November/December 2014 Issue
Free Writing Downloads
Workshops Starting November 1st
- Blogging 101
- Social Media 101
- Writing Children's Picture Books
- Conflict & Suspense Writing
- Write Great Dialogue
- Revision and Editing
- Science Fiction and Fantasy
- Form and Composition
- Turning Personal Stories in to Memoir
- The Art of Storytelling 102: Showing vs. Telling
Workshops Starting November 6th
- Blogging 101
How to Write and Sell Your Fantasy & Science Fiction — Nov. 10 Boot Camp (w/Critiques) Taught by Fuse Literary
There has never been a better time to be a Sci-Fi / Fantasy author. With television shows like Battlestar Galactica, Game of Thrones and Outlander each in turn becoming massive pop culture phenomena, and Marvel’s superhero films dominating the box office, SF/F has gone mainstream like never before. The SF/F literary marketplace has also become more open to a variety of stories and points of view.
The SF/F agents of Fuse Literary (formerly Foreword Literary) will help you perfect your new Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Horror masterpiece in this online boot camp titled “How to Write and Sell Your Fantasy & Science Fiction.” It starts on Nov. 10, and all registrants will get individualized agent critiques as well as have the chance to ask the agent instructors any questions they wish. Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Susan Blumberg-Kason, author of the memoir GOOD CHINESE WIFE. 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.
Susan’s agent is Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency. Read more
1. Don’t forget your overarching concept. My MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, is about a young girl who becomes a folk artist; with her grandfather’s help, they turn their home into a folk art environment. My initial idea was to write a picture book—the illustrations, I imagined, would grow increasingly wilder as the property became covered in sculptures and whirligigs. Consistently, though, early editorial response was that the concept of folk art was just too advanced for the picture book readership—teaching me not to get so caught up in ideas external to the text that I lose sight of the main concept that the book is built around.
GIVEAWAY: Holly is excited to give away a free copy of either one of her two most recent novels 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 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 70th installment in this series is with agent Kate Testerman (KT Literary) for Rebecca Petruck’s middle grade novel, STEERING TOWARD NOVEL (Abrams/Amulet, May 13, 2014). The book was chosen as a American Booksellers Association Indies Introduce New Voices selection as well as a Spring 2014 Kids’ Indie Next List selection. It was among Vanity Fair’s Hollywood’s “10 Books We’d Like to See Made Into Films.” Read more
This will be our final Wednesday Poetry Prompt until December. Beginning on Saturday, the November PAD (Poem-A-Day) Chapbook Challenge will provide a prompt and poem each day of the month. Click here … Read more
This is the first year my 3-year-old has really gotten Halloween, so we’ve spent October seeking out any excuse for him to wear his costume and spend the day yelling “Boo!” As … Read more
Monika is seeking: Her interests include literary and commercial fiction, memoir, and compelling non-fiction in food, popular culture, science, and current affairs. Some of her dream projects include historical fiction about feminists, the Roma, and Maxim Lieber, darkly suspenseful stories (both true and made-up) with unreliable narrators, anything about Poland and its history, nonfiction that is creatively critical, and above all, novels written in a singular voice. Read more
Make Your Children’s Book Shine and Stand Out Above the Rest — Oct. 30 Webinar (With Critique) by Agent Danielle Smith
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 new live webinar called “Make Your Children’s Book Shine and Stand Out Above the Rest,” instructor and literary agent Danielle Smith (Red Fox Literary) 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, Oct. 30, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get a critique. Read more
A tweet by any other name. In January, my best friend mentioned that agents were tweeting about their wish lists. I checked it out and came across an agent who seemed like she could be a match for my Norse-Viking upper MG. I subbed my manuscript, Dreadlands, in February 2013 and received a full request in a few days. I spent the next couple weeks reading every blog interview I could find featuring this agent. I read her agency’s website, cross-referenced her clients with books, and anything else to gather intel on my “future agent.” In early March, I received an email from her asking if I was available to talk by phone later that day. Of course, I was. I waited until finally … she called. Read more
For today’s prompt, write a foundation poem. This could be a poem that reinforces a solid foundation of morals and high ideals. Or it could be about a foundation in the organizational … Read more
The 2015 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market Is Out — Here Are 8 Reasons to Buy It (and Naturally I’m Giving Away Books!)
The 2015 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market is out and available in major bookstores! What better way to celebrate its release than a giveaway contest? The CWIM a great resource guide for writers of picture books and novels for kids (young adult, middle grade) as well as illustrators. The new 2015 edition of the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market is updated and packed with info. Now in its 27th year, the newest edition still provides great market and submission/contact information for book publishers, art reps, international publishers, literary agents, contests, magazines, conferences and more.
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, I will pick 3 winners randomly to win a copy of the book! It’s that easy. Read more
You knew it was coming: another poetic form challenge. And, as you may have guessed, we’ll focus on the concise (but liberated) gogyohka this time around. Click here to read the guidelines … Read more
If only a poetic form existed that could be both concise and free. Oh wait a second, there’s gogyohka! Gogyohka was a form developed by Enta Kusakabe in Japan and translates literally … Read more
He is seeking: Alec is now aggressively building his own list. On the nonfiction side, Alec would love to see humor, biography, history (particularly military history), true crime, “guy” reads, and all things sports. “What I’m looking for in fiction: mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, historical fiction, literary fiction, and books geared toward young male readers (both YA and MG). What I’m not looking for: Romance (paranormal or otherwise), straight sci-fi, high fantasy, picture books, self-help, women’s fiction, food, travel memoir.” Read more
Escape with your writing for the weekend! The Writer’s Digest Retreat on the Water (Nov. 13-16 in Celebration, FL) is your chance to escape the demands of everyday life and immerse yourself in your craft for a few purposeful and peaceful days. Enrollment at this Retreat is limited—you’ll enjoy the close mentorship of the instructors and the attention to your individual manuscript that only an event this small and exclusive can provide.
At the retreat, your work will be read, discussed, revised and reexamined with the goal of prepping it for review (and consideration) by industry professionals. Whether your goal is to secure the attention of an agent or editor, or simply entice a reader looking for a great book, the Retreat will help to make sure that your initial pages and plot are as compelling and lovingly crafted as possible. You’ll also learn how to pitch your work and have an opportunity to practice with the group! The Retreat provides you with a relaxing environment in which to write for long periods of time without interruption or distraction. You’ll also participate in numerous sessions and critique groups where you’ll enjoy the camaraderie of your writing peers. Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Rebecca Brooks, author of the erotic romance, ABOVE ALL. 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. Rebecca’s agent is Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger.
GIVEAWAY: Rebecca 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
In the past, I’ve personally had the opportunity to meet a nice agent based on the west coast named Steven Hutson of WordWise Media Services. You can see his agency website here. Recently, Steven came to me and asked me to put out an alert for him because he wants to make his agency bigger. Here is his exact announcement about how WordWise is seeking a new agent:
“West Coast literary agency seeks an associate agent in New York or Nashville. Or in the alternative, a specialist to handle mystery, children, romance, etc. This is a perfect opportunity for a well-connected retired (or downsized) editor, or agency administrator. We bring you leads and send you to writers’ conferences…” (More after the jump.) Read more
Before we get into today’s prompt, two things: I need to get a hold of Alana Sherman and Cameron Steele for their bios in the Poem Your Heart Out anthology/prompt/workbook. If you … Read more
One of the things I love about working at Writer’s Digest is the excitement each time a new issue hits newsstands. And it’s especially true with the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest–because this … Read more
The first revision is probably the most important factor in sculpting your novel. One of my favorite quotes to express this idea is by Shannon Hale who wrote: “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” The first revision is the building of those sand castles. There are numerous tips to a successful rewrite, but I’ve found three that I’ve put at the top of my list to make my novel better.
Conflict check: On my rewrite, I first do a conflict check. Kurt Vonnegut once wrote that every character in a scene should want something, even if it’s only a drink of water. On my first draft, I will usually focus on the main plot point of the scene. In doing so, I miss opportunities to add tension, great and small, to a chapter. On the rewrite, I ask myself: what does every character in that scene want, and what obstacles are standing in his or her way. Read more
Cassie is seeking: page-turning New Adult novels, plot-driven commercial and upmarket women’s fiction, historical fiction, psychological suspense, cozy mysteries and contemporary romance. In nonfiction, she’s looking for projects in the categories of parenting, mind/body/spirit, inspirational memoir, narrative nonfiction focusing on food-related topics and a limited number of accessible cookbooks. Cassie does not accept submissions in the following categories: science-fiction, fantasy, paranormal, Young Adult, Middle Grade, Children’s, literary fiction, poetry, and screenplays. Read more
It’s obvious that technology in the last ten years or so has changed our daily lives to an extreme. Cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, texting…on and on the list goes, and it’s growing every day. The way we communicate has been utterly transformed. Face-to-face interactions have decreased, while gadget-to-gadget interactions have increased. What does all this mean for the writer? Especially regarding our characters, and the way they communicate with each other inside our stories?
First, I think writers have to learn to walk the tightrope of not letting technology interfere too greatly with characters or plot, while at the same time being realistic with it. For instance, it would be unthinkable not to have a single mention of a character using a cell phone in a contemporary story. But how much technology is too much? Two main points worth considering, when it comes to characters and technology… Read more
Tina is seeking: Chapter books (all kinds except fantasy); Middle Grade (contemporary/realistic, sports, mystery, humor, multicultural, issue driven [no fantasy]); Young Adult (edgy, issues, contemporary/realistic, light romance, sports, mystery [no fantasy]). Tina is also seeking nonfiction Chapter books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult – all topics. She is not seeking: Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Paranormal or Picture Books submissions at this time. Read more
From Sylvia Day’s Bared to You to Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster, new adult fiction has arrived—and it’s hotter than ever. But there’s more to this category than its 18- to 26-year-old characters: … Read more
There isn’t a certified qualification or course on world-building (well, not in my neighborhood), but every story requires it. Whether your tale is set in a real place or an imagined one, you need to establish your characters’ world so that the reader can suspend disbelief and fully engage with their story.
Of course, the more differences to our own world you introduce, the more you need to focus on getting those details absolutely right – but you need to do it in such a way that they almost fade into the background so the reader is instead focusing on the characters and the story. You don’t need to explicitly create and explain all aspects of your world in the first couple of chapters. Without some story developing in these chapters your reader may not persevere further into the book. Read more