January 2011

Some good stuff this week, folks. Enjoy:

Über-helpful post from Jill Corcoran on formatting your query and manuscript for electronic submissions.

Agent Jennifer Laughran has helpful definitions for query, synopsis, pitch, flap copy and blurb.

The always spectacular Janice Hardy has advice on planting clues in your manuscript.

This week’s Link of Awesome: Ten Reasons Your Novel Won’t Get Published (via Call My Agent). It may sound depressing, but read it for both the advice and the humor…I’ll be watching out for monkeys with sticks.

What was your Link of Awesome this week?


(Now that I think about it, that title makes me want to watch Aladdin…but back to business)

My new WIP involves some serious world building, which isn’t one of my strengths. I focus on things that really interest me (like the agriculture), but tend to avoid areas that don’t (like the politics). So, in case anyone else is looking for help in this area, here are some resources I’ve found:

Author Janice Hardy did a “world building week;” her first post is here. Actually, just read every post she’s ever written, trust me.

Patricia C. Wrede’s Worldbuilder Questions covers all the bases and some I hadn’t thought of.

Becca at The Bookshelf Muse just included a world building post as part of a series on unforgettable settings.

And of course, there’re the Fantasy Novelist’s Exam to check for cliches.

What are your favorite world building tips?

Big news this week for Iowa author and Writing Cave interviewee Dori Hillestad Butler: an Edgar nomination for Best Juvenille mystery! For more about Dori and The Buddy Files, check out her blog, website, and interview.

Congratulations Dori on your deserved recognition!

Happy Wednesday everyone! (It is Wednesday, isn’t it? I’m out of Diet Coke, so I just can’t tell anymore.) Well, assuming it is, on to the Linkfest: 

We start with a nice post from Jody Hedlund on consistency (*sheepish slacker face*).

Fantastic tips on Ingrid Sundberg’s blog to make sure your manuscript is ready to submit.

Marla Taviano guest posts on Agent Rachelle’s blog about choosing to promote other authors instead of being jealous (well, you know, after that initial jolt).

If you’re looking for story structure tips (ooo, pick me!), Laura Pauling has you covered with her three act break down of the movie How to Train Your Dragon and the resulting 15 tips.

And, just in time for the 35th version of my opening chapter, Roni at *Fiction Groupie* has a litmus test for your opening scene.

This week’s Link of Awesome: check out GalleyCat for instructions on turning your favorite book into a handbag (presumably, you have more than one copy, or keep an eye out for cool covers at book sales). I knew I should’ve paid attention to Mom’s sewing lessons…

When I was at my parents’ house over Christmas, my best friend from elementary school was in town as well, so of course we started reminiscing over Whitey’s ice cream. (You’ve never had Whitey’s? What?! Travel to the Quad Cities. Immediately.) Anyway, all of his stories, I had no memories of, and he had no idea what I was talking about with mine. Apparently I yelled at him for not turning the water off while brushing his teeth; I had no idea. (My sister, six years younger than us, mostly remembered being tormented. Which probably happened.)

But it got me thinking: what memories do each of my characters have? In the middle grade WIP, the three main characters have known each other since kindergarten and there’s lots of history there, but which incident sticks in each mind could be used to say a lot about each one. Is it a stronger memory when they were embarrassed, or when it happened to a friend? Which do they remember most: successes or failures? Are most of the memories things they’d like to change or when things went perfectly?

So that’s one more thing for the revision checklist 🙂 How do you use memories to build character?

Low quantity, super high quality links for this week:

Post #2 in Adventures in Children’s Publishing’s best-of-the-best series.

Great stuff from Janet at Books & Such on creating velocity versus book sales.

This week’s Link of Awesome: Kate Messner’s What Happened to Your Book Today” has a message for writers everywhere.

Please share any other Links of Awesome in the comments!

It’s that time of year again. Snow is flying, seed catalogs are arriving, and I get the itch. The itch for jigsaw puzzles.

My latest one is from sister-in-law Kate. The picture is my progress through this weekend, when I hit the wall.

You know that wall? When all the edge pieces and distinctive middle designs are done and all that’s left is filling in the in-between? It’s like when you’re writing a draft and you’ve put in all the major plot points, lyrical description bits, and the witty dialogue you thought up in the shower. How do you slog through the rest?

So now I’ll be taking all those solid black wine bottle pieces and brown wood background pieces and trying every piece, one after the other, until I find the perfect fit. And that’s why great writing is so hard and takes so long: each piece has that one location where it has the most impact. And once we get the framework and flashy middle set up, it’s butt-in-chair to find the perfect fit for the rest.

Do you have any tips for filling in the puzzle?

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