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

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!