Thursday, January 28, 2010

Friday Free For All

Today's all about links. 

This one starts today so if you're interested, hurry on over.  It's a five day email thing on preparing a great book proposal.  Even if you don't have anything ready now, you might want to save the info for later.

Here's a very nice "Dos & Don'ts for Online Publicity." 

And, in case you missed the Book Trailer Workshop, here it is again.

Ten Mistakes Writers Don't See

Ten Top Writing Tips

And, since it's Friday... Write Naked!

Troll News

Not long ago, we were challenged to write a holiday letter home but it had to be something other than the "usual" and no more than 250 words.  So, as a brief diversion, here's the troll's.

Dear Ma and Pa,

Things have been quiet since this past spring when we had that misunderstanding with the neighbors across the creek. You remember the three Gruff brothers don't you? The two younger brothers were polite as could be when I stepped out to warn them about those loose planks in the middle of the bridge but the older brother (the biggest anyway) was seriously rude. I saw him coming and ran to warn him but before I could say a thing he head-butted me into the creek. I had to float downstream a couple miles before finding a place to climb out. He mysteriously disappeared shortly after I returned but his brothers seem to be taking it well.

Funny thing happened on the way home though. I came across a family hiding in a cave. Seems some joker had told them trolls turned to stone if touched by the sun. I had to go in and out almost a dozen times to convince 'em it wasn't so. And while they've visited me several times they still haven't ventured outside in the daylight. I believe it won't be long now.

Gotta check the grill so will close now. Please send more recipes for goat. I fear there's going to be another tragedy in the Gruff family this spring.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I want to welcome all the new visitors that have been stopping by lately.  I'm really glad you took time from your busy day and visited a while. 

But I have a job for you.  I need you to let me know what you'd like to see here.  More agent info?  More markets and contests? Writing tips, author interviews, or book reviews?

So, please, post your request in the comments and I'll do my best to satisfy. 

And, if you'd be so kind, it'd be really cool if you'd become a follower.  It doesn't cost anything...

Cyberwizard Productions

Looking for a home for that short story?  Then check out Abandoned Towers.  Not only does Abandoned Towers have a print issue, they also have an online issue that contains different content than the printed.   This is also a paying market.

One of the very nice things about Abandoned Towers is that every story rejected will be returned with editorial commments letting you know why the piece was rejected and how to improve it and your chances for acceptance if you resubmit.  Response times may be a bit longer than at other places but the wait will be worth it.

Cyberwizard Productions is also a small press that provides high quality books while working with and taking the author into consideration.  If you are looking for a home for your novel, then check them out.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More Agent Stuff...

New Agent!

Lauren MacLeod is seeking: middle grade novels, young adult fiction and nonfiction, as well as highly polished literary fiction and narrative nonfiction. Some of her favorite (non-client) YA authors are Meg Rosoff, Maureen Johnson and John Green. Specifically, she's looking for contemporary YA & MG, narrative nonfiction for young adults, graphic novels, YA Dystopian with strong world-building, and adult trade nonfiction on quirky subjects or people. She is currently especially drawn to YA & MG projects with humorous situations or funny characters.

How to contact: Do not send entire manuscripts unless requested. E-queries accepted, strothmanagency (at) gmail (dot) com. Include a query, synopsis, and (for fiction) 2-10 pages. No attachments please. "If we have not replied to your query within six weeks, we do not feel that it is right for us." Snail submissions accepted, too: The Strothman Agency, LLC, 6 Beacon Street, Suite 810, Boston MA 02108 and include a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Agent seeing YA...

Kate Epstein has expanded her want list to YA.  You can find more info here. 

What you need BEFORE you query...

Agent Janet Reid's very helpful post.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cool Stuff

Wordle - Very cool way to spend some time. The above is a Wordle I did from a short story.  You just enter the text, play with the options some and there you go.  One writer also uses it for idea generation.  She puts in poems and such and looks for interesting word combinations.
AutoCrit - I love this.  Sign up for their free revising course by email and at the end, they'll send you a code for a discount off the price.  Give the free version a try.  Last time I checked, you could imput up to 800 words and run them up to 5 times a day.  It checks for repeated words and phrases and sentence length in the free version. 

Book Trailer Workshop - learn how to make book trailers and videos.  This is a free workshop.  I don't know much about it but I plan to check it out.

Jubilee Jambalaya Writer's Conference - Got this in the mail Friday.  If you're near Houma Louisiana on April 10th, then you might want to check this out.  I've been there twice and it's a very nice conference.  This year they have a St. Martin's editor, a publicist and an agent.  This is a really reasonable conference and well put together.

No Energy Vampires Allowed - I've got to find the book mentioned and read it but this article gives some really nice tips on maintaining positive energy in your life.

Glass Woman Writer's Contest - Don't forget this women writer only contest.  Deadline is Mar. 21.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Agents 101

Love 'em or not, they are a fact of life for most writers.  Especially if you desire publishing with a major house such as Tor or Berkley.    So, it's your job to learn all you can about agents and how they work.  You have to learn what they require for submissions, what they represent and what they can do for you to improve your publication chances.

But where do you start?

Agent Query  offers the largest, most current searchable database of literary agents on the web—a treasure trove of reputable, established literary agents seeking writers just like you. And it's free (not because there's a catch, but simply because not enough things in this world are free).

Miss Snark  This "secret" agent blog isn't active but the archives are stuffed full of great info.  I suggest you go all the way back to the beginning and start reading there.  If you look hard'll find where I won "Best Use of a Blog Joke" in one of her writing challenges.       And while you're there, clink on some of the other agent links and check them out too.

One of my favorite agent blogs is that of agent Janet Reid.  Even if you write things she doesn't represent, you should read this blog for all the great info.  It's on my list of daily reads.  She has a nice list of agent links too.

Twitter is also another place to find agents.  I "follow" quite a few there and it's interesting to see a more informal side of them.  Twitter is also a great place for writing tips, quotes and articles.

And while you are learning about agents, here's a great place to learn about query letters.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Leftover Chex Mix

A couple days ago I had a gallon ziplock bag almost full of the wonderful stuff. Today, there remains only about 1/5 of the mixture. What's leftover is the wheat chex (not my favorite) some of the pretzels (okay, but not what I'm in the mood for) and the pumpernickle bread pieces (don't like). I look over at the bag occasionally, don't see anything I want so look for something else. (Which reminds me, there's a hershey bar in the other room just waiting for me.)

Sometimes our writing is like leftover chex mix to the reader. Readers are a finicky bunch. (Just like me and my chex mix.) They will find pieces they don't like, stories that are okay but just not what they want now and sometimes our writing will be the best option at the time.

When writing, we have to think about the reader. We need to especially consider the reader when crafting our opening. If the reader doesn't like the opening, then they'll find another book to snack on.

We also have to consider our readers when working with dialogue. Are our tags clear? Can the reader tell who is speaking without having to go back and count lines? (I hate having to do that!!!) Does the dialogue read smoothly and naturally? So much to consider!

Our readers need a reason to continue reading too. Just like one handful of chex mix leads to another, we have to tempt them with the seasonings of great writing.

Now, I'm not saying we should write for the reader only and not write the story we want to tell. I'm just saying that we need to make our writing as pleasureable as possible or the reader will find something else sweeter.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pondering Harry Potter

A couple years ago for Christmas I gave the kids the Harry Potter series of books. When they orignially came out, they weren't interested but that changed. Recently though, my son has started rereading the series.

Which makes me ask... just what is it about HP and the series that is so fascinating? Not only to kids, but adults too.

Is it the characters? I mean, each character is fully fleshed out and practically real. They each have problems, hopes, dreams and things that make them special. They are, dare I say it, people we can relate to in our lives too.

Or is it the plotlines? There's been other stories about magic and wizards. So what makes this one so special?

The setting maybe? I have to admit, Hogwarts is really a cool place. I'd love to go there...not sure if I'd want to stay but definitely visit. When you think about it, Hogwarts is practically a character.

I forget how many agents turned down the first HP book before someone took a chance on it but she kept on until she found that one person.

I don't guess I have any answers for what makes HP such a hit but there are things we can take and apply to our own writing.

First...our characters have to be real. Not only to us, but to our readers. We have to give our reader ways to relate and connect to them. Cause...if the reader doesn't care what happens to our characters, they won't continue reading.'s not the plot or the idea that's terribly important, it's what we do with it.

Third...our setting should be real to our readers too. If we build a world, it needs to be fully formed and we should know them better than we know our own neighborhood. If we are using a place that already exists....then we need to make sure we get those details right. If we don't, there will be someone who notices. And when they do...they'll stop reading.

Lastly...never give up. Getting our work published isn't easy. But...the process is one we're going to have to deal with if we ever see our writing published.

Actually...I think I know the secret of the Harry Potter series.

It's called "suspension of disbelief." Even though we know there's no such person as Harry and no place like Hogwarts...for just a little while, we can go back to a time when we believed in magic and Harry and Hogwarts do exist.

So...I'm off to ponder what it's going to take to create a little of my own suspension of disbelief.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Writing & Cats

I know cats aren't what you usually think of when it comes to writing but have you ever paid attention to cats? I mean they're aloof, independent and sometimes demanding. They don't come when called, unless they want something you have. Generally it's not worth the trouble to train them and they tend to scratch and bite when annoyed. Other times, they are loving and wonderful to be around.

Writing is like that too. Most of the time we get stories that demand to be written. They bounce around and let you think of nothing else until you set down and put them on paper. But other days the story is aloof and won't act like you think it should. The more you work at it the less it cooperates.

Then you have days when the story just flows from your fingers onto the page. Like a cat rubbing on your leg and purring, (I just love a purring cat!!!) your story's dialogue sounds natural, the transitions flow from one scene to another without being noticed all is right in the world.

Today, my story is a cranky cat. It's laying there on the window ledge sunning itself, twitching it's tale, daring me to disturb it.

I've had my chocolate, gathered my courage and opened the document. Hopefully, I won't get bitten:--)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dragon Appreciation Day

“The man who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself."

Freidrich Nietzsche

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”
JRR Tolkein

“Meddle not in the affairs of the dragon; for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.”

“May the dragon of life only roast your hot-dogs and never burn your buns!”

Leave your favorite dragon quote or title of your favorite dragon novel or movie in the comments and I'll pick a winner for a 2010 Dungeons & Dragons calendar. Or, if you haven't any, just drop your name in the hat. You've got until Monday evening to enter.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Glass Woman Writing Contest

Here's a writing contest for just us women.  Deadline is March 21, 2010, up to 5k and has no reading fee with a VERY nice prize.

Here's the guidelines.

Chex Mix, Writing & Reading

Today I had chex mix for breakfast. It's the "traditional" flavor and overall I enjoy munching on it. In fact I'll probably have the bag close by and nibble off and on most of the day. That's one of the reasons I don't buy it often...I tend to nibble on it way too much.
But as I pondered blogging today, I glanced over at the bag of chex mix and realized that yeap, I can make the chex mix and writing relate. So, bear with me:--)

There are a lot of different parts to good chex mix. The bag I'm nibbling on now has two kinds of cereal, two different pretzel shapes, two kinds of bread and a little breadstick thingy. Not to mention the spices. And for the most part, I like it all. Of course, I pick around the wheat chex and the pumpernickle bread pieces and eat the rest first.

A good story has lots of ingredients too. Great characters, interesting setting, and realistic dialogue are just a few those ingredients. Then there are those "spices" that each writer adds...his or her own voice. Each of us have something special we bring to the story.

And just as I pick through by bag of chex mix picking out my favs, readers will have their favorites too. Not everyone will care for the pretzels.

Plus, there is a chex mix for just about every taste now. Turtle, cheddar, BBQ, sweet & salty and of course traditional. All of them are tasty in their own way. And there is a genre for every reader too...mystery, romance, fantasy, just to name a few.

Which leads me to reading.  As writers we need to read.  We need to read outside our genre.  We need to read nonfiction, we need to read romance, mystery, thrillers, fantasy and science fiction.   We even need to read literary and mainstream novels.  And while I enjoy a good horror every now and then, I won't insist we all need to read them.
When we read, we get a chance to see how other writers play with the language, how they do descriptions, dialogue and action.  We see what we like and what we don't then can apply it to our own writing.
So, go grab a bag of chex mix, a book you'd not normally read and find a comfy chair.  Now, enjoy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


"I write when I'm inspired, and I see to it that I'm inspired at nine o'clock every morning."  Peter DeVries

I've decided to apply this quote to my writing.  So, from now on, I'll be at my puter, being inspired at 9 o'clock each morning.  (Except Sat. & Sun.  A writer's gotta sleep late sometimes.)

I also like this one...

“Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the internet.” Anonymous

Isn't this the truth!  I actually take my laptop in the other room away from the internet to avoid all the email, twitter and IM distractions.

And of course...

"Don’t get it right, get it written."  James Thurber

How about sharing your favorite quote.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Writer's Workshop & Conference

Pen to Press  is a week long intensive workshop in New Orleans in May of this year.  There's days of one on one instruction then a time to pitch to agents and an editor or two.  I'll be there with  my mystery novel.  Let me know if you decide to join us.  We'll do lunch.:-)

NETWO Conference   This is a really nice day and a half conference.  They'll have two NY agents and and editor from Berkley this year.  This one is in April at a lakeside campground.  I've attended the last two years and love it.

Inspirational Writer's Contest

I couldn't find a link to this so if you are interested, email me and I'll send you a copy of the info I have.  I'll just scan it in and email it.

Catergories include, Short Story, Article, Poetry, Devotional, Book Proposal & Drama. 

Deadline is May 15th and prizes will be awarded at the Texas Christian Writer's Conference.

There is a small entry fee.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Anthology Markets

SCHEHERAZADE’S FAƇADE    Deadline Feb. 28, 2010

First off, I’m looking for fantasy. High, low, dark, historical, romantic, urban, mythical - just about anything goes as long as it has those fantastic elements to it. No straight-out horror, no science fiction, please. The magical elements can be subtle or blatant, but they must be identifiable as such.
Second, I’m looking for stories in which the protagonist or other major characters are disguised or transformed, or otherwise challenge traditional gender roles. Think of Bugs Bunny, donning a dress to confuse the Tasmanian Devil, or Mulan, who masquerades as a man to join the army in her father’s stead. Consider Tamora Pierce’s Alanna, who spends years disguised as a boy to become a knight, or Coyote, who often changes shape to play his tricks

TRIANGULATION   Deadline Mar. 31, 2010

Theme is "End of the Rainbow." 

Science fiction, horror, fantasy, magic realism, alternate history, whatever -- if there's a speculative element vital to your story, we'll gladly give it a read.

We love creative interpretations of our theme, "End of the Rainbow". Don't ask us what it means -- tell us what it means with a story that convinces us you're right.

LADIES OF TRADE TOWN  Deadline June 9, 2010

The stories selected for this anthology will build on that varied background to tell well-crafted tales of the women and men – and other sentient beings – who “ply the trade” in a variety of times and settings. I’m looking for original science fiction, fantasy, and related genre short stories that entertain and play to the imagination of the reader. Show me something I haven’t seen, read, or written.

I found these on Ralans

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Welcome to the Troll's bridge...

You never know what you'll find under a troll's bridge, especially a troll that's a writer.  Here you'll find contests and markets to conferences and links of interest.  There'll be tips and hints from around the web on getting published.  You'll also find author interviews, reviews of  "how to write" books, articles on social networking and publishing in general.

I'll also be sharing my adventures as I travel the path toward publication in the upcoming year.

I encourage you to pull up a stump or settle in the muck and make yourself at home.  And don't worry, muck is great for the skin and hair.