Archive for the ‘critique partners’ Tag

In the Blogosphere: 3/14-3/25

“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.

HOW-TOs

Are you in query hell right now? Author Shawn Klomparens offers five easy steps to writing a query letter in this guest post on Writer Unboxed.

If you need more help in snagging an agent, check out Trans/plant/portation’s thoughts on the subject: maybe break some rules.

Okay, so what if that’s not the problem—what if you’re just Procrastination Patty (or Paul) these days? Here, Christine MacDonald gives six tips on getting back on track—applicable to any field, really.

So, now that you’ve signed with an agent and an editor snapped up your book in a major deal, it’s time to start planning your release party. W00t! Here’s author Jody Hedlund’s advice.

Pepper . . . I mean, Procrastination Patty. "Let's go shopping for flip-flops!"

CRAFT

We hear it all the time, but it’s important enough to revisit—all the time.  Here, Kidlit.com’s Mary Kole talks about specificity in setting.

And what’s a great setting without great characters?  TotallytheBomb.com’s Jamie Harrington says compelling characters come from what you, the author, know.

If you’re feeling a little sketchville on how to get to know your characters, fear not. The awesomesauce ladies of Adventures in Children’s Publishing have laid it all out for you in terms of Goal, Motivation, Conflict, and Tension.

BETAS, CPS & FRESH EYES—OH MY!

If you feel a case of writer-brain coming on, author Julie Ann Lindsey suggests you get a critique partner.  Lord knows mine have saved my sanity life on more than one occasion!

But how do you go about being a GOOD crit partner or beta reader?  YA Highway to the rescue!*

*Not just applicable to YA writers.

RESOURCES

TONS of my writing friends are passing their time and trying to increase their platforms by submitting short stories to anthologies.  But where does one go to find such markets? On Nick Daws‘ Writing Blog (Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog?), Nick himself lists seven of the top resources for that very purpose. Thanks, Nick!

This was originally intended for NaNoWriMo, back in November. However, as many writing friends seem to be getting over their winter freeze and jumping into new projects, here’s Write Anything’s Andrea Allison with ten Web sites to aid you through the plotting and planning process.

YOWZAS

Say it isn’t so!

Dude, these guys are so smart. Here’s Hank Green on lexical gaps—and the opposite of virginity.

Agree?  Here is American Book Reviews’ take on the 100 best first lines from novels.

Happy Friday, my loves!

Any good plans?

You Have a Question? I Have an Answer: What Do I Do When I’m Stuck in Query Hell?

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

Q:  Hi Ricki,

I have written a book that has received the highest praise from readers all over the world. It even came first in the UKAuthors contest in the Historical category.

In the last 10 years, I have had two agents, both of whom were extremely impressed with my work but could not find a publisher for it. Now even agents shy away from it. I am not giving up hope nor will I stop plugging it. I am writing to ask if you can figure out why a work that garners so much praise should face constant rejection.

—E.J.

A: Thank you for your e-mail!

The (somewhat frustrating) answer is that it could simply be the subjective nature of this business.

We have heard it time and time again: not everything we write is publishable.  Particularly if it’s a first book.  As unsettling as that is to think or hear about one’s “baby,” it’s true.

However, you have a lot going in your favor on this one.  While I am not familiar with most of the reviewers you listed in your e-mail, you certainly do have a lot of them.  And they don’t seem to be your mom/your brother/your best friend since high school praising your book.  It seems you have a wide array of people who see the merit in it.

Another thing you have going for you is that you have had two agents.  Of course, I don’t know the circumstances of why you no longer have them or how long ago that was, but that in itself says you are a good writer—and certainly capable of getting an agent.  In an industry where it’s a painful process to even get one, you’ve had two.  So, you’re that much farther ahead of the game.

As I’m sure you know, getting an agent interested in your book and then getting a publishing house interested in it can be an arduous task because these people need to fall in love with your work—and love it as much as you do.  It could be that you just haven’t found that “right person” yet who “gets” your writing yet.

All that said, there are a couple of things you can do; however, unfortunately, none of them will offer immediate results (but as a writer, I’m sure you know that already).

YOUR OPTIONS

1.  Self-publish it. This isn’t the best option for everyone; however, depending on what you want to do with your career or how well you think you’d be able to sell your book on your own (for instance, if you do a lot of speaking engagements, you could peddle it at those, etc.), you might want to go that route.  If you sell a lot of books and build up your platform a bit, you might even have publishing companies approaching you to re-pub at one of their houses.  This is rare, but it does happen.

Just keep swimming . . .

2.  Keep doing what you’re doing: query, query, query. Look at where in the query process your book seems to be falling short.  Is it the query itself?  Is it after you send in a partial or a full?  Research the heck out of agents, and keep looking for that special (agent) someone who will connect with your manuscript.

3.  Appeal to others. Send the manuscript through a round of critiques with your critique group or a few of your trusted writer friends.  Have each person give you an overall critique, and perhaps give them a few things to be on the lookout for specifically (i.e., characterization, setting, etc.).  Take the feedback you’ve gotten in agent rejections as well as the criticism your crit partners offer and consider having another go at the editing before you query again.  Perhaps the manuscript wasn’t as “ready” as you thought.

4.  Put this manuscript away and write something else. This one makes a lot of sense, but it’s also one that no one wants to hear.  You’ve obviously proven you can write, so write something else and hook an agent with that manuscript instead.  Once you’ve shown you can deliver a marketable product, agents and editors are much more likely to be interested in something they might have shied away from at first.  I’m not saying to sell out or write to trends, but get your juices a-flowing with something else.  Getting your mind off the first one is most likely going to be a welcome distraction when you’re stuck in the depths of query hell.

Thank you very much for the question, and I wish you luck—however you decide to move forward.

Dante forgot to add writers to his ninth circle of hell in his INFERNO.

Shenandoah Writers: We *Doubled* in Size at the May 4 Meeting

Last night, at the May 4 Shenandoah Writers (In Real Life)—or SW(IRL), as I nerdily call it—meeting, we doubled in size from the last few months.  Yay!

We focused on a “meeting and greeting,” our SheNoWriMo projects, and plans for SW(IRL)’s future.  Here are some things we decided:

  • Write-In. We will be holding our first Shenandoah Writers write-in at Château Schultz on May 15, from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. If you’re in the area and would like to attend, please let me know via e-mail ASAP, so I can give you directions.
  • More Meetings. We will now meet semi-monthly—every other Tuesday night—so our next meeting will be May 18 at 7 P.M.  We’re also going to be mixing up the meeting locations—while we’ll hold the meetings on the first Tuesdays of each month at Barnes & Noble at Harrisonburg Crossing (we now even have a sign!), we’ll be trying some other venues for the second meetings each month.
  • Critique Time. We also came up with a critique plan.  In addition to diving right in with a critique of an opening sentence from each of us, we will spend some time at the next meeting talking about *how* to critique one’s work in a helpful, effective, and constructive way.

  • “Assignment.” For next week’s meeting, since we all have SheNoWriMo projects we started (or are starting), we would like to take a look at novel and short story beginnings.
    • The first part of the “assignment” is to each bring in the first sentence of something we’ve written.
    • The second part of the “assignment” is to each bring in a book with a great opening line/paragraph.
    • We will dissect these openings and talk about why they work—and, hopefully, apply our findings to our own openers as we critique them.
  • Luck of the Draw. We also drew numbers for subsequent meetings, where we decided to critique a longer passive of each members work, two members per meeting.  I’m not sure if we decided whether it will be a first chapter or first couple of pages (I think that might be up to the author), but I plan to nail this down at the meeting next week.
  • Resources. We also talked a little about PaperBackSwap.com and Kat’s text book from a fiction course she’s taking right now titled What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers.

All in all, a great meeting—and I’m completely rejuvenated!

In the Blogosphere: 12/21-12/25

“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.

RESOURCES

Upstart Crow Literary founder Michael Stearns lists 20 things the editors of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers say make for a good children’s story.  Stearns says these qualities might not be true of *every* good story—but he believes they are true of the *best* stories.  And, um, he’s a literary agent, so I’m thinking he knows a thing or two about the subject?

Here, Rob Reinalda of Ragan Communications offers advice on how to add some sizzle to your writing: use clichés.  Wha?  Reinalda is talking about foreign idioms, and in the post, he plugs Jag Bhalla’s book, I’m Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears (and Other Intriguing Idioms from Around the World).  Being the language nerd that I am, I wish I had heard of this book about a week earlier so I could have added it to my Christmas list—sounds interesting!

A Yiddish insult: "Onions should grow from your navel." Well, I never!!!

Writer’s Relief talks critique partners: why they’re helpful, how to find them, and what to look for in one.

Super hilarious and super awesome young adult author Maureen Johnson gives the gift of a free e-book—her latest, Suite Scarlett–(from now through Jan. 15) on her blog.  Don’t miss your chance to get your hands on it!

Over at Writer Unboxed, Writer’s Digest‘s (F+W Media) Jane Friedman discusses what makes her tic in terms of Web sites and blogs.

NOT A BLOG

I stumbled upon the first of this seven-part YouTube series on the aforementioned Jane Friedman‘s blog, There Are No Rules, but it was so hilarious—and helpful—I wanted to post the links to all the videos.

Mike of Red Letter Media, a filmmaker, videographer, editor, and video blogger, reviews Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace.  Each video is about 10 minutes long, and as I mentioned, there are seven of them, but they are chockfull of not only cracks at George Lucas but also tips on storytelling—from character development to plot.

Oh gawd.

He’s got a pretty sick sense of humor, which my husband and I found to be pretty entertaining; but if you are easily offended, this might not be the video series for you.

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