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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Where Else Am I? My GLA Guest Post: Agents Tell All at RWA National

I’m over at the Guide to Literary Agents blog today with “Agents Tell All at RWA National.”

Click here to see my guest post—Q&A during the literary agent panel at the Romance Writers of America PRO Retreat, featuring agents of awesome:

  • Holly Root of Waxman Literary Agency
  • Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency
  • Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
  • Melissa Jeglinski of The Knight Agency
  • Emmanuelle Morgen (formerly Alspaugh) of Judith Ehrlich Literary

Editing: Get Distance, Get Advice & Get Over It

When I finished my first manuscript—well, the first time I finished it (heh)—there was one nagging question I had in the back of my mind: is the time span too long?

It started with my protagonist in her sophomore year of college, flashed back through some of high school, and ended up just after her college graduation; so, while the span was technically only two years, it seemed like six or seven because of the flashback.

SEEK HELP

I swapped manuscripts with a few other YA writers—without mentioning my concern about time span.  I figured, we’ll see if it slides.  For the most part, I received positive feedback, but one woman—the one whose manuscript was the best out of all those I critiqued and the one who, during our swap, landed a literary agent—mentioned she thought I should set the whole thing in high school somehow.

Ugh—I wanted to query—but I knew she was right.  So I set out to make it fit within the parameters of my main character’s sophomore through senior years of high school.

NOT SHORT ENOUGH—SHOOT ME, PLEASE

Halfway through the manuscript makeover, I attended the South Carolina Writers’ Workshop and had a critique with Waxman Literary’s fabulous Holly Root.  When she said three years is still too long of a time span for young adult lit, although it killed me, I knew she was right. As a friend at that conference put it, “Three years in YA is the equivalent of War and Peace.”  So I trudged home, consulted several fellow writers, read several YA books and studied those I’d already read, and even asked YA author Lauren Myracle for some advice.

Myracle reiterated what most people had said, most kids’ books take place over a very short period of time (a few weeks, a semester, a school year at the longest). In addition, she asked if I had more than one arc—because, if I did, I could split the book into two.

GET SOME DISTANCE AND GET OVER IT

During that month of researching and gearing up to edit once more, the biggest thing I had to overcome was wrapping my head around mushing my story from three years into two semesters.  I was too close to it at the time, and I just didn’t see how it was possible.

I thought a good deal about what my editor and friend, Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest Books, had said when he reviewed my pages: there was a lot I could cut—if the reader “gets it” with just one scene, why drag it out and have three similar scenes?  He said he often sees this when writers add autobiographical elements to their manuscripts; they want to stay true to “how it happened” and they end up sacrificing story because of it.

So, with some distance from my novel and armed with lots of great advice, I put marker to dry-erase board and plotted out my story.  I looked at every scene and evaluated its worth to the overall story.  With the fictionalized autobiographical scenes, I let go of the “how it happened”—and in most cases, I eliminated them altogether.  It all began to click into place.

SO . . .

It took about a month of revisions, but what I now have is a much tighter, much better, much more marketable story.  I ended up changing my focus pretty much completely, playing up my hook, adding/deleting scenes—and it still wound up being 20K words shorter.

I’m not saying this process won’t likely happen all over again when/if a lit agent is interested in it—and then probably again when/if a publisher is interested in it.  But the most important lesson here is that, if you’re too attached to the “how it happened,” too in love with your words, and too close to your manuscript, you cannot be an effective editor.

In the below Vlogbrothers video, YA author John Green talks editing.  He says he deletes over 90% of his original words and that all the things people like about his books emerge in later drafts. Enjoy!

In the Blogosphere: 11/30-12/4

“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.

AGENT BLOGS

Here’s a great post on literary agent Nathan Bransford‘s blog.  It would be of particular use to writers in the I’m-signed-to-an-agent-my-book-has-been-sold-and-I’m-now-editing stage of publishing, but it can also be helpful for anyone at any stage who has received feedback on a manuscript.

This post on lit agent Rachelle Gardener‘s Rants & Ramblings blog struck a chord with me.  Despite what some disgruntled writers believe, literary agents aren’t out to get them.  Gardener reflects on a blog conversation gone “snarky” with poise, class, and compassion—and everyone out there with a Web presence can take a lesson from her with regard to the power of words.

Here is a post from Bookends, LLC lit agent Jessica Faust, which complements the above Rachelle Gardener post.  It addresses the issue of the us-vs.-them attitude writers and agents sometimes have as well as self-censorship and the idea of acting, speaking, thinking, e-mailing, blogging, Tweeting, etc., with professionalism.

Professionalism is the name of the game this week.

This post from a few weeks ago by Waxman Literary’s agent Holly Root quelled some fears I recently had.  A firm believer in “the rules” and a people pleaser, I often get bogged down in all the do’s and don’ts out there.

In this post, Greyhaus Literary’s agent Scott Eagan clears up some questions all fiction-writers have had about fictionalization…

IN THE NEWS

…and this news story about New York Times best-selling author Haywood Smith’s libel suit shows why the aforementioned advice is important.

RESOURCES

Freelancer Debbie Ridpath Ohi lists Twitter chats for writers in this oldie-but-goodie post from July, complete with days and times.  These weekly (and, in some cases, daily) online chats are great way resources for writers, so you’ll definitely want to bookmark this one!

JUST FOR FUN

Lastly, here’s YA author John Green‘s videoblog take on New Moon.  I don’t wholly agree, but he amuses me so.