Inspiration and pet peeves

My middle-grade novel revision is moving along, but not as quickly as I’d like. Part of the reason is that I’m editing faster than my critique group meetings. Sounds weird, I know, but I’ll explain. You see, we meet twice a month and can take up to five pages to each meeting. After each meeting, I edit the pages for which I got notes, then keep going. But once I’m past the next five, I feel like I don’t want to go on too much farther because I’ll only be taking the next five to the critique group. So I go a little further, then go back, then browse the Internet… I can’t get motivated to move on because I feel this resistance. Does anybody else have this problem? I should just keep going, shouldn’t I?

Anyway, onto the subject of this post. In my dawdling, I’ve been reading writing-related articles online and found some good ones I wanted to share.

First up, an article from NPR about a book called The Lace Reader and how it came to be. The author and her husband self-published the book and got the word out in book clubs with a particular interest in the book’s subject matter. In fact, the author even gave the book clubs pre-published manuscripts with a request for notes, which got them intrigued and gave them a feeling of being invested in the book (I would assume). After self-publishing the book and getting word out, the author got interest from an agent, who then got interest in a bunch of big publishing houses and finally signed a deal for $2 million. Wow! Now, of course, this is a-typical. But, it’s an example of what can happen if you’re passionate and smart and, most of all, if you follow through. Even without the $2 million deal, this story is great, because this lady had an idea, wrote it, was passionate about, built fans for it and made it a success. If she can do it, so can we. Click here for the full article. There’s an excerpt from the book too.

Second is a blog post from Writers Digest’s Guide to Literary Agents about agents’ and editor’s first chapter pet peeves. Some are purely subjective (Stephany Evans of FinePrint Literary Management says she’s turned off by protagonists called Isabelle who go by the name of Izzy, but I’d guess there are plenty of agents and editors who aren’t bothered by that), but most of them are good reminders or eye-openers for our own work. Too much or unnecessary exposition is mentioned by a few of them, for example. Best part, the magazine has a bigger list in the print publication, which will be online in a few weeks if you can’t get to your local magazine rack. Click here for the full blog post.

Third, I was turned on to this through agent Kate Schafer’s blog. Author Cory Doctorow has a great column in Locus magazine about writing for young adult, the pleasures and pit falls. He talks about it as a privilege because “it matters,” because through books, these young readers are finding out how the world works. As he says: “there are kids who read your book, googled every aspect of it, figured out how to replicate the best bits, and have turned your story into a hobby.” I can fully agree with this from first-hand experience. With my first Sir Newton book, Sir Newton’s Color Me Cayman, a 10-year-old reader (these aren’t YA by any stretch of imagination) said that after he had gone through the book, he went on his computer to Google the Cayman Islands. That’s one of the best compliments the books have received. Doctorow also talks about a great job one indie bookstore called Anderson’s is doing to get kids reading. We need to encourage all bookstores to be doing things like this. As Doctorow says, people who go into bookstores are already hooked; we need to go to them to get them hooked. Click here for Doctorow’s full column.

Fourth and fifth, two things from one of my favorite blogs (because it’s informative, inspirational and very entertaining), A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing by author J.A. Konrath. First, he has put up a message board where writers, agents, editors, fans can chat about the industry, books, etc. Click here for his message board. Second, Konrath has compiled his years of useful blog posts into an ebook about writing and getting published, which he is offering as a free download on his website. Click here for his website. There’s also lots of info about his books — he’s a master at marketing — so check them out as well.

Got any links you’d like to share?

Write On!

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