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Monthly Archives: December 2011

SPAM: Blog posts comments that make me laugh out loud

Every once in a while I check my spam comments to check that no genuine comments have slipped through to the dark side. There is often a comment or two that gets me giggling. I mean these spam bots churn out the most hilarious things. 

Image courtesy of ezinedesigner.com

 Phrases that only my Gran would use, atrocious spelling mistakes, horrendously over-the-top showers of praise. Dear LWC members, I could not NOT share them with you, that would be rude! So here they are, my top 10 favorite Ladies Who Critique spam comments of all time.

 

10. I cannot believe your web site could well be so mind blowing and epistemlogically significant

9. You actually deserve a round of applause for one’s post and more specifically, your web page generally.

8. i want the role of Anthony Hopkins from the movie Silence in the Lambs. he is merely amazing.

7. well, i do think in astrology and horoscope often is the first an area of the magazine we make sure.

6. Jay-Z is the best rapper alive! PERIOD! lol

5. Brilliance for free; your parents must be a sweetheart and a cetirfied genius.

4. Thank God! Somoene with brains speaks!

3. I might be beating a dead horse, but thank you for potsing this!

2. A rolling stone is worth two in the bush, thanks to this article

 

&, drum-roll, my number 1 spam comment of all time:

 

1. I like to party, not look articles up online. You made it happen.

 

Thanks Mr. Spammer! I like to party too!

 

I can always count on the spam comments to make me laugh out loud. Next time you’re in a bad mood, I recommend browsing your spambox for a bit of light comedy relief. And do let us know in the comments what you find!

 

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Books to Read over the Holidays/ in 2012!

We have had some fantastic authors stop by the LWC blog this year, either guest posting, giving away books, as part of a blog tour, or just simply dropping by to say hi!

As many of you will be looking for books to download to your new e-readers, or to purchase from your favorite book store as you find yourself with a few more hours to relax over the holidays, I thought I’d provide a recap of the fabulous books we have featured. So sit back, grab a cup of tea and get stuck into a luscious new book!

 

Farsighted, Emlyn Chand, Paranormal YA

Alex Kosmitoras’s life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead-broke and insanely overprotective, and to complicate matters even more, he’s blind. Just when he thinks he’ll never have a shot at a normal life, a new girl from India moves into town. Simmi is smart, nice, and actually wants to be friends with Alex. Plus she smells like an Almond Joy bar. Yes, sophomore year might not be so bad after all. 

Unfortunately, Alex is in store for another new arrival–an unexpected and often embarrassing ability to “see” the future. Try as he may, Alex is unable to ignore his visions, especially when they begin to suggest that Simmi is in danger. With the help of the mysterious psychic next door and new friends who come bearing gifts of their own, Alex must embark on a journey to change his future.

 

 

 

 

Word Savvy: Use the Right Word Every Time, All the Time Nancy Ragno, Writing skills

 The right words help you make a good impression—smart, professional, and trustworthy. Poor word choices can make coworkers, teachers, friends, or editors think you’re unprofessional, uneducated, or lazy. It?s critical that you learn the best methods for preventing wrong-word problems and catching errors in your writing.

Word Savvy teaches you simple, easy ways to confidently avoid mistakes and ensure your success.

Distinguish between confusing word pairs: What’s the difference between accept and except or sight, cite, and site?

Confidently use commonly misused words: What do nonplussed, quay, gourmand, and ambivalent really mean? Get rid of mistakes in your speech and writing: Did you know diligency isn’t a word?

 

 

Destined to Fail, Samantha March, Chick Lit

Jasmine Jones is ready to begin her new life as a college student, and is ecstatic to have best friend Abby by her side. But weeks into their new college life, Abby drops the bomb- she is pregnant, and dropping out of college. Jasmine can’t handle the fact that Abby is wasting her opportunity to get an education, and going back to her cheating, abusive boyfriend. She struggles to move on from her friendship with Abby, but befriends two new girls at college. Everything seems back on track for Jasmine- great new friendships and roommates, a strong relationship with boyfriend Nate, and excelling at her college courses.
But Jasmine’s newfound happiness is shattered when her pregnancy test comes out positive. Does she have to drop out of college now and become a young mother? Will Nate stay with her? How can she afford a child? Jasmine’s life has been filled with obstacles and challenges along the way- from a missing father, sexual and physical abuse, and addictions that tore her family apart. With this latest setback, Jasmine fears her life will always be a struggle. Destined to Fail is one woman’s story about overcoming adversity in life, about taking the negatives and finding a positive, and about never giving up hope.

 

 

WIND, Cynthia Watson, YA Paranormal Romance

Eighteen-year-old Flynn Flood is a Boston college student whose world falls apart when her beloved father dies of the “Irish Cancer”— alcoholism—and her once-vibrant mother, descends into a paralyzing depression. After a seemingly accidental encounter, help arrives in the form of earthy-looking Dante, an international student from Italy. Dante seems perfect, but when Flynn finds herself descending into a rabbit hole of frightening, inexplicable mystical occurrences, she quickly deduces that Dante is no ordinary boyfriend.

In the meantime, Flynn’s sixteen-year-old sister, Kevan, suddenly sheds her sweet, little girl chrysalis, and becomes a dark, brooding butterfly, transforming from Hanna Montana to Marilyn Manson, (with an attitude to match). Flynn soon finds that being a “mom” isn’t as easy as it looks. But, when Kevan falls for Dante’s eternal adversary, Flynn will have to start making choices that weigh her newly found love for the heavenly Dante against her loyalty to her kid sister. Together, Flynn and Dante must ensure that Kevan’s first love is not her last! A coming-of-age tale with humor, and unexpected violence, WIND explores the complex bonds of sisterhood, romantic longing, and the possibility of the existence of a divine, unseen world all around us. WIND, the first book in ETERNAL SYMMETRY SAGA, advanced to the second round in the 2011 AMAZON BREAKTHROUGH NOVEL AWARD CONTEST!

 

 Grounding Quinn, Stephanie Campbell, Young Adult

Eighteen-year-old Quinn MacPherson’s biggest fear has always been turning out like her mentally unstable mother. (Solving algebraic equations comes in as a close second.) That is, until she meets Benjamin Shaw. Quinn thinks hooking up with Ben over summer vacation will be nothing more than a quick fling. She can’t even commit to a nail polish choice, much less some guy. Unfortunately for her, Ben is not just some guy. Ben gets her- the real her, flaws and all- and that scares the hell out of her. When Ben does the unthinkable- tells Quinn he’s in love with her- she does what comes naturally. She pushes him away. Ben can only watch from a distance as Quinn lashes out, and punishes him for daring to care about her. But how far can you push someone, even someone that loves you, before they are gone for good?

 

 

 

 

 The Next Door Boys, Jolene Perry, Young Adult

With her body still recovering from last year’s cancer treatments, Leigh Tressman is determined to be independent. Despite the interference from her overprotective brother, the ever-expanding line of young men ready to fall in love with her–not to mention the physical frustrations and spiritual dilemmas Leigh discovers what it actually means to stand on her own and learns that love can be found in unexpected but comfortable places.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Results Not Typical, Catherine Ryan Howard, Contemporary Fiction

 The Devil Wears Prada meets Weightwatchers and chick-lit meets corporate satire in the debut novel from Catherine Ryan Howard, author of the bestselling memoir Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida Through their Ultimate Weight Loss Diet Solution Zone System, Slimmit International Global Incorporated claim they’re making the world a more attractive place one fatty at a time. Their slogans “Where You’re Fat and We Know It!” and “Where the Fat IS Your Fault!” are recognised around the globe, the counter in the lobby says five million slimmed and their share price is as high as their energy levels. But today the theft of their latest revolutionary product, Lipid Loser, will threaten to expose the real secret behind Slimmit’s success… The race is on to retrieve Lipid Loser and save Slimmit from total disaster. If their secrets get out, their competitors will put them out of business. If the government finds out, they’ll all go to jail. And if their clients find out… Well, as Slimmit’s Slimming Specialists know all too well, there’s only one thing worse than a hungry, sugar-crazed, carb addict – and that’s an angry one. Will the secret behind Slimmit’s success survive the day, or will their long-suffering slimmers finally discover the truth?

 

 

 

Just Friends With Benefits, Meredith Schorr, Chick Lit

 When a friend urges Stephanie Cohen not to put all her eggs in one bastard, the advice falls on deaf ears. Stephanie’s college crush on Craig Hille has been awakened 13 years later as if soaked in a can of Red Bull and she is determined not to let the guy who got away once, get away twice. Stephanie, a 32-year-old paralegal from Washington, D.C., is a 70’s and 80’s television trivia buff who can recite the starting lineup of the New York Yankees and go beer for beer with the guys. And despite her failure to get married and pro-create prior to entering her thirties, she has so far managed to keep her overbearing mother from sticking her head in the oven. Just Friends with Benefits is the humorous story of Stephanie’s pursuit of love, her adventures in friendship, and her journey to discover what really matters.

 

 

 

 

Thank You for Flying Air Zoe, Erik Atwell, Chick Lit

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fasten Seat Belt sign has been turned on, but feel free to ignore it, because sometimes life is best lived on its dizzy edges. Your cruising altitude today will be sky high, and you will be flying at staggering speeds as you travel alongside Zoe Tisdale, former Valley Girl and rock star turned bored butter saleswoman. On the heels of a brush with mortality, Zoe concludes that she’s been letting time pass her by. Realizing she needs to awaken her life’s tired refrains, Zoe vows to recapture the one chapter of her life that truly mattered to her – her days as drummer for The Flip-Flops, a spirited, sassy all-girl garage band that almost hit the big time back in 1987. But reuniting the band won’t be easy. The girls who were once the whiz kid guitarist, the prom queen bass player, and the hippie lead singer grew up and became women who are now a reclusive dog trainer, a wealthy socialite, and a sociopathic environmentalist. Will Zoe bring the band back together and give The Flip-Flops a second chance at stardom? Is it possible to fully reclaim the urgent energy of youth? As you follow this wild flight path, please know that your destination could be anywhere at all, complimentary oxygen is provided upon request, and baggage flies free. We hope you enjoy the ride, and Thank You For Flying Air Zoe.

 

 

The D Word, Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, Chick Lit

 Jordan Daniels and Elle Ryan thought their lives would become less complicated when they walked away from their respective relationships one year ago. But instead, they find themselves vying for a relationship with the same divorced man.

As a spiritual counselor, newly single mother Jordan Daniels makes her living predicting other people’s futures. If only she could foresee her own. A year after filing for divorce from her husband, Kevin, he seems to be the one moving on effortlessly, while Jordan still can’t bring herself to fill his old underwear drawer. But it’s not until Jordan’s polar opposite, Elle steals Kevin’s heart, that Jordan becomes convinced she’ll be replaced both as a wife and a mother to her five-year-old son, Max.

When Elle met Kevin, the last thing she wanted was another relationship. Especially not with a man with baggage-she already had enough of her own. She left her fiancé, Chase right before their wedding to avoid the imminent D word, something she’s convinced runs in her family like a disease. But a year later, she’s no closer to becoming less skeptical about marriage. And despite her attachment to Kevin and his son, when Elle sees just how far Jordan’s willing to go to win Kevin back, Elle starts to question if she should have left Chase in the first place.

In The D Word you’ll walk in the shoes of Jordan and Elle as they discover that sometimes you’re not that different from the person who makes you feel the most insecure.

 

Caryn Rose, B-Sides & Broken Hearts, Literary Fiction

Lisa Simon, age 37, still loves loud punk rock and hates Dave Matthews with an all-consuming passion. April 15, 2001 should have been just another Sunday night. But a news headline landing in Lisa’s email inbox changes everything: “Joey Ramone is dead.” The death of one of her teenage heroes serves as an long-overdue wake-up call causing Lisa to examine her life and how she’s lived it, from her youth as a poet on the streets of the East Village to 10 years later, all grown up with a career and a fiance. Add to the mix Jake McDaniel, lead singer of million-selling, critically-regarded Seattle band Blue Electric, known better to Lisa as the starving renegades who lived next door to her when she first arrived in Seattle. In the midst of an unexpectedly heated argument with the fiance over the historical relevance (or not) of the Ramones – which forces Lisa to face the truth about her relationship – Jake writes and invites Lisa to LA. Throwing what seems like half her cd collection in the car, along with a wardrobe consisting of high heels, jeans and t-shirts, Lisa starts driving from Seattle to LA in the middle of the night, accompanied by music, memories, and the ghosts of the past. Arriving in LA, she finds refuge, but also collides with her past, present and future; decisions need to be made, and this time, Lisa stands her ground.

 

 

Confessions of a Call Center Gal, a novel, Lisa Lim, Chick Lit

Madison Lee is a fresh college grad, ready to take on the world of print media. But she has zero luck landing a job. Unemployment is at ten percent and on the rise. Desperate and left with no other options, she accepts a position as a service rep at a call center in Pocatello, Idaho. At the Lightning Speed call center in Spudsville, Maddy plunges into the wild and dysfunctional world of customer service where Sales is prided over Service and an eight hour shift is equivalent to eight hours of callers bashing her over the phone. Oh sure, the calls are bad. But Maddy manages to find humor on the phone and off the phone. And with all the salacious drama behind the calls, there is never a dull moment at the Lightning Speed call center.
Lately . . . Maddy has been pining for her smolderingly gorgeous co-worker Mika Harket. Now things are heating up on the phone–and elsewhere. Don’t hang up on this novel. Working at a call center has never been this garish . . . or this delightful.

 

 

 

The Healing Wars by Janice Hardy, Fantasy

Nya is an orphan struggling for survival in a city crippled by war. She is also a Taker—with her touch, she can heal injuries, pulling pain from another person into her own body. But unlike her sister, Tali, and the other Takers who become Healers’ League apprentices, Nya’s skill is flawed: She can’t push that pain into pynvium, the enchanted metal used to store it. All she can do is shift it into another person, a dangerous skill that she must keep hidden from forces occupying her city. If discovered, she’d be used as a human weapon against her own people.

Rumors of another war make Nya’s life harder, forcing her to take desperate risks just to find work and food. She pushes her luck too far and exposes her secret to a pain merchant eager to use her shifting ability for his own sinister purposes. At first Nya refuses, but when Tali and other League Healers mysteriously disappear, she’s faced with some difficult choices. As her father used to say, principles are a bargain at any price; but how many will Nya have to sell to get Tali back alive?

 

Stay Tuned, Lauren Clark, Chick Lit

What happens when a #1 news team becomes the top story instead of reporting it? For TV producer Melissa Moore, crisis management comes with the job. From employee disputes to her high-maintenance boss, there’s not much she hasn’t seen or can’t handle. But no one—including Melissa—expects a fistfight during the ten o’clock news. When sexy-but-crazy Alyssa Andrews lands a punch on her co-anchor’s face, Melissa jumps on set to help. She’s determined that WSGA’s reputation won’t be destroyed on her watch. Both anchors are fired and Melissa agrees to fill in—but not before polishing her look from haircut to heels. While the new Melissa wows WSGA viewers, her personal life starts fraying at the edges. Melissa’s husband is away more than he’s home, leaving cryptic Post-it notes in his wake. Her mother’s antics spiral out of control at the nursing home and a stalker decides Melissa is her next target. What happens next? Stay Tuned to find out…

 

 

 

 

So what did I miss? What books will you be recommending in 2012?

* Note: We have an alarming number of chick lit and YA books featured on the blog, unfortunately disproportionate to other genres! If you have written a book in another genre, or know someone who has, get in touch and let’s get some diversity going on!

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Ask an Agent! Part 1: If I have already self-published my book on the Kindle, can I still seek literary representation?

 

Robin Mizell of Robin Mizell Ltd, answers member’s questions on the query process and agent representation. (Robin also guest posted on the blog a few weeks back with a fantastic post; 25 Steps to Getting and Working with a Literary Agent. Be sure to check that out too!)

Part 1 answers 2 questions, stay tuned for parts 2 & 3 where we’ll have more wise words from Robin!

“Thanks for these good questions. I hope everyone at Ladies Who Critique.com works hard to maintain the supportive and welcoming attitude that seems to prevail in your forum. Laura invited me to browse, and I soon learned that it wouldn’t always be possible to figure out members’ identities. When I see a writing sample that interests me, I occasionally contact the writer via email and ask to see more, but I don’t make the request public. In other words, if I can’t figure out your email address, then I can’t invite you to show me your manuscript when it’s finished. Don’t be shy; be discoverable!

 

 

 

1. If I have already self-published my book on the Kindle, can I still seek literary representation? Should I mention the fact?
 
In your query letter, it’s always best to make it clear if the book you’re describing has been published–by you or any other publisher. If you don’t explain otherwise, then I’ll assume you’re querying in regard to an unpublished manuscript. Unless the book’s topic or you are suddenly newsworthy or in demand, I’ll want to know the date of publication and how many copies of the book have been sold, so you might as well provide those details up front. If you’ve sold thousands of copies in less than a year, then some agents might be intrigued by the numbers alone. I’d need to like the sample pages; numbers aren’t enough for me.
 
The query guidelines on my website include a link to my blogpost on this particular topic, if you’d like more insight. 

Once in a while, I receive a query from an author who has self-published and is unhappy with the resulting sales. In most cases, a self-published author whose book isn’t selling well should be contacting a publicist rather than an agent. Of course, some literary agencies do offer publicity and publishing services, rather than specializing only in licensing publication rights, but I wouldn’t say they’re prevalent as of late 2011.
 
2. As I have spent my life flitting between the UK & the US, I want to query my contemporary fiction in these two countries. What is your advice for going about this? Would you as an American agent accept a script in British English or should I “translate” it?
 
I don’t mind receiving manuscripts in British, Canadian, and Australian English. I no longer consider it worthwhile to convert them, because I can’t accurately predict where I’ll find a publisher for a manuscript. 
 
Two big advantages to working with a literary agent in the country where you reside are 1) the agent’s familiarity with the market where you, the author, can do the most to help promote your book and 2) a reduced need for foreign currency exchange. However, you cannot completely avoid the exchange fees if you want to take full advantage of foreign rights licenses. Occasionally, a writer’s work sells better overseas than at home.
 
There’s no single way of working with literary agents, but it’s typical for a writer to have one primary agent who, in turn, has contracts with subagents (also referred to as subsidiary rights agents or co-agents) to help license translation rights in foreign countries. In countries where English is commonly spoken, I handle rights licensing for my authors, but that’s a personal preference. If a writer wishes to work directly with agents in various countries, the simplest strategy is to divide the titles among the agents, so that each title has only one primary agent. I should mention, however, that some of us prefer to represent a writer’s entire body of work in a particular category, rather than just one title. An agent invests a great deal of effort in finding a publisher for a debut novel, as well as explaining the publishing process to the author, who might be experiencing it for the first time. It’s natural for the agent to hope that, if the first book is successful, the author’s second novel will be an easier and more profitable deal. An exception occurs when a writer produces, for example, scholarly works, commercial fiction, and children’s books and is represented by a different agent for each category. 

—————————————

Stay tuned for part 2 of Ask an Agent on January 2nd, where Robin will be answering 

3. How many rounds of submission does an agent go through before giving up on a manuscript?  &

4. What you look for in an author besides good writing?

In the meantime, read more about Robin here!

 

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List of Members looking for Critique Partners, 12/16

 Here is a list of members currently looking for CPs. If I’ve missed you off somehow, don’t forget to leave a note in the comments!

 

1. @Roxeannegalpin

“Currently looking for a critique partner.” About a overweight teenaged girl who’s ignored by her mother, cast aside by a father who’s embarrassed by her, ridiculed by her classmates, and finds love unexpectedly. This girl is quirky and irreverent with a somewhat sardonic wit. And at the tender age of 16, she is an entrepreneur. She wants to like her body. She also wants acceptance. For a fat girl, these two things can seem mutually exclusive.

2. @stargirl09

“I’m looking for a critique partner for my contemporary YA novel. If anyone wants to swap chapters message me.” ·

3. @savageamber

“Looking for a crit partner.”

A young adult series set in a dystopian future.

4. @tcjones30

“Looking to critique/ be critiqued by anyone not writing YA Paranormal/Fantasy/Supernatural”

I have completed a women’s fiction novel set in Savannah, GA. It’s about the lives of three people who have completely screwed up and their attempts to stumble through life, love and family. Each chapter alternates the pov of one of the three main characters.

5. @michelledevans

“I’m hoping to find a someone who’ll stick with me through critiquing my YA contemporary – at a relatively fast pace.”

Contemporary YA

6. @miguelinaperez

” I just finished writing a Regency romance mystery. I am looking for someone to partner with, i.e., I will look at yours if you look at mine. I am looking for a long-term relationship in partnering for critique. The Vicar’s Deadly Sin is a regency period romance and murder mystery. It is sort of Jane Austen meets Nancy Drew.”

7. @eyewrite

…my [short] stories are about characters I imagine in historical situations, i.e., an Aztec warrior during the invasion of Cortez; what may have been the reason for a young man having been executed then buried in an Irish bog; a variation on the story of Lot’s Wife. I like finding hidden histories and then building stories around them.

Also, I enjoy writing funny stories, three of my characters are: a retired pirate rabbit, a geriatric rabbit and her turtle husband, who is named Arisortle. I love language and it’s part of what happens when the story takes over and writes itself. I don’t think that scary/creepy/dark and funny are genres, but that’s where I’d put them. I like the idea of a partner in another country, as opposed to the US.”

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When Critique Goes Wrong: Crit Group Calamities | With Janice Hardy


Janice Hardy writes fantasy and science fiction for teens. She also blogs about ‘taking your story from idea to novel’ over at The Other Side of the Story. Today she is guest posting about what happens when critique goes wrong, and what writers can do about it.

 

I’m very pro critique group, so folks often ask me to write about them. This time, I was asked to write about any negative experiences I’ve had. While I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid truly horrible critique experiences, I have had some situations that were less than ideal. Even in a great crit group, problems can arise, and how you handle then can mean the difference between fixing an issue and moving on, or a group falling apart.

 

Getting Personal

My worst experience was actually my fault. (more…)

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Roundup: Great Writing Links from around the web, 12/5-12/9

1. 12 Holiday Gifts that Writers Will Actually Use, The Millions.com

 

 

 

 

 

This article made me laugh. I don’t agree with all of them, but a manicure would be very welcome. I’ll add it to my wishlist. Yes I still make a wishlist.

 

 2. The 90 Secrets of Bestselling Authors, Writer’s Digest

90 authors share their secrets. I like number 3. Admittedly I didn’t read them all. (I wish I had that kind of an attention span!)

—No. 3—
“Good writing is remembering detail. Most people want to forget. Don’t forget things that were painful or embarrassing or silly. Turn them into a story that tells the truth.”
—Paula Danziger

 

 

3. 6 Tips to Make the Learning of Fiction Less Painful, Jody Hedlund

If you don’t read Jody’s blog regularly, add it to your blogroll ASAP! Jody offers tons of practical advice on writing, and her blog is just awesom, well kept, regularly updated (Tuesdays and Thursdays) goodness.

“…very few people are born as writing geniuses. I certainly wasn’t. Most of us have to learn how to write fiction similar to any other subject like typing, reading or algebra. And while there are many ways to learn how to write, one of the best ways to learn anything is to STUDY and then PRACTICE.”

 

 

 

 

4. Cassandra Clare shares her writing advice over on Mediabistro.com.

“Read everything! Don’t just read things that are in your comfort zone or things that you think you’re already going to like. Experiment; try new stuff and try new genres. If you read a lot of romance, then start reading mystery. If you read a lot of mystery, start reading fantasy.”

 

 

 

5. Ten Writing Craft Techniques that will Save you Five Years

Five years you say? Well, a few hours at least. Janis Hubschman shares what she has learned over the years, and it’s pretty good stuff.

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Member Question: What comes first, the story or the character?

Ladies Who Critique Member Lola James has just self-published her first book (congrats!), a paranormal romance titled Bound to Remember. Today she is asking fellow writers about their writing process: what comes first for you, the story or the character? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

“JK Rowling has stated in many interviews that Harry came to her first, and then she worked the story around him. It took her five years to write the first Harry Potter book and it all started while she was on a four-hour delayed train trip from Manchester to London. The idea for a story of a young boy attending a school of wizardry “came fully formed” into her mind. And she “really didn’t know where the idea came from. It started with Harry, and then all these characters and situations came flooding into my head.” As soon as she reached home, she began to write immediately.

As for me, I have used both methods. For my book, Bound to Remember, my main character Toni came first. I will never forget the day I started writing Bound to Remember. I was knee deep in editing another book (we will get back to that one) when the main character Toni came to me. I knew her whole story before I started writing. I completely stopped editing at that moment, opened a new blank document, and as I wrote about her, my story began. I had her name, Toni, her occupation, a Doctor, and her complete life story from start to finish. The more I wrote about her everything and everyone just fell into place. As the characters developed, my story developed. I wrote non-stop for every moment I had available and twenty days later, I had a complete story. On the other hand, the story I was knee deep editing I wrote was based around the story. The story was complex and came to me like a movie. As I saw it happening I wrote down the facts in outline form before my characters even had names.”

So how do YOU write?

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Confused about the role of Twitter in Author Marketing? Try this guide

The Twitter Guide for Authors – 3rd Edition by Dana Lynn Smith is designed to help authors understand and use Twitter as a powerful tool in their marketing efforts.

From Dana’s website: “Networking on Twitter is terrific way to meet and develop relationships with potential customers as well as other authors, experts, and key influencers in your field or genre. But, Twitter can be baffling at first, and many authors don’t understand how to use this powerful tool to its full potential.”

I was sent a copy for review from Dana and here are my thoughts: (*The review was complimentary but I received no compensation for this review*)

- The guide is a great introduction for Twitter newbies, or anyone who doesn’t have a good grasp of how powerful Twitter can be for authors marketing their work online.

The guide starts out with an Introduction to Online Marketing, including the invaluable 9 Common Mistakes that Authors Make, as well as some tips on branding and managing privacy online, something that is a real concern in the Internet age.

- There is a great section on networking on Twitter – how to find people to follow as well as attract followers which can be tricky for first-time Twitter users.

Something that I still find confusing even after a year on Twitter is the use of lists, but Dana clarifies how and when to use them in her very useful explanation.

- One of the things that many new Twitter users struggle with in the beginning (and it can take a while to get right) is what exactly to tweet about. Dana gives us some good tips and examples of what to, and what not to, say.

- Finally, the action plan in the final section is great for ensuring that one goes through all of the necessary steps from creating a Twitter account and profile to tweeting and networking effectively. This is a great time saver, as without a clear action plan, Twitter can be a huge timesuck just understanding how it works.

If you have been thinking about using Twitter as part of your Marketing strategy but are unsure as to where to begin or how it would ever benefit your sales, I recommend Dana’s Twitter Guide for Authors as an up to date and comprehensive introduction.

 

The 62 page eBook (PDF) is available for $15, along with 3 bonuses (an audio guide and 2 free reports). Find out more on Dana’s website, Book Marketing Maven. To find out more about Dana’s other social media guides, check out this page.

To put your new found Twitter skills into practice, follow Dana on Twitter @bookmarketer.

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25 Steps to Getting and Working with a Literary Agent

This is a guest post from Robin Mizell of Robin Mizell Ltd., Literary Representation about finding & working with a literary agent. The advice is invaluable – bookmark it and follow it step by step!

 


The basic strategy for getting published can be found in any number of books at the library and bookstores, as well as on dozens of writers’ and agents’ blogs. One of the best brief summaries of the process was written by Jeff Kleinman of Folio Literary Management.

I’ll share my notes here for anyone who’s learning. I don’t represent children’s and middle grade authors, so these are simply general principles applicable to most writers of commercial fiction and nonfiction who want to work with an agent.

    1. Become part of a community of writers, perhaps an online networking group, and start getting your work published online or in magazines appropriate for the type of writing you do. Blogging and micro-blogging can be part of this process. Establish a solid, professional reputation—your brand—from the beginning. Professionalism includes presenting your work to a critique group or critique partner for feedback and undertaking multiple revisions before you consider your manuscript polished enough to show to agents or editors.
    2. If you’re writing fiction or memoir, finish your manuscript first. If you’re writing any kind of nonfiction other than memoir, write a book proposal and include some sample chapters plus a table of contents. You might have sought grant funding, if you qualify, and conditions may include a deadline by which your book must be completed.
    3. Figure out what you’ve written. Categorize it. Be as specific as possible, but not at the risk of erring. Why? Your genre and subgenre are keyed to the word count favored by many big trade publishers. If the two don’t match, you’ll be forced constantly to explain why your manuscript is the exception to the rule.
    4. Find out what makes a good agent. Compile a list of your questions about agents, and start filling in the blanks with the information you discover online or in books on the subject during the next steps…
    5. Make a list of agents who represent the type of work you’ve written. You can do this by learning about the authors whose books are most like your manuscript and then trying to figure out who represents them, but those authors’ agents might not be open to queries. Instead, or in addition, try a keyword search by genre and other variables using a search engine or any of the free online literary agent databases, including:

QueryTracker
Agent Query
AuthorAdvance (formerly Litmatch)

Other lists can be found at:

Preditors & Editors
The Association of Authors’ Representatives
JacketFlap
Guide to Literary Agents Editor’s Blog
Your library or bookstore, where you can find Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents; Guide to Literary Agents; and LiteraryMarketPlace (LMP)

And there are subscription databases, including:

Publishers Marketplace
Writer’s Market

6. Take the list of agents you’ve compiled. Conduct research online. At the very least, look up each agent’s website and locate the agency’s submission or query guidelines detailing:

What categories of manuscripts the agent is seeking
What you need to include in the query
How to submit the query: by mail, online form, or email
Whether the agency is currently open to queries

7. Make a record of which agents you’ve contacted, when you queried, what you sent, and what the answer was (if you received a reply). You can use an online submission tracking service or compile the information in a database on your computer or write it on index cards. Keep your records up to date. Some aspiring authors skip this step and wind up with egg on their faces.

8. Use your email application strategically. Don’t add each agent’s email address to your software’s address book. If you do, then in the future, every mass email announcement you send will go to all of the agents you’ve contacted. Don’t turn on your out-of-office alert. Don’t fire up your spam filter so that the agents you query are required to register and be given permission to respond to your query. Don’t send out 50 queries when your email program’s inbox caps the volume of incoming mail it will accept. Don’t send out 50 queries all at once, which leads to the next step…

9. Send only a handful of queries at a time, just in case a kind agent rejects you with helpful suggestions about what might be wrong with your query letter or points out an embarrassing typo.

10. Don’t blog about your rejections or publicize your strategy to use one agent to push another off the fence. Agents know how to find that stuff online. If you’ve published the sad story of your 99 previous rejections, most agents will think twice, even if they were initially inclined to like your manuscript.

11. Agents probably will reply to queries within six weeks if they’ve stated they’re actively seeking new clients. If you don’t receive a reply within six weeks, or within the time frame explicitly stated on the agent’s website, then send a politely worded email asking if your query made it to the agent’s inbox. If you don’t receive a reply to your follow-up email, chalk it up and move on.

12. If you’re really on the right track with your manuscript and you’re targeting the correct agents and writing professional queries, then, as novelist Marcus Sakey recently claimed, you’ll get a 75% positive response to your query. That means three out of four agents who receive your query will ask to see more of your manuscript. Of those three, one or two are then likely to offer representation. Agents know a good thing when they see it. (You’re right. This is not as simple as it sounds.)

13. Get on those three responses from the three agents as soon as they land in your inbox! Whip out your list of questions for each agent and see if there’s anything you need to know immediately. You can include any crucial questions with the requested partial or full manuscript—a meticulous, properly formatted manuscript, of course. But don’t start interrogating, because the odds are not yet in your favor. More manuscripts than you realize are still rejected at this stage—up to 90% or more.

14. Expect a busy agent to take three months to read your full manuscript and give you an answer regarding representation. It can take longer. If the manuscript is fabulous, you could receive an offer from an agent within days. Some manuscripts go into the black hole and the agent is never heard from again. It’s bad, it’s inexcusable, it’s unprofessional, but it happens. Inquire politely after sufficient time has passed. Then, move on.

15. On that exciting day when an agent calls or emails to offer representation, be ready to discuss your expectations. Typically, this conversation takes place by phone or in person, but email is OK too. Some writers would rather write. That’s OK. Whip out the questionnaire you compiled in Step 4 and make sure all of your questions are answered. If you’re polite about it, no question is out of line, except perhaps “Will you waive your commission?”

16. Read author Jodi Meadows’ superb advice about “Dealing with multiple agent offers.”

17. Read through the contract offered by the agent. Understand that it will most likely be an exclusive agreement, meaning you won’t be able to work with several agents simultaneously on the same rights to the same manuscript. That’s not to say that your agent won’t engage subagents to negotiate the licensing of dramatic rights or foreign rights. You might also choose to have multiple advisors: an agent, a manager, and an entertainment or intellectual property attorney. However, once you sign an exclusive agency agreement, your agent will be entitled to his or her commission even if you receive a direct offer from a publisher. If you anticipate this possibility, then you can try to negotiate a nonexclusive agency agreement, but be sure you understand the agent’s point of view first or you might give offense.

18. Make sure you understand every word of the agency agreement before you sign it.

19. Be prepared and willing to undertake revisions requested by the agent before your manuscript or book proposal is presented to acquiring editors. This process should not be unbearable. If it is, then you and the agent are not well suited to collaborating.

20. Unless your manuscript is an incredibly hot property, each round of editors to whom it’s pitched can take hours, days, or months to request the full and then weeks or months to read it and, along with an editorial board, come to a decision about making an offer. Expect to be on pins and needles once again.

21. When a publisher makes an offer, your agent will advise you what is normal, standard, acceptable, desirable, etc., but the final decision is always yours. Don’t relinquish all decisions to the agent. You care more about your rights in the work than anyone else—at least you should. Know a little something about what to expect in a book publishing agreement and be prepared to give the agent your input.

22. Soon after the book contract is signed, you’ll be asked for things like jacket copy, your author bio, your author photo, and maybe even input on the cover design and suggestions for the book’s website or webpage. Don’t say, “Well, let me think that over for a couple of weeks. I’ll get back to you.” Have those things ready in advance.

23. Your book contract will probably stipulate how much turnaround time you’ll have to review and approve the publisher’s requested revisions—occasionally as little as two weeks. Be ready to put everything else aside and work tirelessly when the proofs are sent to you.

24. If things go wrong or you become tense or upset with anyone at the publishing house, hold your tongue! Contact your agent. It’s your agent’s job to mediate when any problems occur. A simple explanation from your agent might clarify a misunderstanding that could have become an obstacle to the success of your book. Working through your agent allows the agent to take the flak while you maintain a harmonious relationship with everyone who’s hard at work ensuring your book is a huge triumph.

25. Many, if not most, literary agencies don’t have publicity departments. They know and can refer clients to excellent freelance publicists and publicity firms. You and your publisher (who may have an in-house publicist or a contract with a PR firm or both) will be responsible for generating excitement about your book. Your agent is likely to have some suggestions and a bit of advice (and might even have worked as a publicist at some point), but the job of a publicist is different than the job of an agent. The best publicists are worth their weight in gold, which is why they are typically compensated up front. Times change. The roles of publicists and agents are becoming more intertwined, just as distinctions between agents and publishers are beginning to blur. Roll with it. Agents are.

If you have a good relationship with your agent, all along the two of you will be discussing your career goals and brainstorming about your next writing project. It seems redundant to list these steps here, when so many others have already done a better job of explaining this process. Entire books are devoted to the topic, and I strongly suggest you start by reading one of those books. Oversimplification too often creates confusion instead of alleviating it.

Magical Words: author David B. Coe‘s series of posts on “Writing Your Book”

Lee & Low Books: Editor’s Desk

Agent Mary Kole’s blog Kidlit.com

Note the date on this post, and remember that the book publishing business, like any other industry, evolves constantly. Always ensure the information on which you rely is current and valid. Be discriminating. Your writing career is at stake.

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