Friday, April 30, 2010
You might have heard a little rumor that this week's Flashback Friday involved singing. You may even have marked your calendar for the hilarity and humiliation that might ensue. I would have. And now you've stopped by only to find the sad realization that there's no singing.
Wait, don't get mad!
We really, really wanted to sing for you this week, but technical difficulties prevented it.
So we ask that you bear with us, and that we should have something kooky, crazy from us next week. We'll be live with The Songs that Stayed With Us post....and some singing. We've also got some really cool May Flashbacks to bring you, so stay tuned!!!
But until then, here's a Flashback of some literary happenings this week in history.
HAPPY 84TH BDAY to Harper Lee!!! April 28th marked the birthday of the woman who gave us To Kill a Mockingbird, my personal favorite book of all time. The reclusive Pulitzer Prize winner divides her time between New York City and her home place in Monroeville, Alabama. Although she hasn't published anything in over fifty years, Harper has continued writing and has numerous unpublished novels and short stories.
April 21st marked the 194th birthday of author Charlotte Bronte who gave us the masterpiece Jane Eyre. She published the novel under her pen name, Currer Bell, and her literary career was cut short when she died in childbirth at thirty-eight.
And of course, April 23 marked the Macdaddy of all literary birthdays. That's right. It was my main man Shakespeare's 445th bday. I don't know about the other gals on the blog, but I kind of have a crazy fetish, er, appreciation for Shakespeare. I love reading him, teaching him, watching movie adaptations of his works.
Want some Shakespeare inspired gear or memorabilia? Check out the following sites!!
Folger Gift Shop
So in honor of these birthdays and Booty Shake Friday, we're wanna celebrate with more followers. When we reach 200 followers, we'll give away a $25.00 Amazon gift Card.
To Be a Winner here's what you have to do! (A). Be a follower and post a comment (B). Be a tweeter aka Tweet this contest and post your link in the comments section.
We love, love, love our readers like Shakespeare loved a major death toll in the last Act! :)
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Yep, it’s that time again. This latest installment of Querying Blunders (aka: How Not to Query) comes to you from SuperAgent Holly Root of Waxman Literary Agency. For those of you who don’t know, Holly reps AW writer Jill Myles, author of the amazing UF Succubus Diaries series. (and while it’s, er, not exactly YA—*fans self*—Jill has a YA on sub right now which we know will totally rock!)
Also, check out client Serena Robar's Giving up the V and the Half-Blood Vampire series, due to be re-released this June!
Now, on to Holly's thoughts on querying no-no's:
"The hardest ones for sure are the drop-by queries. It happens more in the summer and more on Fridays; the door to the agency opens and in walks a wayward soul. "I flew all the way here from [wherever] just to bring this to you," they say, or "I was in town already and just thought I'd try," or "I'm on a layover from Taiwan." Either way, these folks show up, manuscript in hand, and are shocked when our extremely polite assistant does not immediately hand out a contract and set them up with a bag of money from Random House (often, they don't even know who we are or what exactly we do). Save your time, your money, and the cab fare in from JFK--drop-bys get you noticed but not in the good way."
(GotYA note: Wait—you mean, agents don’t have bags of money just sitting around their offices? Curses, our dreams are shattered!)
"I'd say a couple times a year someone tries the bribery road, by offering up the use of their vacation home/timeshare/frequent flyer miles or what have you, or (more frequently) offering the whole advance as commission. Boundaries, they are your friends."
(GotYA note: Although, we bet the vacation home on an island is tempting sometimes. Especially if it comes with free strawberry margaritas.)
"I also see a lot of the classic information that does not help your cause--"my daughter is a very picky reader and she thinks it's amazing;" "everyone always told me I should be a writer;" "I won the third-grade writing award;" "I think it would make a great movie." And a lot of "this book is the new Twilight/Harry Potter/etc." But honestly, I know how hard the whole query process is so while I might pass on a blunderiffic query now, there's absolutely no way I would remember that person negatively if they showed back up in my inbox, having learned a lot about querying and polished all hints of the kooky out of the letter. Every query is a new chance to do it right!"
(GotYA: We love Holly’s upbeat, positive attitude, and ditto this thought. Everyone makes mistakes when they’re first starting out! Just keep learning and plugging away, and you’ll eventually get there. We have faith in you! Also: blunderiffic might be our new favorite word.)
Thanks so much to Holly for participating, and to Jill for setting this up for us! You ladies are amazing!
Monday, April 26, 2010
THE OLD WINNERS:
Before we do anything else today, we need to announce the winners to GotYA's innaugural fake bio contest!
Third place added prize ($15 gift card): Laura McMeeking
Second place ( $15 gift card and a copy of Beautiful Creatures): Heather Dougherty
First place ($75 gift card): Margay
YAY WINNERS!! Please, email me at houndrat at yahoo dot com so I can send you your goodies!
Now, before we get to our next contest, I'm incredibly excited to share my Interview with Taylor Martindale! For those of you who don’t know, Taylor is an AWESOME new agent with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. If you’re looking for an agent who communicates regularly, is super enthusiastic, hands-on with editorial, will totally have coffee and dinner with you if you live nearby, and, most importantly, won’t think you’re a nutter if you email her with your neuroses on a weekly basis—then you should SO query her. (Neurotic writer? Where? Where? Wait a second…who put that mirror there? Very funny!) In fact, she’s so full of awesomesauce, you can’t even hate on her for being so adorable:
Read the interview, then read below to find out how you can WIN the manuscript critique in a contest judged by AW’s own resident badass, HANNAH MOSKOWITZ!
And now, for our TAYLOR MARTINDALE INTERVIEW!!!!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a literary agent?
First of all, I want to thank you for interviewing me! I’m so excited to be making an appearance on this fabulous blog, and for the opportunity to speak to such a great community of writers. Loving the new GotYA site, too ! :)
I’ve always known I wanted to work in publishing. Even as a little girl, I just couldn’t imagine a career that didn’t involve books. I was lucky that I knew so young what I wanted my future to look like, and it helped me structure my academic goals and extracurricular activities to that end. The funny thing was that I had always pictured myself as an editor. The first time I thought seriously about agenting, however, was during a publishing seminar put on by my college. The career center would invite authors and a range of publishing professionals to speak about their experiences and the industry itself. Something they stressed was figuring out where your passions would lead you in publishing, and that there were so many careers from which to choose.
It was then that agenting really popped up on my radar. I loved the idea that I could be a part of authors’ first steps into publishing, helping build their careers; that I could be so involved in the development stage of their work; that I could be their advocates in the industry. I love working with authors and the early drafts of their “babies.” I find being a part of that creative process inspiring.
What steps did you take to make that goal a reality?
I was blessed with some awesome opportunities as I got into publishing. During school, I worked at Bliss Literary Agency, with Jenoyne Adams, for a year as an intern and then as the Submissions Coordinator. Like I mentioned above, I also went to as many seminars, talks, etc. about publishing that I could find. Then, after school, I chased the best combo for job-searching graduates: informational interviews and more internships. Being a native Southern California girl, I was determined to find the publishing niche out here. The incredible Kate Gale of Red Hen Press took a chance on me—after my random email that somehow made it to her—giving me both an informational interview and Elise Capron’s information at SDLA. Elise was also kind enough to meet me for an informational interview, and an internship spot opened up a week later. I’ve been there ever since, and am so thrilled to be a part of the SDLA team.
What kind of material are you especially interested in right now?
O wow, I am interested in so much! Where do I start? Before I dive into all the genres I’m looking for, I have to say that what I am particularly looking for are characters. Engaging, deep characters whose voices light up the page and stick in your head even when you’re not reading. Those characters who make the plot captivating because of who they are, not what is going on around them. The relationships that make you laugh and cry and long to touch some part of the world around you…
That being said, I’m interested in a wide range of genres. I’m particularly looking for YA titles: contemporary, urban fantasy, literary fiction, historical fiction, etc. I would also love to find commercial fiction, women’s fiction, and multi-cultural fiction. I’m not currently working with non-fiction, but am definitely keeping my eye out for that project that inspires me—cultural studies or literary criticism, possibly.
Overall, though, I’m looking to fall in love with a project, whether it matches my stated interests or not. A lot of publishing is highly subjective, so I’m looking for the authors and books that fit me, and vice versa. I keep my eyes open for them.
I know you were reading slush long before you started at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. If you could tell writers to concentrate on one thing to get pulled from the pile, what would it be?
I’ve found that the best thing an author can do is not get swept up in the bells and whistles of querying. The most important part of your query is simple: your writing. Before you submit, ask yourself if your query letter and sample pages really show off your strength as a writer. Don’t worry about putting your submission in a bright pink envelope with confetti (so hard to clean up!). Focus on being strong, not fancy or flashy. Believe me, it shows!
A few quick tips:
1. Have a solid title and show it off. Titles in a query are like book covers in the bookstore; they catch your eye and make you read the summary. Don’t bury your title in the postscript of your query. Place it where it makes sense for your letter, and have it act as the extra punch to your already awesome pitch. If it’s an email query, put your book’s title and genre in the subject line (per that agency’s guidelines, of course). It stands out from the hundreds simply labeled “Query.”
2. Don’t start off with a rhetorical question. They will never be answered the way you hoped when you wrote it! It only ends up sounding cliché and vague.
3. Do your research before you submit. Show that agent you know a little bit about who they are and what they are interested in representing. Mention where you found them, the more specific the better.
4. When you are querying, know that everything is a process and we’re all in this together. If you’re rejected, don’t be intimidated. Pay attention to the feedback you get and use it to make your project and your writing stronger. A positive, collaborative outlook will get you far.
Now, for the really crucial stuff. Tell us the three songs that currently get the most play on your iPod.
Oh, dear. “Beast of Burden” by Lee DeWyze. Yep, the “American Idol” contestant. He’s my favorite and I’m not ashamed to have already bought a few songs, haha. “Turn It Off” by Paramore. It’s from their newest album, which I only just got (I know, pathetic), and I love it. Hayley Williams is so awesome! Finally, “In Your Atmosphere” by John Mayer, because it gets to me every time.
Salty foods or sweet?
Salty, no contest. It’s bad. I’m currently battling a huge craving for French fries, and resisting is taking Herculean effort. No, seriously. Herculean.
(Deb’s note: Hmmmm, I will definitely have to talk to her about this. It’s common knowledge that sugar kicks salt’s un-sweet tushy all over the grocery store.)
Which YA book have you read recently that you really wish you’d represented?
I was extremely impressed with Maggie Stiefvater’s SHIVER. I loved what she did with a theme that’s feeling tired and overdone these days, and with the characters who drove the story throughout.
I know working in that ocean-view office must be rough, but if you HAD to choose a different career, what could you see yourself doing?
Haha, I know, I drew the short straw on that one, huh?
If I were to choose a different career, I think I would like to teach literature and literary theory at the college level. Those classes and those professors were hugely formative and influential for me and changed the way I thought about literature. Teaching new ways to think about and write about literature seems like an incredible thing to do each day.
I have to say, though, that I’m already in the profession I was born to pursue, and I’m not going anywhere. Helping authors take their work from a new manuscript to a finished book… What better job is there?
And there you have it! THANK YOU Taylor, for both the interview and the very generous donation of a manuscript critique! If you want to query Taylor (trust me—you do!) her submission guidelines are as follows.
Send a query letter, synopsis, and the first 50 pages to:
Sandra Dijkstra Literary AgencyPMB 515
1155 Camino del Mar, PMB 515
Del Mar, CA 92014
E-query by referral only.
THE NEW CONTEST!
The Prize: A 30-page manuscript critique by Taylor
The Judge: Hannah Moskowitz, author of Break (wait, you haven't read BREAK? What are you waiting for?) and the upcoming Invincible Summer, will be judging (which is kind of perfect, since Taylor and Hannah have worked together before).
The Rules: Since both Taylor and Hannah are all about voice, we thought it only apropos the contest be about voice, too. Enter up to 200 words of your manuscript that best highlights your character’s unique voice in the comments section. Hannah will read all the entries and chose one winner, based on which entry's voice grabs her the most and makes her want to read more.
The Deadline: You have until Friday, 11:59 EST to enter.
Go! Enter! Win!
Well, today everything is going to change, because I have the solution to all of your query-woes.
For the low, low introductory price of $19.99 a day, I'll fill your inbox with Query-YES! a new development in the literary world that is going to change everything about the way we work. With Query-YES! you'll never struggle for that perfect opening line, or even an attempt at defining your genre. Genre is so subjective as to be meaningless these days, and agents know this. They're query guidelines are so full of so full of typos and grammatical erros that they can't even be trusted. But Query-YES! is on your side.
Every day, Query-YES! will drop a new, customizable query letter into your inbox. These query letters have been tested by everyone I know, and even my parents have approved of them! (And we all know how tough parents can be, don't we?) With this airtight success-rate, Query-YES! is sure to land you the literary agent of your dreams! So what are you waiting for? Order Query-YES! today!
(Query-YES! is a division of T. H. Mafi, Inc.) >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Copyright © 2010 Query-YES! T. H. Mafi, Inc. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all materials on these pages are copyrighted by Query-YES! T. H. Mafi, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be used for any purpose other than personal use. Therefore, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, for reasons other than personal use, is strictly prohibited without prior written permission.
SERIOUSLY. We'll hunt you down. We're not even joking a little bit.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
If you click on the above video, you'll get an abbreviated version of my agent story (which was all I could manage because I was at Starbucks and the guy at the next table was looking at me like he thought I'd forgotten to take my medication).
But, yes, in case it doesn't come through in the video, I am very excited. So excited that I want to celebrate and give you something. Not all of you (because pixel pushers don't make that much money) but at least one of you.
Ready? It's very simple. I'm a gal on a mission. Justin Timberlake brought sexy back and I'm bringing werewolves (or wereanythings) back (not that they ever really went away). To that end, I'm giving one lucky reader a copy of Wallace & Gromit - The Curse of the Were-Rabbit on DVD (and I'll throw in an "I Read Banned Books" button).
Want to play? Just leave a comment saying what animal you would change into if you were a weresomething. It doesn't have to be a wolf. Personally, I call dibs on werepigeon.
The contest will be open until 11:00PM EST on Monday and is open to residents of the US and Canada (my sincere apologies to all other nations).
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
- Your work must stand out as unique, well-written and marketable
- You must be professional yet approachable
- Perpetuate a positive, can-do attitude
- Seek opportunities to participate within the writing community as a contributor
- Pay it forward.
Nothing in particular. My characters find me. They ask that I tell their story, whatever that may be. I have a reaper waiting his turn, two brothers--averagely human and a human girl who happens to have been cloned from an alien life-source. I didn’t choose to write about angels. It just happened to be Grace’s quandary.
I speak at grade schools through college levels and I mentor a college creative writing course! I absolutely believe that writers need to get out and talk to students about writing. They need to share what they’ve learned with kids and help grow the next generation! Of course, from a marketing perspective, its never too soon to think about potential readers for your book.
*Wondering about YAChatlit? Georgia answers your questions*
I don’t. I make time. I also don’t do it alone. I have 2 interns and 10 awesome Group Coordinators in YALitChat that volunteer to manage groups within the community. And now, the weekly twitter chat has 4 awesome co-hosts!
Absolutely not! In fact, sometimes I think the opposite it true. I think the expectation may be even higher for me.
Perhaps I have the biggest mouth?
Both myself, Krista, and the gals here at GotYA want to thank Georgia for taking the time to do an interview with us. She's truly awesome!!
We also want to give a special GotYA shoutout to our own Kathleen who signed with awesome agent Emmanuelle Alspaugh.
This news ties nicely into my topic today, because until a few months ago, I didn't "get" networking. In fact, I still hold an Ayn Randian view of people who rely on who they know rather than what they can do.
My old interpretation of people who network:
"Hi, Vee. Nice book deal you have there. We should be friends." = I now need you to beta everything I've ever written and then refer me to your agent.
Doesn't that just feel dirty?
My enlightened understanding of networking: "Hi SusieQCoolness. Nice concept. Have you entered Agent So-and-So's annual contest yet?"
See the difference?
Not just the taking vs. giving, but the idea of glomping onto success vs. spreading opportunity. Networking is actually about sharing needs when you run across them. It's also about sharing some of what you learned from your greenhorn mistakes. "No! Don't have your MC look into a mirror and critique her looks!" "No! Don't test email yourself a query to check format and then forward that query that worked to the agent. Forwarding an email messes w/ format too and they'll see little arrows or whatever."
Here's what made it click for me. A very nice person had read my last MS and told me to query Agent Fabulous, who'd read a full of hers before and given really helpful comments. She thought that my writing style matched up with what Agent Fabulous liked, based on her interaction with that agent. This wasn't a referral. I didn't used Nice Person's name. But I took her advice, and it got me a request of my own.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
As with any of the amazing ladies in this blog, I am beyond honored to announce:
It was reported yesterday on Publisher Weekly that our very own Veronica Roth's three-book deal has been sold to HarperCollins' Katherine Tegen Books. We're all thrilled, Vee! I'm sure she'll be able to fill us all in with more info to come.
Let's show them some blogger luuuuuurrrrrrvvvvvve!! (And maybe Vee will do the victory dance for us again :D )
Monday, April 19, 2010
Disclaimer: I’m unpublished. I’ve never written historical fiction. I am likely going to anger several fans of classic literature with the following post. I’d like the mob to remember that classic literature was not classic at the time of publication—an observation, I am certain, to which Dickens and Hardy and the rest would heartily agree.
On Thursday I made a decision which would impact my productivity on everything from laundry to writing for the next several days: I picked up The Luxe by Anna Godbersen. Described as “The Age of Innocence meets Gossip Girl”, it interweaves the stories of the Holland sisters and their circle of acquaintances in 1899 New York (and was so addictive I picked up the next two books the following day).
Coincidentally, about the same time, I began an email discussion with a fellow GotYA contributor about writing historical YA fiction and what form the prose should take. Should it read like Bronte and Wharton or was it acceptable to use a somewhat more modern style (shorter sentences, fewer semi-colons, nary an “ere long” in sight)?
Personally, I think it’s fine and dandy to use an update style of prose provided you can still weave an illusion of a given time period (something Godbersen did amazingly well). When I pick up a modern novel—even when that modern novel is portraying a far off time and place—I know I’m not reading Dickens or Austen. I’m prepared for the language to be a little more accessible and for things to be a little more straightforward—heck, in some ways, I’m counting on it.
Now, as the disclaimer states, I’m unpublished and hardly a reliable source of information regarding either classics (of which the only one I’ve ever truly adored was Jane Eyre) or historical fiction (somehow I don’t think reading A Knight In Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux gets me much street cred) so I’d love for GotYA readers to weigh in. Do you write or read historical YA fiction? Got an opinion on prose? I’d love to hear it. Any great YA historical fiction titles our readers should check out?
It would be a glaring oversight of me to write a post mentioning the classics without plugging one of my favorite internet resources: Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg provides internet users with hundreds of titles which have fallen into public domain—including Jane Eyre and The Age of Innocence.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
We're starting a new weekly segment at GotYA called Flashback Fridays. We'll be talking about everything from books to movies to first loves to favorite vacations as well as relating them to the YA literature scene. We'll be "flashbacking" on our own blogs, but most of all, we want YOUR participation as well. So, mark Fridays as your blog days to gaze into the past and smile!
The first ever Flashback Friday is on the books we grew up with. The ones that have stuck with us after all these years for both good and bad reasons. Think of the books your favorites and blog about them!Jennifer
Are You There God It’s Me Margaret, Superfudge, Ramona, the Pest, The Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High, Harry Potter, & Fear Street. Hearing these titles can make us salivate on cue like Pavlov’s dogs. Why? Because us they take us back to the excitement of devouring books and before the pressures of life’s responsibilities robbed us of our coveted reading time. But not only that, they were our first forays into Young Adult literature.
Friday, April 9, 2010
I wish I longed for adventure. I look at my closest friends—many of whom have lived in far flung places—and think “I should do that; I could do that.” I never do. I’m a picky eater, I hate public washrooms, I’m scared of flying, and I can’t even master French (even though I grew up surrounded by it). In short, I am not wired to stuff a handful of clothes into a backpack and venture to places which may not have toilet seat covers and where my ability to purchase a constant supply of hand sanitizer may be compromised.
That’s just not the way I roll.
So it’s probably odd that I clung to the notion that I was a pantser* for so long.
(*In this case, pantser refers to a writer who wings it as they go along, not to any of the slightly scary definitions on Urban Dictionary.)
In the past, I always had an idea of where I thought a story should go, but the plot points were often vague signposts on the road-map from beginning to end (actually, less a road-map and more like directions hastily scribbled on a paper napkin). It wasn’t until an agent said, “I’d like to see what would happen if you outlined,” that I actually tried my hand at it.
And you know what? I’m sort of digging it.
Now I haven’t gone full tilt (I have one awesome friend who has an entire binder of notes and timelines—yes, you know who you are), but I do have seven or eight pages written up that detail the politics and culture of the place and time I’m writing about. And I have a massive table (in a Word Doc) which details each chapter (see below). I fill out the table a few chapters ahead (and I already have the major events down) and I keep notes for future chapters at the bottom. My new rule: I am not allowed to start a chapter until I have some idea of its purpose.
For each chapter, I fill out the following:
Chapter Number:Pretty self explanatory ;)
POV: I have two POV characters so noting the switches here really helps.
Chapter Start: A few words describing the opening (these are pretty vague and subject to change)
What is POV character trying to do? If your chapter is comprised of multiple scenes, this may have more than one answer. Sometimes you won’t be able to answer this question and that’s okay—but always ask yourself why you can’t answer it. Is there a good reason or are you writing a passive character who could benefit from more motivation?
What goes wrong? If nothing went wrong, there’d be no story.
What do they do about it? That whole “active character” thing.
Why does this matter? If it doesn’t matter, do you really need this chapter?
Chapter End: Same as chapter starts.
The questions between “Chapter Starts” and “Chapter Ends” are really the heart of it. They actually come from a FANTASTIC post by Janice Hardy (author of “The Shifter”, one of the most exciting fantasy debuts in years) on scenes and revising (click here to read Janice Hardy’s post).
Is it working? Honestly, it’s too early to tell. I’m about 100 pages in and it’s definitely making the writing go faster and I think editing will be less painful than it’s been in the past. My only worry is that some things might sound stilted or forced. That’s why I’ve given myself full permission to deviate from the outline I’ve created; some things just look better in an outline than they do in the actual chapter.
A famous author once said that plotting was for dullards. And that’s okay. I’ve had years to get used to the fact that I’m a little bit dull and to stockpile antibacterial soap.
Photo-illustration by violscraper.
Original post published on Old People Writing for Teens by GotYA contributor Kathleen. To view the original post and reader comments, please click here.