Friday, January 29, 2010

A Literary Agent's 2010 Wishlist

I think we all like as much insight as possible into what an agent is really looking for, and along that line here's a wishlist from Chris Richman of Upstart Crow Literary. So if you write MG or YA fiction for boys this is the place to go...My 2010 Wishlist.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tips on a Solid Query Letter

This was an aptly timed article on the Writers Digest website from Ann Rittenberg of the Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency in NY: Basics of a Solid 3-Paragraph Query

I'm in the process of drafting a new query letter for my childrens book, Petunia Wiggles, Giggles and Hops and this is coming in handy. I hope it helps you too. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Quote of the Day - Louis Brandeis

"Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done. " - Louis Brandeis

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

YA Webcast Events from the School Library Journal

There are two upcoming webcast events from the School Library Journal that may be of interest to my fellow YA writers out there. I plan on participating, how about you?

And here are some links to some upcoming events that may be of interest:
SLJTeen Spring 2010 Book Buzz
DATE: Thursday, February 11, 2010
TIME: 2:00-3:00 PM ET

What’s Up in YA Books 2010
DATE: Thursday, February 25, 2010
TIME: 2:00-3:00 PM ET

Friday, January 22, 2010

Selling YOUR Book for the Amazon Kindle & Beyond

Did you know that you can upload your book and offer it for sale for the Amazon Kindle? The Kindle Digital Text Platform allows authors and publishers to format and upload their own books to the Kindle Store. This is a great option for making self-published & backlist books more viable for longer. And with the announcement from Amazon that they will be offering a 70% royalty option, this is a must to check-out.

And reading the books it's not just for people who have a Kindle, because Amazon offers access to Kindle books free through a computer. Who doesn't have a computer these days?

My book, Do You? was a finalist in two book award programs, but the price point that was set by the publisher has made it a challenge to get large sales numbers from the print version. So this may be a viable way of increasing sales, and increasing the awareness and distribution of the book.


Here are some helpful links for researching the Amazon Kindle Digital Text Platform:
Amazon Digital Text Platform Quick Start Guide
Kindle Store
Welcome to Digital Text Platform

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The "It" Factor

I was waiting in line at Starbucks this morning, observing the people as I often do, and listening to the music. I don’t know who the artist was that was playing but the music was soulful and filled with emotion. I was struck by how hard the song was to sing but how easy the singer made it sound. The song made me break out in goose bumps, and I felt the instant tug at my emotional core. It’s a feeling I get when I feel the artist in the work, when I feel a connection to it, when the work is good, really good. It’s hard to describe it, but when I get it, I know this is talent.

I get the same feeling for books, paintings…anything artistic. And it made me wonder, this morning, if this is the same feeling an agent needs to feel about a writer’s work before they agree to represent her. It’s the feeling I strive for in my writing, although it’s hard to be objective. The investment it takes to write a novel is more than can ever be described. The creation of a novel is wrought with self-doubt, emotional commitment, creative highs & lows, and time. And in the end, there’s a life within the pages, but does it have the “it” factor? And who does it have the “it” factor for, because not everyone will be struck by the work in the same way.

So the next part of the journey is discovering:
  • If the work has “it” - Solicit feedback from readers, other writers, critique groups, etc. I use my husband as my first gauge of “it”, but is it enough? Not everyone will view the work the same, and how do you filter the true feedback from the candy-coated ones.
  • Does the work need more revision?
  • Finding the right fit in a literary agent, finding an agent that feels “it” in the novel and wants the world to feel the experience. Ensuring this agent backs the support with the hard work and perseverance required to sell this work to a publisher.
So I continue to revise my work in an effort to create the best novel I can, one that has “it” in the end, and I’m anxious to get to the point of discovering the next part of the journey.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Contest Alert - Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Just a reminder to everyone interested in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award that the window for entering is coming up quick. Open submissions for manuscripts will begin on January 25, 2010 and wil remain open until February 7, 2010 or until 5000 entries are received in each category, whichever comes first.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Weekend Without Writing

I didn't get any writing done this weekend and it's left me wondering why. I wanted to write. So why didn't I? Yes, there was the arrival of a new baby to the family (my sister-in-law had her first this weekend), and we had to visit baby Zachary and the family. And then there was the food shopping, the cleaning, balancing the budget, filing our taxes, and homework with my son. Phew it's dizzying just thinking about everything I did get accomplished. So, I'll just start fresh today. Too bad I don't have another day off to devote just to writing, but I'll make do and squeeze in some writing time somewhere.

Happy writing everyone!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Word Counts Revisited

We've talked about word count before (Manuscript Word Count & Format), but I thought it pertinent to bring it up again as Chuck Sambuchino has a great post on the subject from September that I just stumbled upon today: Word Count for Novels and Children's Books: The Definitive Post. It's good to have a guideline particulary when an agent is looking for a reason to move your manuscript out of the pile (and usually that means into the rejection category). Hopefully these guidelines can give us one more reason to keep us out of that rejection pile. Good luck everyone!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Help Haiti - did you do your part?

I just did my part...did you do yours yet?

Text "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross to help relief efforts. Text "yele" to 501501 to donate $5 to Wyclef's organization, YĆ©le Haiti. It'll be charged to your phone service. It doesn't get any easier than this. Pass it on...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Kicking Myself into Action

I am dragging this morning. Maybe it's the cold weather, maybe because it's the middle of the week, maybe it's so many things, but whatever "it" is, I am going at a slow pace this morning. I'm in the office, unmotivated, and lacking any creative flow whatsoever. So, I've made myself a nice cup of tea, and I'm determined to push myself into productivity. I've opened Word, and I'll start by setting some goals. Then I'll reread a few of my blog posts from November when I was doing NaNoWriMo - there's a few nuggets during that period that might kickstart a little action. Then, I'll just get to typing. Something is bound to start, right? Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Sometimes I think it's useful to pull information from sources outside of the writing world. As an example, I think frustration can be a big part of a writers life, but it's not specific to writing. Anyone can get frustrated. So when I saw this blog post about frustration today, I knew I had to share it. Because yes, sometimes I get really frustrated. So much so that I want to run to the window and scream. But I don't. So here's a quick read on frustration from the Zig Ziglar weekly newsletter.

So, what do you do when you get frustrated?

Friday, January 08, 2010

ER Trip & No Writing Today

I had plans to take the ideas from yesterday's epiphany and start working on them in my novel, but that didn't happen. Instead I found myself in the ER with my son until 5am. He's got a nasty stomach virus it seems and still isn't feeling well, so today was spent sleeping, and taking care of my son. I'm sure I'll be headed to bed early tonight. No writing today. I'll reset the goals for tomorrow.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Hidden Force 2 - Epiphany!

So let me set the scene. I was tired last night, and I really didn't want to sit down on the laptop and work on the second book of my YA fiction novel, Hidden Force. I was congested and wanted to go to bed. But, I forced myself to work on about 450 words of revisions...not much I know but better than nothing. Then, instead of going to bed, I headed to the shower. Well, that's when it hit me. As I was finishing, I was hit with an epiphany for the novel. Out of the blue, just like that, the element I needed to bring it all together and move it from just "good" to "amazing" came to me. No longer was I tired. I rushed to find some index cards and a pencil to jot down the idea before it faded into nothingness. There were details there that I couldn't forget. As I jotted down one detail, it lead me to another, and another. These were elements that would tie-up loose ends, answer knawing questions within the plot, and bring the story a sense of completeness. And within this epiphany also came an alternate ending that would build the pace and momentum in the novel.

I can't give away too much since I haven't written it yet, but here's a taste of what came to me last night:
Belial knows Faith's potential & wants to bate her to use her power in a full-out explosive burst. This would set-off a chain reaction: causing the barriers between the two worlds to crack, melding elements of the two worlds, causing Enlita to crumble, and seeping Enlita's energy to earth creating mutations to all living things.

The index cards, with all the ideas, are now pinned to my writing board - reminders to weave the elements into the story in the appropriate places.

I love epiphanies, I just wish I had more control over them. This was a big moment.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Anyone Looking For a Job in the Publishing Industry?

Do you know someone who is looking for a job in the publishing industry? If so, you may want to forward them this link to MediaBistro's GalleyCat job boards. With their hands on the pulse of the publishing industry, MediaBistro frequently lists job postings that publishing houses have announced.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Manuscript Review - by Agent & Editor

Have you ever wondered what goes through an editor's mind when reviewing a manuscript? How about an agent? Well two amazing posts came over the blogroll that I just had to pass along. These give writers great insight to the world of publishing as it pertains to the two questions above.

Here's a post from Kathleen Temean's blog, "Top Ten Questions Dutton Editors Ask Themselves When Looking At A Manscript". I printed this one and pinned it to my writing board. I'm going to review these questions with every manuscript I have. As writers, we need to supply the content in our work that will get us past the slush pile and into the hands of the agents, editors, and publishers. And these questions once answered and fulfilled with our novels, will also help us define elements of marketing the book which thus gets us into bookstores and into the hands of our readers.

And then there's the post over on Literary Agent Janet Reid's blog today in which she tallies up the reasons for rejections on full manuscripts she's reviewed. It just shows you how polished a novel needs to be before it gets sent to an agent for review. Wow, is this good stuff. Thanks Janet for sharing the information! (Did I mention I got to meet Janet at the BEA/WD Books Writers Conference last year; she is just an awesome lady!)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Why Write?

So why write? It's an important question don't you think? I spend every spare moment of my life writing, reading, or thinking about my characters and how they can get in as much trouble as possible (and then hopefully get out of the trouble). It's not the number one priority of my life, but it is a priority - even more so in the last year. So why do I do it? I do it because I love to feel the characters come to life on the page. I love sculpting a story from just a seed of an idea. Most of my stories start as just that. Usually I don't really know exactly where it will lead - I may have a rough idea, but not a specific idea. It's a control thing in a way. It's a control that we can't exert in normal life as much as we can on the page. When was the last time you were able to list exactly what you wanted to do in your life and have it all come to pass just as you envisioned. Not! Usually there's something that makes you change plans, cross off many unaccomplished things, and suffer through with very little control. When I'm writing, If I want the character to be a heroine, no problem, add in character traits to match, put her in the right situation, and watch the fun unfold. And even more fun is to see that character have flaws, imperfections, "human" qualities and to have the control to decide exactly what will happen to her.

And, of course, I also enjoy the sense of accomplishment when a project is finished. It may take many drafts, and lot's of revisions, in other words lot's of hard work, but when it's done it feels GREAT.

So if you're like me and you've committed part of your days to writing, have you asked yourself this question? If not, let me ask the question for you...why do you write?