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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Love to Write Middle Grade Fiction? Fabulous News...

If you're not on Twitter yet, I've got an incentive for you!!

The hashtag #MGlitchat (click HERE for the blog) is hosting a series of "Tips from the Pros" chats.

Check out the AMAZING line-up and follow the chats on Twitter!

February 2--Author Night
Kate Messner (@KateMessner), author of SUGAR AND ICE and THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z, both from Walker Children's
Kate Milford (@KateMilford), author of THE BONESHAKER, from Clarion Books
Jenn Reese (@jennreese), author of ABOVE WORLD, from Candlewick
Kurtis Scaletta (@kurtisscaletta), author of THE TANGLEWOOD TERROR, MAMBA POINT and MUDVILLE, all from Knopf Books For Young Readers
Laurel Snyder (@LaurelSnyder), author of BIGGER THAN A BREADBOX and PENNY DREADFUL, both from Random House Books For Young Readers

February 16--Editor Night
Jordan Brown (@thisjordanbrown), editor at Walden Pond Press and Balzer + Bray (both imprints of HarperCollins Children's Books)
Nancy Mercado (@nanmercado), executive editor at Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Group
Harold Underdown (@HUnderdown), editorial consultant and owner of the popular website, The Purple Crayon

February 23--Publicist Night
Kellie Celia (@WaldenPondPress)--Marketing Communications Manager, Publishing at Walden Pond Press, an imprint of HarperCollins Children's Books
Tracey Daniels (@TrayMMP)--founder and senior partner at Media Masters Publicity
Greg Pincus (@gregpincus)--author and social media consultant at his website, The Happy Accident

Message from #MGlitchat: Because of the nature of these chats, we are asking that chat attendees please refrain from tweeting until our moderators open the floor for questions. This will give our professionals a few minutes to share their tips at the beginning of each chat.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Using Pop Culture In Your Manuscript? Read This.


I'm sick today, and that's what I feel like. No temperature, but my throat's on fire and I've got an achy body.

Okay, enough whining.

I see pop culture references quite a bit when reading books and beta reading for people. Most of the time, they're harmless, but earlier in the week, a very reputable agent tweeted the following:

Writers querying fan fiction or novels using well-known pop culture characters - please Google the phrase "intellectual property law."

So, if you're planning on having Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga or Tim Tebow make an appearance in your novel, consider yourself warned. Same goes for song lyrics. I'm pretty sure things like Coca-Cola and Scrabble and Sour Patch Kids are fair game, but you might want to check :)

Have a great weekend!

Oh, and if you happened to miss out on Stephen Colbert's interview with Maurice Sendak (author of Where the Wild Things Are) regarding the state of children's literature, it's awesome. Maurice Sendak reminds me of my grandmother~ which tells you a thing or two about my grandmother :)

Colbert-Sendak interview, Part 1

PS~ Blogger has a reply button now, so I'll be replying to comments here, instead of emailing folks :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fiction Lessons from J. Peterman

Once again, I couldn’t resist. One of my favorite treats is getting the J. Peterman Catalog in the mail. It’s hefty in prose and clothes, and always amuses me to the point of getting the giggles.

Their unique approach to sales pitches (and, yes! There is a real J. Peterman~he’s not just a character on Seinfeld) makes reading it always a delight. I picked two of their current items to share with you today. Click on the link below to have your own copy sent to you for free!

J. Peterman Free Catalog

Curiously Familiar.

Lord Northampton was certain I wouldn't fit in at the St. James Club.

I told him that I wasn’t looking to join, just hoping for a comfortable Chesterfield, a glass of Scotch and a copy of the Tatler. And the chance to test a new theory of mine. Namely that this pinstripe blazer could penetrate the inner sanctum of the English aristocracy.

At the bar, Conrad Salmon said I looked "curiously familiar...Eton, perhaps?"

And Lord Ashley asked my opinion on the direction of the FTSE ("footsie").

Northampton looked dumbstruck.

Gentlemen's Club Blazer (No. 3305) in luxurious linen. Appointed with the subtlest touches of bespoke tailoring. Prominent two-button notch collar lapel. Pick stitching throughout for that hand-finished look. Fully functional button cuffs (should you need to perform minor surgery on Tipton Plimsoll).

Men's even sizes: 38 through 48.Colors: Navy with White Stripes, White with Navy Stripes.Imported.

Fran├žois and Catherine.

It was a game they always played.

He pretends it’s completely impossible to get ready, on a moment's notice, to fly off for a reshoot that was his idiot cameraman’s fault.

She pretends to agree.

She gets off the plane pretending she doesn’t look beautiful.

He pretends to be surprised that she is.

She pretends to be surprised that he is surprised.

French Film Star Travel Dress (No. 2532). Low maintenance dress for high maintenance stars. Packs a high degree of glamour in the most flattering silhouette ever. Made from a silky jersey knit with a little spandex. Ties at waist. Lower calf length. V-shape crossover front neckline. Shaping princess lines. Three-quarter sleeves. Flowing full sweep.

“Reservations are at nine, Catherine.”

“Could you make that at ten, you know…”

You might wear this, if you only just travel as far as the corner.

Women’s sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL. Colors: Purple and Black. Imported.

*Giggle* Seriously~ have them send you a catalog if you need a smile (or a Gentleman's Club Blazer, for that matter).

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Query Critique Opportunity & Mid-January Agent Tweets

Would you love a query critique from the fabulous Meredith Barnes of Lowenstein Associates? The chance ends this Sunday, so see HER POST HERE, and check out the Ebooks of these L.A. authors:

Deborah Camp (A mix of contemporary and Old West Historical romances...over 40 coming in the near future, but here is a list of 10 or so available now)

Lorena Dureau (Historical Romance: American Colonial South and West. Very Sexy)

Dan Streib (thrillers with a James-Bond-meets-Anderson-Cooper main character)

Agent News~ Agent Emily Keyes has moved back to the L. Perkins Agency. See a post about the change HERE. Emily likes YA and is an expert on all things "Sweet Valley." You can follow her on twitter @esc_key


Before I list the agent tweets I've accumulated over the month of January so far, I'd like to direct you to Kate Hart's website. She does an awesome Twitter round-up each week.

Aaaaaaand, off we go:

MandyHubbard Mandy Hubbard
#pubtip: no matter how original your work may be, do not proclaim in your query that you invented a new genre. This is not a positive thing

LitAgentMarini Victoria Marini
A query IS the 1st step. There’s no "pre-query phone call." Don’t ignore guidelines and call b/c you "only query interested agents." ...

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla
Saying you wrote your vampire novel "before the craze" is like telling an agent "go back in time & sell it for me." Don't bother.

AgentKristin Kristin Miller
Lots and lots and lots of missing parents. Some dead, some literally missing and need to be found. Hm.

EyeOnFlux Brian Farrey-Latz
It's 2012 and I *still* get manuscripts that aren't double spaced? Seriously? That's like *the* oldest rule, right?

jsinsheim Jessica Sinsheimer
"There's nothing interesting or remarkable about [my protagonist]"--no. Stop it.
#BadFirstSentence #Queries #PubTip

MandyHubbard Mandy Hubbard
#pubtip: if for some reason you've already written the sequel to the book you're querying, DON'T mention it in your query.

MandyHubbard Mandy Hubbard
#pubtip (cont) multi-book deals are regularly done based on synopsis/outline for later books. Writing them all can be a rookie mistake.

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla
Truth: If you begin your query or book with "In the not-so-distant future," I will have the MST3K theme song in my head the rest of the day.

SarahGreenhouse Sarah Davies
If you're writing a thriller - any exciting story - here's my biggest tip: PACE, PACE, PACE. Move that story along and cut redundancies.

MarleneStringer Marlene Stringer
Not a good idea to include in your Q that you write for a hobby. I have lots of hobbies, but I don't expect to be paid for them.

kate_mckean Kate McKean
Emails like to have text in that white box. Don't make emails sad. Don't send queries that are empty with just letters attached.

jsinsheim Jessica Sinsheimer
"I have shortened my novel by 20,000 words. It is now 166,000...." *Headdesk* Today is bad for my head.
#SinusCold #PubTip

jsinsheim Jessica Sinsheimer
"Dear Jessica, thank you for your reply. I haven't started on my proposal or sample chapters. I will get them to you..." *Headdesk*

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla
Hate to say it, having "studied writing," but talent really is innate. You can improve on a technical level, but the passion needs to show.

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla
99% of R&Rs are about improving technique. So hard when writing is brilliant, but I have no idea what the writer is trying to say, or why.
*R&R = a request from agents for you to Revise and Resubmit

hannahnpbowman Hannah Bowman
Rereading client MSs and falling in love with them again is the best feeling.

barrygoldblatt Barry Goldblatt
You know what? No, the fact that you are a teen does not mean you are better able to write about the teen experience.

MarleneStringer Marlene Stringer
Just opened a Q where the writer cc'd the entire agent section of a writer's guide. Never seen one like this before.
#dontdothis #pubtip

Ginger_Clark Ginger Clark
Just read some emailed queries. Authors: if you ever wonder, "hey, will this gimmicky query work?" The answer is always NO.

mraffel Maddie Raffel
Dear author, I'm happy that you love your wife and your children are doing well in school, but what does that have to do with your query? *This is my favorite from this group :)

jsinsheim Jessica Sinsheimer
More reasons to make yourself a good password: having your email hacked and spamming a ton of agents? Rather embarrassing. Happens often.

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla
Writers: Novels have crossover appeal when they are good enough; not because they're pitched that way. Query what your book actually is.

hroot holly rootIf the agent's query guidelines say you can include pages, DO IT. Always. Those pages are your best shot at going from a maybe to a yes.

bradfordlit Laura Bradford
This ms smells like olives. I hate olives. I don't really want to read this now. That is a problem.

johnmcusick John M Cusick @bradfordlit Maybe the author spilled his martini?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Agent Contests On New Blog

My agent tweet post has been pushed to Friday, because I want to direct non-agented writers to: CUPID'S LITERARY CONNECTION

It's a new blog that will have agent contests, much like the awesome ones at Miss Snark's First Victim.

The Current Contest features agents:

Vickie Motter (Andrea Hurst Literary)

John Cusick (Scott Treimel Agency).

FYI~ the name of the contest is LOVE TRIANGLE, but that's just a reference to you being in a contest with two fabulous agents. This one is open to any Young Adult manuscript.

Entries close on 1/20, so get over there and check out the details! Future contests will include other age categories/genres, so this is a blog you may want to follow to keep up with contest opportunities.

Enjoy your week!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Confessions of a Teenage E-reader Hater

A recent GalleyCat article highlighted a study indicating that kids prefer e-books. The study’s organizers obviously made a conscious choice to steer clear of my sixteen-year-old stepdaughter. Sure, it was a study for ages 3-6, but still. Wisely done, organizers.

Not a loner in the traditional sense of the word (she's on the phone or hanging out with friends too much to claim that), Q.C.L. has chosen to isolate herself against legions of e-book lovers across the nation and world. She is…not a fan of the e-reader.

She agreed to sit down with me for a few minutes to answer questions.

What do you love about reading?
It takes you to another place, and gets your mind off things. I love getting hooked into a story, and escaping into it. I definitely put myself into characters' positions, and think of what I would do in their place.

What kind of books do you read?
Fiction—Dystopian, historical fiction. Not so much contemporary. I like series~ I always finish them! Some nonfiction~ travel books, philosophy/religion books.

What are the last two books you read?
Girl with a Dragon Tattoo and Inheritance (Christopher Paolini’s final book in the Eragon series)

*She’s a big reader—an e-reader seller’s dream, in theory*

Do know know of people at your high school who have/use e-readers?
Yes. Teachers, friends, students—I see students in school with them—girls and boys—sometimes teachers encourage e-readers for textbook reading, because they’re cheaper. They’re definitely gaining in popularity. I see kids using them during assemblies, and in class.

You’ve never asked for an e-reader for a gift, but you ALWAYS ask for Barnes & Noble gift cards—what’s up with that?

First of all, don’t say, “What’s up with that?” like that. Okay, I don’t…hmm. I feel as if it’s not actually reading a book when you’re looking at a screen. For me, a big part of reading a book is turning the pages and holding the story in your hand. Like, having the whole story in my hand and feeling the weight of it. For me, I want a bookshelf, but when you have a Nook or Kindle, you can’t have that. I want a bookshelf—I don’t want a thing that can hold a thousand books. I want to look at them. They lose their beauty in digital form.

I know of people who agree with me, but they tend to be adults.

What do you think of e-readers?
I get them. I just don't like them. I don’t like looking at the screen. I like turning pages.

What are the negatives of e-readers for you?
If the battery dies, you can’t read your book. And what’s so interesting holding a silver tablet in your hand? It’s cold and doesn’t have a smell. I get that you still see the book and words, but I feel like it loses part of its value.

Do you think you’ll change your mind in the future?
No. I don’t. Maybe one day for convenience, and maybe because teachers are already recommending them. I don’t like taking notes and marking things with touch screens. But I think it’ll get to the point where e-readers are required like lap-tops basically are at school.

Do you consider yourself an e-reader hater at this point?
. Yes, I do.

There you have it, folks.

Frankly, I’m okay with Q.C.L.’s opinion of e-readers. As it is, we have to drive her to the bookstore so she can spend money. With an e-reader, where it’s so easy to keep downloading if Daddy happens to pass over a credit card (meant to be used on 2 books)…*shivers*…. Let’s just say our girl could do some damage.

Happy Friday!

Oh! And get your booty over to Kimberly's post on her blog, Meetings With My Muse~ she's handing out $100 to attend a Writer's Digest Webinar (or you can spend it as you like). No strings attached~ just follow her and leave a comment. I won this last year, and attended an awesome Mary Kole webinar.

Next Post: Mid-January Agent Tweets

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Poll: Where Would Your Writing Flourish?

This is a random poll to investigate whether a writer’s setting affects their productivity/creativity, and if there are any common preferences among ideal/dream environments to work in. I’m also curious to see if genre has any role in forming preferences, or if individuals write best in their favorite spot, independent of their manuscript’s content.

I may use the results for a blogpost down the road, so I would really appreciate any participation!

If you leave a comment (and please do!), I would LOVE for you to let me know which of these six environments you’d write in, and what age/genre you write for (examples: Sunset/Adult Thriller, Thunderstorm/MG Adventure, Coffee-Tea shop/YA Paranormal).

Sorry, but no combining (i.e. Thunderstorm in a Forest, Sunset watched in a Coffee Shop). Assume that you and your laptop/notebook will remain clean and dry (or sand-free), even in outdoor situations. And, let’s say that the sunset would last more than fifteen minutes :) Just use your instinct to pick one that would foster a positive writing experience for you.

I realize that I can’t capture everyone’s ideal writing spot, but please pick whichever one of these choices you think might nurture your creativity and pages. Remember, this isn’t necessarily where you would like to spend vacation time, this is where you would be able to write well (though, those two might be the same).

Feel free to tell me why (lack of distractions, access to people-watching, etc.), or just list your preference.

Would your writing take off HERE:
Beach during a Sunset

Anytime/weather in a Traditional Office

Anywhere during a Thunderstorm

Anywhere in a Forest

Anytime/weather in a Coffee-Tea Shop

Anytime/weather in a Desert

Thanks, and have a great week!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Not Hitting the Mark(et) With Your Ideas? Consider Paper Lantern Literary

Paper Lantern Literary was recently brought to my attention by my lovely critique partner. PLL is a "boutique literary development company" founded by Lexa Hillyer and NYT Bestselling author Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall, Delirium).

What they do: Connect promising writers with marketable ideas. You submit a sample of your work, and (if they like it) they give you a plot that they believe will sell. And, according to my CP, they've made a good number of sales.

Benefits: People who know what sells will basically be giving you a plot to work with. This takes out pressure for people who have repeatedly heard that their plots are "too quiet" or their premises simply don't have an audience. You're still doing the writing, but much of the head-banging-against-wall-seeking-next-plot-point may be removed. They will then work as an agency that sells your manuscript to publishers.

Possible conflict of interest: Per my CP, they don't allow pseudonyms, so whatever you write will reflect you as an author--this is not ghostwriting. This is your career. Also, there's no guarantee that your work will sell, and you'll be spending lots of time on a story that may not completely reflect you as an author. On the other hand, those who have struggled with marketable ideas might find this to be just the thing!

*I haven't read over the whole website, and this blog post is not an endorsement~ I'm simply sharing information with all of you. Even if you're not interested, this might be something to tell your writing friends about, since we're all on different journeys :)

LINKS: Homepage, Submission Info, FAQs

ONE MORE THING to spread around on this fine Friday: Jennifer Weltz of Jean V Naggar Literary tweeted yesterday that they're looking for Spring Interns:

JVNLA Jennifer Weltz JVNLA
We are looking for spring interns at JVNLA Interested? Know someone looking to learn about Agenting? Apply here! http://ow.ly/8j6fx pls RT

PS~ Sorry about the odd spacing in this post...Blogger is not happy with me today.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest and Agency/Agent News

It’s that time of year again! The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest opens on January 23 and closes to submissions on February 5.

Prizes will be awarded to winners in General Fiction and Young Adult Fiction. What do winners get? A publishing contract with Penguin and a $15,000 advance! You’ll have to submit your whole manuscript (as well as a few other items), so make sure you polish until your pages shine!

General Info
How to Enter
Official Rules

Agency Reopenings:
Danielle Chiotti of Upstart Crow reopens to queries January 23.
Nelson Literary (Kristin Nelson and Sara Megibow) reopens January 4.
kt Literary (Kate Schafer Testerman) reopens January 9.
*Feel free to let me know about others in the comments!

A few tasty Agent Tweets from mid-December to now:

JillCorcoran Jill Corcoran, The Herman Agency
would love to see PLAYING FOR PIZZA or THE ART OF FIELDING for teens! If you got it, pls sub to queryjillcorcoran@gmail.com #fb

JillCorcoran Jill Corcoran

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla, Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Writers: Please make your 2012 resolution be to stop querying vampire/werewolf/zombie novels. Amazed by how many I still get.

sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla
Don't throw them away. Just shelf them. If you're still seeing 1,000 similar titles in bookstores it means yours probably won't get through.

EyeOnFlux Brian Farrey-Latz , Flux Editor
Wish list for Inbox 2012: no more car wrecks resulting in memory/identity loss. (I lost count of how many I read in 2011.)

jennybent Jenny Bent, The Bent Agency
Romance writers! TBA is actively looking for romance clients. Follow guidelines on website, subject line: ROMANCE. http://bit.ly/hS6UJE

*On a personal note, thank you so much for your comments regarding my sister's situation (see the post before this one), and for sticking around the blog despite my break in posting. This community means so much to me, and I look forward to catching up with everyone!