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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