Live from SWA All Week

I made it to St. Simons Island, Ga., last night—unscathed—and I’m gearing up for my third year at the Southeastern Writers Association conference (35th year for them!).

As my regular blog peeps know, I have returned this year as an instructor (my session on journalistic writing is Wednesday, so if you’re here and you want to catch it, come on down!).

All week, I’ll be blogging about my adventures as well as sharing notes from the sessions I attend—so stop back.

With only about two hours underway:

  • I announced to the entire conference I have poison in my room
  • Author David L. Robbins told me I have Justin Bieber hair

What will tomorrow bring?

Do you see it??

If you missed my SWA presenter profiles and interviews, click here for a complete list.

Writing News: My Guest Post over at GLA

As you may or may not know, I am a contributor to Writer’s Digest Books (with articles forthcoming in the 2011 and 2012 editions of Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents as well as the 2011 editions of both Alice Pope’s Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market and Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market).  From time to time, I also interview literary agents  for Chuck’s Guide to Literary Agents blog.

My article in the upcoming GLA deals with maximizing your writers conference experience, and to gear up for that as well as my speaking engagement at the 35th annual Southeastern Writers Association conference next month, I guest blogged over at the GLA blog today.

Here’s the link to my post, “How to Have an Awesome Time at a Writers Conference.”

Hope you enjoy!

Suspense, Daphne du Maurier, and Ruining Literature with Film “Adaptations”

I recently judged a writing contest for the Kiss of Death Chapter of Romance Writers of America—which is partial to the suspense writings of Daphne Du Maurier (Rebecca, “The Birds,” etc.)—and the contest coordinator, Donnell Bell, asked me to pen a guest post for Five Scribes, the group blog to which she contributes.

The post went up yesterday; it’s on suspense and how I taught it to my eighth graders using Daphne du Maurier’s “The Birds” and Alfred Hitchcock’s film of the same name.  Check it out!

I'm not a fan of the film, but how awesome is this BIRDS Barbie?

Because I also touch on the idea of books versus movies—specifically calling out Kenneth Branagh’s 1994 abomination, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein—in the comments section, Bell asked me if there are any films I deem better than the books . . . I’m stumped.

Do you know of any?  I’m having trouble here . . .

Remember, in the book, when the Creature decapitates Elizabeth and Dr. Frankenstein attaches her head to another body? No?? Oh yeah - because that doesn't happen.

Writing News: My Guest Post for YA Author Steph Bowe is Up

As I announced a few weeks ago, I was chosen to guest blog for 16-year-old young adult author Steph Bowe’s blog, Hey! Teenager of the Year.

All this month, the young Aussie is featuring a series of guest posts on young adult lit—trends, subgenres, popular books, writing/publishing tips.

My post, “To Leet or Not to Leet” is on leet speak (or “text message lingo”) and its place in young adult literature.  It’s a subject that has been on my mind a lot lately, and I’d love to hear your thoughts—so feel free to comment!

Click here to check out my post.

As someone who sent three query letters - two of which resulted in offers of representation - Bowe is one YA author from whom we can all learn a lot.

Bowe’s 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).

Writing News: I’m Guest Blogging for YA Up-and-Comer Steph Bowe

This post is two-fold.

This fortune teller, however, has more folds than that.

First of all, I’m excited to announce I’ll be guest blogging for 16-year-old young adult author Steph Bowe‘s blog, Hey! Teenager of the Year.

Throughout March, the young Aussie will be featuring a series of guest posts on young adult lit—trends, subgenres, popular books, writing/publishing tips—and I am privileged enough to have been chosen as a contributor.

As someone who sent three query letters - two of which resulted in offers of representation - Bowe is one YA author from whom we can all learn a lot.

Bowe’s 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).

Click here to check out her blog—and don’t forget to stop back there March 8, when my piece on leet speak/text message lingo will run.  (Don’t worry; I’ll remind you.)


Second of all, Bowe hosts a number of contests on her blog—including one I want to win so bad I can taste the ink on the page (it’s for an advanced reading copy of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which just so happens to have been written by two of my favorite young-adult writers, New York Times bestselling authors John Green and David Levithan).

This contest closes Feb. 28, but Bowe has a slew of other giveaways . . . so, be a dear and go for one of those – because I really really really want to win this one!

Molly: "Pleeeeeease pick my mommie, Steph!"

Writing News: I’m Presenting at RWA Nationals

Last week, I got the fabulous news that I’ll be presenting at the 30th annual Romance Writers of America national conference in Orlando, Fla.

In my workshop, “Sweat the Small Stuff: Getting Your Work Read & Represented,” we will polish and perfect the all-too-often overlooked details in query letters and manuscripts—proper grammar and formatting—in order to get the attention of agents and editors and have a better chance of getting work read and represented.


Millions of writers think they have written “the great American novel” and, regardless of how they submit it, some literary agent will fall in love with the story, sign them, and an editor will clean up their grammatical and formatting messes.  However, in today’s economy, agents and publishing houses cannot afford to take chances, so new writers are under pressure not only to have a top-notch story, but also to submit it in pristine condition.

Although submission guidelines differ from agency to agency, certain grammatical and formatting standards run industry wide, and, besides good writing, producing clean, properly-formatted copy is a quick and easy way serious writers can set their work apart from the amateurs in the slush pile.


This session will teach the basics of grammar and Chicago Style manuscript formatting by analyzing examples not only brought in by me, but from those in the class as well.  Attendees will either submit ahead of time or bring in transparencies (that decision is up to RWA) of their query letters and/or the first two pages of their manuscript.  We will dissect, tighten and clean up the mistakes in a sort of a slush session, right before their eyes.

I will reinforce that, if you give agents a break, you’ll be giving yourself a break—you’ll avoid silly mistakes that will result in rejection before an agent has even read sentence one.  Students will learn how to set themselves apart with clean copy and give their work a fighting chance.

Clean up your work!

Ketchup & Contest

I’m back, my lovelies—and apparently creepy! (Lovelies? Really??)

This is how much catch-up we need to do!


For the past seven days, I Cullened it up with my sleep schedule, and around 8 o’clock Friday morning, I officially finished editing and formatting my manuscript.

In the last five months, my novel got a bit of a facelift—including a 20K word cut and a new title—and it’s looking better than I could have imagined when I started it three years ago.  Now, it’s full speed ahead toward the rejection—I mean query—process!

On slightly-more-normal-hours, I had a nice celebratory dinner with the hubs last night (man, was it nice to leave the house!), and we treated ourselves to a weekend of home improvement, which has begun with painting our living room, dining room, and kitchen in our new house.  (I decided to take the weekend off from writing…and, of course, haven’t stuck to it at all!)


Feeling a little out of the loop from being MIA for a week, I’d like to kick off my return to blogging and Tweeting and Facebooking and showering (I mean, um…) by hosting a little contest here on the blog.


As a nod to the beginning of my querying journey, the winner will receive a brand-new copy of the 2010 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino!

Here’s the Writer’s Digest description of the book, for those of you who might be unfamiliar with this fabulous resource:

“Now in its 19th year, Guide to Literary Agents is a writer’s best resource for finding a literary agent who can represent their work to publishing houses, big and small. This edition offers more than 750 updated listings for individual agents, and more than 80 pages of original articles on finding the best agent to represent your work and how to seal the deal. From identifying your genre to writing query letters to avoiding agent pet peeves, the Guide to Literary Agents helps writers deal with agents every step of the way. Includes exclusive access to online listings on”

There might be second- and third-place prizes as well, depending upon the amount of entries I receive, the overall awesomeness of them, and whether or not I can come up with something else.  I have a few ideas brewing…I’ll keep you posted.


Now that I have your attention with the awesome prize, here’s how to get your grubby little hands on it:

I am always reading and researching writing Web sites and blogs (see my last blogosphere post, if you don’t believe me).  At the same time, I am always looking for new ones to add to my online library.

For this contest, all you need to do is provide me with the URL of your favorite writing Web site or blog.

Entries can focus on anything from crafting to the industry.  **If you’re picking a blog, please send me the specific URL of one of your favorite posts from said blog.**

All entries should be informative or awesome—but preferably both!  I will be the sole judge, and my favorite will be the winner.


All you need to do to enter is either:

  • leave the URL of your choice in the comments of this post


  • e-mail it to me at


Although my blog traffic has quadrupled since November, I want to reach more writers!

Mmm - peanut butter swirl!

That said, any entrant who Retweets my blog posts this week (I always Tweet them as I post them) or posts a link to my blog on his or her blog will earn “extra credit.”

I will check my Twitter replies daily, but if you blog about this contest or link to my blog somewhere, please shoot me an e-mail to let me know so I can figure in your “extra credit.”

If you’re not already following me on Twitter, click on my Twitter ID (@RickiSchultz) or my latest Tweets, located at the bottom right of this blog.

**If you don’t have a Twitter account or a blog, fear not.  This will not necessarily determine the winner – but it will probably help me in the event of a tie.


All entries must be received by Tuesday, January 26 at 12:00 A.M. EST. No exceptions!

Questions? No? OK—good!  Now, get out there and dazzle me with the most mind-blowingly amazing writing sites and blogs you’ve ever seen!

If your sites are so-so, you might want to consider using a Bedazzler. How much more badass is this crappy Hello Kitty PC?

Writing News: I’m Teaching at SWA

I’m ecstatic to announce I’ll be teaching a workshop at the 35th annual Southeastern Writers Association conference in beautiful St. Simon’s Island, Ga. It’s official!

My workshop, “The Well-Prepared Freelancer: Journalistic Writing and Its Benefits for Writing of Any Kind,” is not designed to turn out an army of beat reporters, but to give writers a fighting chance at freelancing in the journalistic market as well as to make their writing more clear and to the point—regardless of their specialty.


We all want to get the attention of literary agents and publishing companies.  Everyone has a novel in a drawer or a nonfiction book proposal on a computer file somewhere.  In order to maximize the chances of getting those longer works published, however, one must be a working writer—and to be a working writer, freelancing is key. The more writing credits we have under our belts when we query that agent, that publisher, the better our chances become of actually hearing back from them.

Short fiction is a great way to build one’s writing résumé; however, publishing short stories and personal essays in anthologies is only one piece of the freelancing puzzle. To be a well-rounded freelancer and increase the amount of opportunities one has to publish, one cannot ignore the newspaper/magazine/e-zine market—and in order to conquer this market, one must acquire the basics of journalistic writing.


When you think of journalism, you may think of a newspaper beat reporter with a press pass in his cap, but the skills learned here will transcend newspaper writing.  Utilizing journalistic writing skills will help your queries and manuscripts stand out from the rest in the slush pile.

We have all heard agents and editors discuss the importance of succinct query letters and synopses.  Likewise, novel and short fiction instructors have emphasized hooking the reader in the first chapter, first page, first sentence.  In order to do both of these things effectively, one must understand and acquire the skill set journalistic writing provides.

To get ahead in this field, we must learn to be economical with our words, and by acquiring the basics of journalistic writing, you help yourself get rid of the clutter and get published faster.

If you're attending SWA this June, make sure you stop by my class---I'll give you all the journalistic tools you need!

What’s Keeping Me Up at Night? My New Writing Group on Ning

For the last month, I’ve been talking up a web-based chapter of Shenandoah Writers, and it’s finally here: Shenandoah Writers Online.

Here's a shot of the main page in all its awesomeness.

Having recently taken the leap from teaching full time to writing full time, I am no stranger to how lonely a writer’s life can be. Therefore, I have established both chapters of SW in attempt to put writers in contact with other writers.

No matter what your genre, stage, or level of writing, you can connect with other write-minded folks right here, in this social network.


This is a password-encrypted, by-invitation-only forum, where you can:

* Ask and answer questions on the forum

* Find critique partners

* Brainstorm

* Discuss your work

* Bounce ideas off others

* Journal (in a secure forum, by way of the “Blog” feature)

* Network

* Chat with members who are online when you are

* Follow the SW-IRL (Shenandoah Writers-In Real Life) writing group (check out the “Meetings” category under “Forum” to see what books we’re reading)

* Challenge yourself with SW-IRL’s writing prompts


I know some of you have new book deals (jealous!), don’t like doing writing prompts, have school, have kids, have H1N1, but this online group can be whatever you make of it.

If you’re not into reading books about the craft, that’s totally cool. Participate as much or as little as you want, but please stop by every once in a while and keep us in the loop about your writing. This group is free to join, and I’m not going to bombard you with e-mails, so don’t worry. Even if you aren’t sure what it is you want to do with it, but you like writing, I hope you’ll check us out.

As I mentioned, membership is by invitation only, so if you are interested and I haven’t already invited you, please shoot me an e-mail at

We’d love to have you!

Shenandoah Writers: Shameless Self-Promotion

Are you in the Harrisonburg area and looking for a writing group?

Come to Barnes & Noble on October 6 at 7:30 pm and see what Shenandoah Writers is all about!

This month, we will be doing a meet & greet as well as deciding on a writing book to discuss.  I already have one in mind….!

Click here for more info, or e-mail me at