Monday, January 31, 2011

WRITING JOURNEY TOURNIQUET - Bandaging the Query


Last post, I told you about my first mistake. I flew through revisions and eagerly sent out what I thought was the greatest query in the world. Sending out that query was my second mistake. I was wrong to send it. The query was terrible and way too long. At over 500-words, it was more like a synopsis than a query. Since then, I've learned to pare down my queries to a mere 250-words or less. Also, the query should be written like a formal business letter. This lets the agent know that you take your writing serious--like your own business.

First off, you might want to personalize your query by starting off with an introduction paragraph. One that says I met you at this conference, or I follow your blog and noticed you were looking for radioactive zombie vampires or something.

Your query should start off with a hook. Make sure this paragraph grabs the agent. Don't use questions or try to be all flowery. Agents want to know who your protagonist is and what happens to her. As in my first paragraph for my novel LIBRARY JUMPERS, which I'm currently querying as follows:

Seventeen-year-old Gia Kearns would rather spar with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather-clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum library, busts her staring at him while she's studying with her friends. 

The next one or two paragraphs should expand on the first paragraph and reveal the plot without telling the ending of your story. As in my query:

When he suddenly disappears, Gia swipes the book of world libraries he abandoned. As she skims the pages, she unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his fellow Paladijns--magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books--rescue the three from a demonic hound.

Gia learns she's a missing Paladijn and now that she's been found, must train with an eccentric father she never knew existed. Gia and Arik commence a heated relationship as they jump into some of the world's most beautiful libraries and travel to the Mistyk world hidden behind bookcases to stop an apocalyptic force from destroying both worlds. If fighting unfathomable creatures weren't bad enough, Arik's French vixen of an ex-girlfriend is hell-bent on keeping Arik and Gia apart.  

If you have any publishing credits or belong to a writing group or have any degrees you'd put that next. I don't have publishing credits, so I  don't add this paragraph. Instead I end with stating my word count and thanking the agent for their time, like this...

Combining elements of fantasy and romance, LIBRARY JUMPERS, a young adult urban fantasy is complete at 87,000 words. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,

Brenda Drake

The query for LIBRARY JUMPERS is 218 words, which leaves me room to add personalization at the beginning if I want. Don't use your publishing and closing paragraphs to tell the agent that you'd be happy to send pages, they know that's what you want. Also, don't talk about future books in the series or other novels you've written and haven't published. Don't mention self-published works. And by all means, turn off the return receipt on your email and don't send status checks daily for your queries. Just hit send and move on to the next. If an agent is interested, they'll contact you.

It doesn't end at writing the query. Now you must get fellow readers to read it and chime in. If you have betas or critique partners you're all set. Ask them their opinions and make changes accordingly. If you don't have betas or critiques, I suggest posting your query on the QueryTracker forum for review. That's what I did when I started out, and I received some valuable critiques on my work. I learned a lot from the posters there and was able to get my terrible query to shine.

Make sure you listen to all the comments you get on your query and revise it several times. Don't get hurt if someone says it's crappy (probably not in those words). You want honesty. Without it your query, synopsis, novel, or whatever won't get better. You'll be stuck with this query that doesn't work and the rejections will come pouring into your email's inbox. I know. It happened to me.

Well, that's it until next time. Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Let's Play in the Mud! Cleaning Up Messy Writing

First drafts can be messy. That's okay, right? Everyone says they're supposed to be messy!


But eventually, we have to face that mess, and it might not necessarily be simple adverb searches or grammar fixes... it might be one of those Cat in the Hat messes, the kind that's so big and so deep and so tall, it seems there's no way to fix it it, no way at all.


In other words...


It might be that we need to fix the actual writing.


Daunting. Such a feat leaves some writers *cough cough* longing to start a new story. But revising is important; I'm determined to follow through with my manuscript. The other day while revising procrastinating taking a break on Twitter, I noticed my friend Andrew Turner, @snowppl (a talented writer and all-around wonderful person), talking about revisions, and I confessed that I felt like my wip is a mess. He said we should “play in the mud,” and so began a back-and-forth of common, muddy problems found as we revised our manuscripts. 




Clearly, we write like pigs.


In an effort to clean up this mess, I researched problem areas and assembled a list for you-- yes a list! I'm fond of lists. Andrew and I had way too much fun making mudpies from overwritten melodrama, building bad dialogue mud castles, and tracking muddy footprints of excessive introspection... now it's time to clean it up!

Overwriting
What it is: 
Overuse of adjectives, metaphors-- heavy description that slows down the action. Instead of enhancing the story and creating a world, it just bogs the whole thing down.
What to do: 
Edit! Find those overwritten passages and carve it down to find the beauty beneath. Here’s a great link from award-winning author Nicola Morgan, with everything you need to know about identifying-- and getting rid of-- overwritten narrative.
Melodrama
What it is:
Soap opera reactions; it’s the stuff I roll my eyes at in movies, and cringe at in my own writing. The difference between drama and melodrama isn’t always as obvious as one would think. I think this quote by film director Frank Capra sums it up: “I made mistakes in drama. I thought drama was when actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries.”
What to do:
Editing, apparently, is the solution as well. Again, here’s a link from another award winning author, Rukhsana K’han, detailing melodrama and ways to spot it in our own writing.
Bad Dialogue
What it is:
Unrealistic, stilted, unnatural... when our characters speak, it should matter. What are they saying?
What to do:
I’m sure you can guess... we must edit. There’s no other way to get rid of it! If this is one of your problem areas, check out this link on Seven Keys to Writing Good Dialogue from writing rock star and former agent Nathan Bransford. 
Excessive Introspection
What it is:
Those inner thoughts that go on and on; rather than giving the reader insight into our character, it slows down the action and we LOSE our reader! They might skim... or even stop reading altogether.
What to do:
Yup, edit the excess away. I had trouble finding a link that explained introspection in detail, but then I came across a forum thread in which a few published authors (including Carrie Ryan) answered this question: How Much Introspection is Too Much Introspection? 

As I read about these big picture issues, "less is more" was a common theme... so, when in doubt, leave it out? What if you're always in doubt? The only thing I'm sure of is, cleaning up these kinds of problems is not an easy job. Critique partners are invaluable, but ultimately it's up to each of us, as the authors of our own stories, to decide what's working and what needs to be cut. 
~ ~ ~









Diana Paz is a web content writer and aspiring YA author. She grew up on Miami Beach, moved to Los Angeles in high school, and went to college in San Diego. Basically, she's a beach bum, but she did graduate from California State University, San Marcos with a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Arts. She loves old movies, epic fantasy, all kinds of music, and heading to the beach with a good book. Preferably sipping a caramel frappuccino. Find her at her blog: dianapazblog.blogspot.com or on Twitter @dianapazwrites

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Agent Profile - Suzie Townsend

One of the pet peeves I see agents talking about is about writers not doing their homework before querying them. It's in your best interest, as a writer, if you take the time to research the agents you are submitting to. Find the perfect fit. For two reasons. 1. When you finally get that 'YES!' or better yet, multiple yes's, you'll already have a pretty good idea who your top pick is. and 2. If you are targeting your queries carefully, you will have a higher request rate. And the whole point of querying is getting your work in front of the tright agents. Besides - do you really want an agent who represents only Sci Fi trying to represent your romance? The point of having an agent is having someone with the contacts inside the publishing world to get your book in the hands of the right editor. What contacts could the Sci Fi only agent have in the romance world if they only deal with Sci Fi?

So, for my regularly scheduled broadcast, I will be profiling a different agent every other week.  Some of these profiles will include an interview that I have conducted, sometimes it will just be all of the information that I was able to gather on that particular agent. The information is as up-to-date as possible as of the date of the post.

My agent profile for this week is Suzie Townsend!




Suzie is an agent with Fine Print Literary Management in New York City.

I recently conducted an interview with Suzie on being an agent and what she's looking for.
(SW=Shelley Watters ST=Suzie Townsend)

SW: How did you get into agenting?

ST: I was actually teaching high school English and feeling a little disillusioned.  Meanwhile my younger sister graduated college and started working in textbook publishing.  I kept hearing about everything she did and thinking "I would like that."  So I picked up and moved and took an unpaid internship at FinePrint to learn the industry.  And I loved it.  Luckily they loved me too.

SW: What genres do you rep?

ST: I represent children's books - middle grade and YA.  And I'm also representing adult genre fiction - particularly all subgenres of romance, fantasy, science fiction.


SW: A query comes across your in-box that has you jumping out of your seat to request the full ASAP. What is it about?

ST: For me, it's less plot (what it's about) and more character and voice.  I can say I'm reading all YA science fiction, thriller, and horror queries extra closely because I'm really looking for those right now.  And the same with adult paranormal romance and adult urban fantasy.  But I'm first and foremost into character and I request fulls based on pages.  I read the query and then jump down to check out the pages.  There I want a great opening line - something that hooks me and shows voice. 

SW: What are your pet peeves for queries?

ST: When authors tell me about myself. I know me - and it's always frustrating when they say something about me that's wrong. Or when someone sends a query that tells me to go to their website without saying what the book is about.  Then there's the do not mention phrases, it's frustrating to here things like "Oprah will love this!" or "This manuscript will be an awesome movie!" or "By signing me, I'll make you a millionaire!"  It all points to unrealistic expectations or lack or research, and all I really want to know is the book.

SW: The query rocked - so you requested a partial/full. Now you're passing. What happened between query and pages?

ST: A lot of things can happen here. Maybe the plot unraveled somewhere, or character motivations are missing, or the first 50 pages are really polished and then the rest of the ms doesn't feel edited (it happens). Or it's just good.

And this is one of the hardest things about publishing. There really aren't a lot of bad manuscripts. There are some, but mostly what I request and see are manuscripts that are good but just not great. In today's market they need a wow factor or something that doesn't let me forget about the characters and their story long after I've finished reading. The projects I end up signing are the ones that all my colleagues in the office know about because when I finish I'm stuck on those characters for days and I talk about them all the time.

So then the question is how do you give a manuscript the wow aspect, and part of that will always be subjective, but strong characters with strong voices do it every time.

SW: What do you want to see more of in your submission pile?

ST: I would love an upmarket women's fiction manuscript with some kind of unique commercial hook (like Time Traveler's Wife), high concept literary YA and middle grade (like How I Live Now and When You Reach Me), adult paranormal romance or urban fantasy that breaks out of the typical genre tropes, and a dark romantic fantasy (like The Black Jewels Trilogy or The Kushiel Series).

SW: Do any of your clients have books coming out soon?

ST: Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers just came out on September 14th!  Allison Pang's Brush of Darkness comes out January 25th.  Hannah Moskowitz's Invincible Summer is out April 19th, and Arlaina Tibensky's And Then Things Fall Apart is out in June.


Buy it here
Preorder here
Preorder here
SW: What are you currently reading? (Other than fantastic client manuscripts and slush)

ST: Eternal Brush of Darkness by Jeaniene Frost

SW: Salty or sweet?

ST: Sweet

SW: If you could give writers querying you one piece of advice, what would it be?

ST: Take. Your. Time.

SW: Do you twitter?

ST: @sztownsend81 and confessionsofawanderingheart.blogspot.com

SW: If you were stranded on a desert island with only one book to read, what is it?

ST: I can't be stranded with my kindle and it's 3G?  If I have to choose, I'm going to be logical and choose the book that I've reread the most The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  (Ender's Game, Time Traveler's Wife, and several manuscripts I've read in the past couple months are close behind though.)  Really I'm just not sure if I could live with only one book.


Thank you Suzie Townsend from Fine Print Literary Management for participating in this interview. If you are interested in querying Suzie please follow her submission guidelines that can be found here.

Before querying Suzie, learn more about her by checking out the following links:







Other info on Suzie:


~~~



Shelley Watters writes romance for young adults and adults. She lives in Arizona with her husband, two kids and two dogs. She loves listening to music, reading good books and letting her imagination go wild as she creates new worlds and torments her characters in delicious ways. She is an active member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is currently seeking literary representation. You can find Shelley on her blog at http://shelleywatters.blogspot.com/ and twitter @Shelley_Watters .

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Chaos Inside

One of the biggest reasons I write, apart from the fact that I honestly enjoy it and have a passion for it, is that it’s therapeutic. It is so rewarding to put my emotions and confusion into a character and have them work it out. I know I'm not alone in this. It’s quick. Usually nothing even comes of the temporary release character. It’s got a benefit. But what about when just doing that doesn’t work? When it’s constant and it seems like nothing will get me out of it? Face it, everyone hits points of depression now and then. That’s accepted, and it’s okay. But beyond that, when it hits into clinical and actual mental illness? How often is that talked about? Despite the media frenzy over bullying, suicides, and the like, metal health is still such a taboo.

That is, until you put it in a book. I read mostly YA, but I can give you a long list of books that hit on depression alone. It’s got such a range, and it extends to far more than just cutting and being emo. It has so many ways that it comes out, so many causes and effects and lasting impressions. The ways it even affects others is endless. So maybe writing about a depressed character is cliché. Maybe suicide is overdone. But is it really, when it’s still so prevalent? When not every case is the same?

The issues books will always resonate with me. They make me really feel something, make me think, tear my heart out and rip me to pieces. Why? Because when done right (or, my kind of right), it is so realistic, and because it’s talked about so rarely. Authors haven’t been scared to include these things in their books for a long time now. From depression to bipolar to schizophrenia and more, even in YA, there is at least one book that covers many of the bigger mental health disorders. Sure, they may get bad reviews here and there, but their messages and points are always strong. There’s a purpose and lasting impression.

What I really want to know is why this is all so ignored. Why is it so horrible to have anxiety? To be depressed? To need some kind of help? Because I can tell you from experience, it is even worse having the added burden of keeping silent. Of being scared to tell someone for fear of how they’ll react. How many times has someone told you they’re depressed, and you just brush it off with an ‘everyone feels like that sometimes’? Or you distance yourself from them because you don’t want to deal with their funk? It happens in the real world. And it happens in books. But the kicker? When it happens in the books, that distancing character is the one everyone sees as being in the wrong.

Now take that, and you’ll get the best part of these books. The thing that doesn’t make them cliché. It’s that the chances of them touching at least one person are huge. Whether it’s the person who has their eyes opened in a new way and sees something different than what they already thought, or the person suffering in silence because in the real world, it seems so taboo to be mentally ill, who can realize they aren’t alone, someone is going to feel something more than just entertainment. Someone is going to realize that maybe the next time a friend who struggles says, in not so many words, that they need help, they’ll offer it. And that goes such a long way, and I don’t think anyone who’s ever been in that position will disagree.

So the point of this post? Don’t be afraid to put something in your book, just because it’s ignored in the media. Don’t let the hivemind type thoughts deter you. Don’t put the stereotypes and play into them. Put the real stuff. The raw stuff. The things that will affect your readers, and most likely you as well.

~*~
Kari is a querying YA writer and book blogger who currently works a day job with a radiologist group and lives in Dallas. She enjoys badgering her dog Toby, meandering around the internet, and reading lots and lots of books. Currently juggling three manuscripts, she’s dreaming for the day she can stay at home and write full time, preferably with a charming boy to cook and clean. You can find her at http://agoodaddiction.blogspot.com/.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dirty Muse, Clean Writer: Where Does Inspiration Come From??

Hi, guys!! Hope you are doing well! :o)

I'm going to talk to you a bit about inspiration and where writers get their inspiration.

So in case you don't know me, I happen to tweet (Just a little. No, really.), and last week, I had a tweetversation with Tina and Wendy regarding showers. (Don't ask. One of my favorite hashtags comes into play here: #writersareweird) In the course of this conversation, we all grudgingly admitted one thing: our muses have dirty minds. They must. If they don't, then why does inspiration seem to only strike while we are in the shower??? (And herein lies the origin of my new favorite hashtag: #dirtymusecleanwriter)

Seriously, though, writers get inspiration from all around them. An image, a symbol, a line from a song, a person walking by... A writer can overhear the most innocent of conversations and be inspired to write a spy novel based on that conversation. The entire world that I created in my manuscript was inspired by a name.

I don't think writers walk through life looking for inspiration all of the time, but it seems to be a gift of ours to see and wonder. To see someone argue and wonder how it all started. To see a mother and daughter and wonder why exactly the mother is smiling with a single tear running down her face. To see a vending machine with the glass shattered and wonder what the hell happened. To see footprints on the ceiling of a tattoo parlor and wonder what creatures had fought there. To flip channels between a reality show and a news report of war and wonder what would happen in a world where those were combined.

The thing that makes us writers and not dreamers is that we write these musings down. The footprints on the ceiling of the tattoo parlor became the footprints of Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunters (tattooed Nephilim who fight demons-and look good doing it). The combination of the war and reality show became Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games (if you don't know what this is, read it).

Inspiration is all around us. It is up to us writers to listen to that inspiration, wherever we may be, and follow it. Our parents always yelled at us to get our head out of the clouds, but maybe that's exactly where they need to be. Well... At least some of the time.... ;o)

I leave you with a piece of my own inspiration..... Dream away!! :o)


So where does your inspiration come from? Do you make up stories about everything you see? (Or am I just crazy like that???)

Friday, January 21, 2011

EMOTION. It's What's For Dinner.

Hi Everyone!

Happy Friday ;o) Guess it's my turn around the double helix. No, I don't get tired of writing that ;o) LOL

So. Today I'm going to discuss EMOTION. It seems like such a simple concept, but so many times I'm reading a book and I realize why I don't care what's going on anymore. There's no emotion behind the character! Tragedy. I know. In fact, I've read my own drafts and realized that mine too, lacked emotion. "How did this happen?" I shout to no one in particular.

Well, easy. I concentrated on everything else and just skipped it.

NOOOOOO!

Don't worry. I've gotten better. And if you're struggling with it. You can too ;o)

So. Let's start at the beginning...

What makes you want to read a book? It could be a gorgeous cover, a hook that kills, *swoon*worthy characters (I know that helps me pick one up). For me? All of the above. Okay, but what KEEPS me reading a book after the first fifty or so pages?

Voice is a huge one for me. But more important is how I feel. How I relate to the characters. Emotion is what keeps me reading. It makes me want, nay, NEED to be with this character the whole time, even through a maze of crap. If I don't care about the characters, then I don't care about the story.

Simple as that.

So, how do we get the right balance of emotion in our stories? Good Question. I'll share with you what I've done to help my writing... and then you can share what worked for you! Yay!

Win, Win, "Win," chimes Pam from The Office.

Read other books. One that completely hooked me and made me weep like a child without candy was THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson. So good.

Emotion is universal. Everyone feels it. So if you don't have that in your novel - the plot, the arc, won't matter. When you're reading a scene, what is it you remember about it? Do you remember the color of the walls? Only if the walls reminded you of something. What about the action? Only if it affected the character in some way. It all ties together.

Dig deep, pull from all facets of your own life and go back. It can be hard. A friend of mine told me to try that. She said it would help my writing. And boy did it ever.

When you go back to the memory that affected you so deeply. Remember everything about it. How did you feel when it happened? What was going on around you? Once you write it down, change roles with your character, using your character's background, character's influences.

And then *Poof* I'm reading your book sniffling as bad as when I watched Beaches for the fiftieth time.

I still struggle with this a lot. But the more I really delve into my heart and my characters' hearts it shows on the page, err screen.

So you've done all that.  Anything else out there to help me? Why, yes there is.

A great resource if you're looking for something to help you find your character's emotion is a fantabulous blog by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi called The Bookshelf Muse. Have you seen this? It's chocked-full of great info on emotion, symbolism, even settings & colors, shapes.

So there's my take on it. What do you think? How do you create emotion in your stories?

Wanna know how to do EMOTION? Watch This. **Warning, swearing, strong content, triggering images, and NSFW. Please note: This blog does not endorse Perez Hilton or his blog, even if he's the ONLY one we could find that didn't censor the crap out of this video.



Now go out there, dig deep and put it in your book!


erica m. chapman is a YA writer by night, workin' for the cause by day. Fan of football, especially Lions and Michigan. She loves alternative music, animals, reading, golf and playing her guitar. She resides in Michigan, AKA the frozen tundra, where she sits quietly typing her next story on her macbook in her Detroit Lions Snuggie. You can also find her at ericachapman.com


Pic credit: vanseodesign.com 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

SO YOU WROTE A BOOK: Now what?

So you've written a book.

TIME TO QUERY-PARTY!

Uh... no.

TIME TO REVISE? (yay! Revisions...! mumbles...)

Right! So what happens when you revise? 
  • Look for the "big picture stuff" like:
    • Plot
    • Pacing
    • Character development
    • Overall story arc
  • Don't worry about:
    • Spelling
    • Grammar
    • Formatting
You work work work work work work work and work some more, and then when you've fixed all those plot holes and merged those two characters, and erased that one scene and added in those three other ones, now you should have a decent book!

    QUERY-PARTY?

    Not so fast, young whippersnapper.  Now it's time to EDIT!

    Wha? Didn't we just...?

    Now it's time to go back and do that spelling/grammar/formatting stuff that you ignored earlier. It's best to not try to do them both at the same time. You want to be focusing on that story problem, not comma splices, when you do revisions. Then, when it's time to edit, you won't have to worry about plot holes as you zap those adjectives! Adding stuff in, taking stuff out... If you're rearranging and shuffling and making a mess of your novel while trying to copyedit too, you'll be wasting time and mental energy.

    NOW QUERY-PARTY?

    Well, no.

    NO? :(

    Now you should let your book sit. For like a month or more. And then--

    A MONTH??!

    Yeah, the longer the better. Get yourself away from that book and work on another book for awhile distance yourself. Read some books.

    :(

    It's okay. After some time, bring that book back out and repeat both revisions and edits. I bet you'll find some more mistakes! And we want our books to be the best we can, right? Right! 

    So then after another round of revisions and edits, now you can

    QUERY-PARTY!!!

    No.

    Bugger.

    Now you can send it to alpha readers, and beta readers, and critique partners, and maybe even hire a freelance editor! And then do MORE revisions and edits!

    Dang.

    Yeah, lots of edits. But it's a tough market out there. You want your book to be the cream of the crop. Don't give agents/pub houses a reason to pass on your book. Make them fight over you.

    AGENTFIGHT! AGENTFIGHT! AGENTFIGHT!

    Ok, calm down. 

    So now that you've revised and edited and you've made it the best possible book you can make it...

    QUERY-PARTY!

    Yay!

    ~~~
    C.A. Marshall is a freelance editor, lit agent intern, YA writer, and loves to play with her dog Mollie. She dreams of one day owning a small house near the water, preferably in England, with a shelf full of books she has written and has helped others to write. She is currently single. And unagented. She can be found in Emmett, MI and at camarshall.com

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    WRITING JOURNEY TOURNIQUET - Compressing the Wounds with Revision



    So, I've been assigned the task of telling you all what I've learned on my writing journey, which will be an on going theme on my posts. First off, I've always loved writing, from when I was a little girl with my first stories of a bunny named Hairless to my NaNoWriMo project that I'm currently revising. Though writing is in my DNA, there was a large chunk of time that I didn't write--during the daunting years of being a single mother, working a high powered job, and raising two precocious boys. It wasn't until I remarried and could stay home with the boys that I returned to the written word. It happened when my new husband--tired of me being too clingy, I'm sure--asked if I had a hobby. I said, "Well, I used to love to write." And then I went about writing my first novel.

    When I finished that novel, I was so excited that I did a quick revision and started researching how to get published. I found that I needed to query agents first and that required a query letter. So I wrote one that ended up being over 500 words long (I kid you not) and sent it out to all the agents listed on AgentQuery. The rejections dinged my email inbox so many times I had to put the delivery notice on silent.

    The first of my posts will be about the querying process but today I want to talk about my first mistake. I should have revised my manuscript more. Revisions are what makes your novel pristine, and if you don't have a manuscript that is near perfect as you can get it, you shouldn't be querying it to agents. After you finish writing your first draft of your manuscript, put it away for a month. Then come back to it with fresh eyes and revise it. Don't stop there and query that version. Revise. Revise. Revise. Find some wonderful people (preferably fellow writers) to read your work and point out all that is wrong with it and then revise again.

    You might ask, how does one get fellow writers to read their work? A great place to start is at the Query Tracker forum here . I love Query Tracker, not only do they have a great forum, but also you can track your queries from their site. You can post your query letter, first 250 words, and synopsis to have other writers critique them. There's AgentQuery here that has a forum and agent research area. Also, Absolute Write Water Cooler here has a wonderful forum. Blogging and joining agents' and  fellow writers' sites is a fabulous way to meet other writers. Make sure to comment on the sites. Joining twitter and following fellow writers and agents can be an invaluable resource as well. Just put your self out there and soon you'll have a passel of new writing buddies to share work with.

    Don't get upset if someone doesn't like your work or says something you don't agree with, use what they say to make your manuscript shine. After all, what you send out into the publishing world will say a lot about who you are, and you want to be the best that you can be.

    Until next time, keep writing and revising.




    Brenda Drake is usually a stay at home mom with kids that are now ghosts. She's temporarily closing houses for her old company on a part time basis in Albuquerque for a few months. She writes young adult novels so she doesn't get bored since the kiddos are off running around doing their own thing now. She's currently querying one manuscript, revising another, and has a couple that she's buried in her back yard someplace where only the dog can find them, if he could still smell and see, that is. 
    You can find Brenda on her blog http://brenleedrake@blogspot.com


    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    HOW WE MET

    http://www.toothpastefordinner.com/archives/2004/Jan/

    It was a dark and stormy night during the early days of NaNoWriMo 2010 and I decided to hang out for a night in the Michigan NaNo chat room to get my word war on.

    And then the next day I checked my internet usage (I only get 5GB a month! *GASP*) and about died when I saw that chatnano had used nearly a full gig. "There goes my hopes of literary chattage," I thought to myself, before breaking down to weep and gnash teeth.

    I stumbled upon Chatzy, a pretty awesome chat program that used significantly less bandwidth and rejoiced! I got a few of my fellow Michigan NaNo-ers to join me in Chatzy on the days that they didn't meet for on chatnano for some word wars, like Erica with her character's bra with wings (really, a skimpy dress,) and then invited some friends from twitter to join in with us.

    Of those were Kari, word war speed demon that would make anyone cry with her word counts that were usually double the rest of ours. We decided early on to congratulate her, but secretly she didn't count towards the real winner. I frequently had the lowest counts, but I had friends so it didn't matter.

    Other friends came along, like Shelley, the resident romance guru who kept us late into the night with her sharing of Greyson and that girl firefighter and their, um... parts.

    Brenda came along too, sharing bits (and whole copies) of her Library Jumpers book that took the group by storm, along with her owly BirdBoy.

    The five of us really fell in together during November 2010. By months end, I really didn't want our lovely chat sessions and word wars to end, but end they did.  Revisions were to be had, as well as incoming family for the holiday. Funny thing, though, we all kept meeting in Chatzy. We'd share bits and news and encouragement and embarrassing stories... They didn't want our perfect little group to break up either!

    And so, fast forward to January when a few of us were talking on Twitter. Janelle and Diana got curious about our cryptic tweets and so we welcomed them into the fold. It's like they were there all along.

    Erica dubbed us Dumbledore's NaNo Army, and I shortened that to DNA, and thus the DNA writers were born.
    ~~~

    C.A. Marshall is a freelance editor, lit agent intern, YA writer, and loves to play with her dog Mollie. She dreams of one day owning a small house near the water, preferably in England, with a shelf full of books she has written and has helped others to write. She is currently single. And unagented. She can be found in Emmett, MI and at camarshall.com



    Introducing: JANELLE

    Happy Sunday!!


    Everyone else has a picture, so here's mine.....
    My Photo


    ;o)


    Bio:
    I live SoCal (not quite close enough to Disneyland for my tastes. Granted, anything short of actually living in Disneyland wouldn't be close enough for me...) with my almost 9 year-old daughter and my laptop. I work for a Big Name Insurance Company during the day and write YA at night. I'd much rather write during the day and get some sleep at night, but...... Someday.....


    Books:
    The Trilunarias: Skye
    YA Urban Fantasy (Status: Currently Revising)
    Skye Corbin was just a typical high school senior—Prom Queen, girlfriend of the star quarterback, Kung Fu champion. But when she starts having strange abilities, like hearing whispered conversations from across a crowded parking lot, communicating telepathically, and suddenly understanding Physics, she questions who, or what, she really is. And the only person who might know what she is going through, the very handsome and perceptive Forrest Ramirez, is the last person she wants to confide in. Somewhere between breaking up with her boyfriend, figuring out how she really feels about Forrest, and learning to control her new supernatural powers, Skye needs to learn the truth about her past—before it’s too late. Because there are others like Skye and Forrest.
    And some of them are trying very hard to kill her. 



    Frozen
    YA Dystopian (Status: Drafting)
    When her brother, the heir to the throne, rejects his Programming and They refuse to awaken him, 16 year-old Ayira runs away to rescue him before he remains frozen forever.

    Interests:
    Most of all, I love hanging out with my daughter, any time, any place. I also love hanging out with my friends and talking about book crushes. In case you missed it before, I love all things Disney (and PIXAR). I love watching movies, tv (esp Chuck, Leverage, White Collar, and Psych), and music (especially Foo Fighters--hi Erica & Di, Linkin Park, Nickelback, and P!nk). And occasionally, very very rarely, I go on Twitter. Hardly. Ever. #internetsarcasmFTW


    Links:
    janellealexander.blogspot.com
    www.twitter.com/janellealexandr

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    Introducing: DIANA





    Bio-
    Hi! I’m Diana and I write YA. Here are some basic facts about me: I live in Southern California but I grew up in Miami. I fall in love with book-crushes but am happily married. I started college at Cal State Northridge but graduated from Cal State San Marcos. I like baking but hate to cook... and......I’m a recovering ellipses-abuser! I gush over things I love, I kill plants and goldfish, I adore speaking Spanish, I’m completely addicted to reading; I'm also addicted to caffeine and refined sugar. And probably my phone.

    I'm so excited to be working with the other DNAwriters; be sure to check out everyone else's books and bios too!
    Books-
    Twists of Fate (Rhemalda Publishing, April 2013)- YA Paranormal
    Sixteen-year-olds Julia and Angie are mastering the magic of their inheritance, but their time as Daughters of Fate is running out. They must seal their magic with the final Daughter to keep their powers, but when she turns out to be Kaitlyn, the vicious school snob, an irreversible life seal doesn’t sound so great. The lure of their magic, however, becomes impossible to resist. After the seal is complete, their destiny as the protectors of time is revealed--a destiny Kaitlyn refuses to accept.
    Other Interests-

    Reading...
    young adult, fantasy, romance, historical, paranormal, mythology, classics

    Music...
    alternative, dance, hip-hop and R&B, spanish balladas, rock en español, musicals, classical

    And also...
    going to the beach, baking cookies and eating them warm, thunderstorms, airplane trips, bonfires, tiny-fluffy dogs, Disney anything, lurking on Twitter, swooning over books.
    I make lists. That's something you all should know. Also, I enjoy randomness. Which reminds me...


    My List of Five Favorite Things

    1. Authors- Laura Kinsale, Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Judy Blume, Charles Dickens









    2. Bands/Musicians- Linkin Park, Foo Fighters (hi5 Erica!), Cascada, Chayanne, Timbaland (and The Fray and OneRepublic and Carolina Liars--I can't just keep it to five!! #cheater)

    3. Food- Ridiculously sweetened beverages (especially coffee), bacon-pineapple pizza, orange chicken over vegetable lo mein, carne asada nachos with loads of cheese, caramel brownie sundae when the ice cream is half melted and the caramel is hot.

    4. TV Shows- Most HBO miniseries, stand up comedy, documentaries, Punky Brewster (she was my hero when I was a kid!), and I can't think of a fifth!

    5. Movies- Slumdog Millionaire, Stardust, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Star Wars, Easy A (and Enchanted and Pirates of the Caribbean! #morethanfive #suchacheater)
    That's plenty from me for a first post. Thanks for reading! ;)
    xo
    Di
    Links-

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Introducing: ERICA

    Hi Everyone!! *waves*

    I'm Erica ;o) So. I'm told I must talk about myself, which is always hard for me... Why? 'cause I'm not that interesting... kidding. No really? Please don't leave!

    Okay... Thanks for sticking around ;o)



    Bio/Interests

    I'm a YA writer. I work for the American Heart Association and am a heart survivor and advocate. I'm happily married with 2 doggies and 3 kitties. I love to write, read, watch awesome TV (like Dexter & True Blood, okay, okay I watch Wipeout, so sue me), I LOVE to play my guitar, watch football (Michigan and Lions,) golf, listen to music, especially alternative. See below for awesome pic of my favoritest band in the whole world. Hi5 Di and Janelle!


    Pssst. It's the Foo Fighters. Yes, their pic is bigger than mine, cause they are that cool.

    So, I think we need bullet points in this post... Just because... There's not enough bullet points in the world.


    Things I love about writing:
    • Freedom to escape and be someone else for a bit (same with reading)
    • Getting that perfect sentence just right
    • The writing social world -- this blog is a great example of the wonderful writer/pub peeps I've met
    • Plotting!
    • Being able to torture my characters
    • Being able to rescue my characters
    • Finding out more about myself and the world around me

    Whew, hard part done. Nice to meet you! *shakes hand*

    Welcome to DNA. Buckle up. You're in for an awesome ride around the double helix!

    Excited yet? Just wait...

    Links
    ericachapman.com
    Bloggy blog laugh.write.play.
    Twitter @EricaMChapman
    Facebook


    Don't forget to check out my fellow DNA'ers' intro's! Link is in the sidebar under About Us ;o)

    <3 Er

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Introducing: SHELLEY

    Bio:
    Shelley Watters writes romance for young adults and adults. She lives in Arizona with her husband, two kids and two dogs. She loves listening to music, reading good books and letting her imagination go wild as she creates new worlds and torments her characters in delicious ways. She is an active member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

    Other interests:
    Writing, music, reading, knitting, sewing, painting, playing with her kids, running, coffee drinking, data analysis/research/program evaluation, being distracted by shiny things or things that make noise.

    Links:
    http://shelleywatters.blogspot.com/
    http://twitter.com/Shelley_Watters
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shelley-Watters/118044414909086

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Introducing: CASSANDRA!


    Bio:
    C.A. Marshall is a freelance editor, lit agent intern, YA writer, and loves to play with her dog Mollie. She dreams of one day owning a small house near the water, preferably in England, with a shelf full of books she has written and has helped others to write. She can be found in Emmett, MI and at camarshall.com

    She is currently single. And unagented.

    Books:
    YA "GIRL INDIANA JONES" WIP: A teenage stunt double goes to Portugal to film on location. While on a boat tour of the coast, she gets caught in a storm and washes up on the shore of Atlantis. However, the Atlanteans don't want her to leave and she must fight to free herself with the help of two hot Atlantean boys.

    SALTWATER: Contemporary YA. A family still reeling from the death of the little brother wins the lottery, then must fight off a stalker. Complete at 59,000 words.

    THE PRACTICE OF WEARING SKIN: Paranormal YA. A girl has thirty days to wrap up her life before she becomes a grim reaper. Complete at 51,000 words. Currently being queried.

    THE INSIDE OF TREES: MG urban fantasy. Twins move to the country and discover a group of Travellers in the woods behind their house who guard a secret: a Lilliputian race of faeries. Complete at 48,000 words.

    DRAMA LLAMA: Picture book. A drama llama llama learns to do things for himself. Complete at 464 words.


    Other Interests:
    My dog Mollie, tea, reading, sleeping, editing, punctuation, the color blue, silver things, sparkly things, design, graphics, headbands, words, letters, books, beta reading, tiny manatees, mac computers, copyediting, bicycles, old cathedrals, old skeleton keys, rain, surfing, the ocean, Scrivener,  international travel, water, winter, writing, ☆, ★, ♔, , ♫, ♥, ⚜, ♨, ♕, ✄, ✉, ⚓, ⎈,☼, ☁, ☂, ☃, ❀, ✪, ✯, ✵, ❄, ❅ & ✈.


    Links:
    http://www.camarshall.com
    http://www.twitter.com/CA_Marshall

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Introducing: KARI


    Bio:
    Kari is a querying YA writer and book blogger who currently works a day job with a radiologist group and lives in Dallas. She enjoys badgering her dog Toby, meandering around the internet, and reading lots and lots of books. Currently juggling three manuscripts, she’s dreaming for the day she can stay at home and write full time, preferably with a charming boy to cook and clean. You can find her at http://agoodaddiction.blogspot.com/.

    She is currently accepting applications for said boy. Extra points for being tall.

    Interests:
    Reading, writing, playing with Toby, hot boys, cute boys, okay boys in general, dark colors, tiny manatees, fuzzy socks, pajamas, music, video games, BlueBell Snickerdoodle ice cream, Girl Scout Cookies, and did she mention boys? And writing boys?

    About My Books:
    INCORRIGIBLE: Contemporary YA about teen struggling with his sex addiction who finds salvation in an unlikely place--a girl suffering from an eating disorder, all while he tries to fix the family he helped destroy. Complete at 77,000 words. Currently being queried.

    AWKWARDLY YOURS: Contemporary YA romance from the male perspective. In revisions and complete at 84,000 words.

    HOLD ON TO ME: Dual POV contemporary YA about two brothers who don't get along, don't understand each other, and don't know how to bridge the gap. In progress.

    SUSPENDED: Contemporary YA about a teen who's girlfriend struggles with depression, pulling him down in the process. In progress.

    Links:
    http://agoodaddiction.blogspot.com/
    http://twitter.com/flamingo1325

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Introducing: BRENDA



    Bio:
    Brenda Drake writes young adult and middle grade novels. She's currently querying one manuscript, revising another, and has a couple that she's buried in her back yard someplace where only the dog can find them, if he could smell and see, that is.

    Interests:
    My family, coffee, reading, writing, watching old movies on a rainy day, board games, old books with worn covers, my pets, the color red, pens, notebooks, and that guy that sleeps beside me at night.

    Links:
    http://brenleedrake.blogspot.com
    http://twitter.com/#!/brendadrake