October 2014 Issue
Free Writing Downloads
Workshops Starting September 25th
- NEW CLASS: How to Create, Market, & Sell Your eBook
- Blogging 101
- Form and Composition
- The Art of Storytelling 101
- Fundamentals of Writing for Children 101: Picture Books
- Writing the Memoir 101
- Build Your Novel Scene by Scene
- Essentials of Technical Writing
- Fitting Writing into Your Life
- Writing the Young Adult Novel
- Essentials of Romance Writing
Workshops Starting October 2nd
- NEW CLASS: How to Create, Market, & Sell Your eBook
Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards—Deadline Coming Soon!
Writer's Digest Popular Fiction Awards—Deadline Coming Soon!
Hurry—submit your short story by October 15!
Submit your best short stories in the Romance, Thriller, Young Adult, Crime, Horror or Science Fiction genres for a chance at the Popular Fiction Awards Grand Prize of $2,500 cash and a trip to the 2015 Writer’s Digest Conference!
Enter as many stories as you like in multiple genres, but all entries must be fewer than 4,000 words. Don’t delay—this could be your winning year!
Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog
Chuck Sambuchino is an editor and published author who runs the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, one of the biggest blogs in publishing. His site has instruction and information on literary agents, literary agencies, query letters, submissions, publishing, author platform, book marketing, and more.
You have ideas for stories, but when you launch your word processor, you stare helplessly at a blank page. Every time you try to write, you end up spending the evening watching videos of cats on YouTube instead. Why is this happening? We’ve all been there. Here are a few things that might be getting in your way:
1: You don’t know which story to pick. You don’t just have one idea, you have several. Writing a book is a big commitment. You want to take time to carefully consider what you’ll be spending the next year slaving over. No sense rushing in to things, right? Read more
About Jessica: Jessica Watterson joined SDLA in late 2013, and currently assists Sandra Dijkstra and Elise Capron. She graduated from the University of California at Irvine with a degree in Sociocultural Anthropology and English. Jessica has made books a serious part of her life for many years. During college, she started an indie review blog which has featured author interviews and has reviewed several self-published books that eventually ended up on the New York Times Best Seller list.
She is seeking: Jessica is most interested in all subgenres of adult and new adult romance, and women’s fiction. She is looking for heartfelt and unique romance that will instantly draw a reader in and keep them hooked. Read more
Agent One-on-One Boot Camp: Your First Ten Pages — Starts May 16, and Includes an Agent Critique of Your First 10 Pages
As many writers know, agents and editors won’t give your work more than ten pages or so to make an impact. If you haven’t got them hooked by then, it’s a safe bet you won’t be asked for more material. Make sure you’ve got the kind of opening they’re looking for! In this invaluable weekend event, you’ll get to work with an agent online to review and refine the first ten pages of your novel. You’ll learn what keeps an agent reading, what are the most common mistakes that make them stop, and the steps you need to take to correct them. The best part is that you’ll be working directly with an agent, who will provide feedback specific to your work. It’s all part of the Agent One-on-One: “Your First Ten Pages” Boot Camp that begins on May 16, 2014. Seating is limited. Read more
When friends know that we’re writers, they sometimes ask us to read and critique their works-in-progress. Handling these requests can be awkward. As friends, we want to help; as writers, we want to protect our own writing time. If we offer professional critiquing services, as many of us do, we also want to protect our earning time. Here I offer several perspectives, from rather delicate situations, on how to handle friends’ requests.
When You’re a Fellow Writer: Pearl told me a truly horrendous story about helping a colleague. She had met Lydia (names changed for protection) in a local coffee shop. They bonded over a mutual devotion to mystery novels, respective blocks, and laptop frustrations, and started meeting monthly… Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring A. Lynden Rolland, author of the YA supernatural novel OF BREAKABLE THINGS. Her agent is Rachael Dugas of Talcott Notch. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent.
GIVEAWAY: Lynn is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the print book, whereas other readers worldwide can win the ebook. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: naturalred78 won.) Read more
He is seeking: Regarding fiction: “I love literary, commercial, and upmarket fiction. Thrillers with tremendous commercial appeal and strong writing are of particular interest to me—I’m a fan of anything from Lee Child to John le Carré. As a reader, I enjoy period novels in any genre. 20th century wars provide some of my favorite temporal settings, for instance. I love novels with high concepts (think THE AGE OF MIRACLES by Karen Thompson Walker, or LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson) and books that can teach me about new cultures and transport me to new countries are always among my favorite.” Regarding nonfiction: “A self-avowed foodie, I avidly devour cookbooks and am interested in working with authors who share this passion of mine. My tastes veer towards books with a strong narrative element—I’m seeking political books, memoirs, investigative and journalistic works, or titles that place a specific region, historical event, person or thing under a microscope. For instance, I’d love to read more about the Middle East, especially works in which contemporary issues are explored in new ways.” Read more
In this new boot camp starting May 8, the agents at Foreword Literary will help you understand New Adult fully from all aspects of the business. Whether you need to know the rules of the category, how to pitch it to agents, or how authors are hitting the bestselling lists with modern marketing techniques, Foreword has the answers for you.
Once you register for this May 8 One-on-One Agent Boot Camp, you’ll be assigned your own personal agent for the event. He or she will review the first 1,200 words and 1-page synopsis of your work-in-progress. You’ll get personalized feedback on the quality of your writing, as well as insights into how to generate the most revenue in today’s market. At the end of the boot camp, you’ll have a greater understanding of which publishing options to pursue and how to make the most of them. Read more
Agent Maria Ribas is seeking: She’s interested in cookbooks, self-help, health, diet, home, parenting, and humor, all from authors with demonstrable platforms. She’s also interested in narrative nonfiction and select memoir, but she’s looking for a story that is absolutely un-put-down-able. She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and proficient in Italian and will be working with select foreign authors. Read more
I scare children for a living.
As the author of a middle grade horror series, my job is to deliver stories that frighten and thrill my readers. Those readers tend to range in age from ten to fourteen, which makes delivering on that task more difficult than you might imagine. My readership is growing up in the age when video games are rife with monsters and violence, when YouTube offers limitless access to scary independent films and, of course, when “The Walking Dead” is the number one show on television. So, if I want to inspire some good old fashioned fright in my fans, I need to do more than yell “Boo!” Here, then, are seven tips for scaring the pants off of young readers:
GIVEAWAY: Ty is excited to give away a free copy of his novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: Lisa won.) Read more
Agent Michelle Richter is seeking: Michelle is primarily seeking fiction, specifically book club reads, literary fiction, well-crafted women’s commercial fiction, thrillers, and mysteries. For nonfiction, she’s interested in fashion, film, television, science, medicine, sociology/social trends, and economics for trade audiences. Read more
Recently I gave the keynote speech at the 2014 Northern Colorado Writers Conference. The whole event was an amazing blast. The NCWC is based in Fort Collins, CO, an amazing city to visit. It’s filled with college students, fun people, indie shops, microbreweries, and the like. I have pasted some fun pictures from the event below in the post. If you like anywhere in the area of Fort Collins, check out this event in years to come. It’s hosted in the spring (usually March or April) and has great people, agent pitching, sessions, gatherings, critiques, and more. It’s my second time teaching (after 2008) and I’m glad I went again. Read more
I am speaking at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, AR, on May 3, 2014. It’s the Arkansas Writers MFA Spring Publishing Conference. The university was nice enough to invite me down to speak for a day. It’s a quick, simple day of sessions that can help writers, and includes my talks on:
1) How to Get Published: What Writers Can Do For Their Career Right Now
2) Everything You Need to Know About Literary Agents and Query Letters
3) Book Publishing Options Today: Your Paths Explained Read more
Genre Preferences: Rebecca Podos of Rees Literary Agency is primarily interested in Young Adult fiction of all kinds, including contemporary, emotionally driven stories, mystery, romance, urban and historical fantasy, horror, and sci-fi. Occasionally, she also considers literary and commercial adult fiction, new adult, and narrative nonfiction. Read more
The most difficult aspect of revision is that the process requires seeing our own mistakes. That speck of dust in our neighbor’s eye is a lot easier to see than the log in our own. I learned most about sentence-level revision from Richard Lanham, distinguished scholar, writer, and UCLA professor, who has written a number of books, including Revising Prose, in which he develops the “Paramedic Method” (PM), a series of steps that help writers find both the sound and the sense of each sentence. Sound and sense: that’s what I like most about the PM. Aside from pushing us to see the ethics of writing, Lanham’s method reinforces the impossibility of separating structure from idea. The PM helps us see the axis of the sentence—both the actual main subject and verb, as well as the unacknowledged subject and verb. If we can see a difference between the actual and the unacknowledged in any sentence, it’s time to revise, to look again. Read more
So you’re working on a story, and there comes a point where it really ought to have a fight scene. But you’re sitting there thinking, “I’m not a martial artist! I have no idea how to fight!” Or maybe you’re thinking, “Fight scenes are so boring. I’d rather just skip over this and get back to the actual story.” Or something else that makes you dread writing that scene, rather than looking forward to it with anticipation.
To the first group, I say: the details of how to fight are possibly the least important component of a fight scene. The crucial components are the same ones you’re already grappling with in the rest of your writing—namely, description, pacing, characterization, and all that good stuff. To the second group, I say: it’s only boring if the author does it wrong.
GIVEAWAY: Marie is excited to give away a free copy of her e-book [mobi or epub formats] to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners can live anywhere. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: Debbie won.) Read more
“The High Concept Novel: How to Create a Premise that Sells — Agent One-on-One Boot Camp With Critique Starts April 11
The idea’s the thing. If you build your story around a unique and compelling idea, your odds of selling it increase dramatically. Often, a perfectly good project will go unsold because the premise on which it is based is too predictable, commonplace, or over-published. Whether you’re writing a novel or a short story, a screenplay or a memoir, you need to find a way to set your story apart from the competition — and the competition is tougher than ever in today’s marketplace.
But in this one-of-a-kind boot camp — “The High Concept Novel: How to Create a Premise that Sells Boot Camp” (starting April 11) — you will learn the ins and outs of high-concept, as literary agent, author, and content strategist Paula Munier reveals how you can transform your story idea from “same old same old” to “high-concept hit.” Read more
Taylor is seeking: “I am drawn to novels with a compelling voice and grounded, relatable characters that pull me into their world from the start. My favorite books have strong emotional elements that stay with me long after I finish reading. My current interests include young adult fiction, historical fiction, and historical romance. I do not represent screenplays.” Read more
Every aspiring author dreams of that first book contract. I landed one in April 2010 when Dorchester Publishing bought my crime thriller, The Highwayman, for a small advance. Success! I began writing it in 2007, finished it in 2008, queried, and got the usual round of rejections. Rather than believing all of those agents and editors were crazy, I figured there must be something wrong with what I was doing.
I attended the Deadly Ink mystery writers conference in New Jersey and met panelist Chris Roerden, a manuscript editor, and I purchased her book, Don’t Sabotage Your Submission. Her panel discussion and insightful book crystallized why I was being rejected. I used boring words—in addition to using too many! I larded my manuscript with adjectives and adverbs (which have since been largely culled) to amaze my readers with my descriptive prowess. I explained stuff in bulky blocks of text that the late Elmore Leonard advises to keep to a minimum because readers tend to skip over them…
GIVEAWAY: Matt is excited to give away a free copy of his novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal. Also note that Matt’s novel comes out later this year, so he will mail the winner’s book once his author copies come in.) (UPDATE: Reynard won.) Read more
Jennifer is seeking: fantasy, science-fiction, and horror that focuses on characters that feel real, the kind whose stories she can get invested in regardless of extravagance in plot or setting. She is fascinated by the basic human truths that emerge at the heart of all the greatest fantasies. These are the kind of projects that she advocates. She is actively acquiring only science fiction and fantasy (including all of their subgenres) as well as smart, psychological horror for middle grade, young adult, new adult, and adult readers. Read more
Write Opening Pages that Grab Readers’ (and Agents’) Attention — April 3 Webinar (with Critique!) by Agent Victoria Marini
Strong opening pages are essential to getting your novel noticed by an agent. First pages often dictate whether an agent requests a manuscript or rejects the query, and first chapters can mean the difference between capturing and sustaining a readers’ attention or losing it entirely. As an agent with Gelfman Schneider / ICM Partners, Victoria Marini has been selling Adult and Young Adult Fiction for years. She’ll share her first-hand knowledge of what she looks for in the opening pages of fiction, and what she lets go.
Learn how to create opening pages that capture attention, sustain interest, and ultimately compel readers to keep turning the pages. Develop authentic characters readers will care about, set pacing and plotting that will streamline your storytelling, and avoid the common mistakes that downgrade your craft. This new webinar is called “Let’s Begin: Write Captivating Opening Pages that Grab Readers’ (and Agents’) Attention,” and it all goes down at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, April 4, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. Don’t forget that several agents have signed writers after reading their work as part of a WD webinar. Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Maria Mutch, author of the memoir KNOW THE NIGHT (March 2014). These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings.
Maria’s literary agent is Nathaniel Jacks at Inkwell Management. Read more
Allison is seeking: She is actively acquiring literary and commercial fiction (including romance), memoir, narrative nonfiction, cultural studies, pop culture and prescriptive titles, including cookbooks. She is always looking for funny female authors, great love stories and family epics, and for nonfiction projects that speak to the current cultural climate. Read more
In this live webinar, agents Irene Goodman and Rachel Ekstrom will share both time-tested trade secrets and cutting edge ideas that will help you cross the finish line from hopeful writer to published author. You’ll be provided with an insider’s view into the publishing process, including tips and strategies for getting your book noticed by hungry young agents, experienced agents, and publishers alike. You’ll also learn how they make their decisions about which authors to work with and who to publish.
This is a chance to get a rare glimpse into the minds of two agents-one who has closed hundreds of book deals, and one who stands on the edge of the new frontier. And as part of this new webinar, titled “An Agent’s Secrets to Selling Your First Novel,” all attendees are invited to submit their manuscript’s first page for a critique from an agent instructor. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, March 27, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. Note: All proceeds from Irene’s share of the webinar will be donated to the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Also note: At least five literary agents have signed clients after seeing their work as part of a WD webinar or boot camp. Read more
Welcome to the 15th (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the GLA blog. This is a recurring online contest with agent judges and super-cool prizes. Here’s the deal: With every contest, the details are essentially the same, but the niche itself changes—meaning each contest is focused around a specific category or two. So if you’re writing young adult fiction, this 15th contest is for you! (The contest is live through EOD, Wednesday, April 9, 2014.) This contest is being judged by Andrea Somberg, agent at Harvey Klinger, Inc. Read more
Some people love reality TV. Some people hate it. Not everyone reads Romance. But there is a covenant in a Romance, a true Romance, that can never be broken: The Happily Ever After.
Did I call HEA a covenant? Yes, but also a promise. It’s the reason I began reading Romances, it’s the reason I write them. These days couples don’t have to get married. These days, three is no longer a crowd. There are no more unwritten rules. The expectations have changed. But one thing has not. The main characters have to fall in love by the end of the book.
So, then, exactly what is a Happily Ever After? Read more