In the Blogosphere: 1/10-2/11

“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.

I’ve decided just to focus on agents and querying and . . . stuff, since I need to get a jump on WB workshop stuff this weekend.

Hope you enjoy!

AGENTS & QUERYING & STUFF

I jumped back into the query pool this week with my latest YA contemporary manuscript, so this is largely for me.  🙂  Oh yeah—and any of you also at this stage.  Hee.

Many of us have formulated our own lists of “dream agents,” based on stalking meeting some of the industry’s finest at conferences and workshop, reading interviews and blogs, etc.  Here, the Michelle Wolfson-repped rom-com author, Tawna Feske, talks about the downside of dream agents.

See that butterfly net? That's my dream agent. *Creepy much*? You know who you are . . . OK--you prob don't, and that's prob a good thing! 🙂

And, just in case that depresses you, here is another post by Feske, where she shows her agent-catching query.  For a little inspiration!

Agents dishing out query tips online in response to their query inboxes becomes a heated debate around the blogosphere at least twice a year, but I think it’s a valid discussion whenever it pops up.  Here, Heather Trese of See Heather Write asks: Is the #queries hashtag really good?

Querying can be extremely frustrating (understatement much?), and it can lead to writers getting pushed over the edge of good sense and expressing their frustrations in their Tweets or Facebook statuses. Translation: not good.  Here, Bridget Pilloud has the answer—a bitch box, or the Bitchy Comment Receptacle.  You need to bitch?  Pilloud provides a sounding board—and then deletes your comment so no one will see it.  Win-win!

Ever wonder how agents actually evaluate fulls when they request them?  Well, she doesn’t speak for all of agentkind, but Andrea Brown lit agent Mary Kole says she does it like this.

Going to a conference?  Here’s what kt literary’s Kate Schafer Testerman has to say about talking to agents IRL.

I had the distinct pain pleasure of writing my synopsis for my new MS this weekend.  I had *forgotten* about this, the fabulous Shawntelle Madison’s synopsis wizard.  But you should def check it out!

In my editing of MS #2—as well as in the reading of John Green, Maureen Johnson, E. Lockhart, and other YA all-stars, I’ve done a lot of thinking about the “mature voice” in teen fictionHere are amazegent Mary Kole’s thoughts on the subject.

So, confession: I got a Kindle for Christmas . . . and I love it!  Of course, it WILL NOT take the place of holding an actual book in my hands, but I have already found it great for traveling, working out, and it was VERY helpful last weekend, when I needed to read two harder-to-find books for an interview I was doing.  Agent Kristin Nelson agrees in this post, about the power of story—in any medium.

CONGRATS

A special WOO HOO goes out this week to my Twitter soulmate, Cambria Dillon, who signed with literary agent Vickie Motter of Andrea Hurst & Associates!  SO EXCITED FOR YOU, girl!!!!!!!!  *mwah!*

What better way to celebrate than this??

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In the Blogosphere: 8/23-9/3

“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 about 50 links saved, dating all the way back to June (oh noes!)—but they are all still worth a look.  I’ll catch up eventually, right?

I decided to do something a little different today.  I give you: FROM IDEA TO AGENTED IN 15 POSTS

NAME GAME

Before you can get that agent, that book deal, you must first—you know—write the thing.  And before you can do that, you want to make sure you’ve done everything in your power to make every detail as perfect for your story, your project, as you possibly can—from concept to execution.

And your characters’ names are no exception.  These take just as much care and thought as anything else in this process because they give readers certain connotations right away.

Do you think Stephenie Meyer chose “Bella Swan” by accident?  What if she had been Bella Swanson instead?  Katie Swan?  Bella Bwonton?  (<—Bwonton, incidentally, was the name I used for characters all the time when I was in grade school.  I have no idea where I got it or why, but it could have had something to do with my love for wonton soup . . . ).

What about Gretchen Bwonton?  Would the series have been as successful?  (Yes, because someone along the way would have made her change the name.)

Writer’s Digest to the rescue! (Thanks, guys!Here, Devyani Borade talks about this very thing and gives some great advice on how to pick the perfect names for your characters.

SCENE IT

Once you’ve figured that out, you want to make sure your manuscript is filled with memorable scenes.  Why have memorable characters in blah scenes?

Have no fear—Martina Boone of Adventures in Children’s Publishing is here to help!

THE QUERY STAGE

When your MS is looking fantawesome, you’ll want to tackle the next annoying hurdle—the synopsis.

Here, the Michelle-Andelman-repped Kate Hart uses Disney movies to help you boil down your book and make it less daunting.

Now that you have that pesky stuff out of the way, whom will you query?  The Michelle-Wolfson-repped Tawna Feske suggests stalking people (and it’s OK, she says, because all writers are stalkers 🙂 ) in order to find your dream agent.

Once you’ve found him or her, tailored your query, and you’re about to e-mail it . . . you’ll want to clean up that formatting so your message doesn’t get all wonky from cutting and pasting.  Here, WD’s Chuck Sambuchino hands you a broom.

Once your first—and second—and third—form rejection rolls in, you might start screaming,“Why? Why?? Why can’t I get some detailed feedback???” Curtis Brown Ltd.’s Nathan Bransford tells you.

And once your skin is a bit thicker, Writer, Rejected suggests you make it a game.  This will probably save your sanity.

THROWING IN THE TOWEL

At some point, you’ll have enough of the game, and doubt will undoubtedly (<—see what I did there?) creep in.

kt literary’s Kate Schafer Testerman offers some tips on what to do when you fail.

Likewise, D4EO Literary’s Mandy Hubbard helps you decide when to give up (or not to).

A FRESH PAIR OF EYES

Perhaps all you need is some betas to give you some feedback, which can help you give the editing one more go . . . because perhaps you rushed the whole querying thing.

But what is a critquer’s responsibility?  Award-winning writer Jason A. Myers is here to tell you . . .

. . . and up-and-coming YA author Maurissa Guibord gives a “F.R.E.S.H.” perspective on the subject as well in her guest blog on Adventures in Children’s Publishing.

Once you’ve figured that out, Paulo Campos of yingleyangle suggests 20 questions you should ask your betas.

BLOGGING

While you wait for agents to recognize your genius, you blog.  A little platform building can’t hurt, right?

But then you wonder how to increase your readership, so you start reading other writing blogs—whoa!  There are other writing blogs?—and you start to wonder if people think you’re a blogging snob.

So Jody Hedlund helps you decide.

And you realize she’s right when Pat Flynn of Daily Blog Tips gives you five reasons you should respond to all your blog comments.

HUZZAH!

And then someone likes you!  They really like you! An agent offers representation!  And then another! And then . . . what do you do??

Here’s Andrea Brown’s Mary Kole on getting offers from multiple agents.

It’s all just that easy, right? 😉

Have a nice weekend, everyone—and I hope you’ll check out The Write-Brained Network!

Pointers from the Pros: Q&A with Agent Kate Schafer Testerman

Pointers from the Pros” gives tips from authors and publishing industry professionals on everything from craft to querying to their experiences on the road to publication.  This post is by guest columnist and SWO member Alicia Caldwell.

Back in May, lit agent Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary hosted a picture-prompt contest on her blog, and fellow SWO member Alicia Caldwell tied with another writer for first place.*  This earned Alicia a 30-minute phone conversation with the agent extraordinaire—and Schafer Testerman agreed to let Alicia share some of her tips with us.

Schafer Testerman blogs and Tweets as her alter ego, shoe-obsessed superagent Daphne Unfeasible.

FROM THE CONVO

A.C.: How do you get most of your clients?

KST: From queries or referrals.  Normally, when meeting authors in person, I generally tell them to send me a query and sample pages anyway.

A.C.: Have you ever taken on a client that you weren’t able to get published?

KST: Yes.  But then we would try with another book, and usually that one is successful.  I did have one client that I wasn’t able to get published, and the author didn’t want to keep changing the story.  That client decided to go with another agent.  I haven’t heard that it has been published yet.

A.C.: Do you refrain from telling people you’re a literary agent in fear they’re going to try and hand you their manuscript?

KST: Sometimes, in certain social situations. But I don’t always mind.

A.C.:  What do you get sick of seeing, story-line wise?

KST: There’s only one person in all the universe that can save the world.  If you can tell the story without it being paranormal, then do it.

(She elaborates on this here.)

A.C.: Why did you leave Janklow & Nesbit Associates to go out on your own?

KST: I got married and moved across the country.  I thought about applying for other companies, but I had heard wonderful things from friends who had started their own agencies, so I went for it.  I was able to take a lot of clients with me, so I didn’t have a difficult start.

A.C.:  How long should a synopsis be?

KST: Two to five pages for a synopsis.  You should tell all the pressing action of the book and the struggles the characters go through to get there.  Don’t leave anything out—including the end.

A.C.:  And a query letter?

KST: A shorter query is better because of the number of queries I receive.  It should contain two normal-sized paragraphs and an extra paragraph about you.  Start with why I should be interested in your book—the hook.  At the bottom, enter the word count and title of the book.

A.C.: In following your query critiques, I’ve noticed you’d like us to show you why a reader should care about the characters and what’s original about the story.

KST: It’s a balance.  You need to talk about action, but at the same time, show us what is different about the character.  Harry Potter was another version of the same story about an orphan, but we learned to love the character himself—and that’s what drew us in.

A.C.: You wrote The King’s Sister: A Novel of Arthurian Britain.  Why didn’t you write more books?

KST: I ended up self-publishing that one.  Looking back at it now, I can see why I couldn’t get it published.  There was something missing from the story.

I’ve worked on a couple of other novels and stories, but I decided I want to concentrate on other writers’ careers right now, not my own!

A.C.: Are there any upcoming conferences you will be attending, where writers can meet you in person?

KST: I will be at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference in September, and I’m hoping to join the staff of the online WriteOnCon this August.

HER OVERALL ADVICE

Use the Internet and get involved with other writers.  Make connections.

By day, Alicia Caldwell and her husband are "just a para-normal people trying to raise a little monster." By night, she is an aspiring young adult fantasy author out of Utah. 🙂

*Click here to read Alicia’s winning entry.

In the Blogosphere: 5/31-6/4

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

CONGRATS ARE IN ORDER

A few weeks ago, lit agent Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary hosted a picture prompt contest on her blog, and fellow SWO member Alicia Caldwell tied with another writer for first place.  Her entry was certainly memorable.  Click here to give it a read.  This earns Caldwell a 30-minute phone conversation with the agent extraordinaire—and, as Testerman is YA author and writing hero of mine Maureen Johnson‘s agent, color me jealous!   Congrats, Alicia!

The next person I’m opening virtual champagne bottles for is up-and-coming YA author Michelle Hodkin.  Not only did Hodkin score Fox Literary Agency‘s own Diana Fox as an agent a few short weeks ago, but last week, she also landed a two-book deal for her debut YA series, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.  Truly awesome news, and I couldn’t be happier to have met her at a conference last fall or that all her hard work is coming to fruition like this!  Congrats, Michelle!

Dudes--don't forget I knew you when, when "everybody knows your name"!

HOW-TOs

This next post comes from YA authors Lisa and Laura Roecker, a sister duo, who are quickly becoming some of my favorite lit peeps out there.  I mean, not only are they from my humble homeland, Cleveland, but they also crack me up with just about every blog post—what’s not to love?  Here, they give suggestions on how to be perky like Kelly Ripa without becoming a cokehead or a caffeine pill addict like Saved by the Bell‘s Jessie Spano.  What’s not to love?  I, for one, could definitely use perkiness pointers!

Over at Adventures in Children’s Publishing, Martina Boone and Marissa Graff take a comprehensive look at how to craft successful scenes.  Definitely worth bookmarking.

She doesn't look very excited here!

CHILL, BABY, CHILL

I’m sure every writer has experienced the gut-wrenching awfulness when someone reads his/her book.  Will they like it?  What will they say?  Will this change how they view me?  If they don’t like it, does this mean it’s not publishable? In this post, the Rachelle Gardner-repped Jody Hedlund discusses this very thing and gives some insight as to the different perspectives of agents, publishers, and even your grandma as they read your book—and suggests with how much salt we need to take their reactions.

You really like me! I mean . . . do you??

RESTORING MY FAITH IN HUMANITY

Here, the Roeckers are at it again, making me even more of a fangirl with a mere post about how Sex and the City 2 sucked and how the unfortunate flick is a microcosm for why the rest of the world hates America.  I’m glad someone said it!

CONTESTS

In celebration of the awesomeness that is going on with her writing career, Michelle Hodkin is hosting a contest over at her blog.  Check it out!

As well, Inky Fresh Press is running a romance contest—don’t miss your chance to win some great (signed) books by Kate MacAlister and Cherry Adair!

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!