In the Blogosphere: 2/12-2/25

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m making one of my resolutions to be better with these blogosphere posts.  *Well, I’m trying, but I’ve been reallllllly busy!* I’ve saved a lot of great stuff, though, and it’s all definitely worth a read.

AGENT STUFF

At RWA nationals in 2010, I attended a fantabulous session with agents of awesome Holly Root and Barbara Poelle, Pocket Books senior editor Abby Zidle, and author Jenny Gardiner, where they reenacted what happens in an acquisitions editorial meeting.  SO eye-opening! Along those same lines, WordServe Literary’s Rachelle Gardner recreates a pub committee meeting here.

Is there such a thing as a fictional memoir?  The Query Shark herself, FinePrint Literary’s Janet Reid answers that question.

PLATFORM & MARKETING

Over at Writer Unboxed, Writer’s Digest and the University of Cincinnati’s Jane Friedman gives tips about using Facebook as a marketing tool—without becoming a nuisance.

And, here, author Jody Hedlund offers seven ways you can market your book—gasp!without the Internet.

VEWY CWAFTY

Here, my favorite Scotsman, Simon C. Larter, says action through dialogue is where it’s at!  And he also calls Shakespeare “Billy Shakes,” which is one of the reasons we’re be-fris.  🙂

But how does one write good dialogue, you ask?  Former agent turned author Nathan Bransford tells you here.

Also, I absolutely love the Sentence Strengthening series on YA HighwayHere’s one on how to more effectively use adjectives and adverbs (or not use them, as the case sometimes is).

Want more strength in your writing?  On Write Anything, Annie Evett lists some weak words to “bin” in her series on self-editing tips.

And here is a fantastic, comprehensive resource with that lists tropes (common storytelling devices or conventions) for . . . just about everything.  You could seriously spend months playing around in there!

HOW-TOS

Need to send a press releaseAngus Shaw over at The Blog Herald tells you how.

And here, agent Natalie Fischer gives some advice on how to avoid making common mistakes in your manuscript.

OTHER STUFF

We’ve all experienced it—perhaps you’re even going through it right now:  The CraziesHere, author Ally Carter talks about The Crazies—what they are, what not to do when you have them, and how to combat them.

I’m sure some of us have learned this the hard way: Taylor Mali’s The The Impotence of Proofreading. Enjoy.

Happy weekend, everyone!  🙂

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5 Tips on Dealing with Rejection

Since I am in Atlanta visiting friends, a bit swamped with work, and getting ready to start querying, I thought I’d post this oldie but goodie from my “How to Write Full Time and Stay Sane” series.  Enjoy!

How to Write Full Time and Stay Sane is a series that offers advice to full-time writers about how to stay productive and in good spirits.

Staying sane is something I’ll admit I haven’t been doing very well the past week or so.  Although I’ve had some exciting successes in that time (sold my first piece to a magazine, landed another gig teaching a summer workshop), I’ve also received my first few query rejections for my manuscript.  Because of this, I have assembled some tips as well as links from industry professionals to help you deal with this agonizing process.

Now, no one is more self-deprecating than I—nor will you find more of a realist (although, some might use the term “pessimist”)—so I’ve mentally prepared for this time of literary limbo.  In fact, more than one writer and loved one has scolded me for referring to the query process as “the rejection process” before I’d even received one.  But I can’t help it: I’d much rather be pleasantly surprised than sorely disappointed.

Which are you?

But even with that in mind, and even if you get the nicest, most personalized rejection (and I’ve gotten two of those so far), rejection still sucks.

You know getting rejections is normal; you know how subjective this is; you know how pertinent finding the right agent is; you know you must locate someone who falls head over heels for your work; you recognize how tedious of a task that’s going to be . . .

. . . but you also know you’ve put tens of thousands of hours into the writing and editing of this thing, and you’re doing the most vulnerable thing you’ve ever done by sending it out into the world—and then someone doesn’t want it for whatever reason.

So, yeah, rejection sucks no matter how ready you are for it.

HOW TO DEAL

Tip #1: File It & Forget It

In a recent Write-Brained Network LIVE CHAT, a friend of mine—whose manuscript has been rejected 28 times—said that every time he gets a rejection, he files it and moves on to something else.

That’s great advice.  And if you can do that, more power to ya.  I think the more seasoned you become in this business and the more irons you have on the fire, your skin can definitely thicken—but we’re not all there yet.

As well, I am lucky enough to be able to do this full time, and believe me: news of my first story getting accepted to a Virginia magazine alleviated some of my “I’m-going-to-die-hopeless-and-penniless-and-20-lbs.-over-weight” (Thank you, Stuart Smalley) attitude. However, I fully realize that many of you reading this have day jobs.  The only thing you’ve got cooking is your manuscript, and you don’t have time to distract yourself with other writing endeavors.

So, although filing and forgetting might sound good on paper (or on screen, as it were), I realize it’s easier said than done.  Which brings me to . . .

I’m good enough, I’m smart enough – and doggone it, people like me.

Tip #2: Send to a Friend

During the writing and editing process, we are discouraged from showing our work to loved ones because so many amateurs make the mistake of thinking that if their mother or spouse loves the book, it’s bound to be a New York Times bestseller.

Along that same vein, I am not suggesting you appeal to family and friends for a critique of your manuscript, but now is the time to revel in their bias toward loving it.  Print out a few copies and send them to your biggest fans.

While it’s gut-wrenching (no matter whose eyes scan your pages), if you include a close circle—those who’ve been rooting for you all along (your buddy from work, who always asks about your progress; your parents, who are eager to see what you’ve been doing all this time, etc.)—you are sure to get rave reviews.

As long as you take their glowing assessments for what they are and don’t let them cloud your realistic attitude toward the query process and the publishing industry, this praise can be just the ticket to convince you not to jump.

After all, regardless of whether or not your book will ever get any agent to want it, regardless if the book is even publishable, remember: completing a manuscript is a huge accomplishment. You deserve to have someone stroke your ego a bit.

Your manuscript is GRRRRRRREAT!

CONFUSION

When my first rejection rolled in, I scoured every resource I knew to figure out how to respond.

First of all, don’t get me wrong: I know you aren’t supposed to respond.

But the rejection was not just a personalized version of a form rejection letter.  As well, a YA author friend of mine had given me a referral to this agent because she represented said YA author friend, and the agent had mentioned our mutual acquaintance in the e-mail, so it wasn’t as though this was a cold query.

While I knew not responding at all would have been perfectly acceptable, and while I wasn’t going to lash out at the woman, I went back and forth about sending a “thank you.”

Agents are flooded with e-mail daily, and many are quite vocal on their blogs and on Twitter about not wasting their time, but in doing a little research, I found several well-known agents with conflicting information.  (Wait, agents don’t all agree on everything??)

HOW TO DEAL (AGAIN)

Tip #3: Seek Professional Help

When in doubt, turn to the rejecters themselves—agents and editors.  Many have blogs and other Web sites dedicated to everything from their personal preferences to typical response times.

Here, former Curtis Brown Ltd. agent Nathan Bransford lists acceptable etiquette for rejection follow-up.

For a different perspective, see this post by former agent, Penguin Group’s Colleen Lindsay on what not to do after a rejection.

Over on her blog, FinePrint Literary’s Janet ReidMadame Query Shark herself!—describes how to cut down on your anguish over unanswered queries by making sure you haven’t sent something that isn’t a query.

Tip #4: Gain Some Perspective

Once you’ve gotten a few rejections and you’re feeling like a hack, it’s important to put it in perspective and remind yourself that it’s normal.

Rabbit or duck?

On her blog at QueryTracker, YA author Mary Lindsey discusses how to handle rejection at arm’s length.  Her article is good on its own, but Lindsey references Hal Spacejock series author Simon Haynes’s post, “Rejection of the Literary Kind,” which is also worth a read.

As well, on his Web site, sci-fi writer, photographer and Web designer Jeremiah Tolbert offers an editor’s perspective on rejection.

To round out this area, over at Streetdirectory.com, award-winning romance and nonfiction author Dana Girard categorizes rejection into seven levels and suggests ways you can decode what each kind of rejection means in terms of your manuscript.

Tip #5: Commiserate

For those days when you feel like you’re the only person who sucks this bad, check out the following sites for a little misery-loves-company.

Want some company?

At Absolute Write Water Cooler, you can find several conversation threads where people share their rejections stories, but here’s a link to one where some poor schlubs compete for who got rejected the fastest. Can you beat 30 seconds?

If you’re looking for a gold mine in terms of rejection, bitterness and hilarity, check out Literary Rejections on Display.  The person running the blog—Writer, Rejected—actually says in the About Me profile, “I am a published, award-winning author of fiction and creative nonfiction—but whatever. In the eyes of many, I am still a literary reject.” Writer, Rejected posts his/her own rejection letters (as well as rejection letters sent in by others) and analyzes them—in a sane and fair way (usually).  There are several good posts, so definitely make time to poke around in the blog, but here is an example of a rejection analysis.

And here’s a cranky little rant by freelancer Chris Rodell titled “Reject Me, Please” over at his Media Bistro blog.  If you’re especially pissed off and cynical, this is the post for you.

PEP TALK

This last post (from Nathan Bransford’s blog by guest blogger Jon Gibbs) isn’t directly about getting rejection letters, but it discusses how we reject ourselves at times—how we make excuses for why we can’t do this and that.

Use this when you’re in need of a little pep talk, and it’s sure to snap you back to a state of sanity.

If you’re seeing the old lady, you definitely need a pep talk.

In the Blogosphere: 10/18-11/12

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m admittedly behind with my Blogosphere posts—I have tons of links saved, dating all the way back to the summer (oh noes!)—but they are all still worth a look.  I’ll catch up eventually, right?

AGENT STUFF

Here, author and D4EO literary agent Mandy Hubbard gives some spillage on some holes in the market as well as subgenres all editors want (hint: middle grade!).

Writer’s Relief talks lit agents—and how to find the best one for you.

Other than announcing he’s leaving the agenting world (!), Nathan Bransford has more bad news: the rejection letter of the future will be silence.

Here, FinePrint Literary’s Suzie Townsend chats about the waiting game.

We all know it’s important to build platform, but do unpubbed writers need to blog? Andrea Brown agent Mary Kole of Kidlit.com weighs in.

WRITING TIPS FROM COOL PEOPLE

Over on her blog, YA author Michelle Hodkin gives an ironic example of what your first pages should look like.* (Hint: if this is what your first pages actually look like, get that delete button ready!) *She also gives links to fabulous resources for fixing up those first pages.

Thinking of planning a trilogy?  Please don’t get started until you read this post by YA author (and my pal—hee!) Jodi Meadows.

Over at the Guide to Literary Agents blog, Chuck Sambuchino shares five screenwriting tips [from Neil Landau and Matt Frederick‘s 101 Things I Learned in Film School] *all* writers can use.

A DAY IN THE LIFE

Ever wonder what full-time writers do all day?  Over at Writing it Out, Across the Universe author Beth Revis live-blogged a day in her busy writer life.

While we’re living vicariously through others, middle-grade author Stephanie Blake shares how she got plucked from the slush pile over at Adventures in Children’s Publishing.

GETTING READY

As you know, I’m a huge enthusiast of writers’ conferences.  Well, so is the University of Cincinnati and Writer’s Digest’s Jane FriedmanHere, she talks about the benefits of attending these functions.

Having trouble formatting your synopsis? Here’s a checklist of the essentials, from WD.

Going along with that, Write Anything’s Annie Evett talks about the importance of building a writer portfolio—how to, what to include, etc.

Worried you’ll lose your blog content? Guest blogger Peta Jenneth Andersen explains how, over at Guide to Literary Agents blog.

Nanu-nanu!

Over at Self Editing Blog, author John Robert Marlow talks about jumping the gun.

NANO-TASTIC!

You may be participating in this writing marathon, but you can still be healthy about it. Write Anything’s Annie Evett tells us how.

Here, YA author of awesome Maureen Johnson answers a slew of NaNo questions.

Here are some NaNo DOs and DON’Ts, courtesy of TerribleMinds.

And over at Write Anything, Andrea Allison offers some Web site aids to help you stick with it.

MORE COOL STUFF

I heart Meg CabotHere’s an interview L.A. Times’s Carolyn Kellogg of Jacket Copy did with the author extraordinaire this summer.

Um, coolest thing ever?  Make your Twitter feed into a daily newspaper!

In the Blogosphere: 3/29-4/2

“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.

BAD WRITERLY HABITS

Science fiction writer Liana Brooks talks about a bad habit she has that I think most writers (myself included) also need help with: impatience.

If this post isn’t a kick in the pants, I don’t know what is.  On her blog, Between Fact and Fiction, upcoming young adult author Natalie Whipple explains “How to Wallow.”

Coffee has played a significant role in my days for the past several years—hell, I’ve been drinking the stuff since I was about nine years old!  Being that I’m genetically cursed when it comes to being anxious and being that the query stage of writing has kicked up those natural tendencies about 15 notches, I’m trying to cut back.  (I just bought decaf to mix with my fancy flavored coffees!)  But in honor of that bad habit, the drink I love—the drink that doesn’t always love me back—here’s The Oatmeal‘s 15(ish) Things Worth Knowing About Coffee.

From time to time, I have this bad habit, too! *doink*

INSPIRATION

This week, author and contributor to QueryTracker Elana Johnson had an awesome idea—paying it forward.  She and several other blogging authors interviewed 75 fellow authors who’ve “made it” (i.e., they’re agented, some have book deals).  Among the tons of inspirational stories these writers shared, I’m highlighting two:

Okay, so now that you’re totally inspired by those writers’ “pay it forward” interviews, what will you write?  Jonathan Morrow offers 10 tips on how to get your writing juices a’ flowing at Copyblogger.

THE CRAFT

On the Will Write For Cake blog, the Joanna Stampfel-Volpe repped kids’ lit author Lynne Kelly Hoenig lists some ways she injects characters’ feelings into her writing without “telling.”

APRIL FOOLED

Here, Jessie Kunhardt of The Huffington Post describes 11 great literary April Fools’ jokes.

FOR FUN

Ever wonder what those literary agents are really doing day-to-day?  FinePrint Literary‘s Suzie Townsend and Nancy Coffey Literary‘s Joanna Stampfel-Volpe fill us in on their secrets.

Finally, here’s some Venn Diagramming I can get behind.  The Great White Snark outlines the differences between the insults many of us grew up being called: nerd, dork, dweeb, and geek.

Venn Diagrams? Lucky.

In the Blogosphere: 3/22-3/26

“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.

STRATEGERY

Over at Incurable Disease of Writing, guest blogger, bestselling author, award-winning screenwriter and educator Ami Hendrickson offers a three-step approach to editing.

Here are two great posts, brought to you by Naomi Dunford of Itty Biz: Marketing for Businesses without Marketing DepartmentsThe first discusses the difference between being hungry and starving and is a must-read for all writers.  The second talks about the dreaded “elevator pitch” and suggests you boil yours down to seven words, like the people passing out prostitution pamphlets in Las Vegas.

As well, the good folks at Lyrical Press, Inc. give six strategies to overcome what they call “author fatigue” (when writers lose their way, about 50 pages into their manuscripts).

REASSURANCE

I recently found a group blog, Old People Writing for Teens (OPWFT), and it’s one of my new favorite places to visit.  Particularly if you’re in the querying stage, you’ll want to check out these three posts, which should help you feel better about any of your own submission slip-ups:

Are you neurotic?  Rejections and scathing critiques have you down?  Curtis Brown, Ltd., literary agent Nathan Bransford says feeling like you’re the worst writer (evaaaar!) might not be a bad thing.

In case you were wondering, it’s okay to suck.  Over on her blog, up-and-coming young adult author Myra McEntire asks you to listen to bestselling juvenile lit authors Meg Cabot and Maureen Johnson when it comes to writing—not her.

Why, thank you, bunny!

CONTESTS

Since I just realized I forgot to include the link in last week’s blogosphere post, here’s the link to the contest over at Getting Past the Gatekeeper that requires a love of Jane Austen as well as skill at writing queries.  You’ve got until April 5 to write a query as if you wrote, and are pitching, Pride and Prejudice for a chance to win some great Austen-related prizes!

Are you covering up a crazy past?  Over at bestselling middle-grade and young adult author Lauren Myracle’s blog, Jo Whittemore wants to know the craziest legal thing you’ve ever done to get something you wanted.  Two lucky winners will receive signed copies of Whittemore’s new book, Front Page Face-Off.

And, if you’re a glutton for punishment—which, if you’re a writer, you definitely are—try your hand at Script Frenzy‘s screenwriting contest.  Akin to NaNoWriMo‘s novel-in-a-month contest, participants will write a 100-page screenplay in the month of April.  This contest isn’t about the prize; it’s about the challenge!

I *heart* that this is about a school newspaper!

SPRING CLEANING

Get out the rubber gloves; it’s time to declutter your Facebook friends and Twitter followers.  The Gawker‘s Brian Moylan suggests eight annoying FB and Twitter types to cut loose.

In the Blogosphere: 3/8 – 3/12

“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.

QUERY FAIL

I’ve heard of being a query spammer (addressing an e-query to every agent in the country), but this is ridiculous.  Notorious query spammer Oscar Whitfield ruins it for all of us—but his 7,000 rejections should make one feel better about one’s fraction of that many rejections.

Agent Jennifer Jackson of Donald Maass Literary Agency tallies her queries, and guess what: over half of the queries she receives do not follow the submission guidelines close enough to be considered.

Tsk, tsk, tsk . . . I’m not sure what’s worse, Oscar Whitfield’s query bombs or some of the things Lowenstein Associates, Inc.’s Kathleen Ortiz says authors are guilty of when it comes to their query etiquette—or their lack thereof.

RESOURCES

Listy listy.  The good people over at Guardian.co.uk have compiled lists of writing tips from several writers—including the likes of the inimitable Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood—in the spirit of Elmore Leonard‘s 10 Rules for Writing Fiction .

Although she said Janet Reid wrote it, middle-grade and young adult sci-fi writer Blee Bonn put my guest blog about the FinePrint Literary agent’s query tips at the top of her “Awesome Advice (for Writers)” post.  Yay!

In this Writer’s Digest oldie-but-goodie post, find out what agents hate (as relayed by Guide to Literary Agents editor Chuck Sambuchino).

On his Web site, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers Michael Hyatt discusses the importance of defending your “brand” in the digital age.

UP FOR DISCUSSION

In case you missed my announcement earlier in the week, I did a little guest blogging about leetspeak (“text message lingo”) and the ramifications of its increased acceptance in young adult lit over at Australian author Steph Bowe‘s blog this week.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

DOWN TIME

Are you a workaholic?  Over at zenhabits, guest blogger Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist talks about the importance of resting.

Need something to distract you?  Check out Letterblox over at OMGPOP.

CONTESTS

Over at Inky Fresh Press, Kate announces a call for submissions as well as a contest at Narrative, an online publisher and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the literary arts in the digital age.

As well, Writer’s Digest is hosting their 79th annual writing contest with a chance to win $3,000 and a trip to New York City.

SHEDDING SOME LIGHT

Been getting lots of rejections without much feeback?  Here, D4EO literary agent Mandy Hubbard offers some reasons she passes on fulls.

If you’re looking for some “inside” information, the people over at BubbleCow divulge 7 secrets publisher don’t want writers to know.

Have you ever wondered how book covers come to be?  On Orbit, Laura Panepinto posted a YouTube video on that very subject.

Think you’re a diva?  Not sure?  The Waxman Literary Agency offers three questions to ask yourself in order to find out.

Or . . . ask yourself if you're Aretha Franklin. No? Okay, you're probably not then.

THINGS THAT MAKE ME SLIGHTLY SICK

I know Wicked was The Wizard of Oz seen in a new way—and I love it (well, the musical).  However, if they remake it á là Tim Burton, as per this Los Angeles Times article, I may actually vomit.

First The Hills‘s Lauren Conrad and now Hilary Duff?  *tear*

RANDOM

Apparently, certain words and phrases—like “seek” and “flee”—are too sophisticated for people to use outside of print.  Well, that’s what Robert Feder says the higher-ups at WGN believe, anyway.

I loves me some Coco.  And, according to USA Today, O’Brien has changed the life of the one, random Twitter follower he’s chosen.

I loves me some Cleveland Cavaliers, as well.  And, according to Cleveland.com, Eastlake, Ohio, resident Jerry Tomko and a radio essay contest are responsible for the team’s name.  (I’m so proud, having grown up five minutes from Eastlake!)

I’m so excited!  Jodi Meadows and I are going to YA author Maggie Stiefvater‘s book signing in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday.  Will you be there?

In the Blogosphere: 3/1-3/5

“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.

LIVING VICARIOUSLY THROUGH OTHERS

This week has been a positive one, in terms of getting some nibbles and bites on my manuscript.  I’m trying very hard to curb my excitement, however, as I know the road to publication is actually more like a jacked-up staircase.

In the interest of keeping positive, let’s live vicariously through three up-and-coming young adult authors:

  • Jodi Meadows.  Although this happened a few weeks ago, I only found out this week: my new pal, who has been up and down her jacked-up staircase for the past 7 years, signed with Lauren MacLeod of The Strothman Agency (whom Jodi refers to as “agent of awesome”).
  • Sarah Wylie.  If this post doesn’t warm your heart, you’re dead inside.  Wylie, repped by FinePrint Literary‘s Suzie Townsend, announced her debut novel, All These Lives, was just sold at auction and will be out in 2012.
  • Steph Bowe.  This 16-year-old Aussie is repped by Curtis Brown Ltd.’s Ginger Clark, and her debut novel (working title: These Bones) will be published this September in Australia and New Zealand (Text Publishing) and the summer of 2011 in the U.S. (Egmont USA).  She’s also a part of The YA 5, a blog dedicated to changing the way young adult literature is discussed.

**Just a reminder: My guest blog on “leetspeak/text message lingo” in YA will appear on Bowe’s blog Monday, so don’t forget to check it out!

NIT PICKING

Thursday was National Grammar Day, and in the spirit of nitpicking, Curtis Brown Ltd.’s Nathan Bransford blogged about your spelling/grammar pet peeves.

Nerdfighter master and New York Times bestseller John Green adds to the grammar hilarity with this pic.

As well, one of my new favorites, YA author extraordinaire Maureen Johnson critiqued a query letter on the blog of superagent Daphne Unfeasible (her agent Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary‘s alter ego).

SOME THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

At coffee with Jodi the other day, I brought up the subject of author advances.  Being that I didn’t know much about what to expect—I thought the average book deal was wayyyyy less than it actually is—Jodi put me in touch with this post by fantasy author Jim C. Hines.  I learned a lot!

Are you one of those Facebookers who changes your status every time something upsets you?  You might want to think twice about that after reading this post by Andrea Brown Literary Agency‘s Mary Kole over at Kidlit.com.

Excercise some.

Sometimes, dying dramatically or mysteriously is part of the job description when you sign up to be a writer.  The folks over at Schmoop.com take a peek at the fascinating deaths of nine famous writers.

STUFF THAT’S PROBABLY GOOD FOR YOU

Not that I can do this, but I can appreciate the idea behind it.  Author and webmaster of A Life Less Anxious: Freedom from Panic Attacks and Social Anxiety Without Drugs or Therapy Steve Pavilanis gives some tips on how to function without caffeine.

But - but - I need it!