Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

In the Blogosphere: 2/12-2/25

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m making one of my resolutions to be better with these blogosphere posts.  *Well, I’m trying, but I’ve been reallllllly busy!* I’ve saved a lot of great stuff, though, and it’s all definitely worth a read.

AGENT STUFF

At RWA nationals in 2010, I attended a fantabulous session with agents of awesome Holly Root and Barbara Poelle, Pocket Books senior editor Abby Zidle, and author Jenny Gardiner, where they reenacted what happens in an acquisitions editorial meeting.  SO eye-opening! Along those same lines, WordServe Literary’s Rachelle Gardner recreates a pub committee meeting here.

Is there such a thing as a fictional memoir?  The Query Shark herself, FinePrint Literary’s Janet Reid answers that question.

PLATFORM & MARKETING

Over at Writer Unboxed, Writer’s Digest and the University of Cincinnati’s Jane Friedman gives tips about using Facebook as a marketing tool—without becoming a nuisance.

And, here, author Jody Hedlund offers seven ways you can market your book—gasp!without the Internet.

VEWY CWAFTY

Here, my favorite Scotsman, Simon C. Larter, says action through dialogue is where it’s at!  And he also calls Shakespeare “Billy Shakes,” which is one of the reasons we’re be-fris.  :)

But how does one write good dialogue, you ask?  Former agent turned author Nathan Bransford tells you here.

Also, I absolutely love the Sentence Strengthening series on YA HighwayHere’s one on how to more effectively use adjectives and adverbs (or not use them, as the case sometimes is).

Want more strength in your writing?  On Write Anything, Annie Evett lists some weak words to “bin” in her series on self-editing tips.

And here is a fantastic, comprehensive resource with that lists tropes (common storytelling devices or conventions) for . . . just about everything.  You could seriously spend months playing around in there!

HOW-TOS

Need to send a press releaseAngus Shaw over at The Blog Herald tells you how.

And here, agent Natalie Fischer gives some advice on how to avoid making common mistakes in your manuscript.

OTHER STUFF

We’ve all experienced it—perhaps you’re even going through it right now:  The CraziesHere, author Ally Carter talks about The Crazies—what they are, what not to do when you have them, and how to combat them.

I’m sure some of us have learned this the hard way: Taylor Mali’s The The Impotence of Proofreading. Enjoy.

Happy weekend, everyone!  :)

Change Your Routine, Change Your Writing Style

Two things happened this week that inflamed a writerly itch in me (OK—that doesn’t sound so good, but it’s a good thing—I swear!).

First: Sunday, I attended a meet & greet, where I met (and greeted) a bunch of writers in the Harrisonburg area.  As an icebreaking exercise, we were supposed to write up to 500 words in response to a prompt (the bird).  I ended up writing a short short story that leaned toward—gasp!—suspense.  What??  Completely different from anything I’ve written, well, ever—but it was kind of liberating.

Not that I don’t love YA or plan on changing my genre and writing suspense novels or anything, but it was neat to see what I could come up with in a short amount of time (I did it in about an hour)—and when I’m not the one picking the topic. I got some decent feedback on the piece, too.  Score!

Second: Yesterday, I was forced to break out of my hibernation—there were groceries to be bought, movies to return, shoes to pick up, and a new computer charger to find & purchase.  <—Yeah, that one was pretty important.

So, I’ve been listening to the same few songs lately, and I was looking forward to listening to them again, during all my errand-running.  But when I pulled out my iPod right after I took off, it was dead. Grr.

That was particularly annoying because the ‘burg doesn’t have great radio reception and I don’t yet know the stations very well, but it turned out to be a good thing too.

I flipped around radio stations and heard a lot of songs from my college—and even high school—days.  And, I don’t know about you, but songs almost always take me back to exact places and times, feelings, etc.  Some of the songs I heard (“Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton, anyone?) yanked memories out of the depths of my brain like a magician pulling a bunch of handkerchiefs through my ear.  (You’re welcome for the visual, bee tee dub).

But these two change-ups in my routine sparked something.  I know it’s not groundbreaking advice, but it’s been a long time since I’ve entertained the idea of a new manuscript (almost a year!), and I’m proof that altering your yoozh can be fodder to your shiny, new ideas because I got a lot of those yesterday.

Anyway, I highly recommend stepping out of that comfort zone.  I know it’s the dead of winter, and it’s nice to wrap up in your robe and settle in to what is comfortable, but if you go out into the cold a bit, you might get some interesting kernels of ideas you never would have gotten!*

*Or frostbite.

Speaking of songs I’ve been listening to over and over (and over) . . .

Stuck in the winter doldrums? Love this song—think the video’s a little creepy**:

**Especially the part where the mom is giving birth and, like, spontaneously combusting.  Nope—not helping me not be afraid of childbirth, Katy Perry!

Pointers from the Pros: Author David Rocklin Talks Visibility & Etiquette

Pointers from the Pros” gives tips from authors and publishing industry professionals on everything from craft to querying to their experiences on the road to publication.  This post is by guest columnist and Write-Brainiac J.M. Lacey.

The August 2010 Scribblers’ Retreat Writers’ Conference in St. Simons Island, Ga., featured a stellar set of professional speakers.

The August 2010 Scribblers’ Retreat Writers’ Conference on St. Simons Island, Ga., featured a stellar set of professional speakers. Author David Rocklin spoke on Friday of the retreat.

His first novel, The Luminist, already in print in Italy (Neri Pozza) and Israel (Kinneret), will make its U.S. debut in the fall of 2011 (Hawthorne).

Rocklin grew up in Chicago and graduated from Indiana University with a BA in Literature. After attending law school, he pursued a career as an in-house attorney and continues to serve as a mediator. He currently lives in California with his wife and children.

Here are some key points from his program on “Visibility at All Cost”:

  • It is difficult to see our own writing [for what it is] until someone else sees it. When two, three or four people start pointing out the same thing in your writing, you have to seriously look at what they are telling you.
  • With the many avenues open to publish our work and build platform—such as Twitter, blogs, print-on-demand—as the number of writers rise, so does cynicism.
  • The abundance of publishing outlets give rise to self-destructive traits.  “We have the tendency to say the first draft is good,” he says. “[But] writing is rewriting. The first draft is nothing.” He cautions against putting our work “out there” when it’s not ready to be seen and it is not at the level it needs to be. If the work is not ready, the writer ruins it for the next debut author. The goal should not be speed and quantity. The goal should be about quality; finding that emotional capture.
  • When querying agents, target specific representatives for your work. Let the agent know why you chose him/her. The agents want to know you’ve done your homework. Check the Web site Preditors and Editors.
  • You need a sense of humor. When you put your writing into the world, it’s no longer your work. Pick your battles. Working with publishers, editors and agents is a fantastic learning process.
  • Read your work out loud. That is how you catch mistakes.
  • Read all the time. If you don’t read, you’re not writing.
  • Don’t make writing for a living the chase. Your voice will get lost. Live your life and protect the thing you need to do: write.
  • Our first action is we write because we have to. The choice is to write to make others see our work.
  • Never trash yourself as a writer. Others will, so don’t do it to yourself.

J.M. Lacey is a freelance writer and marketing and pr consultant. She is working on a novel to be visible to the world. Visit her Web site and blog.


How to Write Full Time & Stay Sane: Keep a “Worth Saving” E-mail Folder

How to Write Full Time and Stay Sane is a series that offers advice to full-time writers about how to stay productive and in good spirits.

With all the heartwrenching horrendous kick-you-in-the-gut stressful days you will undoubtedly experience as a writer, you’re in need of a little pick-me-up from time to time. So . . . when alcohol crying chocolate beagle snuggling exercise doesn’t quite get those endorphins a-flowin’, I have another solution for ya: a “Worth Saving” e-mail folder.

I’ve been keeping one for a while—it’s just an extra e-mail folder where I store e-mails that give me the warm fuzzies.  I’m not talking forwards here—unless that’s your thing—but anything that makes you feel . . . well, good.

Mine isn’t all writing related—many are just convos with friends that make me laugh or smile. It cheers me up to look in there every now and then!  :)

Even as I’m typing this, I’m like, “Ricki, that is the corniest thing I’ve ever heard—and what’s even worse?  You’re announcing it on the Internet.”  But, when you’re writing full time, you need corny, people.  Deal with it.

So I hold my head up high.  And I keep my inbox (relatively) clear, since my pack rat tendencies of the e-mail variety are stowed away for when I really need them. :)

In the Blogosphere: 1/10-2/11

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m making one of my resolutions to be better with these blogosphere posts.  *Well, I’m trying, but I’ve been reallllllly busy!* I’ve saved a lot of great stuff, though, and it’s all definitely worth a read.

I’ve decided just to focus on agents and querying and . . . stuff, since I need to get a jump on WB workshop stuff this weekend.

Hope you enjoy!

AGENTS & QUERYING & STUFF

I jumped back into the query pool this week with my latest YA contemporary manuscript, so this is largely for me.  :)  Oh yeah—and any of you also at this stage.  Hee.

Many of us have formulated our own lists of “dream agents,” based on stalking meeting some of the industry’s finest at conferences and workshop, reading interviews and blogs, etc.  Here, the Michelle Wolfson-repped rom-com author, Tawna Feske, talks about the downside of dream agents.

See that butterfly net? That's my dream agent. *Creepy much*? You know who you are . . . OK--you prob don't, and that's prob a good thing! :)

And, just in case that depresses you, here is another post by Feske, where she shows her agent-catching query.  For a little inspiration!

Agents dishing out query tips online in response to their query inboxes becomes a heated debate around the blogosphere at least twice a year, but I think it’s a valid discussion whenever it pops up.  Here, Heather Trese of See Heather Write asks: Is the #queries hashtag really good?

Querying can be extremely frustrating (understatement much?), and it can lead to writers getting pushed over the edge of good sense and expressing their frustrations in their Tweets or Facebook statuses. Translation: not good.  Here, Bridget Pilloud has the answer—a bitch box, or the Bitchy Comment Receptacle.  You need to bitch?  Pilloud provides a sounding board—and then deletes your comment so no one will see it.  Win-win!

Ever wonder how agents actually evaluate fulls when they request them?  Well, she doesn’t speak for all of agentkind, but Andrea Brown lit agent Mary Kole says she does it like this.

Going to a conference?  Here’s what kt literary’s Kate Schafer Testerman has to say about talking to agents IRL.

I had the distinct pain pleasure of writing my synopsis for my new MS this weekend.  I had *forgotten* about this, the fabulous Shawntelle Madison’s synopsis wizard.  But you should def check it out!

In my editing of MS #2—as well as in the reading of John Green, Maureen Johnson, E. Lockhart, and other YA all-stars, I’ve done a lot of thinking about the “mature voice” in teen fictionHere are amazegent Mary Kole’s thoughts on the subject.

So, confession: I got a Kindle for Christmas . . . and I love it!  Of course, it WILL NOT take the place of holding an actual book in my hands, but I have already found it great for traveling, working out, and it was VERY helpful last weekend, when I needed to read two harder-to-find books for an interview I was doing.  Agent Kristin Nelson agrees in this post, about the power of story—in any medium.

CONGRATS

A special WOO HOO goes out this week to my Twitter soulmate, Cambria Dillon, who signed with literary agent Vickie Motter of Andrea Hurst & Associates!  SO EXCITED FOR YOU, girl!!!!!!!!  *mwah!*

What better way to celebrate than this??

Whadd-Updates: 2/9 Name-Dropping Edition

I have been somewhat absent from the blogosphere as of late. That’s because, in the last three weeks, I have done a lot of things.

  • Spent a few days in Georgia, visiting friends
  • Facilitated a Shenandoah Writers meeting
  • Met with the fabulous people of the Arts Council of the Valley, who are helping me and the Write-Brained Network put on our WB Workshop
  • Gone to the dentist—not all that time-consuming, but it did take me away from work
  • Gotten my hair cut (not a pixie—sorry to disappoint)—ditto from above note
  • Traveled to Front Royal, Va., for a mini writers’ retreat with Sara McClung and Cristin Terrill
  • Gone with Jodi Meadows to an author reading/signing of debut literary novelist Hannah Pittard (The Fates Will Find Their Way)
  • Gotten sick

Here’s what I’m currently doing:

  • Trying not to be sick
  • Writing interview questions for both Wendy Toliver and Meg Cabot (I’m interviewing them for an article for the 2012 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market [Writer's Digest Books], and I need to send the questions, um, Nowsville, if I expect to meet my March 1 deadline.  Wha??)
  • Contacting potential speakers for the WB Workshop
  • Building a Web site for the WB Workshop
  • Oh yeah—and I also started querying (in a *tiny* round) my latest YA manuscript, so this is why I have to distract myself with all the other stuff.  So I won’t go nuts.

I was going to write a post about how wonderful and ooey-gooey it made me feel to see my former students and my Georgia be-fris, but decided I don’t have the brain power to dedicate to that this week.  All my energy needs to be focused on interviewing those two awesome authors.  And I definitely think the urge to clone myself and stick one Ricki clone back in Georgia would overwhelm me, so I don’t even want to go there.

I also wanted to write about how much fun I had at my writers’ retreat this past weekend, but Cristin did a great job of it here.  I agree with her wholeheartedly—that getting together with other writers and realizing you all think you suck is really important for a writer’s sanity.

I will say, however, I would recommend a get-together like this to anyone.  I felt completely recharged come Sunday morning, and I actually wish we’d had another day, since we all seemed to be much more in work mode—you know, at, like, 11 p.m. Saturday night.  Next time, we vowed we will add at least a day or two more.

NEWS

We now have a date for the Write-Brained Network’s workshop.  We have a title, too.

Drumroll, please . . .

The One-Stop Workshop

for the Serious Writer:

A Roadmap from

“How to” through “I Did”

 

Mark your calendars for 9.10. 11, folks—for a full day of tips from the pros as well as writerly camaraderie.

Okay, well, that’s it for me at the moment.  I hope you can bear with me through all this craziness.  I promise to be back with a super awesome “In the Blogosphere” this Friday or Saturday.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

A Question about Coffee

How much coffee do you drink?  Writers and nonwriters alike can answer—I’m just curious.

I went on a writing retreat with Sara McClung and Cristin Terrill this weekend, and they seem to think I drink a lot!  Which, I know I do . . . but I didn’t really drink that much in front of them, and so now I’m interested to know how much people generally drink.

How many cups a day?  A week?

Groundhog Day with My Manuscript

Thank God my Facebook friends reminded me that today is Groundhog Day—otherwise, I might have forgotten the utterly pointless holiday this year.  However, any reminder of Bill Murray is a good thing—so there’s a reason to smile. :)

But that got me thinking about how I’ve been kinda Punxsutawney Phil with my manuscript.  I’ve stayed a bit underground lately—my loyal blog followers may have noticed this—because I have been swamped with work.  However, it’s mostly because I’ve been going over and over my latest manuscript.  I finally finished editing it to my satisfaction two weeks ago, but now I’m trying to come up with the perfect title (no such luck yet) and writing and rewriting my query ad nauseum.

Some of my friends are starting to ask why I’m *still* not jumping into the query pool.  They think I’m worrying too much about it.  And I suppose I am.

But no matter how many times I rewrite my query, it seems like there’s something I can change—a new word I can use—something to cut.  Then it’s back to the drawing board because I don’t want to put it—and myself—out there until I’m 100% on everything.

Some call this crazy; others call it the “right way” of handling it.  I don’t even know anymore!

I suppose I’m being a little wackadoo, but I’m just afraid of opening that query door and seeing my shadow.

However, I am starting to realize that, until I pop my head out, I can’t know if it will be an early spring or six more weeks of winter for my writing career.  Right?

Tell me:  How do you know when it’s time?

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