Posts Tagged ‘ghostwriting’

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Writer treat: Whole wheat chocolate chip cookies

January 29, 2010

Manuscript update: I’m going to reward myself with this treat when I get the perfect query letter and synopsis written.

Writing a novel isn’t easy, and we writers should reward ourselves when we reach a goal, no matter how small. Here’s one suggestion, Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies

Imagine these cookies speckled with brown whole wheat grain.

Chocolate chip cookies from scratch have been a staple in our home for years. We even have a special tin, and all our friends know there’s always some in there. I use the regular Tollhouse recipe on the back of the Tollhouse Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips bag, but I’ve tried to make them a little better for us over the years with a few substitutions:

  • Replace the granulated sugar with Splenda. The difference is neglible.
  • Remove the egg yolks and use just the egg whites. With between 9 and 10 minutes in the oven, the cookies have a nice crisp outside and chewy, cakey inside.
  • Add some more flour. I buy free range eggs, and they seem to be bigger than regular eggs. So to compensate, I’ve had to add in some more flour to keep the right consistency.

Now here’s my latest discovery:

  • Replace 1 cup of the total flour with whole grain flour and use regular white flour for the rest of the required amount.

Over Christmas, when I made a bunch of cookies that were a bit more healthful than the usual recipes, I found an awesome recipe for Whole Grain Snickerdoodles. I got the idea for the whole grain flour substitution in the chocolate chip cookies from those snickerdoodles, and it gives the chocolate chip cookies a really nice texture — not to mention having some whole grain flour in there is a little better for you.

So, next time you achieve one of your writing goals, no matter how big or small, try these for a (somewhat) healthful treat.

How do you reward yourself?

Write On!

P.S. If you’ve got a burning question about ghostwriting, you’ve got until Sunday night to enter it to be answered by writer Laura Cross, and have a chance to win a PDF copy of Cross’ informative book Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent: Everything You Need to Know to Become Successfully Published. Cross’ answers to all the ghostwriting questions — and the winner of the book — will be on the blog on Feb. 12.

P.P.S. I’m going to the Austin SCBWI conference tomorrow, so next week look out for reports about the speakers, including Arthur Levine editor Cheryl Klein; Farrar, Strauss and Giroux editor Lisa Graff; Bloomsbury editor Stacy Cantor; agent and former editor Andrea Cascardi; agent Mark McVeigh; agent and blogger extraordinaire Nathan Bransford and many, many more.

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More on query letters

January 27, 2010

Manuscript update: Still perfecting my query letter and synopsis. I’m attending the Austin SCBWI conference on Saturday — so excited — and hope to have a fantastic, shiny, brilliant query letter and synopsis ready to start sending out to the conference speakers soon after.

Yesterday, I wrote about why it’s important to write the perfect query letter and synopsis, and then I read a really great article on the subject and wanted to share.

One thought before I do: Your query letter and synopsis are supporting players to your manuscript. Ultimately, it’s your manuscript that will get an agent to sign you as a client, so working hard and as long as it takes to make your manuscript perfect is essential. But once that’s done, don’t short-change this next part. Even though the query letter and synopsis are supporting players, they are the first ones on stage, and if they don’t shine with brilliance, your audience won’t stay for the full show. So, take the time, do the work, no matter how frustrating it can be. If necessary, shelve your query letter and synopsis for a few weeks, just as you would your manuscript, to make sure it’s the best it can be before you send it out.

When I was submitting my first novel to agents, I worked hard on my query letter and synopsis, and my first query letter got a good many requests for the full manuscript — the goal — but it also got many no thank yous. Later in the process, I revised the query letter, and my ratio of requests to no thank yous rose enormously on the side of requests. (Ultimately, my first manuscript got back very positive comments about my writing, the story, characters, etc., but the agents I submitted to said they felt it wasn’t right for them right now. As I had finished my second novel and started revising it, I decided to stop submitting my first book and start again with my second, which is what I’m doing now.)

Ok, now for the sharing part. Writer’s Digest just posted a really great article about query letters by literary agent Ann Rittenberg, Basics of a Solid 3-Paragraph Query Letter. Ann gives an example of a query letter that worked for her and dissects the parts of a query letter and how they should be used.

But what I like best about Ann’s article is the statistics she gives at the beginning. They might be daunting, scary even, but they’re the reality, and the way to look at them is as a challenge. Let’s face it, with these statistics, the odds are against anyone getting a request from a query letter, but people do get requests (see above) and books from debut authors are published every year. There’s nothing to say that it can’t be your book or mine, as long as we put in the work that’s necessary.

Read Ann’s article but don’t feel discouraged. Feel energized, charged up that you are now closer to getting that request, closer to being a debut author, because you have something other writers must not: You have the keys that Ann is giving you about how to write a query that will get a Yes.

Coming next, more on writing a brilliant synopsis.

P.S. You’ve got til the end of this week to enter the contest to win a PDF copy of Laura Cross‘ book Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent: Everything You Need to Know to Become Successfully Published. Go to my post about ghostwriting and leave a question about this great writing option for Laura. I’ll send all the questions to Laura on Feb. 1 and she’ll fill us in on the details of this lucrative field in an interview on Day By Day Writer on Feb. 12. The person who submits Laura’s favorite question will get a PDF copy of her book. And make sure you come back on Feb. 12 to read Laura’s answers to your questions.

Write On!

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Critique like you mean it

January 22, 2010

Manuscript update: Three fellow writers have very graciously agreed to read my latest revision, which I finished yesterday. Thank you, to them. Once they’re done, I’ll do one more read-through, going through their notes and fixing anything else I see, then I think it will be ready to send out. So next week’s goal will be to get a good query letter written.

I’ve written before about the benefits of being part of a critique group. There’s the camaraderie, the support in an otherwise lonely activity, the comfort in being with others in the same boat as you, and, of course, there’s the critique itself.

That last one is the most important benefit of a critique group, but only if the members are really critiquing.

Good critiquing is priceless, but good critiquing isn’t always pretty. By that, I don’t mean writers should be nasty about their criticism. We all want to strive for constructive criticism. But what I mean is that identifying flaws is a part of good critiquing.

Andrea Brown Literary agent Mary Kole has a great post on her Kidlit.com blog today about the need to grow a thicker skin. She points out that some critique groups meet only to hear how wonderful each others’ writing is. I like to hear good news as much as the next guy, but as Kole says, no one learns if they’re not told what they have to work on.

Now, sure, some critique group members are going to have less experience than others and might not be able to pick up on problems as easily as more experienced members. But that’s why it’s good to be in a critique group with members with all different levels of experience.

But even less experienced writers are readers — or should be if they’re writing books — and as readers, they should be able to contribute criticism as much as any book fan.

The important thing is that critiquers critique. If you’re part of a critique group, you’re making a pact to help others make their writing better, and to do that, you have to point out where they’re going wrong. If you don’t, you’re wasting their time and yours.

On the part of the critiquee, it’s important to just listen and write notes when getting your critique. Don’t let emotion, pride, stop you from listening. And don’t let emotion let you take the critiques for anything other than what they are: someone else’s opinion. Some of the notes you get are going to help you make your work better, some won’t. As the creator of the work, you can make the decision of which is which when you go over your notes later.

It’s always tough to hear people criticize your work, but without that criticism — constructive criticism — your work will never get better. No writer can see every flaw in their own work by themselves — that’s why there are editors. And if an unpublished writer can’t listen to the opinions of others, digest them and figure out which will make their work better, they’re going to have a hard time being published, because published writers work side by side with editors — who give their own educated, knowledgeable, experienced criticisms.

Oh, and by the way, when I say that critiquers are doing their job when they point out the flaws, I don’t mean critiquers shouldn’t point out the good parts too. We all need encouragement as much as we need to know how to improve. The best critiquers are those who can find both good and bad things to say about another’s work, and saying the good first is always a great way to help someone grow.

Got any other critiquing tips? Tell us in the comments.

Also, I’ve had some great questions about ghostwriting submitted for my interview with writer Laura Cross. If you haven’t entered one yet, check out my ghostwriting post for the details and enter your question for a chance to win a PDF copy of Laura’s book, Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent: Everything You Need to Know to Become Successfully Published.

Write On!

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Ghostwriting and a competition

January 18, 2010

Revision update: I didn’t work on my revision at all over the weekend, and coming back today, with just two days away from the story, I felt out of it. I must make time on the weekends from now on. I did get some good stuff done this morning, however, and I’m looking to tomorrow’s session. Still hoping to be done by the end of the week. Fingers crossed.

If you haven’t read a mention of this yet, I’m interviewing Laura Cross on Feb. 12 about ghostwriting. Laura, the author of Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent: Everything You Need to Know to Become Successfully Published, has credits in magazine writing, script reading and non-fiction books, but you won’t find her name on any of the books because they were ghostwritten.

Ghostwriting might not lead to fame, as the work will be published under another name, but it can be rewarding in the financial sense, and it can be an opportunity for writers to do what they do best — write. Ghostwriting is common practice for both fiction and non-fiction books, and publishers always need writers to be the silent partner.

But how do writers find these jobs? And how does ghostwriting work? Does the publisher give the writer the story then leave them alone? Or is it more of a collabortive effort?

Laura will pull back the curtain on ghostwriting on Feb. 12, and you can ask the questions. Leave a question in the comments section of this post before Feb. 1, and whoever asks Laura’s favorite question will win a PDF copy of her Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent book — useful to us all.

So, put your thinking cap on and get your fingers tapping. Let’s give Laura some great questions to dig deep into the writing revenue stream that is ghostwriting. Then check back on Feb. 12 for the interview. It’s going to be fun.

Write On!

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Opportunities

January 8, 2010

Revision update: It’s coming along, but I’ve slowed down a bit.

There’s that old saying that when a door closes, another opens. Call me an optimist, but I believe in this. I acknowledge that the second one doesn’t always open immediately, but with some patience, a lot of hard work, dedication and, perhaps most of all, faith, it will open. God provides, I believe, and I’ve seen it happen time and time again.

On Wednesday morning, I heard that the job I have held for the past 10 years was being eliminated, pretty much effective immediately. I knew change was coming, but hadn’t expected it quite so quickly and didn’t expect this type of change. But there it is. I’ve been laid off, which nowadays isn’t an unusual thing. I’ve joined the many many many others who have lost their jobs lately thanks to the economic climate.

I’m not one who worries too much about change. I lived in four different countries by the time I was 12, so change is nothing new. It can be exciting, strange, daunting, but mostly, it’s something that happens, and you just roll up your sleeves and deal with it.

Change can also bring opportunities, that other door opening. Who knows what we’ll find through that door, but no matter what, it will be a new chance to learn, at the very least.

When I put the news of my job’s demise on Facebook, a writer friend of mine wrote back: “Bummer! but more time for the novel selling/writing ;-)” 🙂 Now that’s looking at the bright side!

I don’t know what will be in store for me in the near future. I’m looking for a new job and freelance work (anyone need an expert editor/writer with 15 years experience?) and I do plan to also spend more time on my novels. Whatever happens, though, this is an opportunity. I plan to make the most of it.

And now, I’ve got an opportunity for you.

On Feb. 12, I’ll be posting an interview with Laura Cross, author of Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent: Everything You Need to Know to Become Successfully Published. See, I told you, opportunities!

But here’s the real opportunity. Laura will be answering YOUR questions, and the best one will WIN a PDF copy of her book.

Here’s some info about Laura:

Laura Cross’s family and friends in Detroit, Michigan knew she would move on to bigger and better things when she began writing and performing plays for them as a child. Actually they hoped she would move on to bigger and better things–they were tired of being her only audience!

When Laura packed up the moving van it was to head to California where she earned Certificates in Writing and Feature Film Writing for the UCLA Writer’s Program. Laura’s writing life has included magazine writing, script reading for production companies and literary agencies, leading writing workshops and blogging about screenwriting and non-fiction writing. She’s also written some absolutely fabulous non-fiction books but sadly, as a ghost writer, she has to keep the titles under wraps! Laura divides her time between Los Angeles and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

For our interview, we’ll tap into Laura’s private life: ghostwriting, although I’m sure Laura will answer other burning questions if you have them. Ghostwriting is one of those lucrative opportunities that, if you’re like me, also seems elusive. How can you tap into this market? How does the process work? How much ghostwriting is really done in publishing? Ok, there’s three questions from me, but I’m sure you guys have plenty more.

Please put your questions in the comments of this post before Jan. 31. If someone else has already submitted a question you’d like answered, keep thinking and put in a different one. All the questions will be sent to Laura on Feb. 1, and her answers along with the winner of the PDF copy of Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent will be posted on Feb. 12. The winner will be chosen by Laura as the one with her favorite question, so please make sure you post your question with a name, not anonymous, so we can contact you for your prize.

Good luck, and Write On!