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Breaking In (Writer’s Digest)

“The How of Where” — The Importance of Setting in Your Fiction

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In some books, you scarcely recall where the narrative took place. Others could have unfolded anywhere, at any time. Perhaps this was a purposeful decision by the author – universality, timelessness. But if the story is intended to be a product of its setting, how to render that setting in a living way? How do you take it from backdrop to character?

GIVEAWAY: David is excited to give away a free copy of his novel to 10 random commenters. Comment within one week; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the print book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: The 10 winners are Clay, Jamie, ninorota, Dennisfp1, Chezza, pmettert, ktgresham, Eddi, Karen and ltodd.) Read more

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Jane Borden

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This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their career can talk about seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This installment is from writer Jane Borden.

Jane Borden is the author of the humorous memoir I Totally Meant to Do That (March 2011; Broadway), a story about a Southern girl who moves to New York. Read more

Successful Queries: Agent Jim McCarthy and “Freefall”

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This series is called “Successful Queries” and I’m posting actual query letters that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting the actual query letter, we will also get to hear thoughts from the agent as to why the letter worked.

The 45th installment in this series is with agent Jim McCarthy (Dystel & Goderich) and his author, Mindi Scott, for her YA novel, Freefall, which was released in Oct. 2010 from Simon Pulse. The New York Journal of Books said this of the YA novel: “With characters that ring true and a journey that proves honest, Freefall is no doubt sure to be one of the best contemporary young adult books of the year.” Read more

Successful Queries: Agent Janet Reid and “Numb”

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This series is called “Successful Queries” and I’m posting actual query letters that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting the actual query letter, we will also get to hear thoughts from the agent as to why the letter worked.

The 43rd installment in this series is with agent Janet Reid (FinePrint Literary Management) and her author, Sean Ferrell, for his novel, Numb, which was released in August 2010 from Harper Perennial. Kirkus Reviews called Numb an “eye-catching debut … Artfully barbed entertainment.” Read more

Successful Queries: Agent Dan Lazar and “The Bells”

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This series is called “Successful Queries” and I’m posting actual query letters that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting the actual query letter, we will also get to hear thoughts from the agent as to why the letter worked.

The 42nd installment in this series is with agent Dan Lazar (Writers House) and his author, Richard Harvell, for his historical novel, The Bells, which came out this week (Sept. 14, 2010) from Crown. Booklist said this of the book: “Harvell has fashioned an engrossing first novel ringing with sounds; a musical and literary treat.” Read more

18 Easy Steps to Becoming a Writer

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One thing many people ask me is: How? How do I become a writer? Well, I’m here to answer that question once and for all. Keep in mind this applies equally well to deciding you’re going to write a short story or deciding you’re going to write a novel. Heck, it even applies to scholarly or work-related writing.

Guest column by Kiersten White, author of Paranormalcy (HarperTeen; Aug. 2010), which recently hit the NYT best seller list. Read more

At What Point Can You Call Yourself a Writer?

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The moment you tell people you’re a writer, they ask the inevitable question, “What have you written?” They have no idea the shame involved in answering this type of question though they are, in a sense, asking you to justify the hours you spend each day scribbling your ideas down on paper. And it’s not likely they’re asking you to describe the many unfinished projects you’re tinkering with on your computer. They want to know the titles of your books.

Guest column by Susan Henderson, two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of Up from the Blue (HarperCollins, Sept 21, 2010) Read more

Successful Queries: Agent Meredith Kaffel and “Shadow Hills”

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This series is called “Successful Queries” and I’m posting actual query letters that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting the actual query letter, we will also get to hear thoughts from the agent as to why the letter worked.

The 40th installment in this series is with agent Meredith Kaffel (Charlotte Sheedy Literary) and her author, Anastasia Hopcus, for her young adult paranormal novel, Shadow Hills, which came out July 13 from Egmont. School Library journal said this about the book: “Even characters with minimal roles are fleshed out via Hopcus’s rich use of language … It will be especially popular with those who prefer their supernatural romances with more sweetness and fewer sexual themes.” Read more

Some Tips for Writing a Series

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When you find yourself in the position of planning or being contracted for a series of books—whether for two or twenty-two—it’s important to keep track of the details, and have a final goal in mind for your characters to reach.

Guest column by Jess Haines, author of Hunted by the Others, the first in an urban fantasy series. Read more

How I Got My Agent: Cicily Janus

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

Cicily Janus is the author of The New Face of Jazz (Random House, July 2010), which Grammy-winner Wynton Marsalis called “probably one of the most important books on jazz to date.” Read more

Successful Queries: Agent Elana Roth and Eli Stutz’s “Pickle Impossible”

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This series is called “Successful Queries” and I’m posting actual query letters that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting the actual query letter, we will also get to hear thoughts from the agent as to why the letter worked.

The 39th installment in this series is with agent Elana Roth (Caren Johnson Literary) and her author, Eli Stutz, for his middle grade book, Pickle Impossible, which was released in May 2010 from Bloomsbury. Read more

How I Got My Agent: Boyd Morrison

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

Boyd Morrison’s novel The Ark was released in May 2010. The novel was chosen as an Indie Next notable pick by the American Booksellers Association and has sold in 18 foreign markets. Boyd’s next book is Rogue Wave (Dec. 2010). Read more

How I Got My Agent: Tom Leveen

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

Tom Leveen’s debut novel, Party, was released in April 2010 (Random House). It tells the story of a summer party and 11 teenagers who intersect in ways that none of them saw coming. Read more

Announcing the Best Agent Blogs for 2010

Every year, Writer’s Digest compiles its massive “101 Best Websites for Writers” article, and this year’s installment just hit newsstands in the May/June issue. (It will be online soon.) With that in … Read more

Successful Queries: Agent Michelle Brower and “The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors”

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This new series is called “Successful Queries” and I’m posting actual query letters that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting the actual query letter, we will also get to hear thoughts from the agent as to why the letter worked.

The 34th installment in this series is with agent Michelle Brower (Folio Literary) and her author, Michele Young-Stone, for the literary fiction novel, The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors (April 2010). Read more

How I Got My Agent: James L. Rubart

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

James L. Rubart’s first novel is Rooms, a suspense novel released in April 2010 by B&H Books. Read more

Successful Queries: Agent Ginger Clark and “A Match Made in High School”

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This new series is called “Successful Queries” and I’m posting actual query letters that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting the actual query letter, we will also get to hear thoughts from the agent as to why the letter worked.

The 33rd installment in this series is with agent Ginger Clark (Curtis Brown) and her author, Kristin Walker, for the YA novel, A Match Made in High School (Feb. 2010, Razorbill). Read more

How I Got My Agent: Ellen Bryson

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

Ellen Bryson‘s book, The Transformation ofBartholomew Fortuno, comes out in June 2010. Read more

How I Got My Agent: Debra Berndt

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

Debra Berndt is the author of Let Love In: Open Your Heart and Mind to Attract Your Ideal Partner. Read more

Successful Queries: Agent Tina Wexler and ‘Tagged’

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This series is called “Successful Queries” and I’m posting actual query letters that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting the actual query letter, we will also get to hear thoughts from the agent as to why the letter worked.

The 26th installment in this series is with agent Tina Wexler (ICM) and her author, Mara Purnhagen, for her young adult book, Tagged. Read more

How I Got My Agent: Matt Mikalatos

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

Matt Mikalatos is a freelancer, and author of the novel Imaginary Jesus (BarnaBooks, April 2010). Read more

How I Got My Agent: Kody Keplinger

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

Kody Keplinger is a YA writer whose book, The DUFF(Designated Ugly Fat Friend), was released in Oct. 2010. Read more

How I Got My Agent: Colin Broderick

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

Colin Broderick is the author of the memoir Orangutan. Read more

How I Got My Agent: Billy Coffey

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

Billy Coffey writes Christian nonfiction and fiction. His novel, Snow Day, was released in Oct. 2010 from FaithWords. Read more

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