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

Friday, August 31, 2012

Off to Austin, TX (and 2 more contests!)

I'm leaving the hubby and kiddies behind this weekend to visit family near Austin, TX. I will be not be bringing my computer (I know, I know, I'm trying not to panic), so I'll catch up with ya'll next week.

In addition to my last post, 2 more opportunities to get your work in front of an agent/editor are:

Miss Snark's First Victim Secret Agent Contest- Monday, September 3rd. Entry window, 12-5 PM, EST. Genres include:
  • Literary Fiction
  • Memoir
  • Middle Grade Fiction (all genres)
  • Young Adult Fiction (all genres) 
Click HERE for more info


Operation Awesome Mystery Agent (Editor this time) Contest- TWITTER PITCH CONTEST (140 characters only-they will be strict on that!!). Entry opens, September 1st, 10 AM EST. ONLY THE FIRST FIFTY ENTRIES (pasted in a comment on the entry post) WILL MAKE IT IN. Read the early info and rules HERE and then check back at the OPERATION AWESOME HOME PAGE on September 1st at 10 AM, EST. The Mystery Editor will critique the winner's first 10 pages or query letter!

Hope everyone has a great Labor Day weekend!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Three Upcoming Agent Contests

Here are three upcoming ways to get your manuscript in front of agents:


Dates: Submission windows are on 9/1 and chosen entries go live from 9/7-9/12
What to submit: 35-word pitch and first 150 words of your Adult, Young Adult, or Middle Grade manuscript
Links: See the blogs of hostesses Shelley WattersBrenda Drake, and Erica M. Chapman
Participating agents:

Dawn Frederick - Red Sofa Literary
Brittany Howard - Corvisiero Agency
John Cusick - Scott Treimel NY
Victoria Marini - Gelfman Schneider Lit.
Judith Engracia - Liza Dawson & Assoc.
Louise Fury - L. Perkins Agency
Sarah LaPolla - Curtis Brown Ltd.
Brooks Sherman - FinePrint Literary Management
Molly Ker Hawn - The Bent Agency

2. GUTGAA (Gearing up to get an agent)

Dates: 8/31 through 10/12
What to Submit: You'll be polishing your pitches and getting to know other participants for a couple of weeks, but your final submission will be a query and your first 150 words.
Judges: First round judges will be a group of your peers (click HERE for a 1st round judge list). Final requests will be made by 11 agents and 7 small presses!
Links: You'll want to read through the following post~ GUTGAA Schedule

Dates: 8/31 through 9/30
What to Submit: This starts with the first line of your kiss/kiss-off scene. Chosen entries will submit their entire scene for one entry round and first 250 words for the last round.
Participating Agent: Lauren MacLeod of The Strothman Agency will critique the winner's first 20 pages or have a 20-minute phone call with them.
Links: Click HERE for details

Friday, August 24, 2012

These Agents Want YOU (two want interns, the other wants manuscripts!)

Okay, I've got three pieces of news to share today.

1. Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency is looking for interns again! Looks like she's set with young adult/middle grade readers, and is looking for someone with strong knowledge in contemporary adult fiction. These fill up very quickly, so get over to her blog, Bent on Booksto see if you would be a match:


2. Mandy Hubbard of D4EO Agency is looking for interns who LOVE middle grade and young adult fiction. Click on her post below:



3. Jim McCarthy of Dystel and Goderich tweeted this yesterday:

Okay authors: we're entering the quietest weeks in the publishing year and I'm caught up on slush. Thinking of querying me? Try now!

Bless his heart, he may be in for a flood of queries :) Here are some tweets that followed:

Question: Do you represent MG?
Answer: Not much, but I'm willing to try for the right project!

Question:  My MS is so close to being ready! When do things tend to pick back up?
Answer: Two weeks, but frankly, it's not like I'm going anywhere. I'm always open.

Question: What are you currently looking for?
Answer:YA, middle grade, adult....you name it. I'm so open right now. I just want to find something great.

And Mr. McCarthy also tweeted this general statement: To the many who asked, I don't do a ton of middle grade but I'm open to it. Really any fiction or narrative non.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bear Damage, Autumn, and Seniors (the high school kind)

After I slogged through making my hubby an egg & cheese/English muffin sandwich and opened the front door for him to leave for work at 5:00 AM this morning, I noticed something on the front porch.

Bear seen by hubby & stepson while they backpacked the Maroon Bells, Colorado (hubby assures me that his camera has an excellent zoom feature and the bear wasn't that close).
Noooo, not this guy (I'll get to bears in a minute). I noticed it was chilly. And that made me smile. I am in love with the Fall season, from the smell of the air to the food, from the leaves to the holidays, from my blog design to the Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks~last year they launched the Fall promotion on September 6, for those keeping tabs. 

Granted, we live at an altitude of over 7,000 feet and it was 5:00 in the morning, but the sense of impending change was there.

Also there was a severely bent bar and broken door on our wooden trash bin. For those of you who have read my bio from the top tab on this blog, you may have thought I was kidding about "needing to seasonally inform the landlord about bear damage to the trash bin," I was not. Landlord A. will be here on Sunday to make repairs.

To complete this little window into my life, I'll let you in on the fact that my stepdaughter will be a Senior this year. She registered for school this week and finally got her drivers license yesterday (which was both a Hallelujah! and a Oh-my-goodness-why-did-you-just-ask-me-that-question-about-which-way-to-turn-the-wheel-when-you-back-up-please-don't-hit-anyone moment).

This is her last year of high school, and I can see her tugging at the bit of independence and adulthood. Of course, this is also a child who thought it was hilarious to dress up in 80s style for her School ID photo this year:
The 1980s: Now comin' at you as a historic era, courtesy of teenagers everywhere. Also the decade when I grew up.

What does this have to do with writing? Not too much, other than the fact that I'll have a little more free time to actually do it. And that gets me just as excited as the Fall season. My WIP is a middle grade historic mystery that takes place in November in the Lake District of England.

Slightly spooky manor house and perhaps a ghost or two. I can't wait for cooler days to help inspire me!

Okay, okay, I can't wait for the Pumpkin Spice Latte to help inspire me :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Closed for WriteOnCon!!



(just for the next two days, of course)


Friday, August 10, 2012

Twitter Treats: #AskAgent Addition

Not all of you have time to stalk Twitter, but the beauty of hashtags like #askagent is that you can browse agent advice/opinion in your free time. I think of it as general research and never fail to find a few tidbits that interest me and apply to a genre I’m writing (or that might apply to future writing).

Below I’ve posted a few questions and responses from a recent #askagent session with the lovely Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary.

Question: where do you draw the line on use of slang in YA? and what's the best YA slang term you've heard recently? #askagent

Agent Response by @bradfordlit: I draw the line on slang in YA when it starts impeding the story and being disruptive. Have to think about the other q #askagent


Question: would you think 60k is too short for an epic fantasy, even if it's YA?

Agent Response by @bradfordlit: Well "epic" implies an epic scope, to me. If it's short, maybe just calling it fantasy is more accurate. #askagent


Question: What are your thoughts on the "New Adult" genre? #askagent

Agent Response by @bradfordlit: Re: New Adult. I am not sure it really exists in this market. NY doesn't really acknowledge it at this point. There are definitely some outlier books out there that would technically qualify as "new adult" #askagent


Question: what's the worst mistake you've ever seen a writer make? #askagent

Agent Response by @bradfordlit: The "worst" query mistake is hard to define. Maybe when the author is downright rude and offensive. #askagent


Question: What's easier to sell...a new play on an old trope, or a unique story w/ awesome voice? (romance genre) #askagent

Agent Response by @bradfordlit: Probably a unique story with an awesome voice. Awesome voice usually wins the day. #askagent


Question: What's your agent wish list?

Agent Response by @bradfordlit: I want some US-set historicals. Historicals from unusual time periods/settings. A really intense YA thriller. A really intense adult thriller ala Chelsea Cain.


Question: What book can u remember reading at a young age, that pulled U in and made u fall in love with books? #askagent

Agent Response by @bradfordlit: Hard 1 to answer. I don't long to be a sword-wielding UF character or a detective. I'd pick a char w/ a happy life #askagent


Question: what is your favorite part of being a literary agent? #AskAgent

Agent Response by @bradfordlit: Fave part about being a lit agent: having a mutually rewarding relationship w/ an author I like, admire & respect #askagent


Question: what do you like to see most in a query?

Agent Response by @bradfordlit: What I mst like to see in a qry: Something exciting, what I have't seen 7 billion x before. A new twist or voice.


Question: do you look for books that can be turned into a series, or are you okay with stand alone fiction?

Agent Response by @bradfordlit: I'm fine w/ a standalone or a series. A standalone is not a turnoff. And each ms in your series shld standalone, ideally #askagent


Question: Does a trilogy up the attractiveness of a fiction proposal if the entire series is complete (as opposed to "in the works")? Thx.

Agent Response by @bradfordlit: It makes me wonder if you tried & failed to sell book 1, then book 2 & kept doing the same for bk 3 #askagent


Question: When pasting sample pages with a query, should an author leave the formatting as is? I see conflicting advice on this.

Agent Response by @bradfordlit: I think formatting often gets screwed up when pasting in a sample into the body of an email. It isn't unexpected. #askagent


Question: What happens when you can't sell manuscript?

Agent Response by @bradfordlit: I rend my garments, shake my fists at the sky. WHYYYYYYY?!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Title, Schmitle, Who Really Cares? Um...Agents Do

*This is a tweaked repeat of an old post, but I thought it was relevant as we head into WriteOnCon next week (August 14th and 15th--BE THERE!). Many of you will be posting your queries and first pages in the Forums. With so many choices for ninja agents (see my post from last Friday) to sift through, a clever/compelling title might just demand attention and lead to a request!!

Perhaps you think the title of your manuscript doesn’t matter too much—you’re a writer after all, and you concentrate on things like plot and character development before focusing on something so petty, so superficial as a measly title.

Or maybe you’re the opposite—you can’t really get into your novel until you have the perfect title, and you spend hours coming up with it. It's incredibly important, like the sturdy nail that holds up the frame of your masterpiece. I go back and forth on the title issue.

If I'm looking to procrastinate, I'll play around with ideas and have fun with it, but I never stressed about submitting a query letter with a title that I knew was lackluster. The title, I assumed, was the last thing on an agent’s mind, and a good query letter trumps all.

Well, maybe, but…

Here’s a mindbender for you: titles can make a difference. A big one.

At the conference I recently attended, an agent let us know that if the query wasn’t super strong, but the TITLE was particularly intriguing, she would ask to see pages anyway. Keep in mind that this is one agent at one conference. Still, I think it’s a fair assumption that THIS SHOULD MAKE YOU THINK ABOUT THE TITLE OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT!

If it’s something vague like REACHING FOR GREATNESS or FLOATING TOWARD ACCEPTANCE, it may come off as a nonfiction self-help book.

Which title is better for a whitewater rafting story— AND THE RIVER CALLED ME HOME, BREATHING WATER, or DEATH BY PADDLE (maybe they all stink, but I just made them up, so no teasing)? The truth is, it probably depends on the genre and plot~ is it a coming-of-age tale or a high-stakes adventure?

We write fiction guys, so use your imagination. I’m not suggesting you go crazy or make something up purely for shock value, but think about your titles.

Right now. Go on…evaulate them.

Are they evocative? Do they immediately conjure up an image or feeling?

The example given by the agent was BLOOD MAGIC. There you go. Like it or not, those two words are a powerful combination. So think about your title in terms of your genre—if it’s a silly middle grade, consider a silly title that stands out. If it’s an adventure story, make it gripping. If it's a young adult paranormal love story—give us passionate, thought-provoking words like PERSONAL DEMONS or SHIVER.

There are tons of exceptions—of course there are—and when it comes down to it, your pages matter most. And, yes, it's true that titles are often changed by the publisher once you get a book deal. But if an intriguing title can dip you out of the slush pile and get your manuscript a look-see, I say it’s worth consideration. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Contest Reminder and the Ninja Agents of WriteOnCon

I'm back! Other than following an ambulance to the hospital where my hubby was treated for crazy complications of giardia (tip: do not drive by yourself when you have giardia...you may end up pulling over and flagging down a car and having the driver call an ambulance and then having them call your wife, who will freak out), vacation time was relaxing!

Here's a contest to look into:
Aspiring Writers Competition with The Reading Room: Want to win $1,000? Enter your first 450 words (middle grade or young adult novel) by August 12th. Click HERE for the announcement post from WriteOnCon.
Speaking of WriteOnCon, the online conference website is already bursting with information! This conference is perfect for agented and unagented authors alike~ this will be my third year of attending, and I can't wait. Get registered in the Forums now (see link below), and you'll be registered for the conference!

The Ninja Agent program is back! The following agents will be stalking the query forums, giving feedback and making requests:

  • Anita Mumm with Nelson Literary
  • Roseanne Wells with Jennifer DeChiara Literary
  • Pamela van Hylckama Vlieg with Larsen-Pomada
  • Cheryl Pientka with Jill Grinberg Literary
  • Suzie Townsend with New Leaf Literary
  • Alycia Tornetta, editor with Entangled Publishing
  • Lara Perkins with Andrea Brown Literary
  • Stacy Abrams, editor with Entangled Publishing
  • Rhoda Belleza, editor with Paper Lantern Literary
  • Peter Knapp with Park Literary

2012 WRITEONCON posts you'll want to review: