Monday, January 31, 2011

Agents and Exclusives

Hey, everyone!

I wanted to share a blog link with you today. Casey McCormick has a very informative blog called ‘Literary Rambles’ that I would definitely recommend you check out. For those of you who write fiction for children (PB – YA), she has a feature called Agent Spotlight. For each post, she gathers information on individual agents about what they are and are not looking for, clients, sales, submission guidelines, etc. She has done a lot of work on these and she has helped a whole lot of writers. So be sure to go by Casey’s blog during your internet travels.

Also, if you would like to know how to handle requests for exclusives, the Guide to Literary Agents blog has some good Q and A posts here.

So, I am going to be doing some writing this week. Surprise, surprise. What is everyone else up to? 

Friday, January 28, 2011

When Your Novel is Reduced to Post-it Notes and Writing Hints

Hey, y’all!

Yeah,… I have been bad about blogging this week. Sorry about that.

But here I am! Back in action.

I have read about (and seen) writers and authors take apart their novels and write the main scenes on Post-it notes. This can give the writer a good view of the progression of the story, making it easier to see if a scene needs moved, if a section needs tightened, etc.

I decided to do the Post-it exercise with Novel B, so I reduced the entire thing to the color-coordinated little notes. Pink for regular plot line, green for action/suspense scenes, and yellow for flashback. As I wrote the scenes on the notes, I stuck them all on the table in precise lines.

This exercise actually turned out to be really helpful. I was able to make sure that the pacing of my novel was good, that there were plenty of action/suspense scenes interspersed with the regular scenes, and that the flashbacks were in places that really made sense with the story. After seeing my novel broken down this way, I feel good about the plot and pacing of my story.

Have any of you done a Post-it outline of your novel lately?

Writing Hint #5 (Query Hint #2)

So, you have your polished, revised manuscript completely finished. What is the next step? Before you start going crazy over writing query letters and putting together submission packages, take a little bit of time to do some research.

First, figure out exactly what your manuscript would be classified as. Is it fiction or nonfiction? What genre is it? What is the age group you are targeting? Solidify what your novel is and where it would fit on the shelf.

Second, you need to compile a list of agents who represent what you have written. If you send a YA mystery to an agent who only represents non-fiction, you are wasting not only your time but also the agent’s time. Research. If you have written a YA mystery, compile a list of agents that represent YA mystery.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Live Chat and Contest Winner

Wow, it’s Monday!

Did everyone have a great weekend? I did. Mine was mostly spent writing, revising, and fixing plot lines. Definitely time well spent.

This afternoon, I was able to participate in a live chat with the literary agents at Pippin Properties. The chat was put on by WriteOnCon, and they did a wonderful job setting up and overseeing the chat. I definitely learned a lot of valuable information. If anyone would like to see the transcript of the chat, here is the link.

This past week, I entered a contest on an author blog and ended up winning it! YAY! The prize was a free novel called Across The Universe by author Beth Revis. The novel just came out this month, and I have not had the opportunity to read it yet. Thus, I cannot provide a review. Sorry. However, there has been a lot of buzz about this one, and I am looking forward to reading it for myself. A special shout out to Corey Schwartz for holding the contest! Check out her blog here.

Have a brilliant rest of the day, everyone!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Twitter, Query vs. Pitch, and Writing Hints

Hooray for Friday!

I don’t know about you, but Friday is one of my absolute favorite days of the week. The runner up would have to be Thursday. Then maybe Tuesday…then… what were we talking about?

Oh right.

On to the post!

For all you out there trying to figure out the whole Twitter thing, Nathan Bransford had a great post yesterday covering all the major ins and outs of the tweeting process. Everything from usernames, URL shorteners, and @replies to #hashtags and re-tweeting. Find the full text of the post here. Enjoy!

Also, if you want to know the difference between a query and a pitch, agent Janet Reid has a concise explanation here.

Since it is Friday, we get to have another installment of…

Writing Hints!!!

The next several hints will be a brief walkthrough of the query/submission process. In parts. I don’t know how many parts there will be just yet, so we will just have to go with it.

Writing Hint #4 (Or Query Hint #1)

Before you even begin the process, you must have a completed manuscript. And I am not talking about a completed first draft. This thing should be revised over and over until it is in the absolute best shape you can get it. If you are able to join a critique group, go for it. The extra input of fellow writers will go a long way in helping you get your manuscript as perfected as possible before you start submitting it to agents.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Multiple Novels and 'Celebrating Rejection'

Hey, Everyone!

Well, it is Wednesday again, and what a beautiful Wednesday it is!

On the writing front:

I am well on my way to reaching that first 5,000 word mark in Novel B Part 2. Also, I have written over 2,000 words of the sequel to Novel A (I guess this should be called Novel A Part 2?). I am one of those people who enjoys writing multiple novels. Sometimes that isn’t a good thing. But it seems to work well for me. I love having multiple characters and worlds in which to immerse myself.

In other news:

Every writer has to face rejection. It can be easy to get angry about it or start looking down on yourself as a writer. But that is something that must not happen. Just as rejection is a part of life in general, so it is also a part of the writing life. Rejection is something that can be learned from, and it can make you a stronger person if you let it. Persistence in the face of rejection is the real test.

As Danyelle says,

“Those rejections cluttering up the dark corners of your inbox are a testament that you have thrown off safe and secure, that you've stepped out of the black and white into a world filled with color and possibility.”

Read the rest of her post on “Celebrating Rejection” here.

So, to all you fellow writers out there, rejection is a fact. It will happen. Just keep your spirits high, persevere, and don’t look back. Eventually you will be rewarded.

Have a good day!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Novel B Part 2, Blog Roll

Happy Monday, everyone!!

On the writing front:

I have officially begun to sketch out the opening to “Wannabe Novel C;” however, this project will not be the focus of my endeavors right now. I will just be working on it a bit on the side. I have decided to focus instead on Novel B Part 2. Novel B is the first book in a series, and after just completing the first installment, I am ready to move on to the next book. I have already written the first few pages and have several plot points sketched out. My goal for this week is at least 5,000 words. I’ll let you know next Monday if I succeeded. The pressure is on….

I don’t know about the rest of you writers out there, but writing the first draft of my novels is always my favorite part of the process. I don’t mind the editing much, and there are times that I truly enjoy it. Shaping and honing the novel through a series of revisions is like taking a dull stone and polishing and buffing until you are rewarded with a perfect, sparkling emerald (or diamond or ruby or opal or…. Insert other stone).

On the other hand, the first draft is the one that holds the mystery of what the novel will become. In the first draft, the details, the characters, the actions, etc., are indistinct even to the author. It is the challenge of searching and the thrill of actually finding that make the first draft so exciting.

Anyway, it took me three paragraphs to say I am happy about this new project. I know, I could have said it in one sentence. But where’s the fun in that?

In other news:

I have updated my blog to include a new blog roll of some of my favorite writing/publishing blogs [located in the right column]. The blog roll stays current at all times with the newest posting listed under the blog’s title and a link to take you to the post.

Also, as you noticed on Wednesday, I posted a personal review of a book that I have read and loved. I will do this every so often in the future. Mostly, the books will be young adult since that is what I write; however, I will also review other books as well. Be sure to check back for those.

So what is going on with everyone else? Do you have your own favorite writing/publishing blogs or websites that you enjoy?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Forever Faves

It's Wednesday again!

Does anyone else feel like this year is already in a hurry to get over? Seriously, it was just Christmas, and now it’s the twelfth of January. Yikes!

So, today I would like to share a book with you. It’s one that’s been out for years and years, but from the first time I read it, it’s always held a special place on my list of favorite books. It would definitely be in my Top 10. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve read it….

If you’ll notice, my “quote of the week” is even taken from this novel.

What is it?

Mara: Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

This novel is a YA historical fiction, and the premise is a slave girl who gets caught in the middle of two sides dueling for the crown. She ends up playing the part of double spy, carefully juggling her own identity. If her secret is found out…she will die. This book has mystery, political intrigue, danger, and even a bit of romance. Best of all, the entire story is set in Ancient Egypt. Ah, perfection. For me, you can’t get much better than that.

I would highly recommend this story to pretty much everyone. It is not strictly young adult – adults would enjoy it as well. As with most historical fiction novels, there are some presumptions made about key figures in Ancient Egypt. But, it is fiction. So be nice. The descriptions of Egypt and life in that time are wonderful and completely draw the reader in.

So give Mara a try. I love it, and I hope you will too.

Has anyone already read it? What did you think?

Monday, January 10, 2011

More Snow and Winding Up Revisions

Hi, y’all!

How is everyone this fine Monday?

Over the last day and a half we have had another big snowstorm dump 10.5 inches of snow on us. But now the sun is out and the skies are a beautiful blue and the snow is sparkling like a blanket of jewels. A friend invited me to go snowshoeing, and I might just have to do that. A walk in the bright, snowy wilderness sounds like tons of fun right about now.

On the writing front, I am just about finished with one last round of self-imposed revisions on Novel B. This will be number eight, I think, but it is definitely worth it. I am very satisfied with the caliber of the story now. Besides, one of my characters was misbehaving and had to be brought back in line. He’s good now.

In addition to revising Novel B, I have been planning ideas for my next project and am excited to get going on it. I will update you once I actually have begun to write it. I guess we’ll just have to call it Wannabe Novel C. It will not be allowed to have strict “Novel C” status until I have completed the first full draft….

So what's happening with everyone else? I hope today is the start of a brilliant week.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The First Big Batch, Writing Hints

Hey, y'all,

We've almost reached the end of another week, the first full week of 2011. Most of this week, I have spent editing, researching, writing, and sending queries. Yesterday, I sent out my first larger batch of ten query letters. Now I will be waiting to see what kind of response I get. Then I can move on from there. I will keep everyone updated on the blog.

As it is Friday, I have new writing hints to share with you. This great advice comes from the agents at the Greenhouse Literary Agency. Since I didn't post a writing hint last week, I will include two hints today. These are taken from the agency's "Top Tips," a listing of their "top 10 tips for children's fiction writers." 

Here they are:

Writing Hint #2: "There are two aspects to any great book: the quality of the writing and the quality of the plotting. You need to have a strong, individual, fresh voice that pulls the reader in - but you also need a great story to tell." (Greenhouse Literary Agency, Top Tip, #4)

Writing Hint #3: "Start your story strongly so that the reader is grabbed from the beginning. You could start with a dramatic moment, or a moment of change or discovery. If you've bored readers in the first 20 pages you'll probably never get them back." (Greenhouse Literary Agency, Top Tip, #8)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Novel B and Organizational Skills, Balbo's First 'Official' Business

Hey, everyone!! Happy Wednesday! 

I hope you are having a good week so far and are enjoying the new year. I know I sure am. Well, I have sent out a few more queries, and I will be putting together some more over the next couple of days to agents on my list. I was/am pretty organized with my query submission for Novel A. But that only goes so far as a handwritten list in a notebook with the dates written haphazardly to the side. 

I have refined my technique for Novel B. A lot. I even have this cool chart on the computer with blocks for the agents' names, dates I sent queries, responses, etc. Oh yeah, a whole new level.... Maybe this is a sign?


Now on to...

Balbo Ohanzee: (clears throat)

Me: Oh no. What are you doing back? Can't I just...wish you away or something?

Balbo Ohanzee: Nothing you do can get rid of me.

Me: I can still try, can't I?

Balbo Ohanzee: I am here on official business.

Me: Let me guess. You are about to pull out that virtual whip.

Balbo Ohanzee: You learn quickly.

Me: Duh. Get on with it.

Balbo Ohanzee: If you haven't noticed, your "weekly quote" is the very same one you put up when you started this blog almost a month ago. You might as well call it the "monthly quote" or, if changing it is too difficult a task for you, the "everlasting quote."

Me: Enough already! Point taken. I'll find a new quote.

Balbo Ohanzee: Good. And you know I'll be here to remind you if you forget again.

Me: How thrilling. (pause) You know what? I was doing a bit of research, and I found out something of interest.

Balbo Ohanzee: Why do I get the feeling I will not like this?

Me: I have the feeling you will hate this! Ha! So I found out your first name means inarticulate or mutterer, and your last name means shadow.

Balbo Ohanzee: So?

Me: So? So you are an inarticulate muttering shadow!! (Laughing gleefully) 


Me: Isn't it ironic? You are some weird invisible "blog entity," and you are critiquing me. But your name means inarticulate? Mutterer? Haha!


Me: Uh, Balbo? Balbo?

I guess he left. Anyway, to all of you out there tired of seeing the same quote on my blog, I will try to find a new one before Friday's post. Remember, there will also be a new 'Writing Hint' on Friday. In the meantime, have a wonderful rest of the day!

Monday, January 3, 2011

First Post Of The New Year, and Enter Balbo Ohanzee

"Didn't you forget something, Kristin? Like your posting on Friday?"

Me: Oh. There was supposed to be a blog post on Friday? Really? You are talking about December 31st right? I must have missed the memo....

"You're the one who said you were going to post."

Me: I feel terrible now....

"You should."

Me: Did you really have to make me feel so awful?

"Yes. It's my job."

Me: Who in their right mind would post on New Year's Eve anyway? That's crazy! Wait a minute, who in the world are you?"

"Your conscience."

Me: Oh that's just lame. Tell the truth.

"Fine. I am the interlocutor of your blog. But, beyond that, I am the wielder of the virtual whip that keeps you on track. Your worst nightmare when you fail your readers. You can call me Balbo Ohanzee."

Me: (Blink, blink) Balbo Ohanzee? Really? I'm ignoring you. After all, you're just a figment of my imagination.

Balbo Ohanzee: Don't you wish.

Me: What's an interlocutor?

Balbo Ohanzee: And you call yourself a writer.

Me: Be nice.

Balbo Ohanzee: Fine. Interlocutor. Part of speech: noun. Definition: 'conversationalist' or 'someone who takes part in a conversation, often formally or officially.' The word is also often used to mean 'the performer in a minstrel show who is placed midway between the end men and engages in banter with them.' But obviously the first definition is the one that applies in this situation.

Me: Impressive word.

Balbo Ohanzee: Of course.

Me: Umm, right. You can leave now. Bye.

Okay. That was weird....

Seriously though, sorry to all those expecting a posting on Friday. I got a bit caught up in the holiday, and ended up spending the whole day with my family. Which was definitely not a bad use of my time. My family is the best, and I had a really good time with them as always. 

Anyway, it is the first posting of the New Year!! Celebration! How many of you are making those resolutions that you will probably keep up with for all of, oh, ten days? Twenty if you're lucky. Oh sorry. Some of you are actually dedicated to these resolutions? Okay, I admit it. I am one such person. I already have a list of several things I would like to accomplish this year. One of which - surprise, surprise - is becoming published.

Hey! I can be positive! It's good to be positive!

So, think positive thoughts, everyone, and enjoy these first days of the new year!

Welcome 2011!