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Results 26 - 50 of 14,683
26. Four Tips for Writing for the Romance Market

After writing literary short fiction and then six contemporary novels, my then-agent told me to go henceforth and write a romance. A romance? I thought. Really?

After more discussion, I thought what a lark! What a gas! How fun and surely, how easy. I was under the assumption that I could write a romance in my sleep, no matter I hadn’t read one since 1978, the last being the classic The Flame and the Flower. Yes, of course, I could do that. And wasn’t Jane Austen my favorite writer? And wasn’t Pride and Prejudice just a romance at its core?

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howtobake-5_5x8_5 Jessica-authorphotoThis guest post is by Jessica Barksdale Inclán, author of the new novel, How to Bake a Man (Ghostwood Books/October 2014) as well as twelve critically acclaimed books, including the best-selling Her Daughter’s Eyes (YALSA Award Nominee), The Matter of Grace, and When You Believe. Her work had been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and Czech. Her short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in or are forthcoming in Compose, Salt Hill Journal, The Coachella Review, Carve Magazine, Storyacious, Mason’s Road, and So to Speak. She is the recipient of Californian Arts Council Fellowship in Literature and a professor of English at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California and teaches online novel writing for UCLA Extension. For more info, visit www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com.
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Yes, dear reader, you can already sense the conflict in my tale. Writing a romance (just like writing anything other than emails to friends) isn’t easy. In fact, I had to read every romance in my local library, sitting at the tables or slumped in the stacks. During my impromptu self-paced class, I learned a lot about plot and story from the romance writers. While I’m not writing romance these days, the lesson of action, conflict, climax (and then some) are lessons I use to this day.

After discarding my false notions about writing romance, I realized that many writers have assumptions about genres they haven’t even tried to write. Once a romance writer I met at a conference told me, nose up, that she never read literary fiction. “Nothing ever happens,” she said.

At a recent workshop, two literary writers compared romance novel excerpts to literary fiction and nonfiction selections. “How can you compare apples and watermelons?” I asked them. “These writers are doing something else!”

Frankly, I was appalled by all three writers. Literary or romantic, all writing has something to teach us. So when I decided to try my hand at “chick lit,” I knew I would bring all my lessons with me. But then I added to the list. Here’s what I know after finishing How to Bake a Man.

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

1. Don’t write down to your audience.

While I might have had about a week’s worth of “romance is so easy,” I was wrong. All audiences are savvy in their preferred genre, and it’s not a good idea to insult them. Take as much time and care as you would with any writing project. Don’t decide that now you can use all the adverbs you want. Now is not the time to slip in your, “Meanwhile, across towns” and “Little did she knows.” Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back isn’t all there is to a love story of any kind. We all respond to good writing, regardless of genre.

 

2. Everything that you are embarrassed about–your failures, your social fax pas–are what we, the audience, want to read about. We relate.

There’s something endearing about main characters who are down-and-out, unlucky in love and life, struggling to figure out how to just keep going. The shame of not succeeding, of having very bad internet dating experiences, of fighting with parents and siblings, of getting fired, again, is what we also know and understand. Don’t bemoan writing what you know if you know all this. We do, too. And we thank you for putting it out there.

 

3. Don’t write expecting your mother to approve (I know, Mom. I know). We’ve all tried to get our mothers to approve of us and that hasn’t worked. Write as if Mom is on an extended vacation.

I understand if you haven’t explained to your mother the vagaries of dating. The slightly seedy one-night stands. Being stood up at Starbucks and spending a half-hour talking to the homeless veteran on crutches (Yes, me. And I used this situation in a short story). But those experiences transformed to fiction can lead you deeper into your character and plot. Maybe not to your mother’s heart. But she really doesn’t have to know about it.

[Understanding Book Contracts: Learn what’s negotiable and what’s not.]

4. Small ideas (baking cookies, for instance) can lead to bigger ideas.

On Facebook recently, I was playing around with wild, blown up, ridiculous plot synopses. Here’s a bit of one of them:

Young vampire with leftist leanings searches for hope in the underworld. Little does he know, across town in heaven, a werewolf vixen with a penchant for blood pins her hopes on him after a chance sighting in the ether.

Wow. Where to even begin with that one? So start small. I started How to Bake a Man with cookies. My great-grandmother’s recipe, in fact. I thought about all I learned from my mother and what she learned from my grandmother. I thought about all that female power in the act of rolling out dough, just as women have been rolling out door for generations. Then I imagined a young woman just ripe and ready to change her life. Cookies. That was the thing.

So you don’t have to have the topic du jour, the platform of perfection, the weirdest of weird. Try with what is around you and see what happens next.

Writing in many genres has helped me fill my toolbox. Poetry, short stories, fiction of all kinds. I feel lucky to know enough to pull out a metaphor when I need to and a sex scene when necessary. I hope my list helps you, no matter what you’re writing.

On Writing RomanceIn This Book You’ll Learn:

— Detailed descriptions of more than 20 subcategories within the romance genre
— Tips for avoiding clichés
— How to create the perfect romantic couple
— Guidelines for drafting those all-important love scenes
— Submission information for breaking into the genre

CLICK HERE to download ON ROMANCE WRITING Now >>

 

 

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

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

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

 

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27. 15 Oscar Wilde Quotes About Reading, Writing and Books

IH001260Poet, playwright and novelist Oscar Wilde was born October 16, 1854 in Dublin. While his most famous works, The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest, live on, Wilde is most frequently remembered for his wit. Here are 15 of his best quotes for writers, readers and artists in honor of his 160th birthday.

 

1. All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.

2. I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

3. If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.

4. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written.

5. The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.

6. An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.

7. The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.

8. I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works.

9. A poet can survive everything but a misprint.

10. Actions are the first tragedy in life, words are the second. Words are perhaps the worst. Words are merciless.

11. In old days books were written by men of letters and read by the public. Nowadays books are written by the public and read by nobody.

12. I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.

13. With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?

14. The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates.

15. A writer is someone who has taught his mind to misbehave.

If yours isn’t listed, share your favorite Wilde bon mot in the comments!


headshotWDAdrienne Crezo is the managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine. Follow her on Twitter @a_crezo.

 

 

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28. Sky Diving

The last thing you remember hearing before your friend thrust you out of the plane was: “Don’t forget your parachute!” That would be nice, though, instead of falling, you immediately begin hurtling upwards. With the stratosphere slowly approaching and your air running out, what do you do?

writing-promptsWant more creative writing prompts?

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

Order now from our shop.

 

 

 

 

 

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29. Query Question: I also have this other project

Dear Duchess of Sharkington,

I'm currently querying a thriller, but I'm also working on a collection of dystopian sci-fi short stories. I can't imagine one agent being interested in both, so if I nab an agent with the thriller, how will she feel about me self-publishing the short stories? Is that taboo? 

I'm not sure why you are assuming an agent who likes thrillers will not be an agent who likes dystopian sci-fi short stories.

In fact, on my list you'll find:








and you'll also find








I don't think that kind of diversity is the exception these days.

When an agent is interested in your work, you'll mention the other project. Some agents are quite ok with their clients self-pubbing things, others not so much.  You'll want to work with one who is.  But never assume that your work can't be sold either. 

When I sign a client, I sign them for all their work. Sometimes that means calling in a co-agent. Sometimes it means getting help from friends. Sometimes it means things don't work out and the client needs a new agent.  All of these things have happened.  Cross the bridge when you get there.



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30. Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 284

Before we get into today’s prompt, two things:

  1. I need to get a hold of Alana Sherman and Cameron Steele for their bios in the Poem Your Heart Out anthology/prompt/workbook. If you know how to contact them (or if you are them), please send me an e-mail at robert.brewer@fwcommunity.com. Thanks!
  2. Walter J. Wojtanik (a former Poetic Asides Poet Laureate and currently awesome poet) just released a collection of poems: Dead Poet… Once Removed. Click here to learn more and grab a copy of your very own.

For today’s prompt, write a pick up poem. In the poem, you could write about picking stuff up–like operating a crane or cleaning a bedroom. Or it could be about picking up someone at a bar. Or picking up the pace. Or whatever else you happen to pick up…on. Have fun!

*****

Write a poem for a chance at $1,000!

Writer’s Digest is offering a contest strictly for poets with a top prize of $1,000, publication in Writer’s Digest magazine, and a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market. There are cash prizes for Second ($250) and Third ($100) Prizes, as well as prizes for the Top 25 poems.

The deadline is October 31.

Click here to learn more.

*****

Here’s my attempt at a Pick Up Poem:

“Disco Dracula”

Hey, baby, what’s your blood type?
You may be type O negative,
but you look type A to me.

Sorry, I don’t get out much
and when I do I have to
watch the time like Cinderella.

I do like walks in the park,
especially after dark,
but I’m not into watching

the sun rise. Or even set,
though that’s usually when I get
up and do my groove thing.

Yes, burn, baby, burn, that’s
why I avoid sunlight–
so that I can survive

off the village people
who hang near the YMCA
down in the funky town.

I agree; I’m a super freak
who can’t get enough of
your love, babe, please

don’t leave me this way.

*****

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 is sometimes a little more slap happy than your typical poet and reads his poems in the voice of Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula (just because).

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

Find more poetic goodies here:

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31. 10 Tips for Fiction Writers from the 2015 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market

9781599638416_5inch_300dpiThe 2015 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, now in its 34th year, is hot off the presses, and today I’m sharing ten pieces of advice from the contributors to this year’s edition. NSSWM features articles on fiction craft, getting published, and marketing and promotion, as well as more than 400 pages of listings for novel and short story writers, including literary agents, book publishers, magazines, and contests that are interested in your work. This year’s edition also features access to an exclusive webinar from best-selling author Cheryl St.John, on exploring emotional high points in fiction.

To celebrate the release of the 2015 NSSWM, I’m giving away two copies to two lucky winners who comment in the post below! I’ll announce the winners on October 22. 

10 FICTION-WRITING TIPS FROM NSSWM

1. On writing an exceptional short story:

“Outline, even if it’s the most rudimentary way. It leads to inspired deviations. … [Don’t] think too hard about ticking off [your] boxes in advance. A good story—long or short—will provide them by virtue of its being good.” —Andrew Pyper, in Jennifer D. Foster’s article “Anatomy of a Successful Short Story”

2. On writing dialogue within a scene: 

“Rich dialogue can animate and drive a scene. But good dialogue doesn’t act in isolation. The point of view of the stakeholders in the matter at hand must be provocative or interesting in some way. There must be conflict—conflict important enough to make the reader care. And then, driven by this conflict, the characters must come alive, revealing their needs, desires, flaws—their basic humanity. The dialogue itself must be distinctive and original. When it’s not working, it tends to sound clunky and artificial.” —Jack Smith, “Writing Strong Scenes”

3. On finding ideas for magic realism: 

“Ever since I began writing, I’ve been a collector. Not of things—shells, stamps, figurines, stuffed monkeys, autographs, etc.—but of possibilities. Odd happenings and images from around the world and in my dreams that could—and often do—make their way into my writing. While many might be considered mundane observances, paired with the right character in the right situation, I know they’ll make terrifically fantastic occurrences. —Kristin Bair O’Keeffe, “Making Magic”

4. On getting through the mid-draft slump: 

“A mid-draft slump is a symptom, which calls for a diagnosis before you can effectively treat it. Believing you can write your way out of this mess, that you can rescue the middle with a strong closing act, is a seductive trap, because your reader may never make it that far. When that reader is an agent or an editor, this assumption becomes a fatal one.” —Larry Brooks, “Stuck in the Middle”

5. On developing a distinct point of view and voice: 

“Practice makes perfect, and the best way to practice is by writing short stories. Flash fiction (telling a full story in 1,000 words or less) is a great training tool.” —J.T. Ellison, in Janice Gable Bashman’s interview “Capturing Readers’ Interest”

6. On Twitter “pitch parties”: 

“As informal as social media can be, Brenda Drake emphasizes that writers need to treat pitch parties as professionally as any other submission. ‘Your manuscript should be completely polished. It has to have been through your beta readers and critique partners, and you should have revised it a few times,’ she says.” —Diane Shipley, “It Started With a Hashtag”

7. On what impresses literary journal editors: 

“I’m impressed by a writer who takes our theme, shakes it around, and throws it back at us in a way we were not expecting. Catching us off guard with good writing is rewarding. We all know what we want, but when we come across something we didn’t expect, something that cuts in a new and exciting way, that is a great way to attract attention.” —Todd Simmons, in James Duncan’s roundtable “What Literary Journals Really Look For”

8. On how to choose a small press to submit to: 

“Evaluate the content. If a small press is consistently putting out quality writing, chances are it has a solid editorial team. The amount of time it’s been in existence and its general reputation are helpful indicators, too.” —Robert Lee Brewer, “Sizing Up Small Presses”

9. On hybrid publishing: 

“Diversity means survival. That’s true in agriculture. It’s true in our stock portfolios. It’s true on our dinner plates. And it’s true in publishing. Survival as a writer means embracing diversity from the beginning. And that means thinking of yourself as a “hybrid” author. … The hybrid author takes a varied approach, utilizing the traditional system of publishing and acting as an author-publisher (a term I prefer to self-publisher because it signals the dual nature of the role you now inhabit).”  —Chuck Wendig, “Best of Both Worlds”

10. On organizing a virtual book tour: 

“You may find it helpful to assemble an ‘online media kit,’ a section of your website where you can provide photos and other relevant information, such as a video trailer and press release, in one location. This way, you can give your hosts a single link instead of inundating them with attachments … .” —Erika Dreifus, “10 Tips for Your Virtual Book Tour”

You can find the articles these tips came from, as well as hundreds of listings for book publishers, literary agents, magazines, contests, and writing conferences, inside the 2015 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market.

To celebrate the release of the 2015 NSSWM, I’m giving away two copies to two lucky winners who comment in the post below! I’ll announce the winners on October 22. 

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32. Meet Jessica Alvarez


Jessica Alvarez
Literary Agent, BookEnds





Tagline:  Whipping novels into submission.*
*Special thanks to Peter Senftleben for coming up with the tag line

If your dream submission were to arrive in your inbox today what would it be? I have to admit, my tastes are fickle. Today’s dream submission could be different than tomorrow’s.  I have an eclectic list, and that variety is really what makes me love my job so much.  Right this very second, I’d love to find some sexy, funny contemporary romances with great hooks and great writing.  It should be so funny that it would be dangerous for me to drink and read at the same time.  

Book Concepts you never really want to see in your inbox: I’m typically turned off by sports-themed books, books with protagonists in the performing arts (musicians, actors, ballerinas), and those with chefs.  But I should never say never.  I’ve sold books I love that contain all of those.  Andrea Laurence’s FACING THE MUSIC has a rock star heroine.  Melissa Cutler got me twice with a chef heroine in THE TROUBLE WITH COWBOYS and a trio of hockey playing heroes in her Bomb Squad series. 

What was the last book you read and what did you think of it?  ONE KICK by Chelsea Cain.  I really enjoyed it. I’m a fan of tough, kick-ass heroines who are complicated and damaged, and Chelsea delivered that for me.  The heroine has a slightly shady romantic interest, and I’m also attracted to books that have morally ambiguous characters.  Minerva Koenig’s NINE DAYS is a perfect example from my list of a book that has all those elements.

If you're going all out, calories don't count, what's your Starbucks treat of choice?  Oooh, a toffee nut latte with a drizzle of caramel and sea salt. And whipped cream.  Just writing those words is making me want one...

If you could move your office anywhere in the world where would you like to work from?  It’s a tie between a villa in Tuscany with a view of an olive grove out my office window, or the beach.  I’m lucky that I get to work on books that could be beach reads all year round, so why not have my environment match the work?



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33. Query question: writing with style versus writing "right"



Some time ago, I saw a fascinating article on Writer's Digest online site, called something like "The Difference Between Writing with Style and Writing Incorrectly." Sadly, I didn't get the chance to read it and now I can't find it.

We've all heard of the Old West style battles between editors and writers, and it got me thinking. Is there really a difference between writing incorrectly and writing with style? The great Stephen King once said, "You must know the rules of writing so you can effectively break them." What's your perspective on writing with style vs. writing correctly? Is there a difference, and what is it? Example(s)?


This reminds me of an old New Yorker cartoon. An elderly grammar puritan has helpfully corrected Elvis lyrics: "You are nothing but an old hound dog."


Elvis had style, Grammar Lady was "correct."
Which do you prefer?

Sometime back I was proofing a client's manuscript and came across some truly dreadful grammar. Knowing my client was meticulous, I flagged it and asked. Sure enough, the "wrong" was on purpose. Not all characters speak in perfectly organized sentences and use all the right words.

Dern tootin', they don't.

You won't catch too many gun slinging moonshiners in the hollers of Kentucky asking for whom the bell tolls.

I tried to find further examples for this, but I couldn't. I'll bet the comment column will scare up some though.

And it's not so much editors who engage in fisticuffs on this topic, it's copyeditors. They've had style trained right out of them, and that's ok with me. Someone needs to know that a double Axel isn't the same thing as a double axle.

Dern tootin.

The trick is, as Stephen King points out, doing this on purpose. If it's on purpose, it fits. If it's by mistake, it's often very jarring. 



















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34. Correction: October 2014 Issue, “Find Your Agent Match”

In the annual agent roundup (October 2014 issue), John Willig of Literary Services Inc. was incorrectly listed as accepting a variety of fiction. Willig specializes in nonfiction. His full and accurate listing is as below.


John Willig
Literary Services, Inc.
literaryservicesinc.com
@JohnWillig

He is seeking: He works primarily in nonfiction (narrative and prescriptive): business, finance, personal growth, health, history, science and technology, psychology, politics and current events are of particular interest but certainly open to fresh presentations in other topic zones. He is also beginning to represent historical fiction—literary and crime/thriller.

How to submit: Send a concise e-mail that addresses two questions: 1) What is going to motivate a buyer/reader to spend $20-25 on your new book given all of their information choices? And by choices, address not just competing/related books but also think WebMD, HBR, HuffPo, blogs etc. This is especially relevant today for prescriptive nonfiction. 2) What is it about yourself and all of your professional activities and network that is going to convince an editor/publisher (and their marketing/PR group) that you will be an active promotion partner helping to reach potential buyers and extend the word of mouth buzz about your book in a very crowded and noisy global marketplace?

Recent sales: Speaking Politics: Decoding the Language of Washington, by Chuck McCutheon and David Mark, Speaking (University Press of New England, nonfiction); A Winner’s Guide to Negotiating, by Molly Fletcher (McGraw-Hill, nonfiction); Self-Care for Therapists, by Ashley Bush Davis (Norton, nonfiction).

Tip for writers: “I note at many writers’ conferences that I’m not just evaluating talent, potential and content but also character. Who I am working with and how they conduct themselves is critical and most experienced editors feel the same way. That being said, I always respect a writer who has done their homework—really focusing on what makes their work unique to a target audience vs. just stating that their book will be of broad appeal and is going to sell as well as all the bestsellers.”


Our sincerest apologies to Mr. Willig, our subscribers and readers. Please visit literaryservicesinc.com for more information.

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35. Happy Book Birthday to STITCHING SNOW!

My author R.C.Lewis first described STITCHING SNOW to me as "Snow White in space... if Snow were a cage-fighting tech-head with daddy issues." How could I not want to read that? And now YOU can, too, as STITCHING SNOW officially hits shelves today!


Seventeen-year-old Essie can take care of herself. She knows how to stitch up robotic drones so the men in the mining settlement remember she's worth keeping around. She knows how to use her fists to make sure they keep their hands off her. But all her self-preservation skills don't tell her how to deal with Dane, a boy who's depending on her to get his crashed shuttle off the icy ground of her desolate planet and flying again.

Dane's polite, chivalrous, even a little charming, and he gives Essie the kind of attention she's never had. She begins to trust him, which is a new (and terrifying!) feeling for her. But then he discovers her secret. She's a Princess who has been missing for years, and there will be a rich reward for returning her to her kingdom. One betrayal later, he's taking her home whether she likes it or not, to exchange for captives held by Essie's father the King. What Dane doesn't know is Essie wasn't kidnapped all those years ago... she ran away. And bringing her back home just might kill her.

STITCHING SNOW is fast-paced, voicey debut YA that will appeal to both SF fans and "people who don't think they like Science Fiction" - and Essie is a brilliant, tough little sweetheart of a character you won't soon forget.

Buy the book at your local independent bookstore via IndieBound, or at Oblong, Powells, Book Depository, B+N or Amazon, or wherever fine books are sold.

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36. Tips and Inspiration to Write a Book in a Month

http://www.writersdigestshop.com/writers-digest-november-december-2014-groupedOne of the things I love about working at Writer’s Digest is the excitement each time a new issue hits newsstands. And it’s especially true with the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest–because this special guide to Writing a Book in a Month arrives just in time for November’s National Novel Writing Month challenge. Regardless of whether you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, counting down 30 Days to Your Novel on your own schedule, or simply looking to write your next draft faster, this is an issue you won’t want to miss.

Find Writing Inspiration and Confidence

As a parent of both a baby and a toddler, I am surrounded by constant reminders that a lot can happen in a month. Still, it never fails to astonish me. A reliance on wriggling as a means of transportation turns into a full-speed crawl on all fours. A tearful transition to a new preschool becomes an over-the-shoulder wave in a rush to join new friends around the train table. Skills grow or are replaced by new ones, routines change, habits are formed or dropped.

As I compiled the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest, filled with stories of big triumphs over short periods of time, it occurred to me that as adults, we don’t lose that ability to transform ourselves or our work—but we do tend to forget that we have it. And what a shame that is. Know this: Deep down, we are capable of taking more than baby steps. If we set our minds to it, we can cross major milestones in leaps and bounds. And that goes for our writing, too.

Writing a book in a month might sound a little crazy. In a way, I think that’s part of its allure—because write-a-thon challenges are steadily gaining in popularity. Every November 1, National Novel Writing Month’s online hub at NaNoWriMo.org draws nearly half a million writers worldwide in an attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. As NaNoWriMo director Grant Faulkner shares in this issue’s article “What Makes NaNoWriMo Work,” that solidarity is a big part of what keeps the challenge growing every year. Because no matter how hard you have (or haven’t) trained to prepare for this marathon, once the starting pistol fires everyone is pretty much in the same pack, throwing caution to the wind and cheering one another in one big, messy sprint to the far-away finish.

Of course, you don’t need a worldwide event to take a book-in-a-month challenge. And you don’t need to be writing a novel. Solo writers, partners and groups of all stripes do word count marathons year-round. We reached out to these writers and asked them to share their most profound lessons learned, and you’ll find the best of their firsthand advice in “Plan Your Own Write-a-Thon.” (In fact, we got more great advice than we had space to print! Read more tips and tales from the writing community in our online-exclusive outtakes, Write a Book in a Month: More Writers Share Their Experience & Advice.)

Once all that inspiration has you writing up a frenzy, we wanted to make sure you have some roadside assistance ready to help when you start to run out of gas—and that’s where Elizabeth Sims’ “21 Fast Hacks to Fuel Your Story With Suspense” comes in.

Your book idea might be in its infancy now, but take it from me—with some extra attention on your part, soon it can be surprising and delighting you with its strength, determination and newfound ability to stand on its own two feet, grinning from ear to ear.

Conquer Your Word Count Goals

Are you planning to participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo? Looking to up your daily word counts just a bit in solidarity with those who are? We’d love to hear about your writing goals–leave a comment below to keep the conversation going!

Get your copy of the Write a Book in a Month! issue on your favorite newsstand, or download the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest right now.

Happy Writing,
Jessica Strawser
Editor, Writer’s Digest Magazine
Follow me on Twitter @jessicastrawser.

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37. Tips and Inspiration to Write a Book in a Month

http://www.writersdigestshop.com/writers-digest-november-december-2014-groupedOne of the things I love about working at Writer’s Digest is the excitement each time a new issue hits newsstands. And it’s especially true with the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest–because this special guide to Writing a Book in a Month arrives just in time for November’s National Novel Writing Month challenge. Regardless of whether you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, counting down 30 Days to Your Novel on your own schedule, or simply looking to write your next draft faster, this is an issue you won’t want to miss.

Find Writing Inspiration and Confidence

As a parent of both a baby and a toddler, I am surrounded by constant reminders that a lot can happen in a month. Still, it never fails to astonish me. A reliance on wriggling as a means of transportation turns into a full-speed crawl on all fours. A tearful transition to a new preschool becomes an over-the-shoulder wave in a rush to join new friends around the train table. Skills grow or are replaced by new ones, routines change, habits are formed or dropped.

As I compiled the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest, filled with stories of big triumphs over short periods of time, it occurred to me that as adults, we don’t lose that ability to transform ourselves or our work—but we do tend to forget that we have it. And what a shame that is. Know this: Deep down, we are capable of taking more than baby steps. If we set our minds to it, we can cross major milestones in leaps and bounds. And that goes for our writing, too.

Writing a book in a month might sound a little crazy. In a way, I think that’s part of its allure—because write-a-thon challenges are steadily gaining in popularity. Every November 1, National Novel Writing Month’s online hub at NaNoWriMo.org draws nearly half a million writers worldwide in an attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. As NaNoWriMo director Grant Faulkner shares in this issue’s article “What Makes NaNoWriMo Work,” that solidarity is a big part of what keeps the challenge growing every year. Because no matter how hard you have (or haven’t) trained to prepare for this marathon, once the starting pistol fires everyone is pretty much in the same pack, throwing caution to the wind and cheering one another in one big, messy sprint to the far-away finish.

Of course, you don’t need a worldwide event to take a book-in-a-month challenge. And you don’t need to be writing a novel. Solo writers, partners and groups of all stripes do word count marathons year-round. We reached out to these writers and asked them to share their most profound lessons learned, and you’ll find the best of their firsthand advice in “Plan Your Own Write-a-Thon.” (In fact, we got more great advice than we had space to print! Read more tips and tales from the writing community in our online-exclusive outtakes, Write a Book in a Month: More Writers Share Their Experience & Advice.)

Once all that inspiration has you writing up a frenzy, we wanted to make sure you have some roadside assistance ready to help when you start to run out of gas—and that’s where Elizabeth Sims’ “21 Fast Hacks to Fuel Your Story With Suspense” comes in.

Your book idea might be in its infancy now, but take it from me—with some extra attention on your part, soon it can be surprising and delighting you with its strength, determination and newfound ability to stand on its own two feet, grinning from ear to ear.

Conquer Your Word Count Goals

Are you planning to participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo? Looking to up your daily word counts just a bit in solidarity with those who are? We’d love to hear about your writing goals–leave a comment below to keep the conversation going!

Get your copy of the Write a Book in a Month! issue on your favorite newsstand, or download the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest right now.

Happy Writing,
Jessica Strawser
Editor, Writer’s Digest Magazine
Follow me on Twitter @jessicastrawser.

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38. Memoir or Novel? 8 Issues to Think About Before Writing Your Own Story

As the novel consultant, I am often asked how a writer should tell his or her story. I work with clients in both novel and memoir, using similar structural techniques to develop a compelling story. I truly believe that both forms are ideal ways in which to tell your personal story. The choice is up to you.

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Whatamotherknows LEHRauthorphotoThis guest post is by Leslie Lehr who is a manuscript consultant and the prizewinning author of six books, including her literary thriller, What A Mother Knows. She speaks at conferences from New Orleans to Newport Beach and teaches at the Writers Program at UCLA as well as for Truby Writers Studio. Leslie has been subscribing to Writers Digest for 25 years and considers it her go-to source for writing tips. For more, go to www.leslielehr.com.

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

Only recently did I realize that my genre jumping work was proof of this. During a conference interview, Mary Manzel, Director of the California Center for the Book, asked what would develop from my NY Times Modern Love essay. She had read all of my books, essays and scripts – my entire ouvre. I hadn’t realized I had one, until she pointed out a pattern. Beginning with Welcome to Club Mom, a nonfiction book, “I Hate Everybody”, an essay for the infamous Mommy Wars, and my recent literary thriller, What A Mother Knows, I’ve been exploring the challenges of modern motherhood for twenty years.

Essentially, she tapped into my method of using creative nonfiction as a springboard for fiction. To be honest, I have written a memoir, but it was painful for family members, so I put it in a drawer. I never regretted it, because I fictionalized some of the important themes in my next novel. In fact, when I faced mortality recently, I could honestly say that I would be satisfied if What A Mother Knows was my last book. Here’s why: all the important ideas I have about love are woven into this literary thriller. Go figure!

W7839In the middle of writing your memoir or thinking about writing it?
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If you are torn between memoir and novel, here are eight advantages of each:

NOVEL

Since every element is designed to express an emotional truth…..

  1. It may be easier emotionally to write.
  2. You don’t have to remember everything that really happened.
  3. You can rewrite history.
  4. You can include events you did not witness.
  5. You can protect yourself and others.
  6. You can create a more vivid story.
  7. You can explore personal issues on a larger framework.
  8. You can create characters and events, expand real ones, and magnify themes.

MEMOIR

Since every event is revealed to express the true emotion…

  1. You can explore the real truth behind what happened.
  2. You may find it easier to tell a real story than to make one up.
  3. The writing can be prompt a profound understanding of your life.
  4. You can frame the story dramatically to focus on a particular theme.
  5. You can shape the story by expanding or compressing time.
  6. You can use more internal narrative to reflect on events.
  7. The story may gain or meaning as time passes.
  8. You can write about one event now and write more memoirs later.

If you’re wondering whether to tell you story in memoir or novel form, there is no wrong answer. The choice is up to you!

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

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

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

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

 

 

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39. Meet Kim Lionetti



Kim Lionetti
Literary Agent, BookEnds




Tagline:  Puts the “chic” in book geek and the “bestseller” in storyteller…

What book characters would you want to have as your love interest, best friend and arch nemesis? 
Love interest — Darcy is too easy an answer, so i’m going with Julian McCabe from Phyllis Whitney’s SNOWFIRE, because he’s dark, enigmatic and damaged, just like I like all of my heroes.  Plus he’s got a cool house with a tower.

Best friend — Cassie Sullivan from Rick Yancey’s THE 5TH WAVE, because she’s kinda insecure but still kickass and would totally come in handy in an alien apocalypse.

Arch nemesis —  Tracy Flick from Tom Perrotta’s ELECTION.  There’s nothing I hate more than stuck-up know-it-alls, so I’d love to be the one to take her down a notch.  But then again I’d probably eventually feel sorry for her and take her under my wing.

What movie could you watch a thousand times and never get sick of?  Hey Girl, I could never get too much of Ryan Gosling in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”

What’s the number one thing that jumps out at you in a submission that you’re loving?  Dynamic characters.  When an author can make me believe that the darkest most tortured hero or the funniest, most outrageous heroine or the quirkiest, most lovable sidekick is real, they have me hooked. 

What genre of books/movies is your cup of tea?  I’m not sure I have one.  I have eclectic tastes, but generally, I like anything that makes me feel.  If I laugh my butt off, cry my eyes out or jump out of my skin, then I am a fan.

What books/movies do you stay away from? Personally, I’m not a fan of anything that screams “Look at me!  I’m clever, clever!”   I’m turned off by any form of entertainment that makes me feel as if it was created more for self-interest than for an audience.  That’s pretty much why I hated “Being John Malkovich” and “Inception."

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40. Query Question: The definitive, absolute, no more question about it post on Word Count


Can you please give a definitive answer about word count. While I understand 100K is way too much for most genres, what is too little? Is anything under 80K, for mainstream fiction, too little and instant rejection?

Has NaNo, with its 50K word counts, killed chances for hopefuls in that range?

100K isn't "way too much" for most genres. It's right on the mark for many, and too few for a couple others.


Here's the rundown:
Sweeping, epic fantasy: 150K at a minimum. You can't do it right in less.
Sweeping, epic, historical fiction: 120 at a minimum. More is better.

Science fiction novels: 75-125K

Romance novels:65-100K
Womens' fiction: 100K and up

Crime novels: 80-100K
Thrillers: 80-100K
Noir novels: 65K and up but only double digits here, not triple.



YA: 65-100K
MG: 50K

Picture books: fewer than 2000 words


While NaNoMo sets a goal of 50K, that's for your FIRST DRAFT. Get that draft on paper and then go back and see where you need to develop the story, develop the character.


If you can't see where you need to expand, give it to a beta reader and ask where they have questions, or felt like they hadn't gotten enough story.


The bottom line is word count isn't something you want to worry about till revisions. Use enough words, and no more, to tell the story fully and completely.You have to be WAY WAY outside the paramenters on word count before it's an auto rejection. And even then, if your pages are well written and taut, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt.  Worry less about how many words you've got than do you have the RIGHT words.

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41. Book Review: Bev Stowe McClure's STAR OF THE TEAM

Right from the title, I had a hunch that this would be an excellent book. Why? Haven’t most of us while growing up daydreamed about being “the star of the team”? It’s a universal desire. Then I read the dedication, which I always do to find out where the author’s heart is. After I read Beverly Stowe McClure’s dedication, I knew this would be one of her best efforts as a writer ever. I wasn’t wrong.

Because the basketball action was described perfectly—plenty of action, and no needless words, I knew that I was on the right path for a good read. Right on that first page I was introduced to many of the important characters, and one of the book’s major conflicts. One line stood out showing how well the author knows kids and how to appeal to their reading taste: “She looked as if she’d swallowed up a bug and was about to puke the thing up.” Now, I knew my granddaughter, Megan, would love this book because a little grossness goes a long way with young readers.

Good writing goes a long way, too. This novel is action-packed from the get-go. I think that Beverly Stowe McClure is half author, half sportscaster, and half star basketball player, (I hope you caught a little humor there.) But what I said is absolutely true. The author really knows the game of basketball, and kids. Those are two elements that really make this book a fun-read,

Speaking of humor, that’s another quality of the book: it is laced with humor along the way to the championship game.  And Kate struggles with staying true to her good values or being narrow-minded and negative. We are never sure how it’s all going to turn out, especially after she has a major setback. And the author provides us with a number of surprises before we sit down for the final game of the season.

I liked all of the characters, especially Kate, Emily, Coach Mom and Ray. They always talk like real people, thus creating very believable characters and a story to remember. There are lessons to be gathered from this novel. They reveal themselves in a subtle way as you read the book, lessons that I hope all my grandchildren know such as: life is a team sport.

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42. 3 Tips For a Better First Revision

The first revision is probably the most important factor in sculpting your novel. One of my favorite quotes to express this idea is by Shannon Hale who wrote: “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” The first revision is the building of those sand castles. There are numerous tips to a successful rewrite, but I’ve found three that I’ve put at the top of my list to make my novel better.

Conflict check.

On my rewrite, I first do a conflict check. Kurt Vonnegut once wrote that every character in a scene should want something, even if it’s only a drink of water. On my first draft, I will usually focus on the main plot point of the scene. In doing so, I miss opportunities to add tension, great and small, to a chapter. On the rewrite, I ask myself: what does every character in that scene want, and what obstacles are standing in his or her way.

(Classifying Your Book: How to Research & Target Literary Agents.)

 

                        — Screen shot 2014-10-10 at 10.50.45 PM      Screen shot 2014-10-10 at 10.56.57 PM

Column by Allen Eskens, author of THE LIFE WE BURY (Seventh Street Books Oct.
2014), a debut thriller that Publishers Weekly called a “masterful debut” in a starred
review. Allen has been a criminal defense attorney for twenty years. He honed his
creative writing skills through the MFA program at Minnesota State University as well
as classes at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the Loft Literary Center in
Minneapolis. He is a member of the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime. Find him on Twitter.

 

 

I have an equation taped to my computer; it reads: “The greater the want + the greater the obstacle = greater conflict. Conflict = suspense.”

Suspense is a state of mental uncertainty. Readers have a need to resolve that uncertainty and will forge ahead to find resolution. Adding more tension and conflict creates page-turning prose. Rarely does my first draft take advantage of all of the opportunities for tension and conflict.

Transitions.

Another aspect of a first draft that I skimp on is my transition from one scene to another. In the haste to get the first draft on paper, I tend to jump abruptly from one plot point to the next. During the rewrite, I remind myself that transition paragraphs need to do more than move the reader from plot point to plot point. They should be eloquent and have a weight of their own.

Reading a novel is like kayaking down a river. Sometimes you shoot through rapids, bound up in the excitement of the action. Other times you float along admiring the beauty of the hills and wildlife. The pace of a novel is the balance between those two competing forces (between plot and scene). As I revise, I ask myself, do I want this paragraph to float through the valley or dive over rapids? If I am floating, I spend time on it, maybe go off on a tangent that deepens the character or enriches the scene. If I am heading for rapids, my focus should be on a shorter transition.

This is an opportunity to show your writing skill. The transition doesn’t have to be long, but it should be fresh. Take for example, the opening line from chapter four of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. She writes, “At seven the next morning the telephone rang. Slowly I swam up from the bottom of a black sleep.” A simple transition, beautifully written. In a first draft she might have written: “the phone woke me up at seven the next morning.” The small addition of “I swam up from the bottom of a black sleep” turns it from a standard transition to something enjoyable to read.

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

The “was” edit.

The third thing I include in my first revision is what I call my “was” edit. I use my word-find function to locate every time I used the word “was.” On my first draft, I tend to be lazy and describe things using “was.” “He was taller than me.” “She was standing on the porch, waiting for him.” These are passive voice, and they violate the “show, don’t tell” rule. But in the haste of the first draft, I will type “was” and move on.

In the rewrite, I revisit each time I use the word “was” and ask myself if there’s a better way to write the sentence. It could be as simple as changing “he was taller than me” to “he stood three inches taller than me.” Or it could be more elaborate, like changing “She was standing on the porch, waiting for him” to “She found herself pacing back and forth across the same porch planks that her mother walked thirty years earlier, waiting for a man to return from the war.” I could go even further and write a tangent about the mother that gives the reader insight into the daughter’s character. But, then again, sometimes “was” fits just right and no change is needed. At least by doing a “was” edit, I’ve forced myself to examine my choice.

There are so many other considerations to a first revision, and every writer should have their own method, but these three tips have helped me in my writing.

 

 

This guest column is a supplement to the
“Breaking In” (debut authors) feature of this author
in Writer’s Digest magazine. Are you a subscriber
yet? If not, get a discounted one-year sub here.

 

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

 

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43. October 13th, 2014

[...]

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44. More on graphing words and sentences


Why does one graph look more bouncy? BECAUSE YOU CHANGED THE UNITS ON THE Y-AXIS. If you graph all the data with the y-axis (the vertical axis) having the same units, lets say 60 words, both graphs will have similar bounciness. Ms Reid, I'm sorry to have to tell you like this: Your post is meaningless stupid crap. Please issue a correction.


I can appreciate you're probably annoyed as hell by people who get math wrong. There are a LOT of them these days. And people who use charts badly (more of them too..and sometimes  for nefarious purposes.) I myself have been driven to madness by "safety deposit box."  Thus I can appreciate that you saw those graphs, saw the "wrong" y-axis and briefly (we hope) lost your mind.

But, rather than respond to your vitriol, let me take a moment here to say it's clear that your email means I wasn't clear enough about the purpose of using the graphs.

The point of graphing your words per sentence is to see NOT to compare one book to another (ie one chart to another)  but to compare your sentences to each other. Thus, whatever number you put on the Y-axis (for you non-math types, that's the vertical one, the one that measures number of words) for your paragraphs is the right scale.

Here's the graph you would have preferred I use:



You can still see the point I was trying to make here, but it's a little more difficult. The blue lines
clearly show a much less rhythmic array than does the red line.

And remember, this is intended as a tool for declunking your sentences. It's not intended to show you right and wrong, it's designed to help you figure out if you're clunking.

If your sentences work, don't use it. If you're getting a lot of form rejections, try it.





And the next time you want to tell me I'm wrong about something, feel free. I'd prefer you not call my posts meaningless, stupid crap, particularly since you seem to be reading them too, but that's your choice. 




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45. Have a purrfect Sunday




It's getting cold, time for a nice cozy muffler!

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46. To Text or Not to Text: How Much Should Technology Show Up in Fiction?

It’s obvious that technology in the last ten years or so has changed our daily lives to an extreme. Cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, texting…on and on the list goes, and it’s growing every day.  The way we communicate has been utterly transformed. Face-to-face interactions have decreased, while gadget-to-gadget interactions have increased. What does all this mean for the writer? Especially regarding our characters, and the way they communicate with each other inside our stories?

First, I think writers have to learn to walk the tightrope of not letting technology interfere too greatly with characters or plot, while at the same time being realistic with it.  For instance, it would be unthinkable not to have a single mention of a character using a cell phone in a contemporary story.  But how much technology is too much? Two main points worth considering, when it comes to characters and technology:

(Chapter 1 cliches and overused beginnings — see them all here.)

 

Screen shot 2014-10-12 at 1.10.26 PMColumn by Traci Borum, writing teacher and native Texan who’s an avid reader of
women’s fiction. She also adores all things British and even owns a British dog (Corgi).
She’s also completely addicted to Masterpiece Theater–must be all those dreamy
accents!  Traci’s first novel, a romantic mystery titled PAINTING THE MOON, will be
published by Red Adept Publishing in June of 2014. (See the book trailer here.) It’s
the first book in her “Chilton Crosse” series. Connect with her on FB.

 

1) Character interaction is still better in person.

In real life: Let’s face it. Technology has created a new level of social rudeness. People tapping on phones in movie theaters or libraries, talking as loudly as they please, ignoring the scowls around them. I went out to dinner with an old friend last year, and he spent about eighty percent of the meal texting someone else!  I was too nice to call him out, but honestly, it was just plain rude. He was having at least three different conversations with people.  But I was the last one on the totem pole, even though I was right there in front of him, live, and in person!

In fiction: When I have two characters out to dinner, I’m probably going to forgo the sad reality of people texting at the table and ignoring each other, and instead allow my characters an actual conversation, face-to-face. (The exception, of course, is if I want to show that a character is rude, and therefore, I might have him/her texting the entire time. But unless there’s a purpose to technology being at that table, I’m going to push technology aside, to favor actual character interaction, no matter how old-fashioned it might feel).

2) Technology may hamper your plot choices and suspense.

In real life: Looking up a long-lost friend or sweetheart is as quick and easy as spending two minutes on an internet search or hopping on Facebook. Want to find that old boyfriend? Search for that long lost best friend you quit talking to in 1988? Just get online, do some quick searching, and voila!

In fiction: But what if I want a character’s search for someone to be slow? What if I want to let it simmer over 200 pages, have a character wonder and wait and second-guess herself as she tries—in vain—to find that lost love? It’s not realistic, in a contemporary story, to have her be out of touch with technology to the point that she doesn’t even attempt an internet search. So, I have to get creative. Draw out the search. Have her look for that person online, but come up empty (that still happens, so it’s in the realm of realism). Or, have her try and chicken out altogether.  In order to create tension, to have the reader wonder if/when a reunion will ever occur, I might even have that lost love be untraceable.

(Secrets to querying literary agents: 10 questions answered.)

Funny thing is, the inspiration for this blog post came from an old episode of Seinfeld. I watched an entire episode devoted to a movie theater fiasco. Elaine, Jerry, George, and Kramer were supposed to meet at the movies, but things got in the way. In a comedy of errors, cabs got stuck in traffic, movies sold out, and everyone ended up missing each other (and the movie!).

Of course, it took place in the early 90’s, when cell phones weren’t attached to everyone’s ear. And as I watched the episode, what cracked me up more than the episode itself was that I kept thinking, “If the characters could just whip out a cell phone and call each other, they could’ve all met up at the right time and the episode would be over in about thirty seconds.” In that case, a cell phone would’ve changed the course of the plot entirely!

Bottom line:  Using technology or not using it in your novels is completely up to you. There’s definitely a time and place for it in modern fiction (and, if it’s ignored completely, it can make the story feel unrealistic). Even better, writers can use technology to their advantage, to make a plot more compelling and suspenseful.  But that’s a blog entry for another day…

 

Agent Donald Maass, who is also an author
himself, is one of the top instructors nationwide
on crafting quality fiction. His recent guide,
The Fire in Fiction, shows how to compose
a novel that will get agents/editors to keep reading.

 

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

 

Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
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media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more.
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47. Literary Agent Spotlight: Tina Schwartz of The Purcell Agency

Read below to see an Agent Spotlight on Tina Schwartz of The Purcell Agency. She is actively seeking new clients who write children’s books.

 

tina-schwartz-literary-agent

 

About Tina: Literary Agent Tina P. Schwartz is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), and is the Co-Rep for her local chapter. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Columbia College (Chicago) in Marketing Communications. After a long career in Radio Sales and Marketing, she turned to her true passion, selling manuscripts. Schwartz started The Purcell Agency in July of 2012 after spending twelve years writing and marketing her own work, along with helping several others get published. She sold her first book contract in 2004, and sold ten nonfiction titles for one author to traditional publishers in the Teen and Youth markets. Since opening the agency, she has sold several middle grade and young adult novels, along with some nonfiction works for teens. You can read her blog here.

(What does that one word mean? Read definitions of unique & unusual literary words.)

She is seeking: Chapter books (all kinds except fantasy); Middle Grade (contemporary/realistic, sports, mystery, humor, multicultural, issue driven [no fantasy]); Young Adult (edgy, issues, contemporary/realistic, light romance, sports, mystery [no fantasy]). Tina is also seeking nonfiction Chapter books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult – all topics. She is not seeking: Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Paranormal or Picture Books submissions at this time.

How to submit: TPAqueries [at] gmail.com. Mention if you are a member of SCBWI. 

To submit nonfiction for a teen or grade school audience: Table of Contents + Intro and sample chapter, author’s credentials. To submit fiction: Query, 1st three chapters + synopsis. No attachments. Include sample work in body of e-mail.

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

 

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48. New Literary Agent Alert: Cassie Hanjian of Waxman Leavell Literary

Reminder: New literary agents (with this spotlight featuring Cassie Hanjian of Waxman Leavell Literary) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.

 

Cassie_Hanijan_literary-agent

 

About Cassie: Prior to joining Waxman Leavell as an acquiring agent this year, Cassie held positions at the Park Literary Group, where she specialized in author support and foreign rights, and at Aram Fox, Inc. as an international literary scout for publishers based outside the United States. She holds a B.A. in English/Creative Writing from the University of South Florida, a Graduate Certificate in Publishing from the University of Denver’s Publishing Institute and an M.S. in Publishing from Pace University. Follow her on Twitter: @Cjhanjian

Cassie is seeking: page-turning New Adult novels, plot-driven commercial and upmarket women’s fiction, historical fiction, psychological suspense, cozy mysteries and contemporary romance. In nonfiction, she’s looking for projects in the categories of parenting, mind/body/spirit, inspirational memoir, narrative nonfiction focusing on food-related topics and a limited number of accessible cookbooks. Cassie does not accept submissions in the following categories: science-fiction, fantasy, paranormal, Young Adult, Middle Grade, Children’s, literary fiction, poetry, and screenplays.

How to submit: Send a query letter only to cassiesubmit [at] waxmanleavell.com. Do not send attachments, though for fiction, you may include five to 10 pages of your manuscript in the body of the email.

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.

 

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49. Meet Jessica Faust

The first in a five part series introducing the BookEnds team.


Jessica Faust
President & Founder, BookEnds Literary Agency 


Tagline: I'm part Vampire, part Beast, all professional pain in the ass. 
**credit to Janet Reid and Kim Lionetti for helping create this tagline.

Book Concepts you can't resist: dark, creepy and different serial killers, magical realism ala Sarah Addison Allen, a never-seen-before cozy hook

Book Concepts you never really want to see in your inbox: anything to do with the mob/mafia, vampires, rockstar/muscian/actor heroes (or heroines)

If you're going all out, calories don't count, what's your Starbucks treat of choice? Definitely a decaf venti, 2 pump salted caramel mocha with whipped cream (iced if it's warm out) and since calories don't count I'd probably go for a cinnamon roll, chocolate croissant or, when in season, a cranberry bliss bar. Just reading this over gives me a stomach ache.

Name five things on your desk right now: royalty statements, a pint glass of water, L'Occitane hand cream, Publisher's Weekly, and my purple Montblanc pen.

If you could move your office anywhere in the world where would you like to work from? I love Sweden and Southern California and could happily live in both, but I think my dream office/home would be a cabin on a lake in Minnesota. I'm a Nice Viking Girl at heart.


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50. Think you're the first and only?

A recent query in my inbox laid claim to being "the first" of a certain kind of memoir. As it happened, I knew that was not the case.  I wrote back drawing her attention to the earlier book.  As you might imagine, the querier did not fall on this information with effusive thanks, return emails of kitten pictures or even silence.  Oh no, unasked for advice, particularly of the unwelcome sort generally get replies steeped in sulfur and singed at the edges.

Oh well.

The problem here of course is that if I know about the earlier book,  it's a good chance that most other agents will too.  And a quick search of the Amazon data base turns it up as well.

When you claim to be first or only, and I'm interested in your book, I dig around before I reply "yes, please send me your manuscript."

It's not so much it's a problem that you're NOT first, as that you are clearly sloppy in your thinking and research. Frankly, that's death for me in non-fiction. Non-fiction requires meticulous research and documentation.

I remember hearing the utterly amazing Robert Caro speak several years back and he just casually mentioned he'd checked with the Historian of the Senate six different times on a single fact, as he got more information about an event.  I would have stood up and screamed "that's how it's done" as if he'd hit a home run at Yankee Stadium, but we were in a library and librarians always have me on my best behavior.

So, what does this mean for you in your queries and writing?

Obviously it means do your research.  If you can't find books in your category, are you using the right category? And are you skimming rather than digging deep? And have you gone to your local library and found the reference librarian and asked for help?

If you're not sure you're the first or only, don't say you are.  Find another aspect of your story that distinguishes you from the pack. 


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