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?

AGENT STUFF

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.


CRAFT & MANUSCRIPT PREP

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?

PEP TALKS

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.

EXTRAS

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’ TRICKS

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.

JUVY

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! 🙂

BEDAZZLE YOUR MSS

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!

DOH!

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!

ONLINE IDENTITIES

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.

GET WRITING!

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.

In the Blogosphere: 8/16-8/20

“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?

STORY OPENERS

Story openers is a topic we’ve touched on before, here on the blog (here’s the post from our Shenandoah Writers Online live chat on that very subject), but let’s see what other have had to say about it.

Here, D4EO Literary’s Mandy Hubbard dishes on the five things she looks for in the opening pages.

Over at his blog, Constant Revision, the inimitable Simon C. Larter explains the methods behind the madness in his very own opening lines.

And, for a little bit of fun, YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) lists a ton of first lines—so you can see a lot of these tips in action.

YOUR PITCH DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A BITCH

Think you’re ready to query or pitch?  Here’s a comprehensive pre-submission checklist from Martina Boone and Marissa Graff’s brainchild, Adventures in Children’s Publishing.  (<—post not *just* for kids’ lit, BTW)

As you go to write (or tweak) your pitch, check out Anne Brown’s four steps to battling the query in her guest post at Writer Unboxed.

And, why stress over the query?  WordServe Literary’s Rachelle Gardner divulges all the secrets to a great pitch right here!

ON SANITY

As kids and teacher-types go back to school, and as the summer comes to a close (can you believe it’s almost the end of August??), it’s time to start thinking about that evil time management thing again.

Here’s some advice on how to juggle it all from time management master and über-awesome young adult author Maggie Stiefvater.

COMMISERATE

And, if you’re feeling the rejection blues, you’re not alone:

Have a great rest-of-the-weekend!  I’m battling a cold (which is why this post was late).  Boo!!

Win Some Awesome Writerly Prizes, and – Oh Yeah – Make the World a Better Place, Too

A new writer pal of mine, Candace Ganger, is running a fantabulous contest over at her blog. RIGHT. NOW.

Here are some of the INSANE-O prizes you can win:

For Writers*
-(5) winners will be invited to a private webinar + query, synopsis + 5 page critique with superagent Natalie Fischer
-30 minute phone consultation with superagent Michelle Wolfson
-3 chapter tandem critique by authors Tawna Fenske and Cynthia Reese
-Copy edit of 3 chapters by supereditor/superawesome (formerly of Baker’s Mark) Gretchen Stelter
-50 page critique by author Sean Ferrell
-Query letter + 3 chapter critique by author Beth Revis
-Skype session and copy of ebook “From the Query to the Call” by Elana Johnson
-Query, synopsis + 5 page critique by author Carrie Harris
-Critique of manuscript by author Dianne Salerni
-Line edit of first 30 pages (YA) by author Valerie Kemp
-(2) Query critiques by author Rose Cooper
-Ten page critique by author T.H. Mafi
-Query critique + winner interview on blog by author Matthew Rush


*There are also a NUMBER of great prizes for nonwriters, but I can’t give away ALL the goods!  Go to Candace’s blog to check those out.

There are a number of ways you can win the above loot.  The gist is: Donate to or promote the cause of Joy 2 the World, an amazing organization that helps build wells for clean water, create pre-k schools with hot meals, give loans to women for small business start-up, and awards scholarships to those attending school (in Ghana).

The contest ends July 31—what are you waiting for?   Check it out!

In the Blogosphere: 6/7-6/18

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

THE NEXT STEP

I’ve focused a lot here on the blog about querying, but what about the next steps?

Here, QueryTracker’s Mary Lindsey asks Erin Murphy Literary Agency’s Joan Paquette about agent-requested revisions.

D4EO Literary Agency’s Mandy Hubbard also weighed in on this subject, both from the author’s perspective as well as from the agent’s perspective.

Over at the Guide to Literary Agents blog, guest blogger Felice Prager tells what to ask an agent when you’re lucky enough to be offered representation.

And, once you’ve signed and you’re working with an editor (and the revisions keep rolling in), here’s some advice from Greyhaus Literary Agency’s Scott Eagan on how to work (productively) with an editor.

Step one (one one): We can have some fun . . .

CHARACTER RELATIONSHIPS

One thing that deserves much attention when you’re plotting, writing, and revising is how characters relate to one another.  Curtis Brown, Ltd., agent Nathan Bransford discusses dynamic character relationships by referring to one of my YA author heroes, John Green Squee!

On her blog, Writing It Out, dystopian YA author Beth Revis talks about creating compelling love triangles, where something is at stake for all three characters—not just the third wheel.

Decisions, decisions . . .

TRENDY VS. TRUE

Over at Writer Unboxed, Ray Rhamey makes some important points about following industry trends as opposed to staying true to the stories you want to write—even if they aren’t “what’s hot” right now.

"He's so hot right now!"

GREAT NEWS

Dying to go to a writers’ conference but can’t afford it?  Write kids’ lit?  YA authors Elana Johnson, Lisa and Laura Roecker, Jamie Harrington, Casey McCormick, Shannon Messenger and Jen Stayrook have pooled their awesomeness to bring us a FREE, online writers’ conference—WriteOnCon—Aug. 10-12.  Canyoubelieveit??? Click here for details.

HILARIOUS AND A HALF

Since I’m always a fan of grammatical humor, here’s Allie of Hyperbole and a Half’s take on idiots people who write “a lot” as one word.

In the Blogosphere: 4/5-4/23

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

SOME HOW-TOs

Over at her blog, Kidlit.com, Andrea Brown literary agent Mary Kole discusses how to layer points of view.

On the Guide to Literary Agents blog, guest blogger and kids’ author Laura Manivong tells us how to target submissions to specific agents.

ONLINE PRESENCE

QueryTracker’s own YA author extraordinaire Elana Johnson did a great little series on blogging.  Here are but a few of the several awesomesauce posts she dedicates to this topic:

  • Here, Johnson talks about why one should blog and touches on what one should blog about
  • Here, she explains what to do once you have a blog
  • Here, she suggests where to spend your blogging time in order to gain some blog traffic

Like I said, she gives all sorts of helpful tips, but I’ll let you poke around in her blog on your own and decide what you need the most help with.

TWITTER

Looking to get the best writerly experience you can out of TwitterWrite Anything’s Annie Evett lists several hashtags for writers here.

Once you’ve found your way around the Twitterverse—Twittersphere?—and you’ve discovered your favorite hashtags, check out Tweetchat.  By entering the hashtag of your choice, you can more quickly and easily follow the conversation during Twitter chats.

CLICHÉS

We all trying to avoid clichés in our writing—right?  Over at YA Highway, contributor Emilia Plater presents the five protagonists you meet in young adult literature.

For a little bit of a different take on a similar subject, on her blog, up-and-coming YA author Steph Bowe exposes the problems with many conventions often used in YA lit by supposing what things would be like if real life were like a teen novel.

And, the good folks over at And Now for Something Completely Unnecessary make a confession about using “confessions” in titles . . .

...they're cliché.

Have a nice weekend, everybody.

In the Blogosphere: 3/29-4/2

“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.

BAD WRITERLY HABITS

Science fiction writer Liana Brooks talks about a bad habit she has that I think most writers (myself included) also need help with: impatience.

If this post isn’t a kick in the pants, I don’t know what is.  On her blog, Between Fact and Fiction, upcoming young adult author Natalie Whipple explains “How to Wallow.”

Coffee has played a significant role in my days for the past several years—hell, I’ve been drinking the stuff since I was about nine years old!  Being that I’m genetically cursed when it comes to being anxious and being that the query stage of writing has kicked up those natural tendencies about 15 notches, I’m trying to cut back.  (I just bought decaf to mix with my fancy flavored coffees!)  But in honor of that bad habit, the drink I love—the drink that doesn’t always love me back—here’s The Oatmeal‘s 15(ish) Things Worth Knowing About Coffee.

From time to time, I have this bad habit, too! *doink*

INSPIRATION

This week, author and contributor to QueryTracker Elana Johnson had an awesome idea—paying it forward.  She and several other blogging authors interviewed 75 fellow authors who’ve “made it” (i.e., they’re agented, some have book deals).  Among the tons of inspirational stories these writers shared, I’m highlighting two:

Okay, so now that you’re totally inspired by those writers’ “pay it forward” interviews, what will you write?  Jonathan Morrow offers 10 tips on how to get your writing juices a’ flowing at Copyblogger.

THE CRAFT

On the Will Write For Cake blog, the Joanna Stampfel-Volpe repped kids’ lit author Lynne Kelly Hoenig lists some ways she injects characters’ feelings into her writing without “telling.”

APRIL FOOLED

Here, Jessie Kunhardt of The Huffington Post describes 11 great literary April Fools’ jokes.

FOR FUN

Ever wonder what those literary agents are really doing day-to-day?  FinePrint Literary‘s Suzie Townsend and Nancy Coffey Literary‘s Joanna Stampfel-Volpe fill us in on their secrets.

Finally, here’s some Venn Diagramming I can get behind.  The Great White Snark outlines the differences between the insults many of us grew up being called: nerd, dork, dweeb, and geek.

Venn Diagrams? Lucky.