like to see TITLE meets TITLE or "this would appeal to fans of ..." and some who don't like comparisons at all. When I think of my MS, immediately two things come to mind, a book and a TV show. What do you think of using both to show that I know who my book would appeal to? Or would using a TV show be a big no-no?

    I have a real aversion to using film and TV shows as comps. This is particular to me I know. The reason is that I don't have TV so a lot of times the comparison is useless to me. On the other hand I haven't read every book in the world (not for lack of trying) so sometimes those comps go over my head too.

    I don't think it's cause for setting a query on fire to use a TV show as a comp, but I think it's smarter to use books.

    The only big no-no in queries is bad writing. 


    0 Comments on Query Question: More on comp titles as of 4/11/2014 7:47:00 AM
    Add a Comment
    39. 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 11

    One of the refrains from the Austin International Poetry Festival was, “Buy the book!” During poetry month, it’s not a bad refrain. In that vein, I want to remind people about pre-orders for the Poem Your Heart Out anthology, which will collect the best poem from each day of this challenge, along with a prompt and space to add your own poem. Pre-orders are marked down 20% until May 1, so be sure to buy the book today. Click to continue

    .

    For today’s prompt, make a statement the title of your poem and either respond to or expand upon the title. Some example titles might include: “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy;” “Guns Don’t Kill People, I Do;” “This Is Your Brain on Drugs;” “Smile for the Camera,” and “Be Kind Rewind.” Of course, there’s an incredible number of possible titles; pick one and start poeming!

    *****

    Workshop Your Poetry!

    Break out of a rut or jump start your revision process with the Advanced Poetry Course

    offered by Writer’s Digest University. This course involves workshopping poetry with an instructor and other poets of varying levels.

    Click to continue

    .

    *****

    Here’s my attempt at a Statement Poem:

    Buy the Book

    “You can do more than merely look,”
    she said out loud, looking at me.
    “Open your wallet, buy the book.”

    So I paid her the cash it took
    and found a seat in the cafe
    thinking I could take a quick look

    anonymously in my nook
    while sipping hot sweetened coffee.
    Opened my wallet, bought that book,

    and let myself hang on a hook
    feeling somewhat literary,
    I did do more than merely look.

    Thinking, feeling until I shook–
    those words did a real job on me,
    but I was glad I bought the book.

    So don’t treat poets like they’re crooks
    just because their line breaks aren’t free:
    You can do more than merely look;
    open your wallet, buy the book.


    *****

    Today’s guest judge is…

    Joseph Mills

    Joseph Mills

    Joseph Mills

    A faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Joseph Mills holds an endowed chair, the Susan Burress Wall Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities.

    He has published four collections of poetry with Press 53, including Sending Christmas Cards to Huck and Hamlet

    .

    Joseph’s fifth collection, This Miraculous Turning, will be released in September 2014.

    More information about his work is available at www.josephrobertmills.com

    and he blogs somewhat regularly at www.josephrobertmills.blogspot.com.

    *****

    PYHO_Small_200x200

    Poem Your Heart Out

    Poems, Prompts & Room to Add Your Own for the 2014 April PAD Challenge!

    Words Dance Publishing is offering 20% off pre-orders for the Poem Your Heart Out anthology until May 1st! If you’d like to learn a bit more about our vision for the book, when it will be published, among other details.

    Click to continue

    .

    *****

    Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems

    . He would be thrilled if you bought the book. Learn more about him here: http://www.robertleebrewer.com/.

    *****

    Make a statement by reading others:

    .
  • Thomas Lux: Poet Interview
  • .
  • Victoria Chang: Poet Interview
  • .

    Add a Comment
    40. Re-Vision? Easier Said Than Seen

    The most difficult aspect of revision is that the process requires seeing our own mistakes. That speck of dust in our neighbor’s eye is a lot easier to see than the log in our own. I learned most about sentence-level revision from Richard Lanham, distinguished scholar, writer, and UCLA professor, who has written a number of books, including Revising Prose, in which he develops the “Paramedic Method” (PM), a series of steps that help writers find both the sound and the sense of each sentence. Sound and sense: that’s what I like most about the PM. Aside from pushing us to see the ethics of writing, Lanham’s method reinforces the impossibility of separating structure from idea. The PM helps us see the axis of the sentence—both the actual main subject and verb, as well as the unacknowledged subject and verb. If we can see a difference between the actual and the unacknowledged in any sentence, it’s time to revise, to look again.

    (How many markets should you send your novel out to?)

     

     

    DSC_0193-Huergo-First-Choice

    Fidel_Perez_Jacket-12-198x300

    Elizabeth Huergo

    THE DEATH OF FIDEL PEREZ



    (Unbridled Books). She is presently
    working on her second novel, Between Ana and Ella, a contemporary
    Latina version of The Grapes of Wrath. Find her on Twitter

    .

     

    To illustrate the point, here is an example by someone commenting on the work of the Iraqi-American performance artist, Wafaa Bilal:

    The issues that Wafaa Bilal is trying to get across are of vital importance to recognizing life’s fragile pieces, some that many try to hide from others and themselves. Those fragile pieces can range from dealing with losses from warfare, displaying a true identity when others perceive you as something they’re only know of in rumors, and keeping a true identity instead of being in denial. In order to display a form of culture, or appreciation of one’s self, the use of performance art is a great way to express it.

    I have highlighted the actual main subjects and verbs to illustrate what Lanham has taught me to see. We learn that “issues are of vital importance,” that “pieces can range” from one thing to another, and that “performance art is a great way to express it,” the singular pronoun pointing to a plurality of things:

    The issuesarepiecescanrangeperformanceartisWafaa Bilalrecognizinglosses from warfaredisplaying true identitykeepingtrue identitydisplayappreciationperformance artWafaa BilalrecognizesrecognitiondevelopsHeexpresses(Why writers should put their e-mail online for all to see.)

     

    500x500_janktom

    If you’re just getting started and want to build your
    library of helpful resources, then check out our
    special
    Get Started in Writing collection

    Available while



    supplies last
    .

     

    Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:Agent Adam Muhlig of McIntosh & Otis seeks queries.

  • If you get your short fiction published in journals, literary agents will come to YOU.
  • “7 things I’ve learned so far from writing and researching novels.”
  • Agent Carole Jelen is looking for nonfiction authors & queries.
  • Don’t be hamstrung by the admonition to “write what you know.”
  • 5 Easy Ways to Publicize & Promote Your Books.
  • Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter
  • or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and writing a query letter.

     

    Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
    Create Your Writer Platform

    Order the book from WD at a discount

    .

     

     

    Add a Comment
    41. Query Question: voice



    Over the years I have seen incredible queries on your other site.  (A Comedy of Terrors. Worst case scenario.  Everyone's favorite, Premeditated, still gives me goosebumps.)

    The voice has always kicked the query to the front of the line; I have a query for my very soon to be query-able ms.

    I actually have a few queries; my favorite has what I feel might be a problem.

    It is written in a slight Maine accent...there is only one character in the story with that accent, but I feel it gives the query a certain edge.

    Port Templar, 95,000 words Sci-Fiction

    “Hello there, my name’s Gubby I run the garage up ta Port Templar. She’s a gorgeous Maine town that’s got everything; lobstah rolls, steamers, even sells lobstah magnets to them damn tourists.


    I didn't know whether to include it as an example, but wanted to illustrate the effect I was going for.


    No no no.
    Do not write your query using the voice of a character. That is NOT the same thing as your "voice"  as an author. What you've used above is vernacular and style particular to a character.

    All the words in the query; which ones you choose and how you string them together: that's YOUR voice.

    Here's voice: And so it came to pass that the writers found their way to a cave, rough-strewn with artifacts perhaps from those who had came before, decorated with odd markings on the wall, dimly lit by the sun dropping in the east. They decided, not without some bickering, they were writers after all, to tarry here for a while, hoping to find shelter and maybe a well-mixed martini.


    It's the choice of words and phrases: "And so it came to pass" could have been "then" or "now" or any number of other choices.

    "rough strewn" could have been "littered" and so on.

    And it's not just diction (word choice) it's the rhythm of the sentence.  And the twist at the end.

    That's voice. That's what you're trying for.  That's why you revise. Voice is found in revision. It's found in saying the sentences out loud. It's found in the first million words of practice. It's found in knowing the rules so you can break them with elegance and beauty. It's found in knowing a lot of lovely wonderful words so you use the perfect word, not the almost-right word, or worse: the over-used word.

    Voice is who you are. Not who your characters are. 



    0 Comments on Query Question: voice as of 4/10/2014 8:21:00 AM
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    42. 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 10

    Quick note on selecting poems for the anthology: I plan to pull poems on average 5-7 days after the prompt is first posted. So I’ve pulled poems from days 1-3. Poets can keep sharing, but they won’t be considered for the anthology. Soon, I’ll pull day 4, and so it will proceed.

    For today’s prompt, write a future poem. The future might mean robots and computer chips. The future might mean apocalyptic catastrophes. The future might mean peace and understanding. The future might mean 1,000 years into the future; it might mean tomorrow (or next month). I forecast several poems in the near future to be shared below.

    *****

    Workshop Your Poetry!

    Break out of a rut or jump start your revision process with the Advanced Poetry Course

    offered by Writer’s Digest University. This course involves workshopping poetry with an instructor and other poets of varying levels.

    Click to continue

    .

    *****

    Here’s my attempt at a Future Poem:

    “fortunes”

    you are going to die
    that much is certain

    also you will experience great joy
    and tremendous sorrow in your life
    before you eventually die

    at times you will feel as if
    everyone is out to get you
    and that everything hits at once
    then you will die


    there will be other times
    when the world feels designed
    just for you and your happiness
    though ultimately you’ll kick the bucket


    you may wish to know when
    and how and if there’s a way out
    but that will cost you extra
    and you’re still going to die


    *****

    Today’s guest judge is…

    Nate Pritts

    Nate Pritts

    Nate Pritts

    Nate is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Right Now More Than Ever

    . His poems, and writings about poetry, can be found in American Poetry Review, Southern Review, Poets & Writers and the annual Poet’s Market.

    He founded H_NGM_N, an online journal and small press, and continues to serve as Director. Nate lives in the Finger Lakes region of New York.

    Learn more here: http://www.h-ngm-n.com/nate-pritts/

    *****

    PYHO_Small_200x200

    Poem Your Heart Out

    Poems, Prompts & Room to Add Your Own for the 2014 April PAD Challenge!

    Words Dance Publishing is offering 20% off pre-orders for the Poem Your Heart Out anthology until May 1st! If you’d like to learn a bit more about our vision for the book, when it will be published, among other details.

    Click to continue

    .

    *****

    Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems

    . He spent one summer working in the same car factory as his single mother, who put food on the table for three boys and still made it to nearly all their extracurricular activities. Learn more about him here: http://www.robertleebrewer.com/.

    *****

    Poetic posts to check out…in the future!

    .
  • Somonka: Poetic Forms
  • .
  • Heather Bell: Poet Interview
  • .

     

    Add a Comment
    43. The Gospel of Combat: How Fight Scenes Feed Your Story

    So you’re working on a story, and there comes a point where it really ought to have a fight scene. But you’re sitting there thinking, “I’m not a martial artist! I have no idea how to fight!” Or maybe you’re thinking, “Fight scenes are so boring. I’d rather just skip over this and get back to the actual story.” Or something else that makes you dread writing that scene, rather than looking forward to it with anticipation.

    To the first group, I say: the details of how to fight are possibly the least important component of a fight scene. The crucial components are the same ones you’re already grappling with in the rest of your writing—namely, description, pacing, characterization, and all that good stuff. To the second group, I say: it’s only boring if the author does it wrong.

     

     

    Screen shot 2014-04-09 at 11.31.19 PM

           Screen shot 2014-04-09 at 11.31.08 PM

    Column by Marie Brennan

    Connect with her on Twitter here



    . Her latest book is
    the writing guide WRITING FIGHT SCENES (Kobo
    , BN Nook, Kindle).

     

     

    My Gospel of Combat is that a fight is part of the story. Just like any other scene. It isn’t—or shouldn’t be—pure spectacle, especially in prose. Movies may be able to get away with that approach, but it’s harder on the page, because words don’t work very well for describing movement. If you want to be precise, you slow the pace down far beyond the speed of what you’re describing. If you want to maintain the pace, you lose precision. And if you want to be precise and efficient, you have to resort to jargon. “Glissade, pas de bourrée, jeté, assemblé” quite accurately describes a sequence of ballet steps in about the time it takes to perform them . . . but unless you know what those terms mean, it’s completely useless to you as a reader.

    In prose, a good fight scene is not one that leaves you with a complete mental image of every attack and block. It’s one that conveys story. Furthermore, just like a conversation or an investigation or a sex scene (the latter of which shares many technical challenges with a fight scene), it should ideally be serving more than one narrative purpose at a time.

    (Do agents Google writers after reading a query?)

    Fights are often in the story for plot reasons: kill the bad guy. Get past the guards. Suffer an injury that will be relevant later. That’s fine, but not enough. Personally, I love fight scenes because they can do so much on a character level. This is violence; it’s one of the most fundamental things hard-wired into our brains, alongside food and sex. What a character is and is not willing to do, when it comes down to fists or swords or guns, can reveal or change or confirm some fairly profound things about her personality. It can even play into or against the themes of a story, especially when you think about the way societies in every part of the world have built philosophical frameworks around the control and deployment of violence. Of course, there’s the artistic side, too; fight scenes can be just as much about good writing—description and so on—as anything else in the story.

    If the scene isn’t doing anything terribly important on any of those fronts, then it doesn’t deserve much attention on the page. Drop in a sentence or two to say it happened, and get on with the actual story. Or figure out why this fight matters, and make it earn its keep.

    Even when the matter isn’t life-or-death, violent actions can be very telling. Holly McClane decking the reporter at the end of Die Hard is part and parcel of that entire story: her role, her husband’s, the reporter’s, and everything that’s gone on in that (very violent) movie. In Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series, Alanna sparring against her old friends after they’ve learned she’s a woman highlights all the weird tensions that surround her position as a lady knight. The few seconds Sam and Dean Winchester spend fighting each other in the pilot episode of Supernatural tell us that these guys know what they’re doing, are very familiar with each other’s moves, and have a bit of sibling rivalry going on. You could try to convey all that with dialogue, but the fight is more efficient—and also more subtle, in its own way. It’s the old adage of writing advice: show, don’t tell.

    If your scene is important enough to merit the reader’s attention, then there’s something important going on in it. Something that has less to do with strikes and blocks, and more to do with the progress of the story. You can get surprisingly far by focusing on the latter, instead of the former. When all is said and done, very few readers will remember the moment where the hero did the binding parry to two and riposted. What they’ll remember is what that moment meant.

     

    Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 4.12.53 PM

    Do 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:

  • Agent Amy Tannenbaum reps new adult, romance, and women’s fiction.
  • Bring More Authenticity to Your Historical Novel: 11 Ideas.
  • What It’s Like to Work With a Publishing House Editor on Your Book.
  • Agent Andy Ross puts out a call for queries.
  • Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter
  • or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and writing a query letter.

     

    Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
    Create Your Writer Platform

    Order the book from WD at a discount

    .

     

    Add a Comment
    44. Query Question: a rant from your blog writer

    Questions: Is it to my advantage to mention that this is the first book of a five book series? (1)Or is this boastful, and ultimately harmful to my yet to be established reputation, since this is my first novel? (2) Also, I realize my email address is extremely peculiar. Should I make a professional email account so people take me seriously? (3) Or is it good to stand out?(4)



    Ok, youze guyz. It's becoming clear that you're just firing off questions here and not reading the questions already posted.  I'm pretty sure I've answered all of these before.

    If you don't know HOW to find all the other posts here's what to do:

    Go to the main page of the blog.

    See the blogroll on the right hand side, right below the sloth?



    That number after *query pitfalls? 266? That's the number of posts I've written on ways to fuck up your query. Click on that link and ALL the posts turn up for your viewing pleasure.

    I like getting questions.
    I don't like repeating myself.


    Here are the answers to the questions above:

    (1) No
    (2) That's not the reason it's a bad idea, but it's still a bad idea
    (3) Yes
    (4) The only thing that should stand out is your writing. 

    0 Comments on Query Question: a rant from your blog writer as of 4/8/2014 9:23:00 AM
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    45. Do You Have What Publishers Really Want?

    If you are a writer who dreams of landing a traditional publishing deal, you might have a nagging question in your mind. It’s probably phrased something like, “Is my book idea what a publisher wants?”

    In fact, a better question to ask yourself is, “Do I have what publishers really want?” What publishers seek in an aspiring author doesn’t only involve your book idea or even your writing. These are a big part of what they consider in their decision making process, but they are not the only things.

    *********************************************************************************************************************************

    New Headshot Nina Amir

    nina-authortrainingmanual500This guest post is by Nina Amir, author of How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time and The Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish Effectively. She transforms writers into inspired, successful authors, authorpreneurs and blogpreneurs. Known as the Inspiration to Creation Coach, she moves her clients from ideas to finished books as well as to careers as authors by helping them combine their passion and purpose so they create products that positively and meaningfully impact the world. A sought-after author, book, blog-to-book, and results coach, some of Nina’s clients have sold 300,000+ copies of their books, landed deals with major publishing houses and created thriving businesses around their books. She writes four blogs, self-published 12 books and founded National Nonfiction Writing Month, aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge. To learn more about Nina, visit www.ninaamir.com. Get a FREE 5-Day Become a Published Author Series from her when you click here.

    *********************************************************************************************************************************

    Understanding the Makings of a Traditional Publishing Deal

    To understand what a publisher seeks in an author, you first must understand the traditional publishing deal. At a basic level, it’s a business deal. You might even call it a financial deal.

    Look at it this way: You have a product you want to bring to market—a book. You want someone to finance the creation and production of that product. So, you go looking for an appropriate venture capital partner—a publisher.

    The publisher, on the other hand, seeks someone with a viable, meaning marketable, product who will be a good business partner. A good business partner, in this case, is someone who can complete the creative end of the production process—write the book—but who can also help the product succeed—sell the book.

    To land the deal, you give the potential venture capital partner a business plan, in this case a book proposal, for your product. He evaluates it. If he finds it to be a sound investment, he offers you a contract. If you like the terms of the contract, you sign it, and the two of you go into business together.

    The 7 Things a Publisher Considers

    Given this rather simplistic view of how you become a traditionally published author, let’s take a look at what a publisher, or rather the acquisitions editor and the whole pub board at a publishing house, consider when they examine your business plan.

    1. Your idea. You must have a good idea or story, which means one that is unique and necessary in its category.
    2. Your book’s market. The market analysis must indicate the potential for great reader interest, therefore, large sales.
    3. Your book’s competition: Similar books in your category must show a proven track record of high sales.
    4. Your credentials and author platform: Your bio and your pre-promotion of yourself and the book must show that you have the ability to help sell the book once it is released. In other words, you just have a proven ability to write or expert status plus a large, built-in readership, known as platform, for your book in its target market.
    5. Your promotion plan: You must show a concrete plan to use your author platform to sell books in a variety of ways upon release, not only for a month but for 3-12 months and beyond. The more creative and extensive the plan, the better.
    6. Your plans to write more books: Publishers seek multiple-book authors because the more books authors write, the more books they sell. Additionally, they prefer to invest in authors who will continue to produce products for the company or who have ideas for how to brand themselves by writing more books.
    7. The manuscript or sample chapters: Your writing must prove you can produce a quality product with the potential to sell.

    Publishers Want Business Partners

    If you look over this list, you’ll notice that of the seven items evaluated by the publisher, only four (1, 2, 3, and 7) pertain directly to your book. The other three (4, 5, and 6) pertain to you and your ability to be a good business partner. In fact, if you write a great business plan that proves you have a marketable idea and that you can produce a great product, which involves numbers 1, 2, 3, and 7, you also demonstrate your business acumen. (All seven of these items actually should be included in a book proposal.)

    And that’s what publishers really want. They want to find aspiring authors who are good business people. That means that if you want to land a traditional publishing deal, you must prove to the publisher you, and your book idea, are a good financial risk. Even if you write fiction, you increase your likelihood of becoming traditionally published if you prove your business savvy.

    As you write your business plan for your book—your book proposal, keep that in mind. Produce a document that convinces a venture capital partner you are a worthy business partner with a viable product, as well as a creative idea, and you might find yourself with a contract faster than you thought possible.

    And that nagging question? It will be disappear because by producing a business plan for your book you’ll have done the work to prove your idea is, indeed, one publishers want.

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

    .

    *********************************************************************************************************************************
    brian-klems-2013

    Brian 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: @BrianKlemsWD Newsletter

    Add a Comment
    46. 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 9

    Before we get into today’s prompt, I just want to address a few common questions I’ve been asked recently: Who can join the challenge? Anyone (any age, any level of experience, any location, and so on). When can they jump in? Anytime (like if you haven’t participated in the first 8 days, you can get poeming today). Is it all right to bend (or even break) the prompt? Heck yeah. The prompt is just a springboard; you decide where, when, and how to jump. So let’s get jumping!

    For today’s prompt, write a shelter poem. Shelter might be a structure like a house, apartment, or hotel. Shelter could be a tent or cardboard box. Shelter could be an umbrella, overpass, cave, or car. Shelter could be a state of mind, part of a money laundering scheme, or any number of interpretations.

    *****

    Workshop Your Poetry!

    Break out of a rut or jump start your revision process with the Advanced Poetry Course

    offered by Writer’s Digest University. This course involves workshopping poetry with an instructor and other poets of varying levels.

    Click to continue

    .

    *****

    Here’s my attempt at a Shelter Poem:

    “among the ruins”

    the houses are crumbling
    and the barns slant their way
    to earth in the city

    factories are silent
    no metal on metal
    or middle managers

    barking at their workers
    for the faults of machines
    ohio is a knife

    abandoned to weather
    fighting against the rust
    that turns us all to dust

    *****

    Today’s guest judge is…

    Kelli Russell Agodon

    Kelli Russell Agodon

    Kelli Russell Agodon

    Kelli is a poet, writer, and editor from the Northwest. She’s the author of the newly released, Hourglass Museum (White Pine Press, 2014) and The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice, which she coauthored with Martha Silano. Her other books include Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, Small Knots, Geography, and Fire On Her Tongue: An Anthology of Contemporary Women’s Poetry, which she edited with Annette Spaulding-Convy. Kelli is the co-founder of Two Sylvias Press and was the editor of Crab Creek Review for the last six years. She lives in a small seaside town where she is an avid mountain biker, paddleboarder, and hiker.  She loves dessert, museums, and typewriters.

    Learn more about her at her website: www.agodon.com

    . She also blogs at Book of Kells: www.ofkells.blogspot.com. She can be found on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/agodon.

    Her press, Two Sylvias Press, recently launched a Kickstarter Campaign for The Poet Tarot: A Deck & Guidebook into Creative Exploration, which you can learn about and support here: http://bit.ly/PoetTarotKickstarter

    .

    *****

    PYHO_Small_200x200

    Poem Your Heart Out

    Poems, Prompts & Room to Add Your Own for the 2014 April PAD Challenge!

    Words Dance Publishing is offering 20% off pre-orders for the Poem Your Heart Out anthology until May 1st! If you’d like to learn a bit more about our vision for the book, when it will be published, among other details.

    Click to continue

    .

    *****

    Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems

    . He spent one summer working in the same car factory as his single mother, who put food on the table for three boys and still made it to nearly all their extracurricular activities. Learn more about him here: http://www.robertleebrewer.com/.

    *****

    Feel free to use Poetic Asides as your poetry shelter:

    .
  • Triversen: Poetic Form
  • .
  • William Preston: Poet Interview
  • .

     

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    47. Agents going off the rails



    A while back I posted a question from a writer who seriously wondered if her agent was dead or abducted by aliens (no contact for months on end.)

    In my reply I mentioned that kind of thing has been happening more often. That observation sparked some interest and some requests for elaboration.

    Herewith.

    Back in the day, and I mean back before email, the internet and Twitter and, let's face it, transparency, the career path for becoming an agent was starting as an editor at a big publishing house, and learning how the biz worked. There are those who traveled a different route of course, but they were the exceptions, not the norm.

    That has changed almost completely.

    Many younger agents are starting as agents. Or assistants who are allowed to sign clients. Or interns who are sure they learned everything they need to know and set up shop as agents when their internship is completed.

    And when the shit hits the fan, as it does every single day of the working year, and twice on Sundays, and always when you're on vacation, these young agents are often overwhelmed.


    And they're often alone and unsupported. By alone, I mean they work as sole proprietors or in remote offices from the main agency. By unsupported I mean they do not have someone sitting five feet away who can help them get out of trouble or stop them from getting in to trouble. Of the five cracker jack young agents I know best, ALL started out sitting close to an agent with more experience, an agent who considered it his/her job to guide the younger agent.


    And there's another component to consider. Recently I tallied the lists of tasks I had for each client in 2003. Then I tallied the tasks I had for clients in 2013.

    By my count there is three times the work now for each client/book that there was in 2003.

    What that means in hard terms is even experienced agents are having to learn to do new things and to stay on top of things they didn't have to before. Of course, there's no additional money for this.


    So if you're an agent who's been doing this forever, and in the last ten years your job has tripled, and your income hasn't, and all of a sudden there's this new transparency and people are talking about you on the Internet like you can't see it, well, sometimes just not dealing with the problems seems pretty much like the avenue of least resistance.

    I don't say this to excuse the behavior. It's bad behavior. It's very unprofessional. I'd like to say I've never been guilty of behaving this way, but it would not be true.


    But what this is has a name: burnout. Agenting is a job that's ripe for burnout for two reasons:

    1. Almost nothing is under our direct control
    2. Almost nothing is ever finished

    When I say almost nothing is under our direct control, I can hear you non-agented, querying writers gasp with disbelief. To you it seems like agents control EVERYTHING. Nothing could be farther from the truth.


    I can't control who queries me or doesn't. I can only control who I OFFER representation to. I can't even control who accepts.


    And I have almost no control with how a book is published. I can advocate for the author. I can explain how things work to the author. I can build good working relationships at publishing houses so my calls and questions get answered but if I hate a cover and the publisher loves it, well, the publisher gets to decide.

    Not having control of your job that has an increasing work load and an increasing number of people looking over your shoulder and commenting on how you're doing (this blog included among those people too) is a recipe for burnout.


    When I say nothing is ever finished, let me just illustrate that with an example from this weekend: I read a manuscript (which was very good) and sent the author (my client) a series of notes. He'll make changes, then send the ms to his editor. Done? Not even close. When this goes to edits/copyedits/production/publication there will be lots of things to do and problems to address. The work is never ever done and that can be daunting because it's really hard to take time off, or even step back sometimes knowing that the work is just going to stack up.

    Not taking time off is another one of the classic ways to burn out, and given that agents are already working nights and weekends as the norm, it's a wonder more of us don't flip out completely.


    I've learned to recognize when I'm heading the wrong way on Burnout Avenue. And I know what to do now to head it off. But those are skills and tricks I learned the hard way. I burned out on a previous career so completely and so suddenly I couldn't even pick up the phone.


    If you're an author you'll want to avoid signing with an agent who is headed down Burnout Ave. How to tell? You ask her clients. Not "is s/he burning out?" but "how's the communication?" Agents who are burning out generally aren't communicating well.

    Find out how much support an agent has. If things go south, is there someone there to pick up the pieces? A sole prop who goes off the rails leaves her clients in a bigger mess than someone backed by an agency with people who know where the files are.


    What do you do if your agent burns out? First, know that it's not you. S/he's not unhappy with you or your work. You didn't make her/him crazy. Second, get your ducks in a row cause you're going to have some interesting times coming. By ducks in a row, I mean get your submission list, and know where your manuscript has gone. Make sure you know where your contract is. READ your contract.


    If all goes well your agent will avert burnout (most of us do) and things will be ok. If s/he does NOT, then it's back to the blog post that incited this one.


    And if you find yourself annoyed that your agent is talking on Twitter or writing blog posts about books she read that aren't yours, well, remind yourself that breaks from work are a necessity not a luxury and the last, the VERY LAST thing you want is an agent who works all the time, right up until she's so burned out she can't even talk to you.


    If you're an agent and you recognize that some of what I talked about here applies to you, remember burnout is not a character flaw or a lapse of moral fiber. It's the way your brain is telling you to make some changes in your life. Listen to yourself.










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    48. “The High Concept Novel: How to Create a Premise that Sells — Agent One-on-One Boot Camp With Critique Starts April 11

    The idea’s the thing. If you build your story around a unique and compelling idea, your odds of selling it increase dramatically. Often, a perfectly good project will go unsold because the premise on which it is based is too predictable, commonplace, or over-published. Whether you’re writing a novel or a short story, a screenplay or a memoir, you need to find a way to set your story apart from the competition — and the competition is tougher than ever in today’s marketplace.

    But in this one-of-a-kind boot camp — “The High Concept Novel: How to Create a Premise that Sells Boot Camp”

    (starting April 11) — you will learn the ins and outs of high-concept, as literary agent, author, and content strategist Paula Munier reveals how you can transform your story idea from “same old same old” to “high-concept hit.”

     

    Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 10.01.49 AM

    Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 11.16.43 AM

     

    WHAT YOU’LL LEARNSign up for the boot camp here

    .

    Here’s how it works:RECAP ON DATES:registered students

    can access the discussion 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 agent may ask for additional pages if the initial submission shows serious promise.

    In addition to feedback from agent, attendees will also receive:About the Agent Sign up for the one-on-one Agent Boot Camp here.

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    49. The Confrontation

    Daydreaming on your way to work, you get into a car accident. Frustrated because you will be late for an important meeting, you curse and yell as you get out of the car. When you go to confront the other drive, you find out it is your boss. Write this scene.

    Get two weeks worth of writing prompts that will inspire you to write great stories.

    Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

    Want more creative writing prompts? Download:

    The Writing Prompt Boot Camp (Free Download)

     

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    50. Winners of our 2014 #AprilFools4Writers Contest

    Thanks to everyone who participated in our #AprilFools4Writers content. If you missed it, here are the details. There were tons of hilarious and clever entries this year and I enjoyed reading through all of them. More than 400 people participated, which is amazing! Anyway, without further ado here are the winners (chosen at random, as promised).

    Winner of the The Build an Author Platform Premium Collection

    is:
    Michelle Hed
    (Loved her headline: Two Periods Mate! Identical Colons are Born!)

    Winner of the 2014 Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition

    is:
    Jennifer Skutelsky

    Thanks again to everyone who participated. Look to this blog, the Writer’s Digest Facebook fanpage

    and our Twitter account for more contests like this in the future.

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

    .

    *********************************************************************************************************************************
    brian-klems-2013

    Brian 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: @BrianKlemsWD Newsletter

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