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Author Archives: Chuck Sambuchino
If you want to find success as an author — whether through traditional publishing or self-publishing — you must make an effort to connect with other people. That’s the whole point of social sites like Twitter and Facebook — to connect with readers and writers. But fundamentally more important than social media is simply having a (free) comprehensive author website. That’s why we’ve enlisted eMedia professor and guru Jane Friedman to teach the webinar “Create an Author Website in 24 Hours or Less” at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, September 20, 2012. The intensive class lasts two hours.
Speaking from an editor’s perspective, I can tell you that having a simple, neat website is absolutely essential. You must have something show up when people Google you or try to connect with you. All webinar attendees get to ask Jane as many questions as she wants, and no question goes unanswered. The event happens at 1 p.m., EST, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Read more
2. Never quit for the day without being excited about what you’re going to write next. Forget finishing the chapter or getting to a good stopping place. It is absolutely imperative to stop in the middle. I get up only when I have the next sentence or event in my mind. That way, I’m anxious to get back to it. I’ll be thinking about it as I do other things (see #1 above) and the story and my characters will be calling to me. When I don’t do that, the next time I sit down I will face a blank page and I can spend the entire day wandering and wondering and never move forward. Read more
2. Suspects are the main characters. Not everyone will agree with this idea, but for me it’s quite important. Usually crime novels have a hero– a main character in charge of the investigation (like a policeman, a journalist, a lawyer or an anonymous person interested in solving the mystery). That hero will probably have their own problems, weaknesses and strengths. But what we call secondary characters—the ones who have a relationship with the victim, the ones who may have committed the murder—must be portrayed as complex human beings. In other words, in real life they would not be secondary characters so give them your attention. Additionally, we lie both in real life and in fiction, so keep that in mind when writing dialogue. Lies can be meaningful for suspense-building, After all, nobody tells the complete truth. Never. Read more
This series is called “Successful Queries” and I’m posting actual query letter examples that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting these query letter samples, we will also get to hear thoughts from the writer’s literary agent as to why the letter worked.
The 62nd installment in this series is with agent Melissa Jeglinski (The Knight Literary) for Amanda Sun’s debut young adult novel, the urban fantasy INK (Harlequin Teen, June 2013). Read more
Steven is seeking: Steve wants to be surprised with fresh ideas, particularly from young people. He represents a wide range of fiction and nonfiction books for adults and children. Spiritual themes are a favorite. Please no erotica, poetry, chainsaw murders, picture books, or screenplays. Read more
My friend’s example spurred me to reconsider my responses when fellow writers asked for my critiques. Recently reading a colleague’s memoir, at the opening pages I reacted like Jon initially—instant dismay. How could my friend write this crap? Then I recalled Jon’s next response: he recognized his daughter’s honest desire and took it seriously.
With trepidation, I approached my friend’s work, not wanting to “offend.” But I realized I had to honor both myself and him by being honest—as Jon was in listing the needed and maybe less-than-pleasant requirements of the lemonade project. Read more
If you live anywhere near the DC/Virginia/Maryland area, a great writers’ conference is coming up that you should take note of. The 2013 Hunt Country Writers Retreat runs from July 5-7, 2013 in beautiful Middleburg, Va. (1 hour from metro DC). This annual event features 1.5 days of sessions and instruction on the craft & business of writing, and features multiple literary agents each year who meet with attendees to hear book pitches. I’ll be at the event instructing — come meet me! Learn more below. Read more
She is seeking: Roz is interested in literary and commercial fiction, women’s fiction, literary sci-fi, and literary YA. She loves novels that make her feel like the author is tuned into a rising revolution — cultural, political, literary, or whatnot — that’s about to burst on the scene. She looks for a resonant, lively voice; rich, irresistible language; complex characters with compelling development arcs; and a mastery of dramatic structure. Roz is also interested in non-fiction in the areas of current affairs, design, business, cultural anthropology/social science, politics, psychology and memoir. Here, she looks for driven, narrative storytelling and sharp concepts that have the potential to transcend their primary audience. Read more
The Art of Revision: Perfecting Your Book For Submission: June 20 Webinar With Agent Michelle Brower
All published authors can tell you that their first draft looks nothing like the finished book they sign at bookstores. How do they edit their material to take their work to a professional level? What are agents/editors looking for today in terms of a polished manuscript? Is grammar all that important, or should the story speak for itself? How many revisions should a manuscript go through before it’s considered “ready”? What are some principles on cutting down your word count and streamlining your story?
In this popular, intensive webinar, “The Art of Revision: Perfecting Your Book For Submission,” literary agent Michelle Brower will answer these questions and more. The event happens at 1 p.m., Thursday, June 20, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees will get a personal critique from Michelle. You can submit either a one-page synopsis or the first two double-spaced pages of your novel. (Remember that several agents — including Barbara Poelle, Louise Fury and Kathleen Ortiz — have signed writers after critiquing their work through a WD webinar.) Read more
Our Meeting at the New Jersey RWA. I’ve always loved hearing about how authors found their agents. This is my story. In late 2011, I went to a New Jersey RWA meeting where they were having a panel of agents and editors talking. The whole thing was fascinating, and I ended up being late to the group buffet lunch that they had going on after.
By the time I got downstairs, every table was full, except for one seat next the lovely Courtney Miller-Callihan of Sanford J Greenburger Associates. So we spent lunch chatting about our toddlers, etc., and at the end of the day I asked if I could query her. No pitch, just if she wouldn’t mind if I emailed her a pitch. The next day she requested the full and followed me on Twitter. A few weeks went by, and she @-replied me on Twitter saying she was loving my manuscript and would get back to me ASAP. I called all my friends and asked what they thought ASAP meant in literary-agent speak. Ten seconds? Ten days? Ten weeks? Read more
When literary agent Elizabeth Kracht (Kimberley Cameron & Associates) asked me to be her assistant, I jumped at the opportunity. Since then, I have been exclusively perusing E’s slush pile; helping with client manuscripts; aiding with editorial pitch letters; and answering a general melee of unique and sometimes challenging questions.
Learning about The Industry from the inside has really helped me see what I need to do in my own writing, in order to boost myself up to that place we all desire: Getting our novel or collection or memoir, etc, out there. The information, the discussions (some involving me, some overheard), the questions and challenges, are invaluable to a young writer. I am learning the ropes, cutting my literary teeth, washing the green off, slowly. Read more
What All Agents Want in a Great Young Adult Novel — June 13 Webinar With Critique by Agent Carlie Webber
Many writers today are trying their hand nowadays at writing young adult. It’s a popular genre with readers, and that means it’s a very popular genre with aspiring writers. Submissions are plentiful in YA, and teens have a lot of options each year in terms of what to read. So what can you do to ensure that your novel is the one they’ll all be dying to have? And does your book stand a chance at getting you an agent if it doesn’t have wizards, vampires, or a dystopian setting?
Literary agent Carlie Webber will answer these questions and also show how setting, pacing, and tension all work with the voice to create a memorable novel. She’ll also talk about the elements that separate middle grade novels from YA, and YA from adult. It’s all part of “What All Agents Want in a Great Young Adult Novel,” a brand new webinar at 1 p.m., Thursday, June 13, 2013. It lasts 90 minutes. (Don’t forget that at least three agents have signed writers after critiquing their work at a WD webinar!) Read more
June 14 Deadline: WD’s Annual Competition Has a $3,000 Grand Prize With a Paid NYC Trip to Meet Agents
June 14, 2013 is coming up fast — and that date marks the official deadline to enter WD’s 82nd Annual Writing Competition. Your motivation to enter is simple: The grand-prize winner not only gets a nice $3,000 first prize, they also get a trip to New York City to meet with agents and editors. It’s a dream opportunity and an amazing contest with a long and storied past. There are plenty of prizes for other winners, too. But June 14 approaches quickly. Learn more about the categories and prizes below — then enter! Read more
People ask me – you’ve got a child, a job, a commute, a house to run. How do you fit it all in? Well, to start with, all that stuff about scheduling my day, setting aside proper writing time, settling myself into a solid routine? Forget it.
That’s all shiny and fine if you’ve the time and the space. If you’ve got the job, and the family and the multipack of other fun responsibilities, you know it doesn’t work like that. However good your intentions, it’ll get messed up within three days of that nice chart thing that you’ve pinned to your fridge. That’s just how life works. So:
1. Master the art of snap-writing… Read more
Sarah is seeking: She is interested in representing all varieties of romance / women’s fiction: contemporary, historical, Western, sports, regency, inspirational, urban fantasy, paranormal, young adult and any combination thereof. Out of all of those, she’s really love to see a contemporary military romance, a great/quirky historical, or a really awesome inspirational romance. She also enjoys stories with a strong supporting cast of animal characters: horses, dogs, cats. Read more
Bridget is seeking: Bridget is looking for middle grade and young adult novels in a range of genres, including fantasy and science fiction, historical fiction, romance, and contemporary. However, she’s also keeping an eye out for any book that bends the rules of genre or any books with underrepresented or minority characters. When it comes to adult fiction, Bridget especially wants fantasy and science fiction, historical fiction, and literary women’s fiction, as well as informational, literary nonfiction, especially science or history written by experts for a general audience. Read more
There is a fairly common misconception about what >b>revision means. That is, if you are a talented writer, you will write an inspired first draft, which you can perfect by making sentences better, fleshing out characters, checking facts, catching continuity problems, and the like. But real revision – in fiction at least – is a rigorous imposition of the imagination on a piece of writing that is certain to be incomplete, or that is fatally unsure of itself, or has a surety that will be revealed as false if you look closely.
True, there are some brilliant works that have come to the writer as a whole. This is a mystery to writers (and scientists, when it happens to them), and we’re all lucky if it happens once in a lifetime. Best not to count on it. Best to come to an understanding of what revision really entails. Read more
Write Opening Lines and Chapters That Hook Readers — June 6, 2013 Webinar With Agent Victoria Marini
In order for someone to keep reading your manuscript, it has to start strong. Gone are the days when a book could “get good on page 44.” Now it’s imperative for writers to hook agents & editors with their chapter 1, page 1 — and even paragraph 1. But this is a tricky endeavor. Which beginnings are overused? Should you start with action? How much description is too much?
These types of questions are why we’ve corralled awesome agent Victoria Marini (Gelfman Schneider Literary) to teach the all-new webinar, “First Impressions: Write Opening Lines, Paragraphs, and Chapters That Keep an Agent’s Interest.” It all goes down at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, June 6, 2013, and lasts 75 minutes. Read more
The annual Agents & Editors Conference put on by the Writers League of Texas is perhaps the premiere literary conference in Texas. I got the chance to teach there in 2008 and was invited back this year (June 21-23, 2013) to be the keynote speaker. So if you’re interested in attending a conference that is 1) located in a great city, and 2) teeming with literary agents looking for writers, then this event is a great one for you. Read more
1. Know the last sentence before you write the first one. Everything I know about the writing craft, I learned from my twenty-four year career as a television news cameraman. I’d get dropped into some far flung corner of planet earth with a deadline looming over my head, and I’d look for two things straight away; a closing shot then an opening shot. Two shots that would frame and define the story I wanted to capture in the camera lens. Once I had those two shots, all I needed to do was fill in the middle bit. Of course filling in the “middle bit” in a manner that was true to the storytelling and worthy of the open and close was often a hard, and sometimes dangerous, slog.
GIVEAWAY: Jon is excited to give away a free copy of his novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: Moscoboy won.) Read more