October 2014 Issue
Free Writing Downloads
Workshops Starting August 28th
- NEW CLASS: Worldbuilding in Science Fiction and Fantasy
- Revision and Editing
- Marketing Your Magazine Articles
- Writing the Memoir 102
- Introduction to Copyediting
- Form and Composition
- Writing Online Content
- Social Media 101
- Blogging 101
Workshops Starting September 4th
- NEW CLASS: Worldbuilding in Science Fiction and Fantasy
Is Your Manuscript Ready for Publication?
Is Your Manuscript Ready for Publication?
After an evaluation of your submission, one of the professional 2nd Draft critiquers will provide feedback and advice. You’ll not only learn what’s working in your writing, but what’s not, and—most important—how to fix it.
2nd Draft provides a high-level review of your writing, pointing out reasons your work may be getting rejected, or may not meet the standards of traditional publication.
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
Today marks the 115th anniversary of Ernest Hemingway’s birth. In his lifetime, Papa had quite a lot to say about writing. Here are 18 of our favorite quotes, in no particular order. … Read more
She is seeking: Siobhan is actively seeking voice driven narratives whether Fiction, Memoir, or Non-Fiction. She holds a strong interest in Literary and Gothic Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Adult Dystopian, Mystery/Crime, Thrillers (bonus points if they’re psychological), Historical, daring Young Adult, and narratives with philosophical undertones. For Memoir and Nonfiction titles, she seeks Investigative, True Crime, and dark/bizarre History. Siobhan enjoys the dark, macabre aspects of life where paranormal fiction and horror are viewed an under appreciated art forms deeply rooted in psychology, and looks for authors unafraid to delve into these inner workings of the human psyche. Read more
What All Agents Want in a Great Young Adult Novel — July 29 Webinar (With Critique) by Agent Carlie Webber
Teens are discriminating readers with a lot of demands on their time, so what can you do to ensure that your novel is the one they’ll all be dying to read? 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 share her ideas on what all agents want in a great YA novel, regardless of subject matter. The live webinar on July 29 will open with a presentation on what it means to write authentic YA voices, and will explain why crafting a YA voice is a different challenge from creating one for a tween or adult protagonist. After showing examples of strong voice, Carlie will 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. Carlie will also address the art of writing controversial content, and the perennial question of how writers should – or shouldn’t – tackle YA literature trends.
This webinar will treat YA as an age range, not a genre, and it will include examples from contemporary and historical fiction, plus science fiction and fantasy written for ages 12-18. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. Read more
3. Come in through the side door. If you are too on the nose, you lose your reader. Coming in through the front door means your piece is about exactly what it says it is about. But our pleasure in reading is figuring things out. Set up the writing so your reader gets to be smart; trust that she truly wants to figure things out. Write so that the words point to your point but don’t spell it out directly. Readers are brilliant. And powerful writing creates an envelop for the reader to slip into. When writing about despair and meaninglessness, start with a bug. When writing about transcendent love, start with something as unexpectedly to the side as a sandwich.
GIVEAWAY: Heather is excited to give away a free copy of her book, CHAPTER BY CHAPTER, 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. Read more
This is the final installment of a three-part series on nature and poetry by guest Daniel Roessler. If you’d like the opportunity to be a guest on this blog, send your ideas … Read more
Before we get to the prompt this week, a few things: first, don’t forget to write a golden shovel (or three) for the latest WD Poetic Form Challenge (click here for guidelines); … Read more
Welcome to the 16th (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the GLA Blog. This is a recurring online contest with agent judges and super-cool prizes. Here’s the deal: With every contest, the details are essentially the same, but the niche itself changes—meaning each contest is focused around a specific category or two. So if you’re writing middle grade fiction, this 16th contest is for you! (The contest is live through EOD, Wednesday, July 30, 2014.) Read more
If you live anywhere near the Minnesota area and are looking to get writing instruction as well as pitch agents & editors, then keep reading. Coming up fast on September 6, 2014 is my appearance at the Minnesota Writing Workshop. (This is my first time teaching in Minnesota, so I am pumped.) This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Sept. 6, 2014, at Subtext Books in St. Paul, MN. In other words, it’s one day full of classes and instruction designed to give you the best advice concerning how to get your writing & books published. No matter what you’re writing — fiction or nonfiction — the day’s classes will help point you in the right direction. Writers of all genres and writers for all age groups are welcome. Read more
During a ThrillerFest panel moderated by author Nancy Bilyeau (Joanna Stafford series), authors Brenda Novak (Whiskey Creek series), Chelsea Cain (Gretchen Lowell series), Ben Lieberman (Odd Jobs) and Michael Sears (Mortal Bonds) discussed book and series endings, and how they hope readers feel after reading them. Here are some highlights. Read more
On Friday, a ThrillerFest panel moderated by WD contributing editor and author Steven James (Jevin Banks series) discussed whether or not literary themes and symbols interfere with a story. Here are the … Read more
On Friday, author Sandra Brannan (Liv Bergen Mystery series) moderated a ThrillerFest panel including authors Linwood Barclay (A Tap on the Window), Laura Benedict (Bliss House), Linda Fairstein (Alex Cooper crime series) and Reavis Wortham (Red River Mystery series). Here are the stories of how their book ideas began. Read more
She is seeking: Her taste in nonfiction extends beyond science books to memoirs, lost histories, epic sports narratives, true crime and gift/lifestyle books. She is particularly interested in projects with a strong narrative and a female bend. She represents select adult and YA fiction projects, as well. Her favorite novels are almost always dark, visceral reads focused on the complexities of being a human. Think Breaking Bad and The Wire but in book form. She also represents illustrators (with or without book projects of their own). In the end, all she wants is to be told a good story. Read more
Be Your Own Editor: Tips For Self-Editing Your Own Work — July 15 Discount Webinar by Harold Underdown
If you write for children or teens, whether you are a complete beginner or a published author, you know how important it is to make your manuscript be the best it can be before you send it out. How can you do that? Editing your own writing is difficult—how can you be objective about the plot and characters you created? How can you polish the final draft and find the mistakes you missed earlier? You can turn to others for feedback, and use a variety of techniques that help you get a new view of your manuscript. In this all-new webinar on self-editing titled “Be Your Own Editor: Tips For Self-Editing Your Own Work,” instructor Harold Underdown (The Purple Crown website) will teach you these techniques—ones he uses in his own work as an editor. He’ll also point you to more useful resources to make sure you feel confident revising your work before submission.
This is a special discounted webinar (about half the price of normal webinars), so take advantage of the lower cost, and the chance to ask Harold questions. It all happens at 1 p.m., ET, on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, and lasts 60 minutes. Read more
Keeping your character(’s) traits consistent is very a important step in polishing your manuscript, especially if it’s written from multiple points of view (POVs). For example, if you have one character who constantly swears, and has a tendency to lose his/her temper at the drop of a hat, you do not want your other characters behaving in the same way. If this happens, your characters will blend together, and your readers will have trouble being able to tell them apart. You don’t want your readers having to back track to be sure they have understood who is speaking/narrating. They should just know. And readers know by identifying your characters from the way they speak, move, and behave. For instance, if you are familiar with The Lord of the Rings, you definitely know when Sam’s talking, and you never confuse him with Pippin or Merry even though they’re all Hobbits…
GIVEAWAY: Jessica is excited to give away a free copy of her latest guide 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. Read more
At ITW’s ThrillerFest Thursday afternoon, M. J. Rose, Meryl Moss and Elizabeth Berry held a Buzz Your Book session. As with all great panels, some of the best information came from the … Read more
Here are some methods for finding interesting, outside-the-box solutions for effective, creative marketing, regardless of your novel’s genre. Read more
PitchFest is a three-and-a-half hour agent-snagging extravaganza, deep in the conference hall of the Grand Hyatt in New York. Authors with manuscripts to sell line up, awaiting the moment they’re allowed to talk to about their books to any agent in attendance—or every agent, if they use their time wisely. And on the other side of the table, reps from several agencies, big and small, axiously await the flood of hopeful novelists seeking representation. It’s one of the more magical moments of ThrillerFest, and an event that isn’t really rivalled by any other. There’s no time limit for each writer’s pitch to an agent, and many reps stay beyond the allotted time to take more pitches during the PitchFest Power Hour. For everyone here, it’s the highlight of the day, and for many, the sole reason for attending the ThrillerFest conference. Here is what it’s like from the eyes of writers who attended. Read more
On Wednesday, bestselling authors (and recent coauthors) M.J. Rose and Lisa Gardner held a session on creating compelling characters and suspenseful narratives at ITW’s ThillerFest. Here are some takeaways from their advice, and some excellent quotes from the Q&A that followed.
Lisa Gardner on perfect heroes: “A character needs flaws to seem real. Without them, a reader can’t connect.” These don’t have to be faults; weaknesses are just as effective, she explains: “It’s like Indiana Jones … It all seems impossible but somehow he manages to get an edge, [and then there’s] this pit of snakes, and of course Indiana Jones is afraid of snakes.” Read more
On Wednesday afternoon, legal thriller author and writing instructor William Bernhardt (the Ben Kincaid series) outlined the 7 elements he says make for an unputdownable novel–be it thriller, mystery, suspense or other. Here are his his guidelines for crafting a blockbuster.
1. Readability. All authors should strive for clarity, but bestselling authors go beyond simply getting the point across by creating a narrative that’s “unputdownable.” Extreme readability is the result of writing, rewriting, editing and rewriting again. That hard work and “multiple drafts and revisions … create smooth, engaging novels.” Don’t skimp on the revision process: It may be the one step that separates the hopefuls from the headliners. Read more
This is part two of a three-part series on nature and poetry by guest Daniel Roessler. If you’d like the opportunity to be a guest on this blog, send your ideas (and … Read more
You’ve written a book. You know what it is to work with the elements, to muster something slippery and intangible into something with form. Likely, you’ve sweated on it and dreamt it.
Finishing my first novel, The Untold, felt to me like crawling out of a dark room after a winter that lasted too many seasons. Draft after draft, revision after revision, I had remained in that dark room determined that what was on the page would eventually match the vision I held for it. These things take time, as it happens, so much time. And it must be a solo process. I don’t know any writers that work well with their legs or arms twisted around another. So, aside from the inherent challenges of actually writing a novel, you must also get very good at spending long periods of time with yourself. For better or worse. There are times when I felt that I had aged a year in a day and that the book might actually bury me. But it didn’t. I finished it. The winter ended… Read more
For this week’s prompt, take the phrase “Blame (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible … Read more
As poet and Pulitzer nominee Clifford Brooks states below, “…just as it is crucial that a writer creates his or her own voice, the way we edit is also a matter of … Read more
About Paul: Paul Lamb of Howard Morhaim Literary Agency is a graduate of DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and was a recipient of a POSSE Scholarship. Paul joins the agency after nearly a decade in Marketing at both Penguin and Random House, with various imprints. Owing to his professional experience in trade publishing, Paul has a strong sense of publishers’ needs, and a unique insight into the representation of authors.
He is seeking: His tastes lie strongly with nonfiction in a wide variety of genres and subjects, notably business, political science, sociology, memoir, travel writing, sports, pop culture, and music. He is also interested in crime, mystery, and literary fiction. Read more
In the fall of 1986, I was ten years old, and I found myself sleeping on the muddy ground of a temperate rainforest on an island in Washington State. The muddy bed was supposed to be temporary. My alcoholic Salvadoran stepfather was building a wooden pyramid for us to live in, one that would channel the occult magic of ancient Egypt. My mother was convinced he was the messianic revolutionary hero she had foretold in clairvoyant visions.
Before the pyramid could reach its glorious completion, however, my stepfather threatened to kill the neighbors in a drunken rage. We had to break camp hurriedly, before the cops arrived, struggling down the trail with our most prized possessions. The first thing I evacuated out of the mud was my crate of journals, the repositories for my creative writing and poetry. My correspondence with myself was often my only form of friendship, my only mechanism for processing the chaos and violence around me, and, most fundamentally, the only proof that I ever existed. I wrote to live… Read more