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5 Tips for Writing Suspense

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1) Structure Scenes like Mini-Novels: Each one should contain its own narrative arc, with rising action and a climactic moment that signals the end of the chapter. It’s good form to finish most chapters on a cliffhanger—especially the first one. A major dramatic question should be raised in the opening scene, and then resolved in an unexpected or unfavorable way to hurl the main character further into the conflict (and thus drag your readers into the story). Get your protagonist in trouble as soon as possible and never let her get too comfortable or too safe. As far as chapter length, I’ve found that an average of five pages (double-spaced, size 12) works well for keeping up the pace.

GIVEAWAY: Kira 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. Read more

How to Find and Keep a Literary Agent — Agent One-on-One Boot Camp (With Critiques) Starts Oct. 1

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How do you hook an agent right away, keep them hooked, and make the most of your new publishing relationship? In this Boot Camp starting Oct. 1, 2014, “How to Find and Keep a Literary Agent,” you’ll learn how to get a literary agent’s attention through a great submission, and also how to navigate the process of working successfully with an agent. You’ll also work with an agent online (the instructing agents are from Sandra Dijkstra Literary) to review and refine your all-important query letter and the first five pages of your novel. As always, seats in the boot camp are limited, and many WD camps sell out — so consider signing up sooner rather than later. The Oct. 1 camp is a great opportunity to get professional feedback on your writing. Read more

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Terzanelle

Robert Lee Brewer

It’s that time again: time for another poetic form challenge. And, as you may have guessed, we’ll focus on the terzanelle this time around. Click here to read the guidelines on writing … Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Brent Taylor of Triada US Literary Agency

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He is seeking: “Middle Grade: for younger readers I am on the hunt for a humorous, intelligent fantasy; a scare-the-pants-off-me ghost or haunting story; fast-paced literary writing similar in style to Jerry Spinelli and Cynthia Lord. I have soft spots for larger-than-life characters and atmospheric setting (creepy and/or quirky). Young Adult: I’m always looking for genre-bending books that can be an exciting puzzlement when thinking about how precisely to market; specifically mystery and crime for teens, the grittier the better; high-concept contemporary stories with addicting romantic tension. I’m a sucker for themes of finding your place in the world, new beginnings, and summer-before-college stories. New Adult: my tastes in New Adult tend to be more darkly skewed but I would love a well-executed story that shares the same excitement, wonder, and invigoration of books like LOSING IT. Although I appreciate any story that’s told well in great language, in New Adult I’m more concerned with being entertained and gripped by the edge of my seat than in being stimulated. Adult: I would love a psychological suspense based on actual events, i.e. CARTWHEEL by Jennifer Dubois which fictionalized the Amanda Knox trial and hooked me from beginning to end. Alternatively, I’d love high-concept women’s fiction; either an exquisitely told story huge in size and scope, or a less ambitious novel that simply warms my heart.” Read more

Interviewing Poets: Why and How

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Please welcome Glenda Council Beall to the blog. She was inspired to write a guest post after reading Jeannine Hall Gailey’s post on poetry book reviews last month. I really enjoy the … Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Margo Kelly

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Margo Kelly, author of the YA thriller WHO R U REALLY? 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: Margo 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. Read more

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 280

Robert Lee Brewer

Before we get into today’s prompt, be sure to check out my first year as a traditionally published poetry author. In the post, I share things that I think I did right, … Read more

Solving the World’s Problems: Year One

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My debut full-length poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems, was released by Press 53 last September. I thought it might be interesting to take a look at what has happened since then … Read more

Terzanelle: Poetic Form

Robert Lee Brewer

What do you get when you mix two super popular Italian poetic forms, specifically the terza rima and villanelle? The terzanelle, of course! It combines the lyricism of the terza rima with … Read more

Successful Queries: Agent Sara Megibow and “Falls the Shadow”

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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 66th installment in this series is with agent Sara Megibow (Nelson Literary) for Stefanie Gaither’s young adult novel, FALLS THE SHADOW (Sept 2014, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers). Kristi Helvig, author of BURN OUT, said of the book: “[It's] a smart, futuristic thriller that grabs you and doesn’t let go until the very last page. This is a fantastic debut.” Read more

Literary Agent Spotlight: Lana Popovic of Chalberg & Sussman

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She is seeking: Young Adult/Middle Grade Fiction: Contemporary/realistic, mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, historical, horror, sci-fi. Adult Fiction: Literary thrillers, sci-fi, horror, romance, erotica, women’s literary fiction. Adult Nonfiction: Pop culture, blog-to-book, literary memoir. Lean more about querying her by clicking on the blog link and seeing her entire spotlight. Read more

The Writer’s Journey: How Much Can Someone Possibly Stand?

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Above your desk is a bulletin board, crammed with outlines, assorted index cards with character descriptions, fliers from places you went for research, cards from agents and editors you met at assorted writers conferences, a postcard from a favorite book (note to self: next query don’t forget to mention your story is just like this one!), yellowed movie stubs from Crazy Stupid Love and Pride and Prejudice, a calendar indicating all the dates from sent queries, and a plethora of erratically stuck Post-it notes of varying colors and sizes holding minutiae ranging from brilliant snippets of dialogue to the color of the suit your villain will wear when he jumps the hero behind the warehouse. Read more

Empowered by Embarrassment: The Value of Adding Humor to Your Manuscript

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You know those times when you wish you were completely alone? Not because you wish for peace and quiet, but because you hate the fact that others witnessed what just happened to you? I’m talking about those embarrassing moments, the ones when your face burns so hot that you feel like you might just melt down into the ground – and you wouldn’t mind if you did! You know, those moments!

Here’s my advice for what to do next time you have a mortifying moment: harness it. Use it to fuel your writing. Allow yourself to be empowered by embarrassment. It can add humor to your writing and boost audience appeal. Trust me, humiliation is hot. It is!

GIVEAWAY: Kami 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. Read more

The 2015 Guide to Literary Agents is Out! Here are 47 Reasons to Buy It (and a Giveaway Contest!)

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The new 2015 edition of the Guide to Literary Agents is out, all updated and packed with info. I realize there are other places you can turn to for information on agents, but the Guide to Literary Agents has always prided itself as being the biggest (we list almost every agent) and the most thorough (guidelines, sales, agent by agent breakdowns, etc.). That’s why it’s been around for 24 years and that’s why it’s sold more than 320,000 copies. It works—and if you keep reading, I’ll prove it to you below with proof from 47 people.

THE GIVEAWAY!!! Comment on this post and just say anything nice about any element of Writer’s Digest you enjoy — from a blog post to a class or a book or anything else. In two weeks (Sept. 25, 2014), I will pick 3 winners randomly to win a copy of the book! It’s that easy. Read more

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 279

Robert Lee Brewer

I’m on vacation this week, which means I’ve been trying to stay as far away from the computer as I can most of the time. Mostly, I’ve just been messing around in … Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Genevieve Nine of Andrea Hurst & Associates

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She is seeking: Within young adult and middle grade, she’s looking to acquire: Fantasy (open to all subgenres except game-related), Science Fiction, Mystery, Historical Fiction, Retellings (classics, fairy/folk tale, myth), and Contemporary Realism (especially with elements of humor). She also represents the following adult and new adult categories: Mystery (detective/PI, amateur, cozy, historical, comic, caper), Thriller (supernatural, historical, disaster, ecological), Gothic/Hauntings/Quiet Horror, Historical Fiction, Retellings (classics, fairy/folk tale, myth), Romantic Comedy, Magical Realism, Food Memoir and Travelogue/Travel Memoir. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Julie Lawson Timmer

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Julie Lawson Timmer, author of FIVE DAYS LEFT. 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. Julie’s literary agent is Victoria Sanders of Victoria Sanders & Associates.

GIVEAWAY: Julie 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. Read more

Call for Submissions: 2016 Poet’s Market

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It’s that time of year again. The new 2015 Poet’s Market is hitting bookshelves, which means it’s time for me to start figuring out the 2016 Poet’s Market–and I need your help! … Read more

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 278

Robert Lee Brewer

Quick note on the April Poetry Challenge results: We are just three days short of having all 30 days reported. Hopefully, we’ll finish it up between now and the next prompt. Want … Read more

Rosemary Rhodes Royston: Poet Interview

Rosemary Rhodes Royston

Please join me in welcoming Rosemary Rhodes Royston to Poetic Asides. I first met Rosemary at a writing workshop in North Carolina, so I’ll take all credit for her debut chapbook, Splitting … Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Valerie Noble of Donaghy Literary Group

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She is seeking: Valerie is seeking Young Adult, and New Adult — in the following areas:

• Science Fiction YA/NA
• Fantasy YA/NA
• Historical Fantasy YA/NA
• Historical Fiction YA/NA

Valerie loves YA/NA science fiction and fantasy (think Kristin Cashore and Suzanne Collins) but reads everything under the sun. For her, it’s more about the writing and less about the genre. In saying that, Valerie is generally not interested in romance or paranormal. Read more

How I Got My Literary Agent: Sarah Creech

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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Sarah Creech, author of SEASON OF THE DRAGONFLIES. 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. 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.

GIVEAWAY: Sarah 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. Read more

“How to Craft Query Letters, Opening Pages, Synopses, and Nonfiction That Get Noticed” — Sept. 22 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp with Kimberley Cameron Literary

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When your submission materials arrive in an agent’s inbox, they land among hundreds of others. At that point, one of two things will happen. Either the agent will like the submission and request more materials, or they will reply with a rejection. Authors who get rejected tend to fall in one of two categories when submitting materials: they try too hard, or not enough. This Writer’s Digest Boot Camp, which starts on Sept. 22, 2014, is designed to help you streamline your submission materials to stand out in a good way.

Attendees will learn how to write a dynamite query letter, tackle a one-page synopsis. The instructing literary agents of Kimberley Cameron & Associates will also explain the importance of author platform in addition to basic etiquette in dealing with an agent and manuscript basics. Lastly, all attendees will have an opportunity to interact one-on-one with an agent and submit the first ten double-spaced pages of their manuscript and a query letter for valuable feedback provided by successful literary agents. Note that there are limited seats for the event, and WD boot camps frequently sell out, so sign up sooner rather than later. Read more

Examining the Wonderful World of Steampunk: Maritime Terrorists, Time Travelers, and Mad Science

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We have been writing Steampunk since 2009; and even after five years, we still face the question of the ages: What is steampunk? Perhaps a lazy, shallow way to look at the genre is to simply call it “Victorian Science Fiction” and that be the end of it. Truth be told, this is merely your first step.

While history looks at the 19th Century as the Industrial Age and the late-20th century as the Computer Age, the concept of computing devices were realized by mathematician, inventor, and engineer Charles Babbage as early as 1812. His mechanical computation devices at the time were considered more of a curiosity rather than innovation, but Babbage’s theories served as inspiration for The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. Best known for their offerings in cyberpunk, Gibson and Sterling created an alternative Industrial Revolution where Babbage’s inventions were the norm, creating a struggle between the working class Luddites (who fear technology) and an “enhanced” elite that wanted as much integration with these technological wonders as possible. Read more

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 277

Robert Lee Brewer

How appropriate that today’s post took a while to get on the site. I had already planned on providing an update on the 2014 April PAD Challenge results. They’re coming, and I … Read more

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