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

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What Agents Are Chirping About!

I've said it one or two (okay, maybe four or five) times, and I'll say it again—if you’re not following agents on Twitter, you’re missing out! Click on the agents' Twitter names to go to their individual pages. Here are some tasty tidbits from the last half of June:

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla (Curtis Brown, Ltd.)
Lesson: You need to have the whole package, writers. Brilliant idea + brilliant writing. It's not an either/or deal.

greyhausagency greyhausagency RT by JillCorcoran (The Herman Agency)
Telling an agent during a pitch that you have been rejected by over 100 agents is not a great start!

mer_barnes Meredith Barnes (Lowenstein Associates)
Really, any manuscript over 400,000 words is just. not. query-able. Come on.

SarahGreenhouse Sarah Davies (Greenhouse Literary)
For my heart to leap, it would have to be a very special werewolf. So many have padded across my inbox already today.

BostonBookGirl Lauren E. MacLeod (Strothman Agency)
Don't start a query telling me all the great lessons a MG reader will learn from your book. Do you want to read a book pitched like that?

SarahGreenhouse Sarah Davies (Greenhouse Literary)
If querying, keep a careful response log. We see lots of resubmissions, already declined. Those peeps' inboxes must be a disaster area.

ChrisRichman Chris Richman (Upstart Crow Literary)
Important agenting announcement: I'm closed to unsolicited submissions until September. More details here:
http://bit.ly/dnYas8 (1/2)

SarahGreenhouse Sarah Davies (Greenhouse Literary)
Query writing is often portrayed as an arcane science. Just keep it simple, clear and brief. And voila, it does the job!

KSonnack Kelly Sonnack (Andrea Brown Literary)
Still dreaming about signing up an amazing YA thriller writer.

SaraMegibow Sara Megibow (Nelson Literary)
ps. going in to
#RWA11, yes, I admit, I have a love for wonderful historical romances (secret info) ("what I like").

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla (Curtis Brown, Ltd.)
Reminder to YA/MG writers: Your main character's grandparents did not fight in WW2. They fought in Vietnam.

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla (Curtis Brown, Ltd.)
Would add "overly written imagery to describe the setting" to Openings to Avoid list. There's a place for that, but it's not right away.

mer_barnes Meredith Barnes (Lowenstein Associates)
If you're putting the F-word in your title, you better have a f*cking good reason.

That's all—enjoy the rest of June!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Novel Ideas With Roald Dahl (plus a CONTEST ALERT)

You never know when a lovely idea is going to flit suddenly into your mind, but by golly, when it does come along, you grab it with both hands and hang on to it tight.

The trick is to write it down at once.

~From Roald Dahl’s personal essay, Lucky Break

To Roald Dahl, the most important and difficult thing about writing fiction was to find the plot. With that in mind, he kept an old school exercise book labeled Short Stories. Just about every page (both sides) was covered with ideas for a children’s book—some good, some not so good.

He says that every story he’s ever written has started out as a very short note to himself.

For example:

What about a chocolate factory that makes marvelous and fantastic things—with a crazy man running it?

A man acquires the ability to see through playing cards. He makes millions at casinos.

A story about Mr. Fox who has a whole network of underground tunnels. They lead to all the shops in the village. At night he goes up through the floorboards and helps himself.

Moral of the post? Get a notebook, keep it with you, scratch down every idea that comes to mind, no matter how silly or loosely-based. You might just end up with a winner!

By the way, for those of you who didn't see the announcement in April, Roald Dahl excerpts will be printed on millions of U.K. cereal boxes (click HERE for the GalleyCat article). Quite amusing, especially considering this line from one of his novels (can you guess which one?):

“Do you know what breakfast cereal is made of? It’s made of all those little curly wooden shavings you find in pencil sharpeners!”

*CONTEST ALERT!! Krista V. is hosting an agent contest at Mother. Write. Repeat. First 20 entries on Monday, June, 27 will be accepted. Genres are YA, Adult Paranormal Romance, Adult Urban Fantasy. Click HERE for details!

Happy Friday & Happy Writing!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

BookCrossing: A Modern-Day Message In A Bottle For Readers!

The San Francisco Chronicle calls it, "a modern-day message in a bottle."

Book Magazine calls it, "an unlikely global sociology experiment."

Have you heard of BookCrossing? It's the world's library, and if you live in (or are traveling to) one of 132 countries that currently participate, you're ready to sign up!

Imagine you wander into a tiny bar in Pamplona, Spain. It's filled with people, high stools, tapas, and eclectic artwork. You sit down with your cerveza or sangria and pick up the book at the end of the bar. It's Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. The inside cover states, "I'm not lost. I'm on a journey." It has a "BookCrossing" ID number and a little info about the program inside.

You pick up the book, give it a read, and drop it off in Dublin, Ireland the following week. Or in a tiny cheese shop in Paris, France. Or in a Chicago pizza place. Someone else picks it up and does the same thing.

It's the ultimate Catch & Release program for readers. You can register online and start sending your own donated books into the world (after assigning them an ID number). Then you can use the registry to see where BCID'd (Book Crossing ID) books are.

Want an excuse to travel to Japan (currently has 28 books), Finland (792 books), or Brazil (884 books)? Tell your employer, "Yeah, Dave. Um, I'm gonna have to take three weeks off. I gotta go hunt down a few books." There's currently one in the Dead Sea area of Jordan if anyone feels like going on a treasure hunt.

The United Kingdom currently has 80,000 members. The USA has nearly 320,000 members. Canada is at 43,000 members and Spain has 35,000. Care to be the next member?

Here are links to more information:
About BookCrossing

Country Member Page (hunt for books)

Frequently Asked Questions

Note: In certain areas, there are designated "crossing zones" to leave books, but some listed locations remain very general. There is no guarantee that your book will be found. Right now, because the program is fairly new, the percentage is around 20-25%, depending on where it's put and how it's labeled (for instance, if you're in a coffee shop, tell an employee what you're doing by leaving the book there--they can tell other customers about the program).

Happy Book hunting, finding, catching, & releasing!

Friday, June 17, 2011

JK Rowling's Harry Potter Announcement and Mid-month Agent Tweets!


JK Rowling is being a tad mysterious. Click HERE for a maddening screen that does nothing but post a running countdown until an announcement. I suspect it has something to do with a website mentioned yesterday. Pottermore.com is currently an inactive website, but should be up and running soon.


As always, I encourage you to get on Twitter and follow the fabulous agents there. There is SO much great advice given out! Here are a few agent thoughts/opinions from June so far. I think my favorite comes from the awesome Meredith Barnes :)

BostonBookGirl Lauren E. MacLeod
Guys, I can't say this enough. It is ALWAYS a mistake to set your YA/MG in a different time period if you don't have a good reason to do so.

EyeOnFlux Brian Farrey
@editrixanica: If your teen characters dress a lot like you (or like teenage you), it's probably time to change their outfits (or yours).

RachelleGardner Rachelle Gardner
The key to a query letter is the same as in good fiction: show, don’t tell. SHOW me your work is amazing.

BostonBookGirl Lauren E. MacLeod
Lots of super high word counts and too-old-for-YA protagonists in my slush today.

BostonBookGirl Lauren E. MacLeod
What do I consider too old? Not in HS anymore. 20+? Too old for YA.

BostonBookGirl Lauren E. MacLeod
It would have to be the *best* book/concept/voice I have EVER read for me to take on a YA about a first year of college.

jennybent Jenny Bent
A request from an agent for a revised ms is signficant--doesn't happen that often. I think sometimes authors only hear the no, but should focus on the maybe.

KevanLyon Kevan Lyon
@xcetrachick #askagent Always a good idea to write query in same narrative voice as your work! *This tweet was in reply to a question on #askagent*

BostonBookGirl Lauren E. MacLeod
Did you start writing your YA novel in 2003 so that is when it is set? If so, try bringing it to the present before submitting.

mer_barnes Meredith Barnes

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla
Just received an email from a UK agent in which the word "fortnight" was used, and my day just became more wonderful. *This one is so cute. I would feel the same way!
~ ~ ~

On another note, this afternoon we're having a 16th birthday barbeque for my oldest, and I will be preparing food, cleaning, decorating, and doing yard maintenance all day. I apologize in advance if I don't get around to your blogs until this weekend!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cool Pitchfest for YA (Any Genre!) and Romance Writers

Pitch University is partnering with Romance University to offer a cool opportunity for YA (any genre!) and Romance writers to hone their pitch skills.

Seven awesome agents will be judging, including the amazing Jenny Bent (The Bent Agency), Kate Schafer Testerman (KT Literary), and Vickie Motter (Andrea Hurst and Associates) . It's in honor of the upcoming RWA (Romance Writers of America) Conference, so RWA Members get preference, but anyone can enter and it's free!

Each agent will be interviewed and will comment on submitted queries and videos. Check the event page for agents’ preferences. They’ll only comment on a certain number of letters, so you're not guaranteed agent feedback, but it's great practice and you can keep your fingers crossed. Plus, it'll be an awesome chance to see how agent's react to pitches!

Submissions are open from June 12-18 to enter, but the sooner you enter, the better your chances are for getting a comment from agents! The Pitchfest will take place June 19-25.

Click HERE for details.
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Also, Writers Digest announced their Short Short Competition—they allow entries until November. Throw them your best piece of short writing (limit of 1,500 words), and they might throw back a prize. Click HERE for details.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Call for Submissions, Agent-Judged Contests, And What’s Hot!

Happy Friday~

Tons of great stuff going on lately! Here are a few yummy items to snack on:

Call for Submissions!

Agent Louise Fury of Lori Perkins Agency put out a call for manuscripts: Teen Sci-Fi and YA Horror. See her blog post HERE.

Agent Mary Kole of Andrea Brown Literary wants to workshop your first page! See her blog post HERE. Deadline for page submissions is June 17th. *UPDATE: She's already received so many entries that she closed the opportunity. So sorry, but her blog post is still worth reading :)

What’s HOT:
Agent Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary posted on what’s hot now based on discussions with editors. Click HERE for her blog post.

2 Agent-Judged Contests:

Agent: Weronika Janczuk of Lynn C. Franklin
Genres Allowed: YA and Adult Fiction
Guidelines: Romance scene of 750 words or less

Blog Host: Gabriela Lessa
Details: Click HERE


Agent: Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary
Genres Allowed: YA, MG, women’s commercial fiction, memoir, & pop culture nonfiction
Guidelines: First 250 words
Blog Host: Shelley Watters

Dates: June 25-27
Details: Click HERE


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Adding Character Depth With The Zodiac

At a loss for character traits? Feel like all of your characters are too similar or too blah? What better way to add a little depth and variety to your manuscript's cast than by checking out the friendly neighborhood zodiac.

Get’em right here, folks! Built-in traits for up to 12, count’em 12 gorgeous, three-dimensional characters.

Is your character a ...

Capricorn: Practical, ambitious, humorous BUT pessimistic, miserly, and rigid

Aquarius: Friendly, honest, original BUT unpredictable and detached

Pisces: Imaginative, selfless, sensitive BUT escapist, secretive, easily led

Aries: Adventurous, courageous, confident BUT quick-tempered, impatient, impulsive

Taurus: Patient, warmhearted, reliable BUT jealous, inflexible, self-indulgent

Gemini: Adaptable, eloquent, lively BUT nervous, inconsistent, cunning

Cancer: Loving, protective, imaginative BUT moody, clinging, overemotional

Leo: Generous, creative, faithful BUT dogmatic, bossy, patronizing

Virgo: Modest, meticulous, practical BUT worrier, overcritical, perfectionist

Libra: Diplomatic, romantic, socialable BUT indecisive, gullible, self-indulgent

Scorpio: Determined, passionate, exciting BUT jealous, compulsive, secretive

Sagittarius: Optimistic, good-humored, intellectual BUT careless, irresponsible, tactless

If you look closely, you might just recognize a character of yours or one from a well-known book! Apparently Ron Weasley from Harry Potter is a Pisces and Hermione is a Virgo (according to JK Rowling).

*By the way, the descriptions for zodiac signs do vary, so please don't be offended if you check yours and it isn't spot on! I know mine makes me sound like kind of a meanie, and I'm not :) These particular traits are from AstrologyZodiacSigns.com~ click the chart for full descriptions from the website.

Happy Writing!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Most Beautiful Fight Scene EVER!! (Plus a yummy contest reminder)

I'm not a huge fan of confrontation in general, but fight scenes certainly have their place in books and life.

During my recent trip to Iowa, I was lucky enough to witness a beautiful altercation--I'm not usually emotional, but I got a little misty-eyed watching this particular conflict. It had all the elements of a real zinger:

-It was boy versus girl.

-There was pent-up agression.

-There were some serious glares.

-There was a treasured possession being fought over.

-Subtle threats, whining, bared teeth (check, check, check).

-Open threats were made as the fight progressed.

-It climaxed in a magnificent shoving scene!

Where, you ask, did this brawl take place?

The local library, of course. A brother/sister pair were fighting over the only copy of Catching Fire (2nd book in The Hunger Games trilogy). They were fighting over a book.
The mother declared the boy to be victor of the day, and ordered him to finish it in a week and NOT spill the plot to his sister or there would be punishment.

Now that's my kind of family conflict.

In other news, Cheerios is holding their annual Spoonful of Stories contest for unpublished writers. It's a picture book contest and it's free to enter! Deadline is July 15, 2011. The prize is having your book inside Cheerios boxes (the winner will also be considered for publication by Simon & Schuster)!

Click the picture to see the official rules and registration information.