May/June 2014 Issue
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Writing Editor Blogs
Guide to Literary Agents Blog
by Chuck Sambuchino
GLA Editor Chuck Sambuchino keeps track of all news related to literary agents and writing conferences on his blog. Common features include agent interviews, new agency listings, agency profiles, upcoming conferences of interest, contests and other publishing opportunities, valuable writing resources, submission tips and information, and a blogroll of other agent blogs. Read Chuck’s Blog
There Are No Rules
by the editors of Writer’s Digest
Get on the cutting edge of today’s publishing trends and how authors can succeed in a world of fast-paced technological change, guided by the editors of Writer’s Digest. You’ll get an inside look at the work, play, and passion of the publishing business and find practical tools for success. Read There Are No Rules
Questions & Quandaries
by Brian Klems
Don’t know the difference between “who” and “whom”? Facing an ethical dilemma about accepting gifts from subjects? Let the informative (and humorous) columnist Brian A. Klems answer some of your most pressing grammatical, ethical, business and writing-related questions. Check out his advice and don’t hesitate to ask a question—your writing career will thank you. Read Brian’s Blog
by Robert Brewer
Published poet Robert Lee Brewer blogs on issues affecting poets from the poet’s perspective. As the editor of Writer’s Market, Brewer also shares insights on the publishing industry, especially as it relates to poetry and the poetry markets. He also explains poetic forms, interviews other published poets, and provides the occasional poetry prompt. Read Robert’s Blog
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
Ten days is kind of a big deal for this poetry challenge. I mean, we’re talking double-digit days now. The big “one-zero.” Yeah, ten! For today’s prompt, write a poem incorporating something … Read more
1. Write everything down. I’m in the grocery store, staring vaguely at the produce, when the heavens open up and a great writing idea lands in my brain. I know I should stop and write it down. But isn’t that a little weird, to pull out my notebook in the middle of the Safeway? I’ll look like a moody Goth kid scribbling in her diary. Besides, this is such a great idea, there’s no way will I forget it. And then, guess what? I forget it.
GIVEAWAY: Helene 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: SammySammo won.) Read more
Nine days may not seem like much, but hey, we’re now 30% of the way through November, and that’s a lot of percents, right? We’re making real progress, and I hope making … Read more
I know it was 6 weeks ago, but I still wanted to post some great photos of our latest Writer’s Digest Conference — this one in Los Angeles in late September 2013. It’s always great to meet west coast writers. I know our agents who attended the Pitch Slam and met writers commented that the talent pool at the event was quite high. That’s exciting to hear, and likely means we’ll add to our large growing list of WD conference success stories. Our next WD conference will be sometime in 2014 in New York City — either in the summer or fall of 2014. See you there! Read more
One of the most entertaining links I stumbled upon this week was a Biblioklept compilation of 1-star reviews on Amazon for the classic Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. Here are a few choice excerpts: “The … Read more
We’re eight days into this challenge now, and I’m actually starting to feel more energized about what I’m going to write next. I hope you’re feeling the same way. For today’s prompt, … Read more
William Faulkner said, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” When I first heard that from my mentor, the late Andre Dubus Jr., I knew what he meant. Don’t show off! It’s about the story, not about you, the author. But this was easier said than done.
I’ve always been a pretty good story teller, the sort of person who can hold the attention of a group of people at a dinner table for four or five minutes spinning out one of my favorite tales. Perhaps that’s what led me to believe I could be a writer — the belief that all I had to do was to get these stories down on paper. But I quickly learned it isn’t as simple as that. First of all, good stories told to a group of friends don’t always hold up well as a standalone piece someone might read at bedtime or riding on the commuter train. Sometimes it’s the spirit of the gathering that makes these stories work best, a few bottles of wine and the inflected voice of the storyteller. By the same token, the story may be a stand-alone piece that falls flat or becomes an abstraction if it’s put into a the larger context of a novel. Let me give you an example… Read more
The following is a guest blog post by Fred Perry. Fred won first place in the screenplay category in the 82nd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. He has also received script requests, … Read more
Wow! We’ve made it a week into the challenge now. Let’s keep the momentum going. For today’s prompt, write a hardship poem. The hardship could be moving forward after a tragic loss, … Read more
She is seeking: Emily is a particular lover of all types of young adult and middle grade books. She wants to represent the kind of stories that will resonate with kids for the rest of their lives. She loves strong voices and unique characters, not knock-offs or trend chasers. Some of her favorite authors include Deb Caletti, Laurie Halse Anderson, Gary D. Schmidt, and Megan Whalen Turner. She thinks books are best when they make you laugh and cry.
Emily is also looking for a select list of commercial fiction which includes fantasy & science fiction, women’s fiction, new adult fiction, along with pop culture and humor titles. She is not looking for poetry, short stories, picture books or anything that is “publishable” and not amazing. Read more
Pitch Clinic With Agent Critiques: How to Shape an Excellent Pitch to Hook Editors & Agents — Nov. 12 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp
If your query isn’t getting many requests from agents and editors for more, chances are your pitch is to blame. The query pitch — where you explain what your book is about in several sentences — is the crucial, most important part of the query. Your pitch must be clear, concise, interesting, and possess a flavor of the manuscript’s voice. So if you’re struggling with your pitch, we have an opportunity that allow you to get not only instruction on pitching, but also a critique of your pitch from not one but two established literary agents.
This all-new Pitch Clinic Agent One-on-One Boot Camp (starts Nov. 12, 2013) will show you how to best present your book to literary agents and editors. In this intensive boot camp, 5 literary agents will personally help you compose and shape your book’s pitch – so you will have an excellent chance of hooking agents with a description of your story. As with all WD boot camps, seats are limited, so sign up for before the class reaches its maximum size and is closed. Read more
Here we are six days into the challenge. I hope you’ve been getting some good material so far; I’m looking forward to playing with what I’ve written so far. Before the prompt … Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring M.V. Freeman, author of INCANDESCENT, represented by Aponte Literary Agency. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings.
GIVEAWAY: M.V. is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in the US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: burrowswrite won.) Read more
For people new to these challenges, I like to do “Two for Tuesday” prompts on Tuesdays. In that way, I get to pretend like I’m a DJ on a radio station. Here … Read more
Readers expect emotion. Oh, they love humor as well but they expect and really want characters they can identify with deeply, who go through pain and learn and heal and come out on the other side changed and triumphant!
Writer Sharon Sala teaches a workshop on how to express emotion. Her advice sounded easy but opened a new world to me: to convey the emotions your characters feel, dig deep inside yourself, find those emotions you may not have allowed yourself to show before. Remember the time you were saddest or deeply devastated or very happy and imbue your characters with what you felt.
GIVEAWAY: Jane 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: writeandtravel won.) Read more
Hope the time change hasn’t been messing with folks too much (in places that have it–like here in Atlanta). Somehow I get an extra hour, and it still feels like I lost … Read more
Maria is seeking: Maria is looking for literary and commercial fiction, new adult, young adult, middle grade, high-concept picture books, and nonfiction proposals in the pop culture, pop psychology, design, and lifestyle categories. She has a particular interest in magical realism, fiction with visual components, and nonfiction inspired by online culture. Read more
It’s not too late to catch up, but for those who are already on day three: Great job! After today’s poem, you’ll be a whole 10% through the month. We’re going to … Read more
Outlining Your Novel: Create a Roadmap to Storytelling Success — Nov 7 Webinar With Critique by K.M. Weiland
Writers often look upon outlines with fear and trembling. Won’t outlines limit your creativity and rob the joy of discovery from your first draft? Why spend all that time preparing for a story when you could be writing it? But when properly understood and correctly wielded, the outline is one of the most powerful weapons in a writer’s arsenal. K.M. Weiland, author of Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success, will help you learn how to choose the right type of outline for you, brainstorm plot ideas, and discover your characters.
Outlines ensure cohesion and balance in the finished story. They prevent wasted time pursuing dead-end ideas, allow you to craft resonant foreshadowing, and, most importantly of all, provide you a foundation of confidence and motivation. K.M.’s new webinar is called “Outlining Your Novel: Create a Roadmap to Storytelling Success.” It all happens at 1 p.m. EST, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. Read more
Every week literary agents receive hundreds of query letters from aspiring writers who are hoping to interest the agent in their project. Why then, would agents take time from their busy schedules to go to a writers conference and meet yet more writers in person?
I’ve worked with over a hundred literary agents during the 9 years I’ve been organizing the Backspace Writers Conferences held twice-annually in New York City, as well as the newly minted Salt Cay Writers Retreat taking place this October on a private island in the Bahamas. So I asked a few of my favorite agents why they attend writers conferences. Read more
What’s more challenging than taking that first step? Taking a second step. Let’s keep November going. For today’s prompt, write a “news of the day” poem. The poem should use some sort … Read more
Our next Top 25 poet from the 2013 April PAD Challenge is Nancy Posey. She’s one of the more active poets on this blog, but she’s also an incredible reader. Tammy and … Read more
Welcome to Day 1 of the 2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge! Let’s get some poeming done this month! For today’s prompt, write an appearing poem. This could be a poem about something … Read more
2. You may have to compromise to gain commercial success. As an artist working in a commercially driven industry, you could face an uncomfortable choice. Your agent and publisher will usually look at your labour of love with an eye on what is right for the market, not what is right for your vision. Publishing is an industry, and industries want to make money (although kudos and credibility in the form of prizes or critical acclaim from the intelligentsia form a lesser part of the equation). It is up to you whether you refuse to compromise your vision, and thus run the risk of your career facing a potentially fatal setback, or accede to their requests. Just make sure you can live with the consequences of your decision.
GIVEAWAY: Michael 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: spacehg won.) Read more