Book Review: Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript

With all the conflicting information regarding formatting out there in the blogosphere, whether you’re a screenwriter, novelist, or freelancer, the 3rd Edition of Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript (Writer’s Digest Books) is a one-stop resource you cannot do without.*

Chuck Sambuchino and a slew of other editors of Writer’s Digest Books have outdone previous editions of FSYM as well as similar books on the market because, not only do they provide detailed instructions on how to format screenplays, scripts, and manuscripts, they also demonstrate how to put together query letters and nonfiction book proposals. They show dozens of good and bad examples to boot, so you can see where you fall on the spectrum.

In addition to formatting Do’s and Don’ts, FSYM is loaded with tips from industry professionals such as literary agents, award-winning authors, screenwriters, playwrights, editors, and producers. Aside from all the great info, one of my favorite aspects of this edition is that Sambuchino and the gang uses The Office, How I Met Your Mother, as well as other popular, modern shows to demonstrate proper style. Not only is it cool to see snippets of your favorite TV shows’ scripts, but this touch makes the whole thing more authentic—to see this formatting in action in a “real” script as opposed to a generic one crafted by the editors just to give the example.

I highly recommend it, no matter what kind of writing you do—no matter where you are in your career.  Sambuchino and his colleagues do a great job of explaining the query and submission processes in ways that are palatable enough for beginners to understand; but they also pack each page with information even the most seasoned scribes need.

I didn’t even bother making room for FSYM on my bookshelf because it’s one of those titles I reach for so often, it didn’t make sense to keep it out of arms’ reach.

Um … did you order it yet?

Here’s a link with more info on it.

*FSYM is one of my main resources/references in my session at RWA Nationals in Orlando, Sweat the Small Stuff: Getting Your Work Read & Represented.

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!

SWA Presenter Spotlight: Author & Lit Agent Katharine Sands

As I announced in December, I will be teaching a workshop on journalistic writing* at the 35th annual Southeastern Writers Association conference in June 2010.

To gear up for that, I am featuring interviews and spotlights with this year’s presenters.**

Next up is author and literary agent Katharine Sands.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER

Each year, the Southeastern Writers Association conference hosts one agent in residence; this year, Katharine Sands of Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency will hold that spot.

Sands

As an agent, Sands represents authors in a variety of areas, including: literary and commercial fiction as well as nonfiction projects dealing with food/lifestyle, self-help, cooking, travel, spirituality, pop culture, film/entertainment, humor and home/design.

In addition to taking on and working with clients, Sands wrote Making the Perfect Pitch: Advice from 45 Top Book Agents (Kalmbach), which compiles pitching advice from several of the industry’s top agents.

At the conference in June, Sands will be teaching a class called “Pitchcraft . . . and Querial Killers: How Not to Get an Agent, Even If You Are a Talented Writer.” As well, she will hear pitches in one-on-one sessions and work with writers in group critique classes during the latter half of the program.

THE INTERVIEW

One of last year’s SWA presenters, editor Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest Books, posted a great interview with Sands on his Guide to Literary Agents blog.

Here is an excerpt:

GLA: Speaking of meeting writers at conferences, what do you think is the most common mistake writers make when they give a short in-person pitch to an agent?

KS: One of the things I believe people do wrong is to speak to agents as they would a tax professional or lawyer – somebody for hire who is there to listen to their process and backstory and get involved with their case in that way. Agents are listening in for a reason to be interested, first and foremost, and they’re not going to be interested in the writer’s (process), the word count, what is impeding, or why the writer doesn’t want to do extra work.

See the full interview here.

THE PLUG

For more information about the Southeastern Writers Association conference in June, please see their registration page as well as my recent post.  Don’t wait to sign up—you only have until April 1 to participate in contests and manuscript evaluations, so reserve your spot today!

*To learn more about the workshop I’m teaching, click here.

**For more SWA Presenter Spotlights, click the appropriately-named category in the right-hand sidebar.

In the Blogosphere: 3/15-3/19

“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.

RESOURCES

If you didn’t see my post about the Shenandoah Writers Query Symposium I’m helming, please check it out.  I’m looking to compile some of best query-writing resources out there and discuss them with my writing groups.  I plan to turn this “symposium” into a series of blog posts, so even if you’re not a member of Shenandoah Writers, give me your two cents (i.e., comment or e-mail with your favorite query resources or tips).  A few brave souls have even given me queries they’ve written so we can critique them, so there are multiple ways you can get involved.

This is an oldie but goodie.  It was actually written on my birthday in 2006 (but I digress) by the long-retired literary agent known to millions only by her scathing pseudonym, Miss SnarkShe gives the straight dope on your plot pitch versus a synopsis.

Here, mystery writer Elizabeth Spann Craig offers some ways to reveal a protagonist’s character through self discovery.

I recently discovered young adult fiction writer Jamie Harrington‘s blog, Totally the Bomb.com (love that name, BTW!).  And I’ve already found two posts I love.  In this one, Harrington talks about five clichés used in young adult lit.  And in this one, she dissects the classic love triangle.

My favorite thing about this picture is that they actually made Taylor Lautner stand on a box. Hilarious!

This is another oldie but goodie, but at her blog, The Bookshelf Muse, the Jill Corcoran-repped kids’ lit author Angela Ackerman has a great resource for conveying emotion through a character’s body language.  It’s not just for overcoming the five clichés Harrington outlines above, and it’s not just for juvenile lit.  In this post, Ackerman introduces the idea of the “emotion thesaurus,” (which provides alternatives to having a character shrug his shoulders or roll his eyes).  If you look in her sidebar on the right, she’s got a slew of entries under The Emotional Thesaurus.

PLATFORM, BABY

Blogging making you crazy?  Author Jody Hedlund offers some advice on what do to when your blog overwhelms you.

And here, Carol T. Cohn of Compukol Connection explains why you need to edit those pesky blog posts.

Shane Nickerson gives this amusing take on how Twitter slowly takes over your life.

Twitter zombie. Hey - not a bad idea for an urban fantasy! 😉

LITERARY AGENTS

Not sure whether to go with a big agency or a boutique agency?  Epstein Literary agent and founder Kate Epstein discusses the pros and cons of both.

Last week, Twitter was abuzz with talk of Lowenstein Associates, Inc., agent Kathleen Ortiz‘s blog post on query etiquette.  This week, she added an equally-as-important part two.

And I really felt for Caren Johnson Literary Agency‘s Elana Roth when she posted her thoughts on the protocol with regard to those queries/partials/fulls left hanging when a writer is offered representation.  Although she got a bit bashed in some of the comments, she started a discussion that I think needed to be addressed.  And she handled the backlash well.  Kudos!

POTTER PROVIDES HELP

Dudes—Harry Potter is on the brain! Like it or not, writers can learn a lot from J.K. Rowling‘s famous example.

Last week, I did a post on how to break up a manuscript of epic proportions, and I used the Potter series to illustrate dramatic arcs (in it, I outlined Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone‘s dramatic arc and discussed the overarching arc of the series).

This week, I’m seeing posts—left and right—using Rowling’s baby to illustrate all kinds of things.  Coincidence?  Actually, yes.  I’m not that important! As well, some of these posts are older:

  • Here, guest blogger Jim Adams talks “showing” and “telling” in scenes and dialogue on Jane Friedman‘s (of Writer’s Digest) blog, There Are No Rules.
  • In this post, Adams is at it again, giving tips on how to stretch the tension in a series.
  • On St. Patty’s Day, Adams addressed conflict, according to Potter.
  • Here, Friedman provides a complete list of links to all the posts in Adam’s 13-part series.
  • And the good folks over at guardian.co.uk‘s Book Blog talk about character names in fantasy (but the post will interest writers of all genres)—with special attention to The Series that Need Not Be Named.

"Ohhhhh, Accio DEATHLY HALLOWS." --Hank Green

IN THE NEWS

Business Wire reported that Follett, college textbook wholesaler, will join forces with Bookrenter to start a textbook rental program.  Where was this when I was in grad school?

CONTEST

Are you a Jane Austen fan?  Adept at writing queries?  Here’s a contest over at Getting Past the Gatekeeper that combines both of these things—write a query as if you wrote, and are pitching, Pride and Prejudice!

CLINK!

Last, but not least, congratulations are in order.  My Writer’s Digest Books editor pal Chuck Sambuchino got a mention in Publishers Weekly for his upcoming humor book . . .

. . . and in the same post, it was announced that young adult fantasy author Beth Revis signed a huuuuuge three-book deal (I don’t really know her, but we have some mutual friends and I’m deciding to share in her excitement).

Congrats, peeps!

A toast to you!

In the Blogosphere: 3/8 – 3/12

“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.

QUERY FAIL

I’ve heard of being a query spammer (addressing an e-query to every agent in the country), but this is ridiculous.  Notorious query spammer Oscar Whitfield ruins it for all of us—but his 7,000 rejections should make one feel better about one’s fraction of that many rejections.

Agent Jennifer Jackson of Donald Maass Literary Agency tallies her queries, and guess what: over half of the queries she receives do not follow the submission guidelines close enough to be considered.

Tsk, tsk, tsk . . . I’m not sure what’s worse, Oscar Whitfield’s query bombs or some of the things Lowenstein Associates, Inc.’s Kathleen Ortiz says authors are guilty of when it comes to their query etiquette—or their lack thereof.

RESOURCES

Listy listy.  The good people over at Guardian.co.uk have compiled lists of writing tips from several writers—including the likes of the inimitable Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood—in the spirit of Elmore Leonard‘s 10 Rules for Writing Fiction .

Although she said Janet Reid wrote it, middle-grade and young adult sci-fi writer Blee Bonn put my guest blog about the FinePrint Literary agent’s query tips at the top of her “Awesome Advice (for Writers)” post.  Yay!

In this Writer’s Digest oldie-but-goodie post, find out what agents hate (as relayed by Guide to Literary Agents editor Chuck Sambuchino).

On his Web site, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers Michael Hyatt discusses the importance of defending your “brand” in the digital age.

UP FOR DISCUSSION

In case you missed my announcement earlier in the week, I did a little guest blogging about leetspeak (“text message lingo”) and the ramifications of its increased acceptance in young adult lit over at Australian author Steph Bowe‘s blog this week.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

DOWN TIME

Are you a workaholic?  Over at zenhabits, guest blogger Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist talks about the importance of resting.

Need something to distract you?  Check out Letterblox over at OMGPOP.

CONTESTS

Over at Inky Fresh Press, Kate announces a call for submissions as well as a contest at Narrative, an online publisher and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the literary arts in the digital age.

As well, Writer’s Digest is hosting their 79th annual writing contest with a chance to win $3,000 and a trip to New York City.

SHEDDING SOME LIGHT

Been getting lots of rejections without much feeback?  Here, D4EO literary agent Mandy Hubbard offers some reasons she passes on fulls.

If you’re looking for some “inside” information, the people over at BubbleCow divulge 7 secrets publisher don’t want writers to know.

Have you ever wondered how book covers come to be?  On Orbit, Laura Panepinto posted a YouTube video on that very subject.

Think you’re a diva?  Not sure?  The Waxman Literary Agency offers three questions to ask yourself in order to find out.

Or . . . ask yourself if you're Aretha Franklin. No? Okay, you're probably not then.

THINGS THAT MAKE ME SLIGHTLY SICK

I know Wicked was The Wizard of Oz seen in a new way—and I love it (well, the musical).  However, if they remake it á là Tim Burton, as per this Los Angeles Times article, I may actually vomit.

First The Hills‘s Lauren Conrad and now Hilary Duff?  *tear*

RANDOM

Apparently, certain words and phrases—like “seek” and “flee”—are too sophisticated for people to use outside of print.  Well, that’s what Robert Feder says the higher-ups at WGN believe, anyway.

I loves me some Coco.  And, according to USA Today, O’Brien has changed the life of the one, random Twitter follower he’s chosen.

I loves me some Cleveland Cavaliers, as well.  And, according to Cleveland.com, Eastlake, Ohio, resident Jerry Tomko and a radio essay contest are responsible for the team’s name.  (I’m so proud, having grown up five minutes from Eastlake!)

I’m so excited!  Jodi Meadows and I are going to YA author Maggie Stiefvater‘s book signing in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday.  Will you be there?

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: 1/18-1/22

“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.

RESOURCES

Over at his blog, The Book Deal, editor extraordinaire Alan Rinzler shares some tips on hooking agents and editors.  He also gives examples of good hooks.  This blog is chock-full of all kinds of writing tips and just brimming with awesomeness, so check it out.

Over at WOW! Women on Writing, fellow Writer’s Digest contributor Kerrie Flanagan gives tips on how to pitch an agent.

The Oatmeal has become one of my favorite sites, with its hilarious lists on various subjects.  I mostly love it for its grammar and spelling tips—although, I’m a little biased, as its style is reminiscent of the approach I used when I taught grammar.  This post on spelling had me laughing out loud (ROTFL).  This is my favorite:

I wrote two posts this week, mentioning poetry and screenwriting.  If these areas are foreign to you, the folks over at Writer’s Relief can shed some light on them.  Learn some poetry lingo here, and get some screenwriting resources here.

At Editorial Anonymous, learn a thing or two about deciphering those rejection letters with this tongue-in-cheek post.

As I discussed earlier this week, when I came to the end of last week’s fight to finish my manuscript, I realized my original title no longer worked.  Desperate to be done with the thing and eager to apply the icing on my literary cupcake (what??), I, naturally, turned to the Internet for assistance with titles.  I found some help at Writing-World.com, Writer’s Digest, and eHow.

LIT AGENTS

Blogger sisters Lisa and Laura Roecker give some of Nancy Coffey Literary agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe‘s tips on synopses.

WordServe Literary‘s Rachelle Gardner offers some advice on perfecting that elevator pitch.

As well, FinePrint Literary‘s Janet Reid details what a writer needs to have ready when looking for an agent for fiction, memoir, and nonfiction with this straightforward list on her blog.

Last but not least, The Last Will of Moira Leahy author Therese Walsh of Writer Unboxed asks her agent, Elisabeth Weed of Weed Literary, about voice—something not easily defined, yet something every agent seeks.

UP FOR DISCUSSION

Over at Fiction City, my writer buddy, Lisa Katzenberger, asks: How Soon Do You Start Critiques?

Here, Robert McCrum of The Observer talks plagiarism and lists some famous examples of authors’ works which have been accused of it.

In this guest post on Rachelle Gardner‘s Rants & Ramblings, editor Chuck Sambuchino asks, “Would you pay more for an agent?” And many weigh in…

CONCERNING A WRITER’S NEUROSES

I shall keep these three posts close by during this query (and, hopefully, submission) process:

Yes, that's "Monk."

OPPORTUNITIES

Like to read?  Like to blog?  Here, Thomas Nelson PublishersMichael Hyatt tells how to get your hands on free books and get your name out there by reviewing them.

Don’t forget to enter my contest here on the blog.  Click here for details on my easy-peasy contest, and see how you can win a brand-new 2010 Guide to Literary Agents!

JUST ‘CAUSE

I’m with COCO.

You Have a Question? I Have an Answer: Where to Find Script Agents/Managers

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

Q:  Hi Ricki. Even though I live in LA and am a screenwriter, I need your assistance in approaching agents from CAA, WME, UTA, et al who would be appropriate.  In other words—a few suggestions?  I got the idea to approach you after reading your interview with Dorian Karchmar.  I need an agent and am clueless as far as whom to approach.  Would you know, and could you help?

–Anonymous

A: Thanks for the question!

I’m not as versed in the area of script agents/script managers, as I’ve only interviewed literary agents and authors at this point.  However, I’m very interested in screenwriting—and I will be interviewing some script managers for Writer’s Digest Books’ 2011 Screenwriter’s & Playwright’s Market—so I guess it’s time to dive into that subject!

*Some* literary agencies handle screenplays - but in my experience, most do not. You just have to do the research to find out!

On the GLA blog, where I’m assuming you read my Karchmar interview, Chuck Sambuchino lists “Screenwriting and Script Agents” as one of his categories located on the left of the blog.  If you click on that heading, he has some interviews with script agents as well as a few other informative posts in the area of screenwriting.  Maybe that could be a lead?

As well, in addition to Guide to Literary Agents, Sambuchino also puts out the aforementioned Screenwriter’s and Playwright’s Market, which is a huge database of script agents among other things.  I’ve got the 2009 edition right here, and one major section of it lists agents/script managers.  Many of the listings even show what genres the agents accept, so that should help you find someone tailored to your (awesome!) projects.

If you can get your hands on one of these babies, you'll be able to find exactly what you're looking for.

Good luck to you!

Ketchup & Contest

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

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

A LITTLE BIT OF CATCH-UP

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!)

THE CONTEST

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.

THE PRIZE

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 http://www.WritersMarket.com.”

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.

THE RULES

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.

TO ENTER

All you need to do to enter is either:

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

-OR-

  • e-mail it to me at ricki@rickischultz.com

BROWNIE POINTS

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.

DEADLINE

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?

In the Blogosphere: 1/4-1/8

“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.

**This week’s blogosphere post is going to be a bit longer because next week’s might be shorter—or nonexistent.  I plan to go a bit MIA starting tomorrow so I can get my YA manuscript out by Friday.  WISH ME LUCK, PLEASE!!!

YA AUTHORS

My virtual friend, Wendy Toliver (author of The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren, Miss Match, and the forthcoming Lifted) is the newest member of Buzz Blog: “where YA authors from Berkley JAM, Flux, Dutton, Puffin, Delacorte, HarperCollins, Harlequin Kimani-Tru, Houghton Mifflin, and Simon Pulse discuss writing, promotion, and of course, hot guys…” Check out her first post in which she talks about her famous “Fave Fives” that got her on track to being published.  As well, if you comment on her introductory blogs (there are seven this week), you have a chance to win a $10 Borders gift card!

New York Times bestselling author, original Nerdfighter, and Printz Award recipient John Green (author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns as well as collaborating author of Let It Snow and the upcoming Will Grayson, Will Grayson) offers an optimistic view on the future of reading—complete with quirky footnotes and all—on School Library Journal.

STAY ON TOP

According to David Carr at The New York Times, Twitter is it.  I believe I’ve discussed the usefulness of Twitter and its hashtags in terms of writing and publishing before, but the folks over at What the Hashtag?!, the user-editable encyclopedia of hashtags, break down what these valuable Twitter tools are and how to effectively use them.

Greg Pincus, a guest blogger over at Writer’s Digest editor Alice Pope‘s CWIM blog, talks online audience optimization: you blog, vlog, tweet, and comment, but how do you reach your target audience?

THREE AGENTS & AN EDITOR

Here, you’ll find FinePrint Literary‘s Colleen Lindsay‘s take on word counts and novel length.  According to her and other agents’ tweets, 2010 has already seen its share of this kind of faux pas.

However, the aforementioned post will be one of the last of its kind, according to Lindsay’s last post of 2009Side note: I’m actually interviewing Ms. Lindsay for the Guide to Literary Agents blog, so look for that interview in the coming months!

Nelson Literary Agency‘s Kristin Nelson advises writers to wait a week before querying over at Pub Rants.

In the style of FinePrint Literary agent Janet Reid‘s post from last week’s blogosphere roundup, Del Rey Books‘ editor-in-chief, Betsy Mitchell, examines her manuscript rejections of 2009.

PEP TALKS

Writer’s Digest‘s Chuck Sambuchino uses Superman IV to say there’s no such thing as selling out on his GLA blog.

In this post, the good people of Writer’s Relief explain that even a few minutes is enough time to write.

YA author Dawn Metcalf says, “chill, baby, chill,” on her blog, Officially Twisted.  Publishing comes to those who wait.TRUTH & LIES

Grammar nerd that I am, I love the book Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English.  Over at mental_floss, WII author Patricia T. O’Conner debunks five grammar myths.

On his Web site, science fiction writer, photographer, Web designer, and editor Jeremiah Tolbert dispels five lies writers believe about editors.

SOMETHING MY HUSBAND WOULD LOVE

Run Leia Run‘s Adam Bertocci, an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter, shows the world what would have happened if Shakespeare had written The Big Lebowski.

The Dude abideth.

JUST FOR FUN

I, for one, forgot most of what’s been going on the last two seasons of LOST.  Don’t want to sit through those annoying “pop up” episodes ABC is sure to unleash in the coming weeks?  Thanks to Holy Kaw posting this YouTube link, here is a recap of the entire first five season in eight minutes.

A QUESTION OF QUERIES

As I mentioned, I am sending out queries for my novel next week (yeeks!), so these two posts are of particular interest to me this week.

Author and WordServe-Literary-agent-Rachelle Gardner-client Jody Hedlund talks queries and their aftermath.

I am perhaps most interested in posts of this nature.  On her Web site, Kimberly Pauley, a YA author, shares two of her original query letters for her popular vampire series Sucks to Be Me—both of which she says got her partial and full requests and led to her eventual publication.