November 2009


A pre-Turkey Day “feast” of links!

First, coincidently on-topic, food in fantasy ! From The Teaching Authors.

Great post from Jeanne on Mark Twain’s Rules for Writing.

Another fantastic posts from Kidlit Central News  about writing for children in respect to altitude and attitude.

And, in the spirit of the holiday season, want to win awesome books? (seriously, who doesn’t) Click over to The Enchanted Inkpot  to read about the First Annual Inkies Giveaway Extravaganza!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone! Any big plans?

The third featured speaker at the Iowa SCBWI fall conference was agent Stephen Barbara of Foundry Literary + Media. He is the agent for Laura Amy Schlitz of Good Masters, Sweet Ladies Newbery fame and Lynne Jonell, whose The Secret of Zoom I read immediately after the conference. It was as enjoyable as he promised!

Mr. Barbara mainly spoke about his own tastes and tendencies as an agent rather than broad advice, but it was helpful to get to know him, especially as he reps middle grade. For those interested in submitting, he likes “irreverent material,” dreams of living in a hotel like Eloise J, and is a fan of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”-type humor.

For general advice, Mr. Barbara recommends checking an agent’s track record to see how many different houses they’ve worked with. He also advises authors check out websites like Agent Query and Query Tracker.

This concludes the Iowa SCBWI fall conference wrap-up. Any other attendees have comments to add?

A scaled-back feast this Wednesday as I prepare for my critique group meeting:

A wonderful list of questions for agents when they make THE CALL from Tabitha at Writer Musings.

Good advice on characterization  from the wonderful authors at The Enchanted Inkpot.

Had a rough copyediting experience? Enjoy the copyedit of Shakespeare  via Kay Cassidy.

And in a private-happy-dance moment, Husband passed his Masters thesis presentation last Friday! Anyone else have good news or links to share?

In honor of National Novel Revising Month (it’s true, The Intern says so), be sure to check out her tips for revising. My favorite so far: the electric kool-aid conflict test. Open any novel to a random page and read a paragraph. Can you tell what the conflict is? Would your manuscript pass that test? I like her analogy of a cake – if you poke it anywhere with a toothpick, will it come out clean? What parts aren’t done baking yet?

The rest of this week’s links du jour:

Great post, advice, and links about author marketing from Elizabeth O. Dulemba via Cynsations.

Writer’s Digest has released their latest list of 24 Agents Who Want Your Work, including a few agents looking for children’s/middle grade/young adult.

Wondering what goes into a book proposal? Check out the basics from Books & Such.

I’m soaking up the sun in Dallas for the next few days before heading back to the midwest. Is it unseasonably warm everywhere else?

Continuing with the “things I learned at the SCBWI-Iowa conference,” this installment focuses on the words of wisdom from Charlesbridge editor Yolanda LeRoy. Most Charlesbridge books are nonfiction, and about 90% are picture books, but they did start expanding into young reader, early chapter, and middle grade books in 2004. Right now, Yolanda is looking for quality, stand-alone nonfiction, which comprises about 70% of their list. Also, manuscripts with a social conscious or global perspective and books about the arts. We were treated to a special performance of “There’s No Business Like Book Business” at the end of her presentation, complete with choreography and we were all pretty impressed!

Yolanda’s Sunday talk focused on “4 Things Editors Want You to Know.” Some noteworthy pieces of advice:

  • Your manuscript is the element of publishing most in your control. Give it most of your time.
  • Pay attention to your intended audience and match the voice to the age.
  • Know everything about your character.
  • Know sales hooks.
  • Keep writing different things and keep getting feedback.

Any other attendees have anything to add?