Welcome! Please sit down, make yourself comfortable, and have a brownie or three...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bad News

I missed last week's blogging schedule, and I'm afraid that I'll be taking a break for the remainder of December.

My sister's husband died suddenly, leaving her a widow at 33, with two small daughters. This is the worst tragedy our family has ever experienced, and the last week has been heartbreaking in so many ways. They'd been together since my sister was 18. I'm currently staying at her house with my little one.

I may be around the blogosphere in the next few weeks, but won't be on a regular posting schedule until next year.

Please hug your loved ones. You can't do it enough.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Turkeys and Tweets

I'll be flying the coop to Iowa very early on Monday morning, and won't have my computer until we get back the following week.

So, this is a post of turkeys and recent tweets, wishing you the happiest of Thanksgivings, and leaving you with a few agent giblets to nibble on (ewwww, that was supposed to sound holiday-ish and charming~ instead of saying 'tidbits'~but there's really no charm in the word 'giblets'):

kate_mckean Kate McKean, Howard Morhaim Literary
Hi new crafty followers! I'm looking for new craft books to rep. You must have a full proposal. Esp want sewing, quilting, & knit/crochet.

kate_mckean Kate McKean
Just like "Hey, can I have a job?" is not a cover letter, "Hey, can you publish this?" is not a query.

WolfsonLiterary Michelle Wolfson
@agentgame: Queries for three separate projects sent by the same writer within moments of each other? Don't ever do this. #pubtip

LitAgentMarini Victoria Marini, Gelfman Schneider Agency
" taste [of] blood in my mouth" -> SHOCKED by how often see this phrase in MS's.
#redundant #epitomeofoverexplaining

LitAgentMarini Victoria Marini
where else would you taste it? or ANYTHING, for that matter! i.e "guys, I can taste thin mints in my shoe

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla, Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Writers: Don't tell me someone/something is "beautiful." Show me how they/it looks & reactions of others & I'll be able to see beauty in it.

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla
Beauty is abstract & subjective. It doesn't look like anything, so it tells me nothing about what or who you're trying to describe.

BostonBookGirl Lauren E. MacLeod, Strothman Agency
Lots of YA about college students in slush. Those are hard to sell, must be the greatest concept EVER to get a request from me.

jsinsheim Jessica Sinsheimer, Sarah Jane Freymann Agency
Another amazing manuscript with a terrible query.Why did I request it? The title. Which is excellent. Almost as good as the pages themselves.

TayMartindale Taylor Martindale, Full Circle Literary
I'd really like to see more contemporary YA in my inbox. Unique concepts, memorable characters... Send them my way!
#queries #amwriting

MarleneStringer Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary Agency
There's a difference between "heroine" and "heroin."

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla
Just scheduled my 1st 2012 lunch. "Holiday season" has arrived. Writers, feel free to keep querying, but be ready for slower response times.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Reminder To Writers Using First Person Narratives

Writing in first person point of view is a great way to catch the immediacy of a scene and the intensity of the protagonist's situation. I've been reading contemporary middle grade and young adult fiction lately, and have seen some fantastic examples of this POV serving the story.

I also recently read an interview with an agent who was careful to remind writers that, when she looks at submissions written in 1st person, there needs to be a strong voice, or else the manuscript is really better off in 3rd person. She was, of course, not endorsing flat protagonists in 3rd person~ only saying that to carry an entire novel in 1st person, there better be a strong voice.

A strong voice does not necessarily mean that your character has to be extremely outgoing, loud, funny, sarcastic, depressed, etc.

I just read Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan, and the two protagonists are definitely not the most colorful characters in the book (that honor goes to Tiny Cooper, a giant of a sidekick and usurper of the book’s spotlight). It means that your protagonist’s voice should be:

-Unique to the character, and hopefully somewhat unique in terms of what’s already being read in your genre.

-Distinct in a way that serves the story.

I’m coming off a 1st person manuscript where the protagonist had a fairly strong, distinctive voice. The voice of one of my new MG protagonists is quieter and more timid, and I didn’t understand what was wrong with the manuscript—why it wasn’t coming alive. Eventually, I realized that the voice of the manuscript was stronger in third person.

This is certainly not true with all categories and all genres and all manuscripts, but in my case, I found a creativity in 3rd person that gave body to the manuscript in a way that I couldn’t have done in 1st person, because of the limits of a single person’s awareness.

I lost the immediacy, but I gained ten-fold in richness of setting and the ability to see perspectives of other characters. Think how much we would have missed if the Harry Potter books were in 1st person limited, with Harry as Narrator.

My point is that I had a little bit of an epiphany: we should serve the story we are trying to tell. Don’t just pick a point of view for your manuscript. Carefully select the one that will evoke the most feeling and the greatest amount of engagement from your reader. Sometimes that POV is 1st person, but sometimes it isn’t.

*PS~ I just got my computer back (see previous posts for my brief, woeful account), and it wasn't earth-shattering expensive. Thanks so much to those of you who shared stories or expressed concern!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday Tweets and Computer Malfunctions

My computer is slowly dying. I've got less than an hour left with it, according to the battery. My 2-year-old knocked it off the table (warning to parents~ be vigilant about your placement with little ones running around!), and it fell right on the connector, which jammed the jack inside the machine, which means I can't power my baby anymore.

I'm taking it to a shop today, but money's a tad tight, so I'm not sure when I'll be back up and running (which stinks, because I was really making some progress on my WIP).

In the meantime, here are some November tweets offering comments and advice from fabulous literary agents:

kate_mckean Kate McKean, Howard Morhaim Literary
If you're writing YA and doing #nanowrimo, I challenge you NOT to put a dead parent or a car accident in your story.

jsinsheim Jessica Sinsheimer, Sarah Jane Freymann Agency
I do not recommend listing the 20 other agents you've sent your work to in your query. #PubTip

MarleneStringer Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary Agency
If you Q a project & take months to send, don't be surprised if interest has waned. Market changes, etc. can make all the difference.#pubtip

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla, Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Quick! Someone write me a novel based on the song Long Black Veil by Johnny Cash & make it awesome. Thanks.

WeronikaJanczuk Weronika Janczuk, Lynn C. Franklin Associates
Re-Opening to Queries As of November 8th, 5:00 p.m. EST - Due to some unforeseen circumstances that placed... http://tmblr.co/ZA5MZxBcovxX

louisefury Louise Fury, Lori Perkins Agency
Dont send me a #query while you still have an agent. I dont know you, but I already dont trust (or like) you. #AgentsKnowEachOther #pubtip

JillCorcoran Jill Corcoran, The Herman Agency
I'm looking for YA first love, romantic comedy, thrillers,mystery, contemp with the emotional/groin pull of JBlume's FOREVER #askeditoragent
*Note- Jill is only open to conference attendees and by referral

MandyHubbard Mandy Hubbard, D4EO Agency
Guys, never, ever query on twitter. It's just not the place. Same goes for facebook. Shouldn't have to say it, but I do. #askeditoragent

jsinsheim Jessica Sinsheimer
Today's slush: robots, robots, and more robots! But they are clever robots, so that's something.

Natalie_Lakosil Natalie M. Lakosil, Bradord Literary
You know what I want right now? Something sweeping. Atmospheric and dark and sweeping. #queries

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla
When in doubt, wear bright yellow 4-inch heels. #lifeadvice

My apologies on not getting around to your blogs while my computer is being fixed, but hopefully I'll be back soon. Have a wonderful week :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Literary Crimes and Punishments- The Little Women Edition

Have you ever come across a crime in literature that goes unpunished? Or a crime where the punishment leaves you unsatisfied?

This blog segment is about what YOU would have done as the author, if one of your characters had been…let’s say, naughty. “Naughty” covers all manner of genres and sins.

For this edition, I’ve chosen an example from Little Women, a book that I’m currently re-reading (by the way, did you know that this novel is Louisa May Alcott’s least favorite of all her works? Crazy, huh? I just read that in the foreword in my copy, and was a little saddened, but thought I’d share it in the name of writerly trivia).

Summary: The book is a largely the story of the four March sisters (Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy) and their mother living in Concord, Massachusetts in the late 1800s.It deals with family struggles, and the individual dreams and hopes of each sister. Jo (2nd oldest) is a tomboy and aspiring writer and Amy (youngest) is a prissy, shallow little snot—woops, I mean an aspiring artist whose tastes run on the fancy side.

Motive: The three older girls are allowed to go to a theater show. Amy is told to stay home by Meg, who says, “Mother doesn’t wish you to go this week, because your eyes are not well enough yet to bear the light of this fairy piece. Next week you can go with Beth and Hannah (the maid) and have a nice time.”

Amy begs and Meg starts to give in.

Jo claims that if Amy goes, she won’t. She points out that the neighbor boy invited them to go, and there are reserved seats. Admittedly, Jo is a little mean about it.

Amy says ominously, “You’ll be sorry for this, Jo March!”

Crime: In spite, Amy burns Jo’s manuscript, a compilation of half a dozen fairy tales for their father, who is away at war. Jo has just recopied a fresh version and has discarded all other copies. The fire “consumes the loving work of several years.”

Punishment: Amy is given a little lecture, explaining the severity of what she’s done. She’s told to apologize and beg pardon, which she takes her time doing.

Ladies and Gentlemen of this Literary Court, if you had written Little Women, would your Mother character have delivered a stricter punishment, for something we writers know to be the most heinous of acts?

PS- if you haven’t seen the 1994 movie version of Little Women, it’s a very nice family movie for the holidays!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNo Gifties

I’ve never had the guts to try National Novel Writing Month, but I always notice that the blogosphere gets a bit quieter each November. I’m in awe of those of you who do it, and I’m here to cheer you on! Plus, I’m actually going to semi-participate this year.

Much like my attempts at yoga, I’ll be taking a modified approach with this, involving 30,000 words of writing (not the usual 50,000) and reaching holiday planning goals (I’m trying to tackle gifts in November to avoid the rush on our finances).

I’m taking a week off for Thanksgiving to drive to the magical land of Iowa! I love Iowa…must be because of Dar Williams and her song by the same name (click HERE). So, at times, I might be a bit scarce this month.

Feel free to leave me a note in the comments and let me know if you have any goals for November (NaNo or otherwise)! In the meantime, here are a few motivational gifts for you brave ones about to embark on a 50,000-word journey:


BASKET O' PRETZELS-Studies show that crunchy foods help to stimulate thought, and pretzels will keep your hands/keyboard free of grease and cheese-dust (unlike chips and cheetos)...okay, carrots are a good alternative, but I really like this brand of pretzels. Plus, I'm a salt fiend.

PARAFFIN HEAT THERAPY HAND SPA-For those sore typing hands!

Enjoy, and happy November!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Spooky Literary Destinations~ Transylvania To Colorado

Halloween is around the corner, so I thought I’d bring you five literary destinations that are surrounded by spookiness, but would still make for a fun family trip.

Drumroll, please (and a big thank you to Wikipedia for assistance):

TRANSYLVANIA- This region of Romania (see the photo above for a landscape photo) is the location of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a novel that’s said to be (in part) based on the real-life horror story of Vlad the Impaler, who was said to have killed between 40,000 to 100,000 Europeans.

Interestingly enough, Prince Charles just announced a shared lineage with Vladdy/Dracula in order to promote saving the Transylvania forests. Go figure—see HERE for that interesting piece of news. Click HERE for Transylvania tourism info. It looks like a gorgeous and friendly place for a vacation :)

SLEEPY HOLLOW, NEW YORK- Both in written and Disney form, Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, is a beloved and spooky tale. It takes place in the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town (based on Tarrytown, New York) in an isolated glen called Sleepy Hollow.

Now you can visit the real village of Sleepy Hollow, New York! The town website is adorable, and it looks like they host one heck of a haunted hayride! There are tons of community events, many hosted in the lovely Irvington Town Hall. The image is of the Headless Horeseman Bridge.

SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS-Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible is a dramatization of the real-life Salem Witch trials. It is the town of Danvers, once known as Salem Village, that was the main site of the hangings of nineteen people (14 women, 5 men). One man was crushed to death by heavy stones, in an attempt to make him enter a plea. 29 people were convicted of the capital felony of witchcraft. Seriously interesting and sad stuff.

Anyway, you should know that Danvers, the true site, changed its name specifically to avoid notoriety. Salem Town (Click HERE for a city guide) capitalized on its name and became the tourism mecca for witchcraft buffs everywhere.

As one visitor from Chicago noted, “The whole thing mostly happened down the road? Well, that bites. And here I was just getting into this nice déjà vu historical groove.”

ESTES PARK, CO-Stephen King once wrote an itty-bitty book called The Shining. Ever heard of it? It’s about a man who takes a job as caretaker of The Overlook Hotel in a remote area of Colorado. It’s said that a stay at The Stanley Hotel (pictured to the left) in Estes Park, Colorado inspired Stephen King to write the book.

I’ve been to Estes Park many times, mostly because of its location as a gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.

It’s gorgeous and full of touristy shops. Jam-packed with visitors and locals alike. Mostly visitors, though. The town is a good hour from Denver, and the drive is beautiful. At 7,500 feet, the altitude feels much higher than my home at 7,552 feet. Must be bigger mountains and the slightly isolated feel. And the ghosties, of course. Like most mountain towns in Colorado, the weather is unpredictable, making it the perfect inspiration for one of the creepiest stories (and movies) of the season.

ELSINORE, DENMARK- Much of the Shakespeare play Hamlet takes place in Elsinore Castle in the Kingdom of Denmark. The actual castle you would visit these days is called Kronborg Castle (click HERE for historical info).

It’s one of the top tourist attraction and historical sites in Denmark, and is surrounded by a fortress area near the port to Elsinore city. The harbor is near the entrance to the sound between Sweden and Denmark. This might not seem like a Halloween tale to you, but there are ghosts, murders, and intrigue galore (despite this sunny photo of the castle, it's said to be haunted. Yes, that's right,haunted. Now hand over the entrance fee and get in line to see for yourself).

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pssst! What 3 Agents Want To See (Pass It On)

This is going to be a quick post of pass-it-on news. Here are just a few tweets (from the past week) about what certain agents are looking for.

(And psst! Even if you don’t write in these genres, if you have blogging friends who are looking for an agent and these apply to them, it would be awfully nice to pass this stuff on. Karma points and all that jazz)

WANTED- Novel-In-Verse

Tina_Wexler Tina Wexler, ICM Talent
Yes, I want a novel-in-verse for my list. Yes, I rep the Muriel Rukeyser estate. No, I'm not looking for poetry collections for adults.

WANTED: Contemporary YA with quirky characters

TayMartindale Taylor Martindale, Full Circle Literary
Was just about to post that I'm looking for YA contemp with quirky characters, and a stellar query fell into my lap. Win.

WANTED: Children's book illustrator

stevenmalk Steven Malk, Writers House
Send it to me first! RT
@DJBray Also, if you are the next Mary Blair, please send me something!

*Mary Blair was a Disney artist/illustrator who was recently featured in a tribute by Google—see HERE for more info about her style.

Coming on Friday:
Spooky literary destinations~ From Transylvania to Estes Park, Colorado

Friday, October 21, 2011

On Craft And The Last Words Of Charles Dickens

I find a sort of comfort in Charles Dickens novels~ like I'm slipping into the world of a storyteller in a way that's so effortless, I hardly remember I'm reading.

The inspiration for this post came from our early snow a couple of weekends ago (see THIS post for photos), when we went sledding, had hot chocolate, watched a holiday video (or three) and lit a pine-scented candle in our candle holder that looks like the one that dude in the nightcap held in The Night Before Christmas:

Because I’m sentimental like that.

Of course, my eyes drifted to our bookshelf, where we have a red-covered copy of Christmas Books by Charles Dickens. That got me thinking about good ol' C.D.

Now, if this were back in the 80s, I would have shuffled over to our set of Encyclopedia Britannicas (my younger readers are thinking, “what?”) and found…well, not too much about one of my favorite authors.

But a quick internet search gave me more information than I could ever hope to read, including the following statements (thanks to Wikipedia):

-Dickens' work has been highly praised for its realism, comedy, mastery of prose, unique personalities and concern for social reform by writers such as Leo Tolstoy, George Gissing and G.K. Chesterton.

-Others, such as Henry James and Virginia Woolf, have criticised it for sentimentality and implausibility (which, by the way, are two things that Jess likes).

-Dickens loved the style of the 18th century picturesque or Gothic romance novels, although it had already become a target for parody.

-Dickensian characters—especially their typically whimsical names—are among the most memorable in English literature. Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, The Artful Dodger, Pip, Miss Havisham, David Copperfield, Abel Magwitch, Daniel Quilp, Samuel Pickwick, Wackford Squeers, and Uriah Heep are just a few gems.

More than anything, his last words are what struck me and stuck to my heart.

-Dickens's last words, as reported in his obituary in The Times were alleged to have been:

Be natural my children. For the writer that is natural has fulfilled all the rules of art.

Honestly, it was a breath of fresh air. For writers studying craft, there are always new techniques to learn and rules to memorize. Rules of grammar, rules of plot and structure, suggestions, things to employ, things to avoid…it becomes a little overwhelming (though I will say that I'm a big believer in “you’ve got to know the rules before you can properly break them”).

I find value in books on the craft of writing, but I find inspiration in the last words of Charles Dickens.

..the writer that is natural has fulfilled all the rules of art.

Thank you, Sir, and may you rest in peace :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Snotters and Tissues and Germs, Oh My!

It's finally happened. Normally, I shrug off colds. They're kind of like hazy clouds that burn off by 10 0'clock in the morning. Anyone who's a caretaker knows that you don't get sick days. Not really.

But today, I'm forcing myself to stay home with my little one, who is also a snot-filled mess (she says "snotters" instead of "snot," which is surprisingly cute unless she's actually sick)~ she's got the kind of snotters where you go to wipe it off her face, and you end up pulling out a foot-long dangler that was somehow hiding in the child's tiny head.

Too much information? Try living it, people.

(*Ooooo, she sounds cranky! She must really be sick*)

Okay, I'll stop whining. At least I have a ready excuse to watch back-to-back Disney movies and Charlie & Lola episodes on DVD. I'm just mad because they're giving away free pumpkins at the Library this morning. Boo.

Anyway, if you're feeling healthy today, then relish it :) I'll be back on Friday.

In the meantime, here's a short post on mastering the craft and putting in writing hours from the lovely RL LaFevers (author of the Theodosia and Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series):

The Long, Slow Slog Toward Mastery

Friday, October 14, 2011

What The Agents Are Chirping About~ Mid-Month Tweets

Happy Friday! Here are a few things that awesome agents have been saying on Twitter this month (ps~ I'm glad to report that the forecast says 70 degrees for tomorrow instead of a repeat of last weekend's snow):

SaraMegibow Sara Megibow (Nelson Literary)
What does it mean to be "actively acquiring new clients?" It means I must stop this line edit and go read submissions now.

SaraMegibow Sara Megibow
Who knows? The next
@MirandaKennealy or @JaneKindred or @Allison_Rushby may be in my inbox RIGHT NOW!

Tina_Wexler Tina Wexler (ICM Talent)
Dear Query-ers: No need to include pictures of your kids. I'll just assume they're cute, okay?

@SarahGreenhouse Sarah Davies (Greenhouse Literary)
Queryers, it's a really good idea not to give your ms the same title as a big book. So avoid FALLEN and ASHES! I've seen a few of both.

Tina_Wexler Tina Wexler
Dear query-ers, saying your manuscript is a "fictional novel" is like saying "ATM machine."

mer_barnes Meredith Barnes (Lowenstein Associates)
If you're planning to query me, please do so before 10/15 (Saturday), when I will close to queries, probably through the end of the yr!

kate_mckean Kate McKean (Howard Morhaim Agency)
A link to buy your ebook on Kindle/Nook is not a query. It is spam and will be marked as such.

SaraMegibow Sara Megibow
If I'm loving a submission, I stop and think, "who might buy this?" That's an important step for me before deciding to offer rep.

BostonBookGirl Lauren E. MacLeod (Strothman Agency)
In the last month or so I've seen at least five YA historicals about teen girls who dress as boys to fight in the civil war.

AgentKristin Kristin Miller (D4EO Agency)
Announcement for the morning crowd: The D4EO website is live. Submission, rights, etc. info here:

saraagent Sara Crowe (Harvey Klinger Agency)
got a few instructive queries this week: "read the below and decide if you would like to see more. " Really, no need, I know the drill.

Louise Fury (L. Perkins Agency)
U can find our phone number, but not our email address? Somehow I don't believe u. FYI, we don't accept phone pitches.

DaphneUn Daphne Unfeasible (aka, Kate Schafer Testerman of kt Literary)
Query update! I'm still behind, but at least I've read & responded to all queries received before September 9th.

Ginger_Clark Ginger Clark (Curtis Brown, Ltd.)
A lot of YA editors are looking for thrillers. More than in previous years.

Lauren E. MacLeod
If your self pub book has sold under 500 copies at a $.99 price point, I don't want to hear about it. 5,000? Maybe.

Have a great weekend~ be sure to check out the top of my sidebar for some amazing book giveaways!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Coolest Libraries in the World (and Agent News!)

First, some housekeeping:

Agent Natalie Fischer of Bradford Literary got married (congrats!) and is now Natalie Lakosil. She has reopened to queries at Bradford literary and did a blog post of what she's looking for. Click HERE for details.

Agent Meredith Barnesof Lowenstein Associates tweeted that she'll be closing to queries this Saturday, October 15th, probably for the remainder of 2011.

Our snowstorm this weekend was lovely, and made it feel like the holiday season was upon us (which was helped by the fact that I already have eggnog in the fridge). The snow has melted and we're back to sunny days and 65 degrees.

Hubby taking the youngest for an October sledding outing.

A couple of weeks ago, the Calgary Herald published an article about the 12 coolest libraries in the world (the photo at the top of this post was taken at the Library of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland). I thought I’d share my favorites and then link to the article at the bottom.

I don’t know about you, but I have a special place in my heart for the public library we went to when I was in elementary school. I still remember turning left into the children’s section and thinking the big adult section looked incredibly boring in comparison. Anyway, here are two that caught my eye!

The Abbey Library of Saint Gall, in Switzerland

*Recognized as one of the richest medieval libraries in the world (tax write-off to travel there for research, anyone?)

Walker Library of the History of Human Imagination

*Private library of Jay Walker, founder of Priceline.com

Want to see the rest? Click HERE for the article. And by the way, I don't usually follow Calgary's newspapers. I followed the link from a Tweet of Random House Kids. If you're on Twitter and not following them, they can be found at @randomhousekids.

Have a great week!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Call For Submissions, Query Contest, & Agent News

Hi all! The weather is getting nippy again here in Colorado, and I've got a great hiking day ahead of me. *Update--it's now Saturday, and we just got power back on. It was knocked out for an hour by the SNOWSTORM we're getting this morning. Gotta love Colorado.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS- If you write science fiction, Carina Press is holding an open call for submissions for their 2012 holiday collection. The collections are usually through invitation only, so check it out! They're looking for novellas from 18,000-35,000 words. For more info, click HERE!

QUERY CONTEST- Kate Kaynak's Disgruntled Bear blog is holding a query contest. The prize is a partial critique and the deadline is October 16th. Genres: young adult, new adult, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, science fiction, and chick lit. Genre-crossing or mixed genres are fine, too, so long as your mix hits at least one of the listed genres. For details, click HERE!

-Awesome agent Suzie Townsend has moved to Nancy Coffey Literary. Her new officemate, the lovely Joanna Volpe tweeted this earlier this week:
The wonderfully talented @sztownsend81 has joined our agency! We will be posting new submission guidelines soon. #YayNewAgent!

-Agent Weronika Janczuk (d4eo Literary) will be closed to queries starting October 10th, per this tweet:
WeronikaJanczuk Weronika Janczuk Closing to Queries on Monday - As of Monday, October 10th, at 12:00 EST, I’ll be closed to queries until... http://tumblr.com/xlp530ydpl

-As a reminder, agent Rachelle Gardner (WordServe Literary) is closed to queries, but...

(and this has been news for about 3 weeks, but I just found out about it)

her new colleague Barbara Scott is available to query, and she takes adult, middle grade and young adult! Click HERE for info about Ms. Scott. You can query her using this address: barbara {at} wordserveliterary.com. Be sure to put QUERY in the subject line and paste your sample pages (3-5) into the email. No attachments!

That's all for today~ have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Frankfurt Book Fair (why some agents are even busier right now)

Just a heads up to give agents (both yours and yours-to-be) a little extra leeway in the next few weeks. They may be preparing for, attending, and doing follow-up work from a little annual event in Germany called the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the biggest book and media fair in the world, with over 7,500 exhibitors from over 110 countries. Needless to say, it's a pretty big deal, and a lot of agents are either going or keeping tabs on it, or sending things with other agency members who are going.

The dates are October 12-16, which means this week, next week, and the week after might be even more busy for their already crammed schedules.

So, in the next few weeks, if you're wondering why you haven't heard back from that lightning-fast agent, it could be because they're involved with work from the Book Fair. Don't panic :)

Frankfurt Book Fair website
Frankfurt Book Fair- Wikipedia

Friday, September 30, 2011

Agent Contests and a Call For PB Manuscripts!

Operation Awesome is having their October Mystery Agent Contest on Saturday (TOMORROW!), so keep an eye on the website—the entry spots usually fill up quickly. Acceptable categories and genres for the 2-4 line pitch will be announced tomorrow as well.

Yatopia is having an awesome pitch contest with agent Mandy Hubbard! Just leave the required info about your middle grade or young adult novel in the comments of THIS POST. Anyone who grabs her attention will win a full manuscript request! Entries close at midnight, October 5th.

Reel YA is hosting a one-line pitch contest with agents Weronika Janczuk and Sarah LaPolla! Two winners will be chosen (by random.org) to send their logline to the agents for a personal critique. Enter by Monday, October 3rd.

Picture Book Writers- Call For Manuscripts! Agent Suzie Townsend wrote THIS POST earlier in the week. If you write picture books, check it out!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Who Motivates You?

In addition to inspiration, writing has a lot to do with motivation. Yes, there are actual deadlines for authors, but much of the in-between business gets done because of self-imposed BIC (Butt In Chair) time. Because of the nature of fiction, there aren’t always clear steps to getting a story down and getting the characters right. One of my favorite sayings is,

"Every day I get up at 6:00 AM to wait for Inspiration. If she doesn't show up by 6:05, I start without her."

While writers, no doubt, have natural traits of mental reserve in the face of not-so-great odds (yay for being stubborn and passionate and slightly masochistic!) and can generate a HUGE amount of self-motivation, it’s no surprise that sometimes we run out of steam.

And then what do you turn to?

What or who motivates you to do your very best in a field where quality is subjective? Because let’s face it, nobody’s going to know if you’re giving this whole writing thing your best shot except for you.

Who is your motivation?

As a child, I was a people pleaser. I was the youngest and loved to make people laugh (which, in hindsight, mostly annoyed everyone). I also loved to get good grades, truly enjoyed school, and wanted to please my teachers. I wanted to do well at soccer for my team. Most of all, though, I wanted to make my parents proud. I clearly remember that feeling. I wanted them to be proud of me.

It’s funny, because now that I’m a parent, it’s the opposite. I want my kids to be proud of me. I want them to see a mom who has a strong passion and gives it her all. And it makes me wonder—were my parents doing the same thing? Was I their motivation?

Today I urge you to think about two things (and feel free to answer in the comments!):

-Who motivates you to keep writing?

-In your life, are you the muse for someone? Are you their motivation? If so, a few words of encouragement go a long way :)

See you on Friday.

Here are a few photos of my motivation:

Me & My Charley-bear, age 2

My Mr. Baseball, age 13

My Homecoming Princess/Future Egyptologist, age 16

Friday, September 23, 2011

Jenny Bent Internship Opportunity, Contests, and The Writerly Wisdom of Jack Handey

Before I get started on today’s post, I urge you to head over to Lindsay Currie and Trisha Leaver’s blogs today~ they’re a writing team repped by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown (yes, that’s right, bow down everyone!) and they’re on a mission to break 300 followers. Their giveaway prizes include critiques (perfect for both published and pre-published writers!) and this awesome stuff:
INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITY: Amazing agent Jenny Bent is looking for three more interns to read for her! See the details HERE and apply soon~ she filled up very quickly last time!

CONTEST ALERT: Enter your query and first page at Krista V’s blog to be considered by an agent seeking MG/YA fiction. Contest starts at 10:00 AM (EST) this Monday, September 26, and closes at 50 entries. Click HERE for details.


For those of you who don’t know, Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handey (click on the link for his Wikipedia page-he's a real person, not a pen name) was an ongoing segment on Saturday Night Live where Jack’s memories and musings were shown as written text on the screen while his voice (a nice monotone, a bit like Tom Bodett) would read the words. Soft music generally played in the background, serving as a nice little juxtaposition for the choice pieces of wisdom he’d empart.

One of the tricky things about writing fiction is delivering the narrative with authority, so that the reader can simply sink into your story. At the same time, you have to offer a fresh enough idea or premise to make room for stimulation and intrigue. People like Jack Handey have done the world a service with his quotable quotes that are both:

-cozy and familal in tone and delivery
-hilarious examples of delivering a bizarre twist and thinking outside the proverbial “box”

Okay, so I’m not sure if you can actually learn anything from these that’s applicable to writing, but I think they’re pretty funny. Here are a few gems to mull over:

Instead of having "answers" on a math test, they should just call
them "impressions," and if you got a different "impression," so what,
can't we all be brothers?

To me, it's a good idea to always carry two sacks of something when
you walk around. That way, if anybody says, "Hey, can you give me a
hand?" You can say, "Sorry, got these sacks."

During the Middle Ages, probably one of the biggest mistakes was not
putting on your armor because you were "just going down to the corner."

I hope if dogs ever take over the world and they choose a king, they
don't just go by size, because I bet there are some Chihuahuas with
some good ideas.

If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them
down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.

If you ever crawl inside an old hollow log and go to sleep, and while
you're in there some guys come and seal up both ends and then put it on
a truck and take it to another city, boy, I don't know what to tell you.

Maybe in order to understand mankind we have to look at that word
itself. MANKIND. Basically, it's made up of two separate words "mank" and
"ind." What do these words mean? It's a mystery and so is mankind.

Okay, this one is a bit mean...but it clearly demonstrates how Point Of View impacts writing (okay, no it doesn't...I'm reaching here) and it's a fine example of the dichotomy between adult and kid perspectives:

One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going
to take my nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old
burned-out warehouse. "Oh no," I said, "Disneyland burned down."
He cried and cried, but I think that deep down he thought it was a
pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but
it was getting pretty late.

And just because this is, for the most part, a blog about writing and books, here's Jack's take on reading:

Whenever you read a good book, it's like the author is right there,
in the room talking to you, which is why I don't like to read good books.

Want more? There’s a whole website.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Most Important Thing I Learned From A Conference

I'm exhausted (both physically and mentally), but I couldn't be happier. If you've never been to a writing conference, I highly recommend finding one (see the sidebar to the right for some resources).

Being surrounded by amazing faculty members (agents, editors, and other industry professionals), authors, and writers makes for a stimulating environment. My head and heart are still buzzing with knowledge and energy.

Due to conference etiquette, I can't tell you much of what I learned in the sessions. After all, these folks make money off the info they present, so we're not supposed to share the juicy stuff. All of the agents and editors were incredibly friendly and approachable, and author/illustrator Adam Rex was one of the best speakers I've had the pleasure of hearing.

If you have the opportunity to attend any sort of session with either of the ladies from Nelson Literary (Kristin Nelson & Sara Megibow), make it happen. Period. And if you have the chance to hear Viking editor Kendra Levin speak on revision, make that happen too.

Okay, since I can't just gush about it all without sharing anything, I will tell one choice piece of advice. It comes from a very well-known agent who was doing a first page session. She read first pages from attendees and told us when she would stop and reject. It was incredibly helpful to see how quickly agents hone in on craft issues and choices that wouldn't be a fit for them. Okay, are you ready???

Get your notebooks out.....


This could be the difference between your manuscript being a success and it being flushed down the publishing toilet...


"Never mention bodily functions on the first page! Ever."

Tee-hee! Hope that was helpful :)

(I assume potty books for toddlers are the exception)

Have a lovely week, everyone. I plan on catching up with your blogs soon!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Agent News and Contests

*I was lucky enough to win a scholarship to this weekend's conference put on by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of SCBWI, so I may be a bit late commenting on everyone's posts for the next couple of days. If you aren't a member of SCBWI and you write picture books, middle grade, or young adult fiction/non-fiction, please check it out. It's a great organization that offers lots of support to writers, both aspiring and published!

And guess what? I get to hear Adam Rex speak! He wrote Fat Vampire (among other books~ picture books too!), which I finished reading last night. If you think you know vampires, give this book a try. Seriously :)

Okay, okay, on with the show.


Kate McKean of Howard Morhaim Literary is now open to queries!

-Ms. McKean's Literary Rambles page

Danielle Chiotti of Upstart Crow tweeted this on Wednesday:

Writers: Query lines aren't officially open yet, but I'm unofficially ready to read, so send away!

Jill Corcoran of Herman Agency is now closed to queries except for referral or conference attendees.


MSFV September Agent Contest- Opens on Monday, September 19th. See the post for submission windows/times. Genres: Adult fiction (except science fiction), MG & YA fiction (except science fiction)

Claire LeGrand’s Teen Pitch Contest: Know any teens who love to write? They can win a mentorship with an author! Have them submit their one-sentence pitch idea and Claire will pick a winner. Entry deadline: September 18, 11:00 PM, CST.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mid-Month Agent Tweets

After skipping the month of August, mid-month agent tweets are back! Here are some great/fun tips and thoughts that amazing agents have shared so far this month. Be sure to follow these fabulous folks on Twitter if you’re not already doing so (their Twitter names are underlined).

cjdrayton Catherine Drayton (InkWell Management)
Anyone writing a YA psychological suspense novel? I keep hoping that a stunning manuscript is going to land in my inbox!

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla (Curtis Brown, Ltd.)
#writingtip If it's obvious who is speaking, you don't need dialogue tags. Narrative is much cleaner when you remove unnecessary "said."

SaraMegibow Sara Megibow (Nelson Literary)
Phone call this morning, "I DID send a query via email but HAD to call and tell you about it in person too."

SaraMegibow Sara Megibow
Here's the thing about phone call queries - authors don't get to call potential readers and say "But you'll LOVE it!"

literaticat Jennifer Laughran (Andrea Brown Literary)
Love a good MG or YA mystery? Looks like there is a cool new blog afoot... http://sleuthsspiesandalibis.blogspot.com/

SarahGreenhouse Sarah Davies (Greenhouse Literary)
A new day, a new world - and @juliachurchill and I are on the prowl, turning over those rocks in search of sparkling manuscripts beneath.

KOrtizzle Kathleen Ortiz (Nancy Coffey Literary)
"My book will appeal of fans of 'The Twilight'." #dontevenknowwheretobegin

RT by kate_mckean Kate McKean (Howard Morhaim Literary)
A cover letter ("Below are my synopsis and pages.") is not an acceptable substitute for an actual query letter. #pubtip

*Random comment by Jess~ Ms. McKean reopens to queries on 9/15/11!

RachelleGardner Rachelle Gardner (WordServe Literary)
it’s the author’s job to come to the agent with a publishable book: http://bit.ly/oVYZfS

AgentKristin Kristin Miller (D4EO Literary)
Back to work after vacation and reading queries. LOTS of them don't have pasted sample pages. PLEASE paste sample pages. 5-10 works.

AgentKristin Kristin Miller
After all, your query might suck, but your pages might be amazing. I'd hate to have missed out b/c of a crap query.

RT by MarleneStringer (The Stringer Literary Agency)
Even when writing in 1st person, tell us your main character's name as early as possible. I hate having no idea who is talking #writetip #fb

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla
Queries I never want to read: "Girl feels invisible. Meets hottest guy ever. Finds self-worth through his love. OMG he has a secret."

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla
BTW, a male protagonist who suddenly finds self-worth because a hot, confident love interest is totally into him is equally vomit-worthy.
*Random comment by Jess~ Sarah LaPolla's tweets rock :)

SaraMegibow Sara Megibow
#MashUpMonday - I would love to see a submission of epic science fiction. Crazy huh? Patrick Rothfuss-in-space kinda thing.

See you on Friday!