March/April 2014 Issue
Free Writing Downloads
Workshops Starting April 17th
- Query in 14 Days
- Fundamentals of Nonfiction
- Essentials of Travel Writing
- Build Your Novel Scene by Scene
- Essentials of Business Writing
- Outlining Your Novel
- Revision and Editing
- How to Blog a Book
Workshops Starting April 24th
- Query in 14 Days
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In the opening poem (“matters of great importance”) of my collection, Solving the World’s Problems, I ask a simple question: what’s more important / writing a poem / or building a bridge… … Read more
I can’t help it. Days 15 and 16 of these challenges always gets a certain song stuck in my head. You know, this song by an American rock band from New Jersey … Read more
I am speaking at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, AR, on May 3, 2014. It’s the Arkansas Writers MFA Spring Publishing Conference. The university was nice enough to invite me down to speak for a day. It’s a quick, simple day of sessions that can help writers, and includes my talks on:
1) How to Get Published: What Writers Can Do For Their Career Right Now
2) Everything You Need to Know About Literary Agents and Query Letters
3) Book Publishing Options Today: Your Paths Explained Read more
Want to learn more about me than you thought you could possibly handle in one interview? Great! One of my favorite poets, Nin Andrews, interviewed me over on the Best American Poetry … Read more
Yesterday, I mentioned how guest judges Daniel Nester and Vince Gotera suggested possible poetry prompts. Well, today’s guest judge, Jericho Brown, is only one who requested a specific day to be a … Read more
Genre Preferences: Rebecca Podos of Rees Literary Agency is primarily interested in Young Adult fiction of all kinds, including contemporary, emotionally driven stories, mystery, romance, urban and historical fantasy, horror, and sci-fi. Occasionally, she also considers literary and commercial adult fiction, new adult, and narrative nonfiction. Read more
I often come up with prompts for my weekly Wednesday Poetry Prompts on the fly. However, I try to get all my prompts for the monthly challenges set before the month starts–to … Read more
Wow! What a turnout this year for the poetry challenge! Chances are pretty good that by the end of the weekend, we’ll have more than 10,000 comments on the prompts–with a chance … Read more
One of the refrains from the Austin International Poetry Festival was, “Buy the book!” During poetry month, it’s not a bad refrain. In that vein, I want to remind people about pre-orders … Read more
The most difficult aspect of revision is that the process requires seeing our own mistakes. That speck of dust in our neighbor’s eye is a lot easier to see than the log in our own. I learned most about sentence-level revision from Richard Lanham, distinguished scholar, writer, and UCLA professor, who has written a number of books, including Revising Prose, in which he develops the “Paramedic Method” (PM), a series of steps that help writers find both the sound and the sense of each sentence. Sound and sense: that’s what I like most about the PM. Aside from pushing us to see the ethics of writing, Lanham’s method reinforces the impossibility of separating structure from idea. The PM helps us see the axis of the sentence—both the actual main subject and verb, as well as the unacknowledged subject and verb. If we can see a difference between the actual and the unacknowledged in any sentence, it’s time to revise, to look again. Read more
Quick note on selecting poems for the anthology: I plan to pull poems on average 5-7 days after the prompt is first posted. So I’ve pulled poems from days 1-3. Poets can … Read more
So you’re working on a story, and there comes a point where it really ought to have a fight scene. But you’re sitting there thinking, “I’m not a martial artist! I have no idea how to fight!” Or maybe you’re thinking, “Fight scenes are so boring. I’d rather just skip over this and get back to the actual story.” Or something else that makes you dread writing that scene, rather than looking forward to it with anticipation.
To the first group, I say: the details of how to fight are possibly the least important component of a fight scene. The crucial components are the same ones you’re already grappling with in the rest of your writing—namely, description, pacing, characterization, and all that good stuff. To the second group, I say: it’s only boring if the author does it wrong.
GIVEAWAY: Marie is excited to give away a free copy of her e-book [mobi or epub formats] to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners can live anywhere. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. Read more
“The High Concept Novel: How to Create a Premise that Sells — Agent One-on-One Boot Camp With Critique Starts April 11
The idea’s the thing. If you build your story around a unique and compelling idea, your odds of selling it increase dramatically. Often, a perfectly good project will go unsold because the premise on which it is based is too predictable, commonplace, or over-published. Whether you’re writing a novel or a short story, a screenplay or a memoir, you need to find a way to set your story apart from the competition — and the competition is tougher than ever in today’s marketplace.
But in this one-of-a-kind boot camp — “The High Concept Novel: How to Create a Premise that Sells Boot Camp” (starting April 11) — you will learn the ins and outs of high-concept, as literary agent, author, and content strategist Paula Munier reveals how you can transform your story idea from “same old same old” to “high-concept hit.” Read more
Before we get into today’s prompt, I just want to address a few common questions I’ve been asked recently: Who can join the challenge? Anyone (any age, any level of experience, any … Read more
Spent yesterday catching up on sleep after attending the super fun Austin International Poetry Festival with Tammy. If you’ve had any issues with posting or anything else related to the challenge, please … Read more
Wow! Once we finish today’s prompt/poem, we’ll be a week into the challenge. Excellent! If you missed it earlier or need a refresher, click here to check out the April PAD Challenge … Read more
Taylor is seeking: “I am drawn to novels with a compelling voice and grounded, relatable characters that pull me into their world from the start. My favorite books have strong emotional elements that stay with me long after I finish reading. My current interests include young adult fiction, historical fiction, and historical romance. I do not represent screenplays.” Read more
Later this morning/early afternoon, Tammy and me will be returning home from the Austin International Poetry Festival (driving against the sun and through the night). If you’re interested in reading, here are … Read more
Every aspiring author dreams of that first book contract. I landed one in April 2010 when Dorchester Publishing bought my crime thriller, The Highwayman, for a small advance. Success! I began writing it in 2007, finished it in 2008, queried, and got the usual round of rejections. Rather than believing all of those agents and editors were crazy, I figured there must be something wrong with what I was doing.
I attended the Deadly Ink mystery writers conference in New Jersey and met panelist Chris Roerden, a manuscript editor, and I purchased her book, Don’t Sabotage Your Submission. Her panel discussion and insightful book crystallized why I was being rejected. I used boring words—in addition to using too many! I larded my manuscript with adjectives and adverbs (which have since been largely culled) to amaze my readers with my descriptive prowess. I explained stuff in bulky blocks of text that the late Elmore Leonard advises to keep to a minimum because readers tend to skip over them…
GIVEAWAY: Matt 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. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal. Also note that Matt’s novel comes out later this year, so he will mail the winner’s book once his author copies come in.) Read more
I’m glad you’ve made it over today. Over the years, the weekend has been a time when some poets fall behind in keeping the daily poetic pace (though it’s totally cool if … Read more
I hope you’re having a great time poeming so far. It’s been fun for me, and speaking of fun, I just recently learned about an article on Mashable that listed me and … Read more
Day 3 is traditionally one of those make it or break it days for poets. After all, it’s easy to show up for a couple dates, but it takes real commitment to … Read more
Tammy and me are heading to Austin, Texas, this morning for the Austin International Poetry Festival. If you’re in the Austin area, I hope you’ll get out for some poeming fun. Speaking … Read more
Here we are. It’s been less than a month since the initial guidelines post for the 7th annual Poetic Asides April PAD (Poem-A-Day) Challenge, but it feels like years. I’ve been so … Read more
2014 April PAD Challenge countdown: 1. Tomorrow is the day that all the poeming begins. Roll up your sleeves, read some Neruda, drink a little wine–whatever you need to do to get … Read more