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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: kristi, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Why Having a Rock Star Agent Matters

The Benefits of Having a Great Agent

I'm sure you've all heard the warning that a bad agent is worse than no agent at all. I've read horror stories (and even heard in person from a best-selling author) about what happens when an agent goes bad and they have to start over and find a new agent. I've also read a lot online saying you don't even need an agent these days, especially if you plan to self-publish. I respectfully disagree. In fact, I went to a talk by a best-selling self-published author, and guess what she had? A top agent from a great literary agency. Another top-earning self-publisher just blogged about recently obtaining an agent for her books. Why? I'll discuss that in a minute. Overall, I agree that having no agent is better than having a bad agent...but having a rock star agent is golden. I know a little bit about this because I have a rock star agent *waves at Jessica* from a great literary agency. So here is how a fabulous agent can benefit both traditional and self-published authors:

1) Editorial relationships. A great agent has a wealth of publishing knowledge and solid relationships with editors, so they know who is be looking for a specific project. For instance, they know if an editor has been dying for a book about killer space monkeys, or conversely, if an editor will stab themselves if they see one more monkey story. Though I try to stay abreast of publishing industry news, I don't have the years of relationships with publishers that my agent does, and I'm so glad she knew exactly where to send my book (which sadly, does not involve killer space monkeys). Some self-publishers are pursuing the hybrid model, which involves having some books published traditionally while they self-publish others, and for any author who wants a traditional publishing deal, a reputable agent has access to publishing houses that don't allow non-agented submissions. 

2) They know books.  This might sound obvious, but it's true. Agents read a ton of queries (after doing my "query critiques for all" giveaway earlier this year, I have even more respect for the massive amount of work they do). They also read a lot of manuscripts and you know, actual books. The bottom line is that agents know books. They know what makes for a great story and can easily spot what works and what doesn't. Every suggestion my agent made for revising my book was spot-on. Her knowledge made my book better, and I'm not saying that just because the book sold to a great publisher...I'm truly satisfied that I created the best book I could.

3) Contract negotiations. Can you say "reversion of rights?" Yes, technically you don't "need" an agent to sign a publishing contract, but have you read one lately? I got a headache after seeing one paragraph. An agent knows their way around the technical language of the contract, and knows where to push for change (e.g. more money, reversion clauses, etc.) They will also likely be more successful in having those changes accepted than if the author negotiated themselves, because part of being a good agent involves killer negotiating skills. Could someone do this themselves if they spent enough time on it? Yes, but personally, I'd rather focus on writing. I have enough trouble negotiating bed time with my kiddos, and am happy to leave legal negotiations in my agent's capable hands.

I'm also including foreign rights in this category, and it's a big reason why some self-published authors either already have or desire an agent, even if they don't want a traditional publishing deal. I can't imagine the time and energy involved in navigating foreign rights contracts, nor do I want to. The agented self-published author I heard speak said that the foreign rights sales alone was the impetus for her to get an agent.

4) Trust. This one is more intangible but just as important (to me, anyway). The author-agent relationship is a business partnership, and if you don't have trust in your business partner, then you're screwed (and yes, that trust goes both ways). For the writer, it's important to feel like you have someone watching out for your best interests. Yes, an agent only makes money if your book sells, but I believe that most agents go into the business for the same reason that writers do--we are all passionate about books. Most agents only take on a book because they love it. They wouldn't devote hours of their time to something they didn't believe in. When you trust that your agent is competent and skilled, it frees you to focus on other things--you know, like writing (well, and marketing, but that's a whole other post).

What have I missed? Any other opinions out there from the agented or unagented?  

2 Comments on Why Having a Rock Star Agent Matters, last added: 10/9/2012
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2. Need an Agent?

If so, then get your loglines and manuscripts polished for Miss Snark's First Victim 3rd Annual Baker's Dozen Agent Auction. Agents will bid against each other to compete on your manuscript. Check out all the details over on Authoress' blog, but you need to have a completed manuscript to enter. She is accepting submissions for both young adult/middle grade and adult fiction (all genres except erotica). Best of luck to all who enter!

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3. How to Be An Olympic Writer

The Olympics are long gone, which is a very good thing for my writing. The nights of endless gymnastics, swimming, beach volleyball, diving, and track may or may not have affected my daily word count (okay, it totally did), but at least a few sports failed to suck me in (I'm looking at you, fencing and water polo). However, there was an upshot to the abnormal amount of time I spent in front of my television--I found tremendous inspiration in every athlete out there. I also noticed similarities between what it takes to be an Olympian and an Olympic writer:

1) Train. Those athletes didn't make it to the Olympics by saying, "I know I have it in me to be an Olympian," and then find excuses about how they didn't have enough time, money, etc. to put in the hours. Using Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours rule (if you haven't read Outliers, you should), these athletes have logged well over 10K hours in training. Michael Phelps should have gills from how much time he's spent underwater. How does an Olympic writer train? Certainly not by saying they know they "have a book in them...someday." They write. Then they write some more. Then what do they do? You get the idea.

2) Be persistent. Not every athlete qualifies for the Olympics on their first try. Those that make it to the Olympics don't always get gold--or medal at all--their first time there. I don't think that's a bad thing, as it can be a powerful motivator. Track star, Allyson Felix, took the silver in the 200m in Beijing. From 2008 until the 2012 Games in London, she trained her ass off and focused on being the very best she could be...and got her gold. Most athletes don't medal, but at least they knew they did the best they could do and were good enough to get to the Olympics. The lesson for writers? Never give up. Keep trying and get better. If your first book doesn't land you an agent or a book deal, keep trying. If you self-publish and the book doesn't sell well, keep trying. Go back to step 1) and push yourself to be the best writer you can be.

3) Hope for a little luck. Yep, even in the Olympic, sometimes winning a medal involves a bit of luck and good timing. I watched a noted BMX racer (yes, I watched BMX too--I told you I watched a lot o' Olympics) go down because of a crash in front of him. One swimmer might hit the touch pad a bit harder than another and get the faster time. Everyone has times when they feel they are "in the groove" and other times when things don't go their way. With the Olympics, athletes have only that one moment, and they better hope they are in the groove. Though not as intense, there is timing and luck involved with publishing too. Even publishers can't always predict which books will be a hit. Sometimes it takes hitting the right publisher, or the right audience, with the right idea at the right time. You don't have control over this, but you do have control over steps 1), 2), and 4), which makes this step more likely to fall into place.


4) Be a good sport. Whether an athlete won gold, bronze, or even nothing at all, most of them carried themselves with grace, poise and humility. Oscar Pitorius, the double amputee track star from South Africa, didn't medal but stood out as an Olympic hero. McKayla Maroney demonstrated great humor over the attention she's received regarding her obvious disappointment at winning silver in the vault. If you haven't checked out the McKayla is Not Impressed page, it's cute (my fave pic is the one of her in the scene at the art museum in Ferris Bueller's Day Off). The lesson for writers? Whether you're a New York Times bestseller, or an aspiring writer trying to get out of the slushpile, treat others with respect and kindness. It doesn't cost anything to be a decent human being, plus I'm a big believer in karma, kismet, and va

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4. Interview with NERVE author Jeanne Ryan and Giveaway

Today, I am so excited to have author Jeanne Ryan on the blog (full confession: she’s also my critique partner). Her YA thriller, NERVE(Dial), releases tomorrow, 9/13/2012. When I read the first draft of this high-tech truth-or-dare game gone very, very wrong, I told her this was going to be her first published book. After getting my very own copy in the mail last week, I can tell you that the finished book is even scarier. Please check out Jeanne’s new website and make sure to follow her on Twitter.

I’m also giving a copy of NERVE to one lucky person. Enter by Tues. Sept 18th for your chance to win-- either tell us a dare you did (for the brave), or you can enter by less scary means.

Here is the cover for NERVE:

 
Hi Jeanne—thanks so much for joining us today, and huge congrats on NERVE! As I’ve told you before, I think the concept of a high-tech truth-or-dare game is awesome! Where did you get the idea for this book?

From watching my teenage niece and her phone. Seeing how fluidly she moved between her “real” life and her online life with her friends, with a lot of overlap between the two, got me to thinking about a story where a lot of the excitement and danger would be delivered via phones. I wondered how far a game of Truth or Dare could go if strangers could be brought together to perform and record the dares.

Yeah, this book was a far cry from the dares of my youth, like ringing someone’s doorbell and running. How long did it take you to go from writing it to publication?

I started writing it in May, 2010. It sold in April, 2011 and is being published September, 2012.  So two and a half years from start to finish.

Less than a year between starting the book and selling the book is pretty darn impressive. Was this your first book?

Nerve was my fifth manuscript. Although I decided to become a writer at age eleven, many other dreams got in the way between then and the time I started writing a manuscript that I’d actually finish. I got serious about writing in 2004, finished my first manuscript in 2006, signed with an agent in 2009 and got my first deal in 2011. That doesn’t count the years beforehand when I wrote many tortured poems, awful short stories and an unfinished novel (also awful).

It goes to show that persistence pays off, and you always need to be working on the next book. Speaking of which, can you tell us what you’re you working on now?

Two things. One is another YA thriller which is scheduled to come out with Dial in early 2014. It’s called CHARISMA and is about a terribly shy girl who turns to an experimental therapy that's supposed to make people more sociable. It does, but comes with some scary side effects.
The other thing I'm working on between revisions is an MG historical set in 1974 South Korea. It may never see the light of day in the publishing world but it’s a great way to cleanse my mental palate after working on the darker stuff.

Yay for another book deal! I love your MG historical, and definitely hope it sees the light of day…and what I’ve seen of Charisma is fantastic.  Writing several things at once seems daunting. Do you have a set writing routine or schedule?

During the school year, I try to get in about four hours a day, Mon-Fri, in the morning. During school breaks and summer vacation, I grab time whenever I can.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers out there?

Keep working on the craft. The writers I’ve seen who eventually landed agents and book deals are the ones who kept producing manuscript after manuscript until they wrote the story that everyone who reviewed it knew was “the one.” (Sometimes, the author is the last to know. J) Sure, there are those lucky few who sell their first attempt, but viewing that as the norm is a good way to set yourself up for misery. I speak from experience.

That’s great advice. So why don’t you finish by sharing something weird or random with us. (It doesn't have to be writing related)

Weird or random. Hmmmm. When I was a little girl living in Honolulu, our house was rumored to have a ghost, which everyone in the neighborhood called a Kahuna. My parents had a difficult time finding babysitters, because everyone was scared. (Their reluctance could also have been due to the fact that the number of kids in my family was already at six and growing.) Anyway, my parents finally solved the babysitter problem by hiring two at a time. And they approached the Kahuna problem the way a lot of things were solved in the hippie days--by throwing a large party that involved lots of chanting and alcohol. Whatever the grown-ups did worked, because we never had any weird bumps in the night after that. And the babysitters were eventually willing to work solo.

That’s a great story. Thanks so much for joining us today and Happy Release Day (a day early!)

Don’t forget to enter below for a chance to win NERVE by Jeanne Ryan. The entry form is over at my blog: www.kristihelvig.blogspot.com.

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5. The Perils of Being a Full-Time Writer

For the first time, my kiddos are both in school and I have oodles of time during the day to write. I'm not even a full-time writer yet as I work two days a week in my private practice, but that leaves THREE whole days of interrupted free time. Therein lies the problem. I wrote three novels in the past two years, and did it in the one to two hours of time I had in the evening after the kids went to bed. Those one to two hours involved nothing but fast, hard writing--because it was all the time I had to do it. I envisioned that once the kids were in school, I'd be able to multiply that output by ten, and could crank out a book every two months. The kids have been in school a grand total of 5 weeks now, which means I should have another book almost finished, right? 

Not quite. First, I discovered the joy of grocery shopping without little ones underfoot. If you haven't tried it, it's an amazing experience. Next, I thought I'd conquer my possessed laundry basket which never empties no matter how many loads I do. I've seen the bottom of my laundry basket several times in the past few weeks, a sight I haven't seen in years. My to-do list has been tackled, my dogs have have enjoyed walks with me in the morning after I take the kids to school, and I've caught up with friends for lunches and brunches and other food-related outings. The most productive writing time for me in the past few weeks...has been in the one to two hours after the kids go to bed at night.

What the hell? I mean, I'm still writing but not nearly the amount I thought I'd be. Part of it is probably the habit of night writing, and part of it is probably the fact that I have quiet time in the house by myself for the first time in over eight years. Part of me worries that even if I were a full-time writer, I wouldn't be writing more than I am right now--Stephen King would mock my current habits (if you haven't read On Writing, you should). I'm hoping the novelty of being home wears off quickly, and I just ordered a day planner and am going to set myself up on a much stricter writing schedule (NOTE: the day planner itself looks so fun and amazing that I'm sure I'll do an entire post on it once it arrives.)

Anyone else struggle with this issue? Any additional tips you'd like to share? Pretty please. Or just let me know if you're in the area and want to go to brunch. ;)

2 Comments on The Perils of Being a Full-Time Writer, last added: 9/27/2012
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6. My Shiny New Book Deal plus Mega-Giveaway

In case you missed my squeals of joy yesterday, this is the official news about my debut YA book deal from Publisher's Marketplace:

September 25, 2012
Children's:
Young Adult

Kristi Helvig's sci-fi series BURN OUT, after the sun has burned away the atmosphere, Tora Reynolds
survives, protected by lethal bio-energy guns that bounty hunters and governments are desperate
for, to Greg Ferguson at Egmont, in a pre-empt, for publication in fall 2014, by Jessica Regel at Jean
V. Naggar Literary Agency (world).

I am beyond to excited to be joining Egmont, and am super grateful to my rock star agent for believing in this book! The deluge of awesome emails, tweets, and FB messages yesterday was amazing, and I feel lucky to know so many wonderful people. Wow, I use a lot of adjectives when I'm excited.

Also, don't forget to enter the 1000 Twitter Follower Giveaway to win books and all kinds of critiques (including the Wednesday Query Critique)!  

11 Comments on My Shiny New Book Deal plus Mega-Giveaway, last added: 10/3/2012
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7. Wednesday Query Critique Giveaway

It's Wednesday Query Critique time! Remember to enter by midnight EST in order for your chance to win the weekly query critique.

REMINDERS: These critiques are for those who prefer a private critique versus a public one. Please read my prior post on Query Tips before entering. Also, as mentioned in my big giveaway, I tend to be very direct and picky, but my goal is to get your query in the best shape possible. Finally, the query is only the first step--make sure the entire book is as good as the query before you hit "Send." To enter the weekly query critique giveaway, simply follow the directions below. Good luck!

RULES:
Just leave a comment telling me you'd like to be entered in the giveaway and give your email address, using (at) and (com) as follows so the spam bots don't find you. 
I will use a random number generator to pick the winner who will receive a query critique through email. NOTE: If your query involves space monkeys, I might make an exception and do an extra critique!

14 Comments on Wednesday Query Critique Giveaway, last added: 5/10/2012
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8. Query Critique Winner

I just have to point out that I've been doing query critiques for weeks now, and I have yet to come across a single query involving space monkeys! Seriously, people--someone out there has to have a space monkey somewhere in their story. Okay, moving on...the Random Number Generator has chosen winning entry #4--congrats to Chris Mandeville! I'll email instructions regarding your query critique. Thanks to everyone who entered, and check back next Wednesday for another chance to win! Also, please keep noting how many times you've entered because I've been doing extra critiques for some persistent folks who have entered 5 or more times in a row. Good luck! :)

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9. Twitter Tips

After joining Twitter about a year or so ago, I have to say that I love it. That says a lot coming from someone who was reluctant to join the social media scene--I was the last person in my book club to join Facebook and only did so due to peer pressure. I'm on Twitter much more than Facebook these days because I like the immediate back and forth it allows between people, and I enjoy the constant stream of information. NOTE: If you don't yet follow me on Twitter, you can do so by clicking the twitter icon on the side, or just click here. All the cool kids are. ;) Here are a few tips I thought I'd pass along, and please add your own observations/tips in the comments:

DO
1) Share useful information. I love it when people pass along informative links or RT articles on the publishing industry.
2) Engage with others. Though it's great to share, don't solely rely on RT's and links to other things. Spend some time engaging with your fellow writers and industry peers.
3) Be yourself. The people that I enjoy following the most are those that seem to just be themselves. Whether you are naturally interesting, witty, or funny--embrace it and do that. Trying to present as something other than you are comes through.

DON'T
1) Promote your book constantly. One of the few things that will cause me to immediately unfollow someone is if they follow me and I follow them back--only to get a "message" a minute later asking me to buy their book or check out their site. Don't do this!
2) Follow people just so they'll follow you back, and then unfollow them to jack up your numbers. Rather than making you look popular, you look like a [insert favorite curse word]. NOTE: People reading this post are clearly awesome people who don't do this.
3) Don't exclude. Even if I can't follow everyone back (because it's only possible to keep track of so many people in my feed), I always respond to @replies. Unless you're Neil Gaiman, you are not too cool for school, and will come across as a [insert favorite curse word] when you are only seen interacting with published writers.

What are your Twitter tips? Do you autofollow everyone? Share below.


11 Comments on Twitter Tips, last added: 5/20/2012
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10. Release Date for SUFFOCATE by S.R. Johannes

It is May 21st and guess what that means?

S.R. Johannes’ Suffocate is out today! 

Suffocate is the first novelette in THE BREATHLESS series. It is a 15,000 word young adult thriller that combines the dystopic and science fiction genres.

Here’s a little about the novelette…

“For centuries, the world outside the Biome has been unlivable. Today, marks the first time anyone will attempt to leave the suffocating ecosphere. Eria is not worried because her scientist father has successfully tested the new Bio-Suit many times. It's a celebratory day until something goes horribly wrong. In the midst of tragedy, Eria uncovers a deep conspiracy that affects the very air she breathes. 

If those responsible find out what she knows, they won't stop hunting her until she takes her last breath.”

The 2nd novella in the series, CHOKE, is scheduled for Fall 2012. The 3rd, EXHALE, is scheduled for Winter 2013.

You can purchase Suffocate for only 99 cents at
B&N

Also you can add it o

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11. Creative Curse Word Contest

This contest was inspired by one of my FB friends who read my post about Twitter Tips last week. She loved the part about [insert favorite curse word] and messaged me her favorite curse word (which had me rolling). Thus, a contest idea was born. I have a character in my current wip that uses curse words--um, creatively, and I'm always curious about what curse words others use. I want to know what your most creative/funniest curse word (or phrase) is. I'm going to pick my favorite response (meaning this contest is entirely subjective), and the winner gets a prize. Easy, peasy. The only thing I ask is that you either follow the blog or subscribe to the posts or newsletter in order to enter.

RULES: Leave your creative curse word or phrase in the comments below. Contest ends: Fri. June 1st at midnight EST.

PRIZE: The YA Book of Your Choice sent to anywhere The Book Depository ships.

OFFENDED BY CURSE WORDS? Don't enter (and why the f*#k are you still reading this?) ;)

GOOD LUCK!

15 Comments on Creative Curse Word Contest, last added: 5/28/2012
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12. My Guest Post over at Rainy of the Dark

If you haven't checked out my guest post over at Rainy of the Dark, head on over: When the Writing Gets Tough, The Tough Get Writing...eventually. Thanks to Rainy for having me! :)

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13. Why Writing Isn't Enough

I'm not saying that you can't call yourself a writer if you do nothing more than toil away on your manuscripts for hours, days, even years. However, at some point, most people want others to see their work. Though the joy of writing is what keeps us going, behind it is the hope that others will find joy in our work through reading it. Whether you're writing a family genealogy meant only for close relatives, or you're writing a commercial novel for the masses, at some point, writing means putting your work out there...which can be scary.

It's much safer to keep your writing tucked away on your hard drive, or in a trunk under the bed, because exposing it to daylight invites possible judgment and criticism. Some writers are sensitive by nature, but writing is not for the skin-thinned, so where should you start? I started with a critique group, and think a good critique group (consisting of fellow writers) is worth its weight in gold. Other writers are the best resource (IMHO) for pointing out your own strengths and areas for growth as a writer.You can find them through professional writers groups, conferences, and online message boards or blogs. Use the feedback to make your work the best it can be. But you can't stop there.

At some point, you have to bite the bullet and put your work out there. Whether it's querying agents and editors if you aspire to a traditional book deal, or hiring an editor and then self-publishing, no one can read your book if it's not available. This doesn't mean rushing things. Take your time to write, revise, edit, and polish your book to a high gloss. But if writing and all that goes into making a complete novel is Step #1, make sure you eventually push yourself to do Step 2). Put it out there. 

Which step are you on? Any tips for those struggling with Step 2?

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14. MSFV Blog Hop--Interview and Book Giveaway with Leah Petersen

Welcome to what will hopefully be the first of the Annual Authoress’ Success Story blog tours! Those of us who have owed our publishing successes, at least in part, to the Miss Snark’s First Victim contests and blog have decided to come together and help cross promote each other’s work.  Every day in the first two weeks of August, a different author will be posting an interview of one of our fellow Success Stories, so make sure to tune in to everyone’s blogs (there’s a list below). Also, if you haven't checked out my interview on Amanda Sun's blog from yesterday, you still have time to enter to win a first chapter critique from moi.

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing the awesome Leah Petersen. Leah is giving away an ebook copy of her book Fighting Gravity to one lucky commenter! Just comment here for a chance to win this:


"When Jacob Dawes is selected for the Imperial Intellectual Complex as a child, he's catapulted from the poverty-stricken slums of his birth into a world where his status as an unclass is something no one can forget, or forgive. His growing scientific renown draws the attention of the emperor, a young man Jacob's own age, and they find themselves drawn to each other in an unlikely and ill-advised relationship. Jacob may have won the emperor's heart, but it's no protection when he's accused of treason. And fighting his own execution would mean betraying the man he loves."
Leah Petersen lives in North Carolina. She does the day-job, wife, and mother thing, much like everyone else. She prides herself on being able to hold a book with her feet so she can knit while reading. She’s still working on knitting while writing. Make sure to check out Leah's blog and follow her on Twitter.
Her first novel, Fighting Gravity, is available now from Dragon Moon Press.

Welcome Leah--I'm from North Carolina too! I think you need to post a pic of the knitting while reading thing, because that is amazing. So can you tell us how participating on the MSFV blog helped get you where you are now?
Leah: The short(ish) version is that I got into one of the monthly Secret Agent contests (back when it was simply the first 25 or 50 that got into the mailbox, purely a trigger finger rather than a merit thing.) The agent had some pointed criticism of my opening, and little about it that she thought worked. Ouch. Well, I took her critique and worked on making it better. The next month, Authoress announced the open submission period for Dragon Moon Press. They looked like a good fit for me so I queried with my revised draft and they asked for the full. The next day I got an email asking if we could have a phone conversation. And the rest is history.
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15. Query Critique Winner

The Random Number Generator has spoken. The winner is  #6--congrats to L.S. Taylor! I'll email instructions regarding your query critique this morning. NOTE: For those who have commented that they've entered every week since I started this and haven't won *waves at Kenley and Nichole*, keep noting that in your entry--I might do something extra for people who enter a certain number of times without winning. Thanks to everyone who entered and check back next Wednesday for another chance to win.

2 Comments on Query Critique Winner, last added: 3/18/2012
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16. How to Attain Your Writing Goals

One of the many hats I wear is that of a certified life coach where I assist clients in reaching certain goals (e.g. losing weight, changing careers, finding a partner). I've had several clients whose goals were to publish a book and thought I'd share how general coaching tips apply to this specific goal.

1) Break down your goal into smaller, manageable steps. I like to use the metaphor of mountain climbing--when you stare up at the top of the mountain from the bottom, it can seem like it will take forever to get there and you might be too intimidated to even try. If you focus instead of taking "x steps at a time," you will soon find yourself halfway up the mountain and feel more empowered and confident that you will reach the top. To relate this to writing, if your stated goal is only "Write a novel," you may not know where to start and feel overwhelmed, so the key is to break the large goal into smaller steps.
Better goal: Write 1,000 words per day (or one chapter per week, etc.)
The important thing is to make the goal manageable for you in order to set yourself up for success, and to always include a time frame to push you to reach the goal. When I'm doing a first draft, I set a minimum goal per day which helps me to crank it out.

2) Focus on what you can control. Say you have a goal of wanting to lose weight and your only stated goal is to lose 25 pounds. So many things can impact your daily weight that this goal leaves a lot out of your control, but if you focus on what is within your control, you might come up with a goal of exercising 5 times per week and cutting out refined sugar (NOTE: this goal also incorporates step 1). With writing, your goal might be to "Get an agent" or get published but that is also (sadly) not under your control. What is in your control is writing the best query and book you can, and then researching the industry.
Better goal: Submit 5 queries per week to agents that represent my genre.

3) Surround yourself with supportive people. I once worked with a client who was trying to lose weight, and she complained about a friend who kept pushing french fries at her. This "friend" was not supportive of her goals and frequently attempted to sabotage her. You are more likely to succeed in anything if you have a supportive person at your side. For writers, this might be your critique group, blog friends, spouse, family, etc. If someone is telling you that writing isn't a "real" job or puts down your goals, run away as fast as you can!

I'm also a motivational quote nut and hand out a sheet of my favorites to clients at their first session, so I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

"Whether a man thinks he can, or thinks he cannot--he is right." - Henry Ford

Have you tried any of these yourself? Any other tips that you've found helpful with your writing goals?



4 Comments on How to Attain Your Writing Goals, last added: 3/20/2012
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17. How to Attain Your Writing Goals

One of the many hats I wear is that of a certified life coach where I assist clients in reaching certain goals (e.g. losing weight, changing careers, finding a partner). I've had several clients whose goals were to publish a book and thought I'd share how general coaching tips apply to this specific goal.

1) Break down your goal into smaller, manageable steps. I like to use the metaphor of mountain climbing--when you stare up at the top of the mountain from the bottom, it can seem like it will take forever to get there and you might be too intimidated to even try. If you focus instead of taking "x steps at a time," you will soon find yourself halfway up the mountain and feel more empowered and confident that you will reach the top. To relate this to writing, if your stated goal is only "Write a novel," you may not know where to start and feel overwhelmed, so the key is to break the large goal into smaller steps.

Better goal: Write 1,000 words per day (or one chapter per week, etc.)
The important thing is to make the goal manageable for you in order to set yourself up for success, and to always include a time frame to push you to reach the goal. When I'm doing a first draft, I set a minimum goal per day which helps me to crank it out.



2) Focus on what you can control. Say you have a goal of wanting to lose weight and your only stated goal is to lose 25 pounds. So many things can impact your daily weight that this goal leaves a lot out of your control, but if you focus on what is within your control, you might come up with a goal of exercising 5 times per week and cutting out refined sugar (NOTE: this goal also incorporates step 1). With writing, your goal might be to "Get an agent" or get published but that is also (sadly) not under your control. What is in your control is writing the best query and book you can, and then researching the industry.
Better goal: Submit 5 queries per week to agents that represent my genre.


3) Surround yourself with supportive people. I once worked with a client who was trying to lose weight, and she complained about a friend who kept pushing french fries at her. This "friend" was not supportive of her goals and frequently attempted to sabotage her. You are more likely to succeed in anything if you have a supportive person at your side. For writers, this might be your critique group, blog friends, spouse, family, etc. If someone is telling you that writing isn't a "real" job or puts down your goals, run away as fast as you can! 

I'm also a motivational quote nut and hand out a sheet of my favorites to clients at their first session, so I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

"Whether a man thinks he can, or thinks he cannot--he is right." - Henry Ford


Have you tried any of these yourself? Any other tips that you've found helpful with your writing goals?

3 Comments on How to Attain Your Writing Goals, last added: 3/20/2012
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18. Query Critique Wednesday

It's Wednesday, which means time for the Wednesday Query Critique. To enter the weekly query critique giveaway, simply follow the directions below. Good luck!
REMINDERS: Please read my prior post on Query Tips before entering. Also, as mentioned in my big giveaway, I tend to be very direct and picky, but my goal is to get your query in the best shape possible. Finally, the query is only the first step--make sure the entire book is as good as the query before you hit "Send."
RULES:
Just leave a comment telling me you'd like to be entered in the giveaway and give your email address, using (at) and (com) as follows so the spam bots don't find you. 
I will use a random number generator to pick the winner who will receive a query critique through email. NOTE: If your query involves space monkeys, I might make an exception and do an extra critique!

9 Comments on Query Critique Wednesday, last added: 3/21/2012
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19. Query Critique Winner

The Random Number Generator has spoken. The winner is  #4--congrats to Nicole Zoltack! I'll email instructions regarding your query critique this morning. Thanks to everyone who entered and check back next Wednesday for another chance to win.

2 Comments on Query Critique Winner, last added: 3/22/2012
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20. Have You Seen THE HUNGER GAMES Yet?

Overall, I find that movies rarely live up to the book *glares at Twilight*, though I loved the cinematic version of The Help. Along with most everyone else, I devoured THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy by Suzanne Collins and couldn't wait for the movie. I saw it last night with my nephew (who also loved the trilogy) and my sister-in-law (who didn't read the books and was hesitant about a story filled with teens killing each other.)

Did the movie live up to the hype? I thought the movie rocked. The casting was great--Katniss and Peeta were perfect, and Rue couldn't have been more adorable. And Lenny Kravitz as Cinna? One word: yum. Of course, a movie can't capture all the nuances of character and setting the way a book can (I wanted more of Haymitch in the movie), so if you haven't read the book, I highly recommend reading it before going to the movie. My nephew gave it a huge thumbs up as well. As for my non-YA reading sister-in-law, she was surprised by how much she liked it and said there wasn't nearly as much graphic killing as she thought there would be. We also voted on the method of death we would least prefer and "the evil mechanical dogs" was the unanimous winner.


Have you seen THE HUNGER GAMES yet? What did you think?

2 Comments on Have You Seen THE HUNGER GAMES Yet?, last added: 3/27/2012
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21. Have You Seen THE HUNGER GAMES Yet?

Overall, I find that movies rarely live up to the book *glares at Twilight*, though I loved the cinematic version of The Help. Along with most everyone else, I devoured THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy by Suzanne Collins and couldn't wait for the movie. I saw it last night with my nephew (who also loved the trilogy) and my sister-in-law (who didn't read the books and was hesitant about a story filled with teens killing each other.)

Did the movie live up to the hype? I thought the movie rocked. The casting was great--Katniss and Peeta were perfect, and Rue couldn't have been more adorable. And Lenny Kravitz as Cinna? One word: yum. Of course, a movie can't capture all the nuances of character and setting the way a book can (I wanted more of Haymitch in the movie), so if you haven't read the book, I highly recommend reading it before going to the movie. My nephew gave it a huge thumbs up as well. As for my non-YA reading sister-in-law, she was surprised by how much she liked it and said there wasn't nearly as much graphic killing as she thought there would be. We also voted on the method of death we would least prefer and "the evil mechanical dogs" was the unanimous winner.

Have you seen THE HUNGER GAMES yet? What did you think?

Also, just a quick note that we'll be posting a little less frequently here (once or twice a week) due to general life craziness. Hope everyone has a great Spring Break!


3 Comments on Have You Seen THE HUNGER GAMES Yet?, last added: 3/27/2012
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22. Wednesday Query Critique

I hope everyone had a fabulous Spring Break! I thought that with both kids out of school, I'd have more time to write which turned out to be delusional on my part. Anyway, I had a great break and am ready to get back to writing...and Wednesday Query Critiques.

These critiques are for those who prefer a private critique versus a public one. To enter the weekly query critique giveaway, simply follow the directions below. Good luck!
REMINDERS: Please read my prior post on Query Tips before entering. Also, as mentioned in my big giveaway, I tend to be very direct and picky, but my goal is to get your query in the best shape possible. Finally, the query is only the first step--make sure the entire book is as good as the query before you hit "Send."

RULES:
Just leave a comment telling me you'd like to be entered in the giveaway and give your email address, using (at) and (com) as follows so the spam bots don't find you. 
I will use a random number generator to pick the winner who will receive a query critique through email. NOTE: If your query involves space monkeys, I might make an exception and do an extra critique!

5 Comments on Wednesday Query Critique, last added: 4/11/2012
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23. Wednesday Query Critique

It's Wednesday Query Critique time! Remember to enter by midnight EST in order for your chance to win the weekly query critique.
REMINDERS: These critiques are for those who prefer a private critique versus a public one. Please read my prior post on Query Tips before entering. Also, as mentioned in my big giveaway, I tend to be very direct and picky, but my goal is to get your query in the best shape possible. Finally, the query is only the first step--make sure the entire book is as good as the query before you hit "Send." To enter the weekly query critique giveaway, simply follow the directions below. Good luck!

RULES:
Just leave a comment telling me you'd like to be entered in the giveaway and give your email address, using (at) and (com) as follows so the spam bots don't find you. 
I will use a random number generator to pick the winner who will receive a query critique through email. NOTE: If your query involves space monkeys, I might make an exception and do an extra critique!

5 Comments on Wednesday Query Critique, last added: 4/18/2012
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24. Reading Across Genres

I'm sure you've heard how important it is to read widely in the genre you write. For instance, if you write young adult (YA), you should read a truckload of it to know the expectations and nuances of the genre. YA is typically faster-paced and more action-oriented than say, literary book club fiction. There are always exceptions but you should at least know the rules before you break them. Reading is crucial if you want to progress as a writer. Even Stephen King mentions that he reads as much as he writes during a day.

I agree completely with this, but I'm also in favor of reading outside your genre as well. Though I write YA, I just finished The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obrecht (loved it), and am about to start The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach for my book club. I think reading widely allows you to gain more perspective and opens up new possibilities for your writing. Several women in my book club just read 50 Shades of Grey, and though I'm not sure I want to read quite that widely, I admire their resolve to read mommy porn across genres. ;)


What about you? Do you often read outside of your chosen genre? What was the last book you loved that wasn't in the genre you write?

9 Comments on Reading Across Genres, last added: 4/24/2012
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25. Wednesday Query Critique

Is it Wednesday already? It's Wednesday Query Critique time! Remember to enter by midnight EST in order for your chance to win the weekly query critique.
REMINDERS: These critiques are for those who prefer a private critique versus a public one. Please read my prior post on Query Tips before entering. Also, as mentioned in my big giveaway, I tend to be very direct and picky, but my goal is to get your query in the best shape possible. Finally, the query is only the first step--make sure the entire book is as good as the query before you hit "Send." To enter the weekly query critique giveaway, simply follow the directions below. Good luck!

RULES:
Just leave a comment telling me you'd like to be entered in the giveaway and give your email address, using (at) and (com) as follows so the spam bots don't find you. 
I will use a random number generator to pick the winner who will receive a query critique through email. NOTE: If your query involves space monkeys, I might make an exception and do an extra critique!

6 Comments on Wednesday Query Critique, last added: 4/25/2012
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