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October 2014 Issue
Free Writing Downloads
Workshops Starting October 2nd
Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards—Deadline Coming Soon!
Writer's Digest Popular Fiction Awards—Deadline Coming Soon!
Hurry—submit your short story by October 15!
Submit your best short stories in the Romance, Thriller, Young Adult, Crime, Horror or Science Fiction genres for a chance at the Popular Fiction Awards Grand Prize of $2,500 cash and a trip to the 2015 Writer’s Digest Conference!
Enter as many stories as you like in multiple genres, but all entries must be fewer than 4,000 words. Don’t delay—this could be your winning year!
Writing advice for authors of children’s books — including picture books, young adult novels, middle grade fiction, and more.
How to Write and Sell Great Children’s Books: July 15 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp with Awesome Critique for Attendees
WD’s July 2014 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp is shaping up to be an awesome opportunity for writers of children’s books. The new topic is “How to Write and Sell Great Children’s Books: From Toddler to Teen,” and this boot camp is for writers of picture books, middle grade novels, and young adult novels.
It all starts on July 15, 2014, and features the amazing agents at Full Circle Literary offering instruction and critiques to all attendees. Picture book writers get their entire book critiqued while MG & YA writers get a query critique and five-page critique. This is a great opportunity to get a professional’s thoughts on your work, and possibly attract the attention of an agent at the same time. There is a limited number of seats for this event (75, and it reached capacity last time it was done), and WD Boot Camps frequently sell out, so sign up quickly. Read more
1. Stop trying to find time to write. Instead, make time. When you’re in “trying-to-find” mode, you’re not giving priority to your writing. Identify the time of day when you’re the most creative, then claim that time. Show up at the page. Get up early if you have to. Lock a door if you have to. Turn off your phone and Internet. Whatever it takes for you to carve out your time—do it. Make writing happen.
GIVEAWAY: A.B. is excited to give away a free copy of her 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: leadrian won.) Read more
1. Listen to your critique group. When I first began to write, I was fortunate to meet some wonderful writers who became fabulous friends. We met regularly to work on our manuscripts. We worked to give constructive feedback to one another and because we listened to each other, our writing got better. We listened when the group told us the funny parts weren’t really all that funny. We listened when the group thought our chapters were too long. We listened when the group couldn’t relate to our characters. Listening to the group’s honest feedback made us dig deeper into our stories, making them stronger and better. Read more
Create Characters Agents & Editors Love For Middle Grade and YA Novels: Nov. 14 Webinar by Cheryl Klein (of Harry Potter Editing Fame)
Readers may buy novels for their storylines—the facts that they can learn from the flap copy or an Internet blurb. But readers love books for their characters, because compelling characters bring feeling and meaning to what would otherwise be a mere list of events (also known as the plot). And if you’re trying to hook an agent or editor, nothing will make your opening chapters stand out more than truly distinctive characters: fictional people, whom you have made real, who compel that agent or editor to want to find out what happens next.
In this live webinar — titled “Create Characters Agents & Editors Love For Middle Grade and YA Novels” – Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic executive editor Cheryl Klein will teach you multiple strategies for getting readers interested and invested in your characters. She’ll draw on examples from popular middle-grade and YA novels to show you how successful authors work their magic, and provide a solid, actionable list of techniques that can be applied singly or in combination to strengthen your characterizations, from your protagonist and villain down to your supporting cast. By the end of the webinar, you’ll be well equipped to create characters who make agents and editors want to read more of your work, and eventually keep all readers turning the pages. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, and lasts for 90 minutes. Read more
Meet Ripple Grove Press, they’re a publishing house actively seeking picture book submissions. Check them out and see if they’re a good fit for your work.
ABOUT RIPPLE GROVE: Ripple Grove Press is a family-owned children’s picture book publishing company started in 2013. “Our mission is to create picture books that come from life experiences, elegant imagination, and the deep down passion in our hearts. We want each Ripple Grove Press book to enlighten a child’s mind with fun and wonder. Ripple Grove Press searches for a powerful ‘timeless’ feel in each book we publish. Our stories will make you laugh or think or keep you guessing and dreaming. We hope our books find their way to the cozy spot on the floor and are the last ones read at bedtime.” Read more
New Literary Agent Alerts: Jodell Sadler and Loretta Caravette of Sadler-Caravette Children’s Literary
Jodell is seeking: Jodell is interested in YA, MG (especially funny) , fiction and nonfiction, book proposals, and picture books. She will also coach writers wanting to self publish. She simply loves a well-paced story that moves her between joy and tears.
Loretta is seeking: Loretta specializes in MG fiction and early readers, and will focus on film rights management. Her academic article, Portrait of the Reader as a Young Child, was published in Children & Libraries: the Journal of the Association for Library Services to Children. Read more
When I started working on my young adult novel My Life After Now, which is about a teenage girl who learns she is HIV-positive, the only thing I was thinking about was telling a good story.
Okay, I knew I specifically wanted to tackle the subject of HIV/AIDS because not only has teen literature largely skirted the issue, but society as a whole has become somewhat complacent about the virus, now that people aren’t dying from it at the rate they were twenty and thirty years ago. I also knew I wanted my character to contract HIV throughout the course of the book, as a direct result of her own actions, since that is how most people acquire it.
GIVEAWAY: Jessica is excited to give away a free copy of her 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: juliette19 won.) Read more
Making Your Children’s Book Shine and Stand Out Above the Rest — Aug. 22 Webinar With Critique by Agent Danielle Smith
Picture this: You’re sending your children’s book manuscript off for its very first round of submissions, but you hesitate. Everyone questions their work and often wonder if it’s “finished.” After dozens and possibly hundreds of revisions when do you say enough is enough? When your hard work is ready to put into the hands of an agent, editor, or reader you want it to shine from the first to the last line. So how do you best accomplish this?
In this brand new live webinar, “Making Your Children’s Book Shine and Stand Out Above the Rest,” instructor and literary agent Danielle Smith will show you how to put the finishing touches on a manuscript and enable you to feel confident when sending it out to agents & editors. In addition to sharing her own tips and tricks, Danielle will examine pages from recently published picture and chapter books to show you examples of those spots that can often make or break your manuscript in the eyes of readers. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. Don’t forget that at three literary agents have signed writers after critiquing their work as part of a WD webinar! Read more
The sketchbook is filled with pictures and possibilities of what the story can be. I leave it up to my Editor and Art Director to pick out the things that they think our audience will respond to. Then I start figuring out what is going to happen inside this wonderful 32-page picture book I get to create. Some writing will take place at this point but only of plot points or beats I want to hit in the story. Sometimes a line or a phrasing will appear. Read more
1. While you should certainly feel free to include characters of whatever age you choose, make sure there’s at least one teenager. While young adults often read books without teenaged characters (I was partial to Somerset Maugham stories and Solzhenitsyn, to cite a needlessly bizarre example) those generally aren’t considered part of the YA genre.
2. Make things more complex, not less. You may feel an impulse to simplify things in an attempt to make your story more accessible, but I would resist that. Read more
7. Write everything down. I came up with the initial idea for the Sidney & Sydney series as I was falling asleep one night. I knew myself well enough to know that I had to get up immediately and write down my thoughts. I had been burned several times before when I thought I’d remember my ideas later. I never do. Now I have scraps of paper all over my house with thoughts on the book I’m currently working on or for future projects. Now if only I could work on my handwriting so I could read all of those great ideas later.
GIVEAWAY: Michele is excited to give away a free copy of her 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: sfullmer won.) Read more
2. Picture book language is often more sophisticated than the first chapter books that children read, and therefore an excellent way for children to learn language. It is here that children, and others, can learn vocabulary, imagery, rhythm, shape, structure, conciseness, emotional power.
3. The picture book is the most flexible of all literary formats. You can do almost anything in a picture book. This flexibility encourages creativity, in both writer and reader. It broadens the mind, and the imagination. And given today’s challenges, we desperately need more creativity, broadened minds and imagination. Read more
1. Research Comes First. Because I new little about tuberculosis or life on a farm in the 1920’s, I began reading novels set in that time period, North Carolina history books, memoirs written from sanatoriums, and doctors’ accounts of the disease. I consulted experts at the North Carolina Museum of History and the Swannanoa Valley Museum. It took about six months of dedicated research before I was ready to write.
GIVEAWAY: Shannon is excited to give away a free copy of her 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: madeline40 won.) Read more
Writer’s Digest’s new Premium Collections are a pretty cool deal. What happens is that a bunch of our products and/or services are bundled together and sold at a ridiculous discount. For February 2013, the “Writing for Children & Young Adult” collection is 10 awesome products bundled together and sold at 83% off. Each collection has a limited number — and is sold for a limited time — so check out this amazing premium collection (and get your book for kids published!) before it sells out. Read more
Here are 6 things I learned from a pirate about writing. It turns out pirates and writers need the same things in their arsenal. Every pirate (and writer) needs:
1. A hook: Hooks grab the reader in the first few sentences or can be found at the end of a chapter to keep the pages turning. EXAMPLE: “Captain Hook stood on the edge of the plank. Below swam a wide-mouthed crocodile chomp-chomp-chomping at the air between Captain Hook and the sloshing sea…” Read more
This interview features Susan Hawk of The Bent Agency. She came to the agency from Children’s Book Marketing, where she worked for over 15 years, most recently as the Marketing Director at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, and previous to that as the Library Marketing Director at Penguin Young Readers.
She is seeking: Susan represents authors who write for children of all ages: babies to teenage. She is seeking young adult, middle grade books, and picture books nonfiction and fiction (especially literary fiction). Within the realm of kid’s stories, she likes fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, and mystery. Read more