In the Blogosphere: 11/22-12/3

“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 so many links saved, some dating all the way back to the summer (oh noes!)—but they are all still worth a look.  I’m getting there!


Heather Trese over at See Heather Write blogged some of her great notes from the SCBWI conference.  Here, she shares what she learned about creating characters from author Carolyn Mackler.

Over at Writer Unboxed, The Donald (Donald Maass) talks about how to write characters—ones who are on and off the page.

This fantabulicious post on creating memorable characters comes to us from author and D4EO agent Mandy Hubbard, in a guest post she did at the WriteOnCon blog.

What is Aladdin doing with Ariel! I'm telling Eric & Jasmine . . . oh wait.


Freelancer Kelly James-Enger talks about the 10% rule as applied to word count.

At There Are No Rules, Writer’s Digest and the University of Cincinnati’s Jane Friedman relays Dennis Hensley’s “12 things that matter to agents and editors when being pitched by writers.”

And while we’re on the subject of rules and percentages, Authoress Anonymous over at Miss Snark’s First Victim talks about the 25% rule, when it comes to plot.


Here, Paranormalcy author and popular blogger Kiersten White gives some blogging tips.

Here, author and speaker Jody Hedlund makes a case for blogging—and how it can help any kind of writer.


This post goes along with the one from the last “In the Blogosphere” post (about the “prime real estate” of your manuscript).  In it, the awesome Mary Kole talks about grounding the reader in all things your story—in every chapter.

Here, the Kole-ster does it again (that was supposed to be pronounced “KOLE-stur,” but, admittedly, looks like “molester.”  And kind of made me chuckle too much to fix.* Sorry, MK!) , answering questions about international writers and settings.


Over at YA Highway, guest columnist Amna Mohdin says your taste in books is your own.

Here, Heather Trese gives some tips on writing for boys, of the middle-grade variety.

Mmm. Tasty


Tossing around the idea of submitting directly to publishers, sans agent?  YA author Hannah Moskowitz makes a case for why you want to have an agent.

Here is Greenhouse Literary agent Sarah Davies on how to find the best agent for your work.

Yes, I interview lit agents on the GLA blog, and I want to give props to this faboo interview with the aforementioned Sarah Davies (by Michelle Schusterman over at YA Highway).


In this post at Write Anything, Andrea Allison gives the straight dope on point of view, for all those who need a little refresher course.

Just can’t get away from it—voice!  Here, T.H. Mafi sheds some light on this somewhat intangible, but oh-so-important thing.

Have a newsletter? Sean D’Souza at Copyblogger tells you five reasons no one is reading it.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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?


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 weighs in.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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!

Where Else Am I? My GLA Guest Post: Wrangling with Writing Panel

I’m over at the Guide to Literary Agents blog today with “Agents Talk Trends, Platform, eBooks and More at Wrangling with Writing.”

Click here to see my guest post—Q&A during the first panel at the 38th annual Society of Southwestern Authors’ Wrangling with Writing conference in Tuscon, Ariz., featuring:

  • Maxwell Alexander Drake (Sci-fi/fantasy author)
  • Paul Burt (of Pen & Publish, Inc.)
  • Rita Rosencranz (of Rita Rosenkranz Literary)
  • Pam Strickler (of Pam Strickler Author Management)
  • Mingsu Chang (of BookStop Literary)
  • Claire Gerus (of Claire Gerus Literary)
  • Natalie Fischer (of Sandra Dijkstra Literary)
  • Martin Biro (of Kensington Publishing)
  • Jill Marr (of Sandra Dijkstra Literary)

In the Blogosphere: 9/20-10/15

“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 May/June-ish (oh noes!)—but they are all still worth a look.  I’ll catch up eventually, right?


Author and D4EO agent Mandy Hubbard gives a bit of unorthodox advice . . . about how one line can change your career.

Here, another agent-turned-author, the fabulous Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown, Ltd., talks about “undercooking” a novel.

Here, Bookends, LLC, agent Jessica Faust offers some query don’ts.


Over at Write Anything, Annie Evett did a nice little series on voice and dialogue.  Here’s the last of those posts, that contains links to the others in the series.

At League of Extraordinary Writers, Angie Smibert discusses handling readers’ baggage and creating the appearance of truth that readers can find believable.

At Novel Matters, Patti Hill demonstrates how to weed your manuscript.

One of my favorite features over at YA Highway, Amanda Hannah talks about passive sentences one “Sentence Strengthening Sunday” (you don’t have to be a YA writer to appreciate the fabulosity of this) right here.

Confused about manuscript formatting?  Author Louise Wise gives you a crash course here.

Here, YA author Jamie Harrington talks about constructive criticism.  Can you handle it?

Middle-grade author Janice Hardy discusses a subject near and dear to my heart—grammar.  Just what are the basics everyone needs to know?


We all need a good writerly pep talk now and again.

Here’s one from YA author Elana Johnson.

Here’s another from freelancer Heather Trese, for good measure.


You’ve got just over a week left to enter my scary story contest—freak me out in 1,000 words of less!

Over at Savvy B2B Marketing, Wendy Thomas discusses a subject that fascinates me these days: online writing vs. old school journalism (being that I used to teach journalism . . . and now I do a good bit of online writing!).

Here, Writer’s Digest Books’ own Robert Lee Brewer offers a Twitter cheat sheet for those not “hip” to all the “lingo” (hehe) or not quite sure how to optimize your use.

In the Blogosphere: 9/5-9/10

“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?


Agents are inundated with stuff pretty much year-round, which means a lot of their time is dedicated to clearing out their inboxes and whittling down the slush pile alone!  So, when they give advice on how to get their attention, it’s best to listen up.

Here, Barbara Poelle of Irene Goodman Literary Agency offers six tips on things you can do to make September rock—and, surprisingly, they’re not “revise” or “don’t contact me”—she says you shouldn’t be afraid to use a little shame.

Here, Getting Past the Gatekeeper says it’s basically a no-no to revise and resubmit a manuscript to an agent (meaning, you’ve revised it since they requested pages and you’d like them to look at the new pages instead)—but it *can* be done well.


Here, Editorial Anonymous answers the question of whether or not children’s books should take into account entertaining the adults who will be reading them to their kids.

Here, Tahereh makes me feel a lot better about being almost 29 and always going straight to the YA/teen section of the bookstore.  Solidarity!🙂


I have been telling people this for *ages*, but everyone (especially my [former] students!) always thinks I’m nuts.  Or it’s like, “Yeah, yeah—you’re right,” and then you just know they didn’t do it.  Maybe you’ll listen to Heather Trese over at See Heather Write?  It’s really a MUST in terms of revision.

Here, Lydia Kang of The Word is My Oyster talks about and gives examples of character sheets—great tools to make your characters frawesome! <—word stolen from Elana Johnson, and I feel like I can’t use it without giving her a shoutout!  Is there such thing as plagiarism when it comes to Internet slang? She says “fabu,” I’ve noticed, but I have said “faboo” for years . . . (yes, I know hers makes more sense, but I can’t go back NOW!) . . . so I feel like that one’s fair game.🙂

But I digress.

Let's bedazzle the crap out of something!


Over at Fuel Your Writing, Suzannah Freeman outlines the five mistakes you make when writing a blog postSo, stop it!

Here, Shiver and Linger author Maggie Stiefvater gives you a dose of reality in terms of the publishing industry—and she does it using a ham sandwich.

Here, Kevin Purdy of Lifehacker talks about what caffeine actually does to your brain.  I’m choosing to ignore it. Right now, actually!

I found out about this site by reading this post by Jeff Hirsch over at the League of Extraordinary Writers, where he calls it “The Greatest and Most Horrible Website Ever.”  I mean, how can you not click on something when it’s billed like that, right?

Hirsch is referring to this site, TV Tropes, which lists—in crazy number and detail—just about every trope* (narrative, character, etc.) out there . . . and it breaks them down by categories, genres, etc.  It’s just nuts.  There really isn’t an original thought to be had anymore!  Beware: The site is totally addicting!


Over on her blog, Kristen Lamb coughs up the single best way for authors to become a brand**—and it may be easier than you think.

And Jane Friedman discusses how to manage multiple (online) identities: avoid.

It can get complicated. Just ask Lana, Lois, and Chloe.


September is so back-to-school/let’s get down to business, and a lot of folks are talking about butt-in-chair-and-write time.

Here, Jody Hedlund talks about what to do when your writing routine is disrupted.

This is what I do.

Across the Universe author Beth Revis and my pal, The New Soul Trilogy author, Jodi Meadows—along with Authoress Anonymous (and probably some others) have been “word racing” on Twitter to get the words written.  Here are two great posts Revis did about their little project—what they’re doing and how it’s going.

We’ve got our own little GET WORDS WRITTEN thing going on over at The Write-Brained Network, and that’s WordWatchers.  It’s a little like NaNoWriMo, but you can tailor it to what fits in your schedule.  Details here.

Come play with us!

*Ahem—What is a “trope”?  In this sense, it’s a common or overused theme or device.

**Kyle, this is for you.

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.


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.


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.

You Have a Question? I Have an Answer: Should You Query a Series?

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

Q:  Ricki,

I’ve been told my WIP is too long.  I am currently trying to decide if I should edit it down to more agent-friendly word count or split it into two books.  The trouble is, if I were to split it, the first book would end on a such a cliffhanger that it would most certainly require a sequel.  I just don’t think it would stand alone.  That said, what are your thoughts on querying a series?


A: Thanks for the question!

In terms of ending on a cliffhanger, I can see how that might be tough to hook an agent as a stand-alone novel.  The first thing I’d say is—certainly—splitting a longer manuscript into two books isn’t going to be as simple as pasting half into one Word document and half into another.

Doing the splits with your manuscript isn't easy!

I’ve talked about this before on the blog: You’ve got to have two plots, or arcs—and you’ll want to make sure the first one is resolved because, in a series, each book must be able to stand on its own.  You also need to make sure you have an overarching arc that lends itself to a sequel or two.

As far as querying a series is concerned, you most likely don’t want to tell agents it’s a series.  Not yet.  Most agents don’t want to know you’ve got a seven-book series in the works when you query them because they want to be convinced the first is worth their time.

Being that there are this many stars in this movie and no one's ever heard of it (have they??) you'd thinking keeping mum wouldn't be a good idea. But in terms of querying a series, it is.

HOWEVER, when Suzi Agent is interested in your book and trends toward offering representation, she will ask you what else you’re working on—usually by way of a phone call—and that would be the time to spill.

Waiting until this conversation for the sequel/series reveal will work for you in a few ways.

First, it shows you’re savvy—you didn’t bombard her with grandiose plans of your multimillion-dollar series, like so many amateurs do.  Nope—you did what you had to do in order to ensure the first book was submission ready.  Go, you! And that tells her you’ve most likely been (or will be) just as careful in developing the rest of the books as you were with book 1.

As well, it shows you’re a hard worker.  Plotting out a series isn’t easy.  If you’ve got the chops to do something like that, it demonstrates you’re serious and tough—definitely in the top 10 requirements for being a novelist.

Hope this helps—and good luck with however you decide to handle your sitch!

Click here. You just have to.