In the Blogosphere: 1/25-1/29

“In the Blogosphere” is a weekly series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week.  Most posts will be from that week, but if I find some “oldies but goodies,” I’ll throw those up here as well.

I never find as much time to read blogs as I want, but here are a few posts that struck me this week.


Do you love to pick apart grammar the way I do?  Writer Magazine‘s Bonnie Trenga analyzes the heck out of “criminal sentences” over at The Sentence Sleuth and gives examples of how to make your sentences shine.

Have a query, but you’re afraid to send it to the Query Shark?  Try my new writer pal—and, apparently neighborJodi Meadows‘s Query Project over at her (W)ords and (W)ardances blog.  Meadows used to read slush for former lit agent Jenny Rappaport, so she knows a thing or two about queries that work—and she critiques them weekly.

Want to boost that platform?  Check out what Writers Web site Planner has to say about what to include.

If you’ve been querying and you don’t know about QueryTracker, get with it!  As you await those fateful rejections—I mean, requests for fulls and partials and offers for representation—look up the stats on the agents you’ve queried. Previous queriers’ comments about how long Agents X, Y and Z took to respond can help calm your inner crazy.

And if you’re looking for a little writerly advice, Writer’s Digest‘s Brian A. Klems sets you straight with his Questions and Quandaries blog.


For all things freelancing, check out  Fellow freelancer J.M. Lacey suggested this site to me, and I can’t wait to play around in there!

If you’re wondering what you should be charging, check out the Editorial Freelancers Association for recommended rates, and if you’re looking to hire a writer and have an affinity for Canucks, check out what Writers.Ca says you should expect to pay for all sorts of projects.

Another J.M. Lacey recommendation, Media Bistro keeps tabs on writing opportunities as well as publishing news.


I’m sure you probably heard about Catcher in the Rye author—and legend—J.D. Salinger‘s death this week.  In The Wall Street Journal, co-author of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and the upcoming Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green and Scholastic editorial director David Levithan pays tribute to the man whose famous work not only embodies the young adult genre, but probably started it as well.


Still not convinced Twitter can help you promote your work?  Over on her blog, young adult author Lisa Schroeder weighs in on the Twitter debate and offers tips on how to get the most out of the latest social network.

To punctuate that point, Bit RebelsDiana Adams tells you how to keep your Twitter followers.

When judging my contest entries, I found that merely checking my Twitter replies wasn’t keeping accurate tabs on them all.  With a quick search, I discovered Checkretweet.  Just type in your Twitter ID, and they handle the rest.


If you’re into YA fiction, check out my Twitter pal and fellow aspiring YA author Stephanie Pellegrin‘s blog for a chance to win a signed copy of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, a Hush, Hush postcard, and a Hush, Hush bookmark.


Wiley Miller gives us a glimpse of the first writer/editor meeting in his comic Non Sequitur.


Check out my interview with agent BJ Robbins of BJ Robbins Literary Agency on the Guide to Literary Agents blog.

We Have a Winner…Well, Actually, We Have Three

The contest results are in!


You guys made it tough, but I chose Jessica Guerrasio‘s Web site/blog entry—YA writer Natalie Whipple‘s blog—as the contest winner for a few reasons:

  • I’m not sure if Jessica intended this or not, but Whipple writes YA—and being that I too write YA, this blog seems a good fit for me.  It felt to me like Jessica tailored her pick to something appropriate for me specifically, and even if it just happened to be a coincidence, I appreciate its relevance to my own writing.
  • Whipple is repped by Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown Ltd., which pretty much makes me completely jealous of her.  While she is unpubbed, she represents what I hope to be the next step in my writing career, and I think I can learn a lot from her.  I believe the story is that she entered one of his blog contests and snagged him that way, so I need to learn all I can from her!

Up-and-coming YA author Natalie Whipple

  • The post Jessica chose is interesting and informative, which were really the only requirements.  In it, Whipple discusses her revision process and lists questions she asks herself at every stage.  If the rest of her posts are like that (and, in the poking around I’ve done on her Between Fact and Fiction blog, I’ve found that many are), then I’m a happy girl.
  • It wasn’t a site or blog I’ve ever seen or visited.  Some of the entries I got were Web sites I already use, and while you wouldn’t have known that for most of them, a few entries I got were for sites I have linked right on my blogroll.

So, congrats, Jessica!  If you can e-mail me an addy where I can send your 2010 copy of Guide to Literary Agents, I’ll get that in the mail for you.

As well, I decided to institute two runner-up awards.

RUNNER UP goes to Marice Kraal because:

  • She’s from Australia (that’s not really why, I thought it was cool.)
  • As well, like the winning entry, it showed thought went into the decision, as Mary Kole is an agent who seeks YA lit, which, like I said, is what I write.

MOST RETWEETED goes to JRFrong (Muftopmom/Twittahbug) because:

  • I already use her entry (Janet Reid‘s blog), but it’s a really great resource.
  • Her own blog cracked me up.
  • She RT’d my Twitter posts all last week.

Runners up get their choice of a free critique or edit of up to 30 manuscript pages (good at any time).  Please e-mail me to redeem.

Thanks to all who participated, and stay tuned for another contest soon.  I have another fabulous book just dying to be won!

Contest News & SWO LIVE CHAT

Okay, folks.  The contest is now officially closed to entries (well, it was closed as of almost two hours ago).

As there were a ton of great Web sites entered, I am going to need a few days to deliberate. (I would do my deliberating today, but I have an audition, and that’s going to take up most of my deliberating time.)

That said, I will announce the winner(s?) by this Friday, January 29.

With so many great entries, this is going to be difficult to decide!

*If* you’re needing a Ricki fix, however (riiiight), please consider stopping by the Shenandoah Writers Online LIVE CHAT session tonight at 9PM EST.

If you are not currently a member of SWO but would like to chat with other writers around the country, please shoot me an e-mail at so we can get you signed up ASAP.

In the Blogosphere: 1/18-1/22

“In the Blogosphere” is a weekly series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week.  Most posts will be from that week, but if I find some “oldies but goodies,” I’ll throw those up here as well.

I never find as much time to read blogs as I want, but here are a few posts that struck me this week.


Over at his blog, The Book Deal, editor extraordinaire Alan Rinzler shares some tips on hooking agents and editors.  He also gives examples of good hooks.  This blog is chock-full of all kinds of writing tips and just brimming with awesomeness, so check it out.

Over at WOW! Women on Writing, fellow Writer’s Digest contributor Kerrie Flanagan gives tips on how to pitch an agent.

The Oatmeal has become one of my favorite sites, with its hilarious lists on various subjects.  I mostly love it for its grammar and spelling tips—although, I’m a little biased, as its style is reminiscent of the approach I used when I taught grammar.  This post on spelling had me laughing out loud (ROTFL).  This is my favorite:

I wrote two posts this week, mentioning poetry and screenwriting.  If these areas are foreign to you, the folks over at Writer’s Relief can shed some light on them.  Learn some poetry lingo here, and get some screenwriting resources here.

At Editorial Anonymous, learn a thing or two about deciphering those rejection letters with this tongue-in-cheek post.

As I discussed earlier this week, when I came to the end of last week’s fight to finish my manuscript, I realized my original title no longer worked.  Desperate to be done with the thing and eager to apply the icing on my literary cupcake (what??), I, naturally, turned to the Internet for assistance with titles.  I found some help at, Writer’s Digest, and eHow.


Blogger sisters Lisa and Laura Roecker give some of Nancy Coffey Literary agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe‘s tips on synopses.

WordServe Literary‘s Rachelle Gardner offers some advice on perfecting that elevator pitch.

As well, FinePrint Literary‘s Janet Reid details what a writer needs to have ready when looking for an agent for fiction, memoir, and nonfiction with this straightforward list on her blog.

Last but not least, The Last Will of Moira Leahy author Therese Walsh of Writer Unboxed asks her agent, Elisabeth Weed of Weed Literary, about voice—something not easily defined, yet something every agent seeks.


Over at Fiction City, my writer buddy, Lisa Katzenberger, asks: How Soon Do You Start Critiques?

Here, Robert McCrum of The Observer talks plagiarism and lists some famous examples of authors’ works which have been accused of it.

In this guest post on Rachelle Gardner‘s Rants & Ramblings, editor Chuck Sambuchino asks, “Would you pay more for an agent?” And many weigh in…


I shall keep these three posts close by during this query (and, hopefully, submission) process:

Yes, that's "Monk."


Like to read?  Like to blog?  Here, Thomas Nelson PublishersMichael Hyatt tells how to get your hands on free books and get your name out there by reviewing them.

Don’t forget to enter my contest here on the blog.  Click here for details on my easy-peasy contest, and see how you can win a brand-new 2010 Guide to Literary Agents!


I’m with COCO.

You Have a Question? I Have an Answer: Where to Find Script Agents/Managers

“You Have a Question?  I Have an Answer” is a feature that answers real questions from real writers.

Q:  Hi Ricki. Even though I live in LA and am a screenwriter, I need your assistance in approaching agents from CAA, WME, UTA, et al who would be appropriate.  In other words—a few suggestions?  I got the idea to approach you after reading your interview with Dorian Karchmar.  I need an agent and am clueless as far as whom to approach.  Would you know, and could you help?


A: Thanks for the question!

I’m not as versed in the area of script agents/script managers, as I’ve only interviewed literary agents and authors at this point.  However, I’m very interested in screenwriting—and I will be interviewing some script managers for Writer’s Digest Books’ 2011 Screenwriter’s & Playwright’s Market—so I guess it’s time to dive into that subject!

*Some* literary agencies handle screenplays - but in my experience, most do not. You just have to do the research to find out!

On the GLA blog, where I’m assuming you read my Karchmar interview, Chuck Sambuchino lists “Screenwriting and Script Agents” as one of his categories located on the left of the blog.  If you click on that heading, he has some interviews with script agents as well as a few other informative posts in the area of screenwriting.  Maybe that could be a lead?

As well, in addition to Guide to Literary Agents, Sambuchino also puts out the aforementioned Screenwriter’s and Playwright’s Market, which is a huge database of script agents among other things.  I’ve got the 2009 edition right here, and one major section of it lists agents/script managers.  Many of the listings even show what genres the agents accept, so that should help you find someone tailored to your (awesome!) projects.

If you can get your hands on one of these babies, you'll be able to find exactly what you're looking for.

Good luck to you!

What a Dining Room Table Has to Do with Poetry

As a wedding present, my grandmother (“Nanny”) gave me her dining room set.

A few months before I got married (in 2006), she moved in with my parents; her health had declined, and the two-story century home she’d lived in for 60 years became too much for her to handle on her own.

Taken at my last visit to Nanny's house, before it sold.

A few water rings adorned the table’s surface, and the chair cushions—brittle with over 40 years of wear—needed to be reupholstered; but the china closet was in pristine condition—so we loaded the behemoth into the moving van on our way to Georgia.

Because my husband and I moved into a house in the Old Dominion and now have space for the rest of it, the dining room set became one of the top items of interest during my parents’ purging spree. Over Christmas, my dad gave it a major face-lift, and the pieces are now reunited after three and a half years.

Looking at the set, in its final resting place of our dining room, I can’t help but wonder the kinds of things it saw during its stay in Willoughby, Ohio.

As Nanny can no longer tell the tales (she too lay in her final resting place), the whole thing reminds me of one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets, Dr. George Bilgere.

Award-winning poet and John Carroll University professor, Dr. George Bilgere. Photo by Gary E. Porter

One of my (favorite) college professors and the author of five poetry books, Bilgere uncovers his family’s history in “The Table.” Written in beautiful prose, “The Table” is not lengthy—and you’re truly missing out if you don’t read it. <—No excuses—even if you’re “not a poetry person.”

I have used it when teaching poetry in previous years, and although the poem doesn’t tell my family’s story, it strikes me every time I read it.

…and today, it reminds me of how fortunate I feel to be able to give my table a whole new history.

No, this isn't it - but I wonder what this one would have to say.