Tuesday, May 21, 2013
If you give a writer a pen, she’ll ask for a piece of paper.
When you hand her the paper, she’ll notice your watch and ask what time it is.
You’ll tell her and she’ll remember she has an appointment.
She’ll grab her phone to call and say she’s going to be late.
Her phone will show she has an email from her critique partner.
She’ll respond to the email.
Her critique partner will see the response right away then want to chat on Twitter.
She’ll log into Twitter and see a tweet on an interesting blog post.
She’ll open the blog and begin to read it.
The blog will include a music video she’ll like and she’ll want to download the song.
When she opens iTunes she’ll see she has updates pending.
While she’s waiting for the updates, she’ll log into Facebook to see what her friends are up to.
One of her friends will have sent her a message saying they want to meet for lunch.
This will remind her she’s late for her appointment.
She’ll need to write a note to tell her husband she’s going out.
You’ll give her a pen.
And chances are, if you give her a pen, she’ll ask for a piece of paper to go with it.
The ‘If you give…’ books by Laura Numeroff are some of my daughter’s favorites. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is the most widely known, though our family favorite is If You Give a Pig a Pancake. The stories are made up of situations where one thing leads to another, and then another, until you end up right back where you started.
I often feel like this when I sit down to write. My intention is to just write, but the many distractions of life, and largely the internet, get in the way. Eventually I find I’ve wasted copious amounts of time not writing. I do usually get back to what I was doing, but I’ve often lost the inspiration I had when I originally sat down.
Some of those distractions are necessary evils of being a writer, but I’m working on limiting them. I’ve been trying to do my writing first before logging onto social media. Or, if there is something I need to look up online, I refuse to look at anything else except the specific information I was searching for. Sometimes I'll even set a kitchen timer so that I know I can only be online for twenty minutes instead of an hour (or more).
Do you find yourself easily distracted when you should be writing? I’d love to hear how you handle that.
Now, where did that pen go?
Monday, May 20, 2013
Well here it is: our fourth victim—I mean, participant—of our It Takes a Village to Write a Query series! Over the course of one month, this querier went through three grueling rounds of revisions with a total of nine critiques from our members. Check out our comments, the evolution of her query and maybe congratulate her in the end! Also, feel free to give your feedback on the final version.
About the Querier, Leslie Hauser:
beautiful seventeen-year-old bootlegger . and Owen discovers the body of an innocent man
hanging in a tree. The boys have to decide if they will stand against their fathers
during the 1924 U.S. Senate race - even if it costs their lives. This shows fantastic conflict, but unless we
know why it's important, then it doesn't make sense in the query. Is this to
show the ruthless violence of the secret organization? How does this affect the
main character? How does this get them to take action?
According to your biography
page on Curtis Brown’s website, you look for YA fiction with crossover appeal. Sons
of the Edisto was written for older teens and adults. Listing a comp book
is great, but the rest states the obvious. I’d put this first sentence after
the Title, Word count, Genre.
Great work in showing
exactly why you queried a specific agent! That shows hard work on your
North and South Carolina. The South Carolina Bar, Biz Well Corporation
and the Tryon Plaza blog have published Dickinson’s professional work.
Black Fox Literary Magazine published Dickinson’s Middle Grades story,
“Adventures of Elliot McSwean: The Question” in its winter 2013
edition. Dew on the Kudzu and The Copperfield Review published stories
connected to Dickinson’s book, “Sons of the Edisto.” Her nonfiction
story, “Grass from the Grave” was published in the anthology paniK:
Candid Stories of Life Altering Experiences Surrounding Pregnancy, and
given a new title, “We Never Said Hello,” for the anthology Impact
published by Telling Our Stories Press. In addition another
publication, Dickinson is a teacher assistant at a school in
Charlotte, N.C. for students with neurological disorders. For more
information about Dickinson, please visit her blog:
About the Querier, Leslie Hauser:
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Saturday, May 18, 2013
|YA Alley - the mega book signing/book fair!|
|Me with Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss & Lola and the Boy Next Door|
|Julie Cross - Author of Tempest & Vortex|
|Teen Day Party (authors in this pic: Gretchen McNeil, Stacy Kade, Stephanie Perkins)|
|Stacey Kade, author of The Ghost and the Goth series & Paper Dolls series with me|
|Cole Gibsen - Author of Katana & Senshi|
|Ally Carter, author of the Gallagher Girls series & the Heist Society series with me|
Friday, May 17, 2013
I'm a huge supporter of writers getting their work critiqued by reliable writers. Whether they have a book deal of their own, are industry professionals, or just read and write a lot, people who know what they're doing can be a tremendous asset to any writer.
Thankfully, a lot of writers want to give back to the writing community and do so by offering free critiques. I've rounded up several great places to get your queries or pages critiqued, so check them out!
I also want to let you all know about some free critiques being given away on my blog Saturday the 18th! I'm hosting a blog party with 4 publishing interns. These talented book people and I are going to be posting a freebie almost every hour throughout the day this coming Saturday. Some of the things included are two five page critiques, a pitch critique, a first chapter critique, a query critique, a fifty-page critique (yes, 50!) and physical copies of THE ARCHIVED by Victoria Schwab, LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green, and CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins. These critiques are by the interns and industry pros who are reading your slush, so you'll get great feedback! Plus, free books! Go here for more details.
Thanks for reading!
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Today, I'd like to talk about writing. If you write, you've probably either read or heard someone say: WRITE. EVERY. DAY.
It's a very disciplined approach to the craft, and it helps you improve it a little bit every day. I like it. But, if you're working on a bigger project, like a novel or a novella, or even a short story, I'm sure there was a day when you've probably felt less encouraged to deal with your work in progress. That is normal, yes. There are days when we just aren't very happy with ourselves, the plot isn't flowing well, or we're stuck with writer's block, or we're a bit lazy, tired, or not in the right mood to go on with a particular scene in the story.
The first time I heard people tell me I had to write every day, I just assumed I had to work on my book every day. And, in all honesty, that was a painful commitment. I didn't want to walk away from my book for days and days, of course, but I just didn't want to feel like I had to be tied to it on a daily basis, simply because I couldn't be THAT productive. Inspiration drained at times. Do you know what I mean?
When I realized, though, that "WRITE. EVERY. DAY" actually applied to anything I wanted to write about, my life changed. Yes, I'll write every day... about anything. It could even be related to my book, though not a commitment to get a chapter done, for instance. It could be anything. It could be a journal entry. Blogging. Anything. As long as you're writing, you're studying and improving your craft.
There are two writing exercises I love doing when I can't focus on my work in progress as much as I'd like. One of them helps me get deeper in my novel, although in a fun, less stressful way. Another way isn't related to my book, but it helps me exercise my creativity and approach to writing. I'll introduce both exercises to you:
1) Tara K. Harper's character worksheet
This character worksheet does wonders, and I think you've probably seen it around before. I don't know if you've ever tried answering these questions, but I recommend you do.
Some of these questions you won't know right away, and they'll get you thinking about your characters. The more you figure things out, the more relaxed you'll feel about going back to your work in progress. I see it as an opportunity to interview your main characters when it feels like there's something missing about them.
In the end, I swear, you'll feel like you just spent some time hanging out with a friend.
This website aims at helping writers break through writer's block. I'd say it also helps us approach writing from different angles. I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel tempted to sticking with a set of characters' traits and personalities / likes and dislikes I'm comfortable with.
Writing, though, is about expanding our horizons, right? So, when you try this website's character generator, for instance, you're introduced to characters you've never allowed yourself to explore. An example they have is "an articulate 54 year-old woman, who can sometimes be selfish." Now, what's her story? Who is she? Don't you get more and more curious about her, even though you prefer YA main characters? You might even end up adding these characters to your work in progress.
They have other writing exercises, too, and many more generators (plot, name, first line, random subject) to help you get your creativity flowing. It's a great way to step out of your book. They give you so many elements, and your job is to find a creative way to put everything together, perhaps in just 30 minutes or so. It's important never to stop writing. Write every day, even if it's just a 5-minute writing exercise from this website.
I hope you find these writing exercises helpful. And, of course, don't forget to read. Don't feel guilty about reading. I often see so many writers feeling guilty about taking time off to read, because they think they should either be writing or working on something else. I'm telling you: write every day, and read every day. Read everything. Read as much as you want. It counts as research, too, if you will. Reading is what triggered your wish to write, remember? Keep that flame alive!
All the best,
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
|Me with the amazing Nova Ren Suma|