Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

In the Blogosphere: 1/25-1/29

“In the Blogosphere” is a weekly series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week.  Most posts will be from that week, but if I find some “oldies but goodies,” I’ll throw those up here as well.

I never find as much time to read blogs as I want, but here are a few posts that struck me this week.


Do you love to pick apart grammar the way I do?  Writer Magazine‘s Bonnie Trenga analyzes the heck out of “criminal sentences” over at The Sentence Sleuth and gives examples of how to make your sentences shine.

Have a query, but you’re afraid to send it to the Query Shark?  Try my new writer pal—and, apparently neighborJodi Meadows‘s Query Project over at her (W)ords and (W)ardances blog.  Meadows used to read slush for former lit agent Jenny Rappaport, so she knows a thing or two about queries that work—and she critiques them weekly.

Want to boost that platform?  Check out what Writers Web site Planner has to say about what to include.

If you’ve been querying and you don’t know about QueryTracker, get with it!  As you await those fateful rejections—I mean, requests for fulls and partials and offers for representation—look up the stats on the agents you’ve queried. Previous queriers’ comments about how long Agents X, Y and Z took to respond can help calm your inner crazy.

And if you’re looking for a little writerly advice, Writer’s Digest‘s Brian A. Klems sets you straight with his Questions and Quandaries blog.


For all things freelancing, check out  Fellow freelancer J.M. Lacey suggested this site to me, and I can’t wait to play around in there!

If you’re wondering what you should be charging, check out the Editorial Freelancers Association for recommended rates, and if you’re looking to hire a writer and have an affinity for Canucks, check out what Writers.Ca says you should expect to pay for all sorts of projects.

Another J.M. Lacey recommendation, Media Bistro keeps tabs on writing opportunities as well as publishing news.


I’m sure you probably heard about Catcher in the Rye author—and legend—J.D. Salinger‘s death this week.  In The Wall Street Journal, co-author of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and the upcoming Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green and Scholastic editorial director David Levithan pays tribute to the man whose famous work not only embodies the young adult genre, but probably started it as well.


Still not convinced Twitter can help you promote your work?  Over on her blog, young adult author Lisa Schroeder weighs in on the Twitter debate and offers tips on how to get the most out of the latest social network.

To punctuate that point, Bit RebelsDiana Adams tells you how to keep your Twitter followers.

When judging my contest entries, I found that merely checking my Twitter replies wasn’t keeping accurate tabs on them all.  With a quick search, I discovered Checkretweet.  Just type in your Twitter ID, and they handle the rest.


If you’re into YA fiction, check out my Twitter pal and fellow aspiring YA author Stephanie Pellegrin‘s blog for a chance to win a signed copy of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, a Hush, Hush postcard, and a Hush, Hush bookmark.


Wiley Miller gives us a glimpse of the first writer/editor meeting in his comic Non Sequitur.


Check out my interview with agent BJ Robbins of BJ Robbins Literary Agency on the Guide to Literary Agents blog.

We Have a Winner…Well, Actually, We Have Three

The contest results are in!


You guys made it tough, but I chose Jessica Guerrasio‘s Web site/blog entry—YA writer Natalie Whipple‘s blog—as the contest winner for a few reasons:

  • I’m not sure if Jessica intended this or not, but Whipple writes YA—and being that I too write YA, this blog seems a good fit for me.  It felt to me like Jessica tailored her pick to something appropriate for me specifically, and even if it just happened to be a coincidence, I appreciate its relevance to my own writing.
  • Whipple is repped by Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown Ltd., which pretty much makes me completely jealous of her.  While she is unpubbed, she represents what I hope to be the next step in my writing career, and I think I can learn a lot from her.  I believe the story is that she entered one of his blog contests and snagged him that way, so I need to learn all I can from her!

Up-and-coming YA author Natalie Whipple

  • The post Jessica chose is interesting and informative, which were really the only requirements.  In it, Whipple discusses her revision process and lists questions she asks herself at every stage.  If the rest of her posts are like that (and, in the poking around I’ve done on her Between Fact and Fiction blog, I’ve found that many are), then I’m a happy girl.
  • It wasn’t a site or blog I’ve ever seen or visited.  Some of the entries I got were Web sites I already use, and while you wouldn’t have known that for most of them, a few entries I got were for sites I have linked right on my blogroll.

So, congrats, Jessica!  If you can e-mail me an addy where I can send your 2010 copy of Guide to Literary Agents, I’ll get that in the mail for you.

As well, I decided to institute two runner-up awards.

RUNNER UP goes to Marice Kraal because:

  • She’s from Australia (that’s not really why, I thought it was cool.)
  • As well, like the winning entry, it showed thought went into the decision, as Mary Kole is an agent who seeks YA lit, which, like I said, is what I write.

MOST RETWEETED goes to JRFrong (Muftopmom/Twittahbug) because:

  • I already use her entry (Janet Reid‘s blog), but it’s a really great resource.
  • Her own blog cracked me up.
  • She RT’d my Twitter posts all last week.

Runners up get their choice of a free critique or edit of up to 30 manuscript pages (good at any time).  Please e-mail me to redeem.

Thanks to all who participated, and stay tuned for another contest soon.  I have another fabulous book just dying to be won!

Contest News & SWO LIVE CHAT

Okay, folks.  The contest is now officially closed to entries (well, it was closed as of almost two hours ago).

As there were a ton of great Web sites entered, I am going to need a few days to deliberate. (I would do my deliberating today, but I have an audition, and that’s going to take up most of my deliberating time.)

That said, I will announce the winner(s?) by this Friday, January 29.

With so many great entries, this is going to be difficult to decide!

*If* you’re needing a Ricki fix, however (riiiight), please consider stopping by the Shenandoah Writers Online LIVE CHAT session tonight at 9PM EST.

If you are not currently a member of SWO but would like to chat with other writers around the country, please shoot me an e-mail at so we can get you signed up ASAP.

Ticktock! Contest!

Don’t forget to enter to win a brand-new 2010 Guide to Literary Agents.

Contest ends at midnight!

Click here for details.

In the Blogosphere: 1/18-1/22

“In the Blogosphere” is a weekly series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week.  Most posts will be from that week, but if I find some “oldies but goodies,” I’ll throw those up here as well.

I never find as much time to read blogs as I want, but here are a few posts that struck me this week.


Over at his blog, The Book Deal, editor extraordinaire Alan Rinzler shares some tips on hooking agents and editors.  He also gives examples of good hooks.  This blog is chock-full of all kinds of writing tips and just brimming with awesomeness, so check it out.

Over at WOW! Women on Writing, fellow Writer’s Digest contributor Kerrie Flanagan gives tips on how to pitch an agent.

The Oatmeal has become one of my favorite sites, with its hilarious lists on various subjects.  I mostly love it for its grammar and spelling tips—although, I’m a little biased, as its style is reminiscent of the approach I used when I taught grammar.  This post on spelling had me laughing out loud (ROTFL).  This is my favorite:

I wrote two posts this week, mentioning poetry and screenwriting.  If these areas are foreign to you, the folks over at Writer’s Relief can shed some light on them.  Learn some poetry lingo here, and get some screenwriting resources here.

At Editorial Anonymous, learn a thing or two about deciphering those rejection letters with this tongue-in-cheek post.

As I discussed earlier this week, when I came to the end of last week’s fight to finish my manuscript, I realized my original title no longer worked.  Desperate to be done with the thing and eager to apply the icing on my literary cupcake (what??), I, naturally, turned to the Internet for assistance with titles.  I found some help at, Writer’s Digest, and eHow.


Blogger sisters Lisa and Laura Roecker give some of Nancy Coffey Literary agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe‘s tips on synopses.

WordServe Literary‘s Rachelle Gardner offers some advice on perfecting that elevator pitch.

As well, FinePrint Literary‘s Janet Reid details what a writer needs to have ready when looking for an agent for fiction, memoir, and nonfiction with this straightforward list on her blog.

Last but not least, The Last Will of Moira Leahy author Therese Walsh of Writer Unboxed asks her agent, Elisabeth Weed of Weed Literary, about voice—something not easily defined, yet something every agent seeks.


Over at Fiction City, my writer buddy, Lisa Katzenberger, asks: How Soon Do You Start Critiques?

Here, Robert McCrum of The Observer talks plagiarism and lists some famous examples of authors’ works which have been accused of it.

In this guest post on Rachelle Gardner‘s Rants & Ramblings, editor Chuck Sambuchino asks, “Would you pay more for an agent?” And many weigh in…


I shall keep these three posts close by during this query (and, hopefully, submission) process:

Yes, that's "Monk."


Like to read?  Like to blog?  Here, Thomas Nelson PublishersMichael Hyatt tells how to get your hands on free books and get your name out there by reviewing them.

Don’t forget to enter my contest here on the blog.  Click here for details on my easy-peasy contest, and see how you can win a brand-new 2010 Guide to Literary Agents!


I’m with COCO.

You Have a Question? I Have an Answer: Where to Find Script Agents/Managers

“You Have a Question?  I Have an Answer” is a feature that answers real questions from real writers.

Q:  Hi Ricki. Even though I live in LA and am a screenwriter, I need your assistance in approaching agents from CAA, WME, UTA, et al who would be appropriate.  In other words—a few suggestions?  I got the idea to approach you after reading your interview with Dorian Karchmar.  I need an agent and am clueless as far as whom to approach.  Would you know, and could you help?


A: Thanks for the question!

I’m not as versed in the area of script agents/script managers, as I’ve only interviewed literary agents and authors at this point.  However, I’m very interested in screenwriting—and I will be interviewing some script managers for Writer’s Digest Books’ 2011 Screenwriter’s & Playwright’s Market—so I guess it’s time to dive into that subject!

*Some* literary agencies handle screenplays - but in my experience, most do not. You just have to do the research to find out!

On the GLA blog, where I’m assuming you read my Karchmar interview, Chuck Sambuchino lists “Screenwriting and Script Agents” as one of his categories located on the left of the blog.  If you click on that heading, he has some interviews with script agents as well as a few other informative posts in the area of screenwriting.  Maybe that could be a lead?

As well, in addition to Guide to Literary Agents, Sambuchino also puts out the aforementioned Screenwriter’s and Playwright’s Market, which is a huge database of script agents among other things.  I’ve got the 2009 edition right here, and one major section of it lists agents/script managers.  Many of the listings even show what genres the agents accept, so that should help you find someone tailored to your (awesome!) projects.

If you can get your hands on one of these babies, you'll be able to find exactly what you're looking for.

Good luck to you!

What a Dining Room Table Has to Do with Poetry

As a wedding present, my grandmother (“Nanny”) gave me her dining room set.

A few months before I got married (in 2006), she moved in with my parents; her health had declined, and the two-story century home she’d lived in for 60 years became too much for her to handle on her own.

Taken at my last visit to Nanny's house, before it sold.

A few water rings adorned the table’s surface, and the chair cushions—brittle with over 40 years of wear—needed to be reupholstered; but the china closet was in pristine condition—so we loaded the behemoth into the moving van on our way to Georgia.

Because my husband and I moved into a house in the Old Dominion and now have space for the rest of it, the dining room set became one of the top items of interest during my parents’ purging spree. Over Christmas, my dad gave it a major face-lift, and the pieces are now reunited after three and a half years.

Looking at the set, in its final resting place of our dining room, I can’t help but wonder the kinds of things it saw during its stay in Willoughby, Ohio.

As Nanny can no longer tell the tales (she too lay in her final resting place), the whole thing reminds me of one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets, Dr. George Bilgere.

Award-winning poet and John Carroll University professor, Dr. George Bilgere. Photo by Gary E. Porter

One of my (favorite) college professors and the author of five poetry books, Bilgere uncovers his family’s history in “The Table.” Written in beautiful prose, “The Table” is not lengthy—and you’re truly missing out if you don’t read it. <—No excuses—even if you’re “not a poetry person.”

I have used it when teaching poetry in previous years, and although the poem doesn’t tell my family’s story, it strikes me every time I read it.

…and today, it reminds me of how fortunate I feel to be able to give my table a whole new history.

No, this isn't it - but I wonder what this one would have to say.

Shenandoah Writers: January Writing Prompt

This series is for everyone following along with us while we read Brian Kiteley’s The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction.

This month in 3 A.M., Brian Kiteley discusses characters and ways of seeing.

For those of you following along with the group, please either do Exercise 25 or 26or both, if you want to see the contrast. (I think I do!)

Since the actual written assignment calls for half the usual word count, it might not be that terrible to do both—but there is a little bit of leg work for each.

Basically, both exercises are kind of like anagramming…and kind of like the game Boggle.

See for yourself:


Take the full name (including middle name) of someone you love.  Write down as many words from this name as you can.  You can repeat letters from the name as many times as you wish.  Treat the letters of this name as the only letters in a new alphabet.  You cannot use any worlds containing letters that do not exist in this name.  Because this is so difficult, you’ll probably be able to come up with only about 200 words for this exercise—that’s okay.  When you have built a sufficient list of words (maybe breaking the list down into nouns, verbs, adverbs, etc.), write a fragment of fiction that has to do with a fictionalized situation this person, or someone like this person, would be involved in.

300 words

Kiteley goes on to say:

As an example, for Geoffrey James Kiteley (my brother, who died of AIDS on Christmas Eve, 1993), you could come up with the following list of words: frog, klieg, a, fray, make, mar, leek, jag, fog, kilter, legal, illegal, glee, flag, fay, gay, jail, fillet, oyster, aioli, fritters, fry, gel, jelly, oft, soft, satay, etc.  You may notice, as you’re creating this list, a pattern develops that relates to characteristics of this person you’re making words out of: In my brother’s case, frog and leek relate to both his career as a cook and his love of things French.  Because he was gay, you can see other relationships to the words.

If you have built up a strong relationship with a fictional character in your long story, you may simply use that character’s full name in place of someone you love.  But it would better to use someone you love, because this exercise can otherwise be a little bland without the added spice fo affection for the words themselves.  This exercise often yields unexpected results if you are patient.  I discovered this once myslf.  I worked very hard at the exercise over a few weeks and then gave up, happy for the difficulty and the experience but convinced I’d failed at a proper piece of fiction.  I put the very brief story in a file and it stayed unmolested in my computer for several years.  I rediscovered it one day and printed it out to look at it. To my surprise, it was much easier to revise a couple of years after its original composition (whereas when I first wrote it, the writing felt unnatural and impossible to mold into anything like narrative).  Be patient with this exercise.  Let it gestate in a quiet file of drawer.  You might find a voice in which you never thought you were capable of speaking.

This is a variation on an Oulipo exercise by Harry Mathews, author of Cigarettes and The Conversions.  Oulipo stands for Ouvroir pour litterature potentielle (workshop for potential literature), a group of writers and mathematicians who have been meeting for over forty years in Paris to dream up demanding and sometimes impossible restraints for writing.  Members who have gained fame include Harry Mathews, Italo Calvino, Georges Perec, and one of the founders, Raymond Queneau, who described Oulipians as rats who build the maze from which they plan to escape.

Here is Exercise 26, should you choose to do this instead of or in addition to the previous one:


An alternative to the previous exercise would be to use the letters of the first names of four or five ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends as your only alphabet for a very short story.  The effect of this change, when I tried just the list of words (not the exercise) myself was electric.  See if you can look back to earlier failed relationships with something like affection—or at least some balance.

300 words

In Names (Exercise 25), you play with an Oulipo exercise that could be a bit chilly without the instructions to use the name of someone you love as the source of your new alphabet and language.  This exercise turns an affectionate search for words into a possibly bitter quest.  But, despite my suggestion you try to be mature and balanced, you should also let your emotional response to these names (and the words you create from the) carry you as far as autobiographical situations, something we make up whole cloth, and yet it strikes a chord.  This exercise may allow you to write a parallel universe history of these failed relationships.

Nerd as I am, I am SO excited about these prompts!  In addition to anagramming and Boggle, they are also taking me back to certain games girls played at recess, where you write out the full names of people, somehow convert them to numbers, do the same with your own name, and determine the percentage of a chance that you’ll date them.  Anyone else do that in sixth or seventh grade?  No?  Okay…


If you choose to do any of these, please send them to me at – OR – if you are a member of Shenandoah Writers Online, please post them there.

Incidentally, if you *aren’t* a member of Shenandoah Writers Online, why not??  In short, we are a brand-new online community of writers—from all over the country—on Ning.  Click the above link or e-mail me for more information.


Ketchup & Contest

I’m back, my lovelies—and apparently creepy! (Lovelies? Really??)

This is how much catch-up we need to do!


For the past seven days, I Cullened it up with my sleep schedule, and around 8 o’clock Friday morning, I officially finished editing and formatting my manuscript.

In the last five months, my novel got a bit of a facelift—including a 20K word cut and a new title—and it’s looking better than I could have imagined when I started it three years ago.  Now, it’s full speed ahead toward the rejection—I mean query—process!

On slightly-more-normal-hours, I had a nice celebratory dinner with the hubs last night (man, was it nice to leave the house!), and we treated ourselves to a weekend of home improvement, which has begun with painting our living room, dining room, and kitchen in our new house.  (I decided to take the weekend off from writing…and, of course, haven’t stuck to it at all!)


Feeling a little out of the loop from being MIA for a week, I’d like to kick off my return to blogging and Tweeting and Facebooking and showering (I mean, um…) by hosting a little contest here on the blog.


As a nod to the beginning of my querying journey, the winner will receive a brand-new copy of the 2010 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino!

Here’s the Writer’s Digest description of the book, for those of you who might be unfamiliar with this fabulous resource:

“Now in its 19th year, Guide to Literary Agents is a writer’s best resource for finding a literary agent who can represent their work to publishing houses, big and small. This edition offers more than 750 updated listings for individual agents, and more than 80 pages of original articles on finding the best agent to represent your work and how to seal the deal. From identifying your genre to writing query letters to avoiding agent pet peeves, the Guide to Literary Agents helps writers deal with agents every step of the way. Includes exclusive access to online listings on;

There might be second- and third-place prizes as well, depending upon the amount of entries I receive, the overall awesomeness of them, and whether or not I can come up with something else.  I have a few ideas brewing…I’ll keep you posted.


Now that I have your attention with the awesome prize, here’s how to get your grubby little hands on it:

I am always reading and researching writing Web sites and blogs (see my last blogosphere post, if you don’t believe me).  At the same time, I am always looking for new ones to add to my online library.

For this contest, all you need to do is provide me with the URL of your favorite writing Web site or blog.

Entries can focus on anything from crafting to the industry.  **If you’re picking a blog, please send me the specific URL of one of your favorite posts from said blog.**

All entries should be informative or awesome—but preferably both!  I will be the sole judge, and my favorite will be the winner.


All you need to do to enter is either:

  • leave the URL of your choice in the comments of this post


  • e-mail it to me at


Although my blog traffic has quadrupled since November, I want to reach more writers!

Mmm - peanut butter swirl!

That said, any entrant who Retweets my blog posts this week (I always Tweet them as I post them) or posts a link to my blog on his or her blog will earn “extra credit.”

I will check my Twitter replies daily, but if you blog about this contest or link to my blog somewhere, please shoot me an e-mail to let me know so I can figure in your “extra credit.”

If you’re not already following me on Twitter, click on my Twitter ID (@RickiSchultz) or my latest Tweets, located at the bottom right of this blog.

**If you don’t have a Twitter account or a blog, fear not.  This will not necessarily determine the winner – but it will probably help me in the event of a tie.


All entries must be received by Tuesday, January 26 at 12:00 A.M. EST. No exceptions!

Questions? No? OK—good!  Now, get out there and dazzle me with the most mind-blowingly amazing writing sites and blogs you’ve ever seen!

If your sites are so-so, you might want to consider using a Bedazzler. How much more badass is this crappy Hello Kitty PC?


A guest post I did over at Chuck Sambuchino‘s Guide to Literary Agents blog got a shout-out today in guest blogger Nancy Parish‘s “Footnotes” series, a recurring series where she lists articles on a given topic (also on the GLA blog), so I thought I’d give her a reciprocal shout-out.  Thanks, Nancy!

The topic of today’s post is on query letters (yes, I know I should be editing my MS and not blogging—so sue me!).



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