Archive for April, 2010

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Agent news: Marissa Walsh

April 29, 2010

Manuscript update: After two pretty good writing sessions, I’m up to 7,214 words, so 2,260 in the last two days. Wow, that’s actually better than I thought. Got to write 1,025 words per day to make my goal of finishing by the end of May. Phew! We’ll see.

Back in March, I told you that former editor Marissa Walsh had started her own agency, Shelf Life Literary.

But now, the news is, Fine Print Literary Management has hired Marissa as an agent, specializing in children’s books (picture books, middle grade and young adult), pop culture, memoir, humor and narrative nonfiction.

A writer herself (Girl With Glasses: My Optic History and A Field Guide to High School), Marissa worked as an editor at Delacorte Press/Random House Children’s Books for seven years. She also teaches children’s writing at Gotham Writer’s Workshop.

More details of the types of books she’s looking for and how to query are on the Fine Print Literary website.

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Pitch contest

April 27, 2010

Manuscript update: 4,954 words. Had a pretty good session yesterday. Today, I’m procrastinating with this blog post. :) But then I’ll knuckle down. I think I’m behind if I want to meet my goal of finishing the first draft by the end of May.

QueryTracker is hosting a pitch contest today with literary agent Chris Richman of Upstart Crow Literary.

To enter, you must have completed the manuscript you’re pitching and pitch it in 25 words or less. You can enter as many times as you want, but you must be a member of QueryTracker and follow the site’s blog. More details are here, along with a link to a page for help in writing pitches.

The contest is open just today.

I can’t find anywhere what the prize for the contest is, but if you’ve got a completed manuscript that’s ready to go, it can’t hurt to get a pitch in front of a great agent.

Pitch On!

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Dealing with rejection

April 25, 2010

Manuscript update: I’m at 4,276 words and need to write 1,000 words a day to make my goal of finishing by the end of May. Onward…

I’m catching up on some blog reading — when I should be working on that 1,000 words for my book — and I found Cec Murphy‘s first two posts in a serious about rejection.

I’m  in query mode right now with my second novel — and trying, unsuccessfully, not to think about it as I move onto my next book. Although I’ve received a request for the book and am still waiting for responses, rejections are hard and can double, triple the doubts that already plague most writers’ minds.

So, I thought it was great to see Cec’s posts today, part 1 explaining that a writer will receive many rejections during his or her career, and part 2 explaining that a rejection is about one particular work and not personal.

After I received a rejection in the mail the other day, my fifth, I remembered that a friend of mine who’s a New York Time best-selling author received 25 rejections before she got her first agent. And there are so many stories about best-selling writers, including J.K. Rowling, who received numerous rejections before someone took a chance on them and, well, you know the results.

Like Cec says in his first rejection post, rejections are a writers’ badge of courage. Don’t let them get you down. Let them push you on. Wear your badges of courage with pride by digging in deep to your next novel and never giving up.

Write On!

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Interview with new agent Bree Ogden

April 23, 2010

Manuscript update: Terrible! Yesterday was the first day I have worked on my new book in two weeks. I’ve been busy with http://www.discdish.com. But, who am I kidding, I’ve also been just a little — ok a lot — intimidated by this story. My first two novels are plot-driven adventures, but this is a quiet tale, character-driven. I wrote 3,000 words and felt great, like the book was flying out of my, until I realized that I was just rushing toward the major plot points and missing all the character. So, I jumped into Disc Dish, made an excuse that I was too busy to write, and got miserable. So, Tuesday night, I stayed up late and did research. I found the character, or more of him. And, as I really am busy with Disc Dish, on Wednesday night, I set my alarm for 4am and dragged myself out of bed at 5 to write. I did that this morning too, and I feel better. Still intimidated, but better that at least I’m moving forward.

More on that next week, when I resolve to also get back to reading all the blogs in my Google Reader and posting regularly to DayByDayWriter.

Today, though, we have a special treat.

Literary agent Bree Ogden

Bree Ogden

In my last post, I wrote that Martin Literary Management has a new associate agent, Bree Ogden. I emailed Bree and asked if she’d like to answer a few questions so we could get to know her a little better, and she graciously said yes. Here are her answers:

Please tell us a little about your background with books and publishing.

Actually my trained background is in journalism. I have a lot of experience in publishing from a journalism angle. I was very involved in the publication of my university’s newspaper, and later, I was involved in the publication of the magazine and newspapers I worked on during my masters. But for the past 7 months, I have been immersed in the books and publishing world while training under Sharlene Martin at MLM.

In your bio on the Martin Literary Management website, you say your 16 nieces and nephews inspired you to represent children books. First, wow, you must have a big family. :) Second, what about them made you want to handle children’s books?

I feel like I should send you a picture of them, or an audio clip of their cute little voices. I’m telling you, these are the most perfect children on this earth. I want them to become wise, intelligent, independent, imaginative, creative free thinkers as they grow up. It’s my belief that books have a strong influence on those characteristics. So I represent children’s books because I want to be a small part of what inspires children.

What were your favorite books when you were growing up?

The Berenstain Bears. Loved those! I loved LOVED books about dinosaurs. Any dinosaur book I could get my hands on was a favorite. A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban…such a great one. Also, The Big Friendly Giant by Roald Dahl. Oh! And those books about the weird crazy school…Sideways Stories From Wayside School. (This is a nice trip down memory lane.) As I got a little bit older, I really enjoyed dystopian books. I loved The Giver by Lois Lowry and Anthem by Ayn Rand.

And what are some of the books you have read recently?

I just finished Wuthering Heights for the third time. I’ve been reading Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman (best pop culture journalist ever). And I am continually making my way through The Walking Dead graphic novel series. Next up on my reading list is Sterling’s Illustrated Classics. Check them out. They have turned classics like Dorian Gray, The Trial, and Crime and Punishment into graphic novels. That’s epic in my mind.

On to agenting, what do you like best about the job so far? And what do you dislike the most?

My job is pretty awesome. What I like best about it is being surrounded by talent every second of the day. Of course, I can’t take on every writer that queries me, but I am profoundly stunned at the amazing queries I get. I love working with my clients. I have a great set of clients who are so dedicated to what they do. It’s incredible. I dislike having to turn down a query. That’s no fun at all. But I love the fact that every day I wake up, and I have no idea what awesome possibilities are waiting for me.

What kind of an agent are you? Do you work with your clients on an editorial basis?

I would say that I am a very involved agent. Of course, I make editorial suggestions, but mostly, I won’t take something on unless I love it. Which means there isn’t much editorial work for me to be doing. But I am the agent that my client needs me to be. Agenting is different with every client.

Communication-wise, do you prefer phone or email, and how often do you like to be in touch with clients?

Email is so great. But I do love a good phone conversation. Sometimes you just need to hash stuff out on the phone and not deal with the back and forth waiting of email. I have a client in Ireland currently, and it has been a different experience working solely through email. I like to be in touch with my clients pretty often when we first get the ball rolling. It is very important to always be on the same page.

What do you look for in a query letter and what turns you off?

I like a good creative query letter. I work with creative genres, so show me that you are creative through your letter…without trying too hard. That’s never good for anyone. I hate when the writer will tell me everything BUT the plot of the book. Sometimes they beat around that bush like it’s on fire…and I’m left wondering what the heck the premise is?

And same for a manuscript? What are your pet peeves, what do you love and what would make you stop reading?

Well…obviously bad writing would make me stop reading. If I can tell that the story is moving too slowly or isn’t going anywhere, I’ll stop. Also, character development is very important. I’ll stop reading if there is poor character development. And just like any book, I love a manuscript that won’t let me put it down. I love it when I can tell that the writer knows exactly what the premise or agenda of the book is, and I can see it in the writing.

Are there any particular styles (commercial or more literary) or genres you prefer?

Well, I rep Graphic Novels, Children’s and YA novels. So those are the genres I prefer. As far as styles…I like darker plots…think Dexter. Especially in graphic novels. I am quite obsessed with Grimm’s Fairy Tales, so if a writer could pull that sort of style off, I would love that too. I love highly unique books. Books like the Fancy Nancy series. My 3-year-old niece actually used the word “posh” because of a Fancy Nancy book. And, of course, supernatural elements always make for a fun read. Caveat: I do not like vampires and I do not like werewolves.

And finally, what advice would you have for a writer who’s trying to find an agent?

Do your due diligence. Make sure you are sending your query to an agent who reps your genre. Learn about the agency. Know their policies. And make sure your project is ready to be read. Sharlene Martin, owner of Martin Literary Management, co-wrote a fantastic book with author Anthony Flacco entitled ‘Publish Your Nonfiction Book.’ Granted, it is geared toward nonfiction writers, but it gives fabulous tips on how to score an agent and fabulous stories of horrifying faux pas.

Thanks so much, Bree. Great answers.

You can find out more about Bree at her blog, This Literary Life (love the title), and on Twitter.

So, Day By Day Writers, if you think Bree will be a good fit for you and your book, polish up your query letter, get creative, and send it her way.

Write On!

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Agent news and contests

April 15, 2010

Manuscript update: Still nothing new as I’ve been too busy with http://www.discdish.com. But I’ve got lots of ideas for I get back to the book.

Some quick agent news:

Bree Ogden has been made an associate agent at Martin Literary Management. She will represent children’s, young adult and graphic novels. Here’s some info on Bree, and she’s agreed to answer a few questions for DayByDayWriter, so stay tuned for that.

And Devin McIntyre has opened his own shingle: The McIntyre Agency. He has been an agent with Mary Evans Inc. since 2002 and reps childrens books, graphic novels and adult genres. Here’s his AuthorAdvance page and his Publishers Marketplace page.

And some quick contest news:

The Next Big Writer (sounds like a reality show, doesn’t it?) is running a Strongest Start Novel Competition for the best first three chapters of a novel. You can enter if whether you’ve completed the novel or not, as long as you’ve got the first three chapters and they’re polished. Oh, and you have to be a member of critique network The Next Big Writer. Here’s the rundown from the contest:

If you’ve been working on a novel, or have one written already, polish your first three chapters and consider entering this competition. TheNextBigWriter is an online workshop. By entering, you receive feedback on every chapter you submit. This is a great opportunity to have your work-in-progress reviewed, and you may even win! You do NOT need to have completed your entire novel, so this competition is open to those who have started or are working on their novels.

The grand prize is $500 and a $2,500 self-publishing deal from CreatSpace and feedback on every chapter.

$100 cash prizes will be given for sci-fi/fantasy/horror, romance and memoir/non-fiction. And the deadline is June 8.

And Writer’s Digest is holding its 79th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition, with a grand prize of $3,000 and a trip to New York to meet with editors and agents.

Now, this contest has entry fees, and they increase by $5 if you submit after May 14 and by $10 if you submit after June 1. You can enter in the following categories:

  • Inspirational writing (spiritual/religion)
  • Memoirs/personal essay
  • Magazine feature article
  • Genre short story
  • Mainstream/Literary short story
  • Rhyming poetry
  • Non-rhyming poetry
  • Stage play
  • TV/Movie script
  • Children’s/young adult

I don’t endorse either of these, as I don’t have any experience with either.

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Agent moving

April 13, 2010

Manuscript update: Nothing new to report as I’ve been swamped with Disc Dish updates, but I hope to get working on my new book as soon as I’m done with this quick post.

Some news from Publishers Weekly: Marcy Posner, formerly agent and foreign rights director at Sterling Lord Literistic, has joined Folio Literary Management as an agent specializing in children’s and young adult as well as women’s fiction, romance and serious and commercial non-fiction. Celeste Fine will continue as the foreign rights director.

Folio doesn’t have her listed yet, but if you want to check her out, here’s something from AuthorAdvance, this Writers on Writing page has a link to a fun podcast interview with Marcy and here’s her Publishers Marketplace profile, which has been updated to Folio. Oh, and here’s her AgentQuery page, which also has been updated.

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The Next Top Spiritual Author

April 9, 2010

Manuscript update: I haven’t written anything yet today, but wanted to get this blog post up. Then it’s back to writing my story. Got some done, 486 words to be exact. I’m at 2,964 words out of 40K total. 37,036 left by the end of May. I need to write 714 a day.

First, I love the name of this contest: The Next Top Spiritual Author. With all the reality shows on TV, this is great.

Nanny and I book coverI hadn’t heard about this contest before, but from what I can gather, the prize is a publishing deal. I found out about it through a message on a Yahoo writers group I belong to. The message was from author/illustrator Sylvia Peltier, who’s seeking votes for her book.

Sylvia self-published two picture books a while ago in a series. The first, Nanny and I, sold out and the second has almost sold out.

From Sylvia’s description, the books sound really sweet, about a child’s relationship with a grandmother who is in a wheelchair.

It’s something Sylvia now knows a lot about. She has been a writer and artist all her life, but she’s now confind to a wheelchair due to a sickness.

If you think Nanny and I looks like a good book, I hope you’ll vote for Peltier to be The Next Top Spiritual Author. But even if you don’t, I hope you’ll check out this contest and vote for whomever you think should win. One of the best parts of this industry is the support writers give each other. This is just one opportunity.

If you know of any others, let us know in the comments.

Write On!

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Good writing advice

April 8, 2010

Manuscript update: I’m up to 2,480 words after writing yesterday and today. Gotta break now. My dog is complaining that she hasn’t been fed and walked. It’s like she has a clock in her belly.

Just a quick post to say Writer’s Digest blogger Jane Friedman has compiled a great list of writing advice posts from writers and agents.

Like writer Yasmine Galnorn‘s post about how a near-death experience helped her make time to write.

Agent Rachelle Gardner‘s post about working through the difficulties.

Writer Liz Curtis Higgs‘ encouragement for aspiring writers.

And links to posts on crafts, dialog, story structure and much more.

I haven’t read through them all yet, but this is a great page to bookmark and devour.

What’s your favorite blog post that you read recently? Something about craft? Or something inspirational?

Write On!

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Writing is hard, but worth it, says Sue Grafton

April 7, 2010

Manuscript update: Nothing new to report yet as I haven’t had a chance to work on my new book since yesterday.

Sue Grafton headshot

Sue Grafton

But I wanted to share a link to a great interview with prolific mystery writer Sue Grafton (the alphabet series). In the Writer’s Digest article, Grafton explains that she finds writing hard with each book.

I take writing terribly seriously, and sometimes that just gets in my way. … I keep thinking, Uh-oh, this is going to be the book that does me in. So that frightens me so desperately that I get into a panic when I should shut my mouth and get on with it.

About how much she knows about the journey her character is going to take, she says:

You have to understand, this is a form of mental illness. I fully own it. In my mind, I am only privileged to know what she chooses to share, and she assures me that some things are just not my business, thank you. I don’t tell her. She tells me. I discover things about her in the process of writing. I don’t have a great scheme afoot. I try to keep honest, I try not to repeat myself. I try to let her evolve as she will, not according to my dictates. It’s a very odd process.

And her advice for new writers:

Give yourself time to get better. Writing is really hard to master. You learn by failing over and over.

I love writing and find it very rewarding, but, like many of us, I often find it hard to keep the doubts away. It’s good know that it affects even the most successful of authors. We’re not alone, but like Grafton, we have to keep going, keep working, keep writing. It is worth it.

What ails you in your writing?

Write On!

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Researching a new book

April 6, 2010

Manuscript update: 812 words so far today, including scraping what I did yesterday because it… well… sucked, and redoing it. :)

So, I’m starting my new book, and I’ve got the basic idea, the character, the rough layout and the ending. With all that in mind, I jumped in. Eight hundred words in, I started my research.

I know some writers do a lot of research before they begin writing. I’ve heard many people recommend that. But for me, I tend to research as I go, when I feel I need it.

When do you research, all up front or as you write?

Write On!

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