Monday, December 21, 2009
I'm a sucker for cute animal pictures. I always have been. When you add pithy comments to the cute animal pictures then I'm all over it. That's why I love the www.icanhascheesburger.com site. It's become my guilty pleasure. When I'm at work and I need a break, I go to the site and look at the pictures for a few minutes then I'm ready to get back to work. The picture above is my brother's family dog, Buckeye. I added the caption to infuse a little holiday spirit.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Bailey: "It's a Christmas tree, buddy. Humans cut down perfectly good climbing trees and plant them in their living rooms and decorate them with shiny balls. Never seen one this small."
Lucky: "Will I be able to climb it?"
Bailey: " One day, buddy. One day."
Nancy, Bailey and Lucky
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Agent, Michelle Humphrey has recently left Sterling Lord. You can find more details about that here. If you look over on the blogroll (of that link) you should see a recently posted interview regarding what type of submissions she accepts.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Everything was so expensive this year and there seemed so many to remember. I had little time for making things, so do not think that Christmas will cost us this much every year. I felt I must treat your people well for your sake; Grandmother and I went together to get sweaters for the boys; I bought napkins for Grandmother and made a sweater for Ellen. These things count up fast.
It turns out she bought presents for 29 people. Her total cost? $41.47.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
The wait for an agent or editor to respond to a query, the wait for someone to accept your work; those are some of the most frustrating things we deal with as writers. We rack up countless rejections as we toil in quiet desperation. Sometimes it helps to know we are not alone. Some of the most successful authors struggled to get their work published.
Theodor Geisel’s first picture book, To Think It happened on
John Grisham's A Time to Kill was repeatedly rejected. He now has over 60 million copies of his novels in print. Pearl S. Buck's Pulitzer Prize winning book The Good Earth was rejected something like 14 times.
What if Ted Geisel only sent out 28 queries, imagine growing up NOT reading A Cat in The Hat? Or Horton Hears a Who or dare I say it, The Lorax. Can you imagine not seeing someone sitting in an airport reading A Time to Kill, or The Client or The Pelican Brief? If these authors stopped short of their goal, that's what might have happened. Hard to believe. So what does it take to get published in this ever-changing, unforgiving world of publishing?
Perseverance: that dogged pursuit of a goal in spite of the obstacles. I think a great representation of perseverance is in this Jacob Riis quote:
I'd look at one of my stone cutters hammering away at the rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet, at the hundred and first blow it would split in two, and I knew it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.
-Jacob August Riis
So hang in there, fellow writers!
-I also spoke to not one but two different people who were hired by writers to help them find an agent. Hiring an agent to find an agent. Is this a new trend? If it is, it's a bad one. It makes me wonder if these people are lazy or clueless?
-I also spoke to not one but two different people who were hired by writers to help them find an agent. Hiring an agent to find an agent. Is this a new trend? If it is, it's a bad one. It makes me wonder if these people are lazy or clueless?
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
1. You can use twitter to determine a particular agent’s likes and dislikes. They will often mention trends they are seeing as they read through their slush pile.
2. Waiting for a response from an agent? Many agents will list on Twitter where they are in regards to their slush pile.
3. Organized Twitter Topics are popular with Agents. Topics like #pubtip, #askagent, #Allaboutagents (or #askanagent) and #Kidlit allow agents to communicate with writers without having to leave the comfort of their home or their neighborhood watering hole for that matter. To reference the transcripts simply go to http://www.twitter.com/ and enter the “#” then Kidlit etc. in the Search field. In many cases, agents will answer questions directed to them if the #topic is listed with the question.
4. You can also sign up for TweetChat, which does allow you to chat real time with people other folks on Twitter.
So how do you determine if a particular agent is on Twitter? You can go to http://www.twitter.com/ and place the agent’s name after a slash
(e.g. www.twitter.com/chucksambuchino) to see if that person is on Twitter. Also on many agency websites, you will see the Twitter icon or the agent will say follow me on Twitter at:_____
You can also use a skip tracing technique that collectors use to find information on the debtors they’re trying to locate. If you find one agent on twitter, look at their tweets, they will often respond to another agent, if you click on that agent’s tweets, this will often bring you to another agent etc.
It’s free to sign up, to do so go to http://www.twitter.com/. If you don’t want to sign up, you can still reference many of the tweets.
Also, http://www.agentquery.com/ has a pretty extensive list of agents on Twitter.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
At Canadaiga, some soldiers were leaving. They began to sing the popular songs "Over There," and Hail, Hail The Gang's All Here," In the middle of it a man came hurrying down the street and rushed to the edge of the group at the car steps. Shortly after, he returned to the edge of the pavement, leaned his head on his arms against the stone wall and broke down crying. He was a middle aged man and I concluded that his boy was leaving. He soon controlled himself and walked off. I am more and more convinced that the mothers and fathers are paying a greater price in this war than we young ones are. Why doesn't this war stop, anyway?
But finally the war did end and on November 11th, 1918, my grandmother wrote:
The whistles are blowing so that I cannot sleep. So I am writing this letter by candle light at 5 A.M. It must be that the German representatives answered before the time limit was up for President Wilson has asked that here be no more celebrating till the official announcement from Washington. You see, the nation just about went wild last Thursday. Big parades were held and the greatest excitement reigned in many places...
On that same day, my Grandfather said:
Last night we received news of the abdication of the Kaiser; today rumors of the Armistice terms accepted. So we expect peace very shortly now. And how happy this world will be!
My grandparents were finally reunited June the following year. Of the reunion, my grandfather wrote:
My love attack! What a second of joy as my eyes first caught sight of her! Then a kiss and a hug worth its impetuosity in gold. Afterward, a walk and a sweet blissful time in chatting and loving.
To all those Veterans out there, a heartfelt Thank you!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
There are some examples of blogs that were so successful that they garnered the bloggger a book deal. The best example I can think of is Julie & Julia. Yep, that popular movie starring Meryl Streep began as a blog, then became a book then a movie. You know the rest.
Another example of a successful blog hits a litle closer to home for me. The blog was originally started so that friends and families of the Kings Firecrackers, a performance jump rope group from the Kings School District in Warren County, Ohio, could easily view the team's performances. Well word got out pretty quickly, a few posts on youtube also helped and that little blog has seen over 10 million hits and has been seen in over 88 countries. The result has been some amazing opportunities for a group of girls in grades 4-8. They will be performing at the halftime for one of the Chicago Bulls games this year, not to mention the Detroit Pistons and at lots of college and high school basketball games. They also performed on the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon and have had inquiries from The Ellen DeGeneres show, Good Morning America and some other shows and events that were a bit too far away.
The one thing in common that both these examples have is Talent and lots of it, but the blogs definitely helped promote that talent. To illustrate my point, you can check out the Kings Firecrackers at: http://www.kingsfirecrackers.blogspot.com/.
Prepare to be amazed...
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Consequently, some cultures believe that Black Cats actually bring good luck. There is a Celtic legend that suggests that if a Black Cat appears on your doorstep and you treat him with kindness, prosperity will surely follow. Also, fishermen's wives often kept a Black Cat as a companion to ensure that their husbands would return safely from the sea. In some areas of England, a Black Cat is believed to bring luck to a new marriage.
So as Halloween approaches, I ask that you show kindness to the cats you see- especially the hyper pigmented ones, like myself. It's good karma, no matter how superstitious you are.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Go now and read it!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
www.nathanbransford.blogspot.com - Includes an archived post on writing queries
www.queryshark.blogspot.com- Step into the shark tank if you dare...(insert Jaws theme song here).
www.pubrants.blogspot.com - Agent, Kristen Nelson includes pitches that worked on her blogroll to the right. Great information.
www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog : Chuck Sambuchino includes a popular series entitled, Query Letters that Worked, which includes the actual query letter that assisted the writer in landing an agent. Chuck includes the color commentary from the agent on why the letter worked.
Monday, October 12, 2009
The winner receives their choice of a partial critique, a query critique or a phone consultation. A few of the past winners of Nathan's contests have gone on to receive representation by him. Other finalists have gone on to get published! So go on get your first paragraph out there.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
At the beginning of every season, I'd figure out what I wanted to achieve for that season and what it would take to get me there. I'd plaster my goal times all over my bedroom and doodle my times in the margins of my notebooks in class. No doubt it was a commitment to those goals that got me out of bed and to the pool when I'd rather be fast asleep dreaming of sandy beaches and young men with margaritas in their hands.
With writing, I now do the same thing. While it's a bit harder to determine the timeline of my goals these days, I still write down my goals and focus my attention on achieving them. Sometimes this means working on the craft of writing; other times it means improving my research techniques. Whatever form they may come in, my goals are still important to my success. They keep me going when I'd rather be doing something else. I know one day they will pay off in the ultimate goal of landing a publishing contract.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
This flu epidemic may pale in comparison with the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. It's been reported that more people died from the flu that year than in the war (World War I). The death total was so high, that the life expectancy at the beginning of 1918 was 52 years of age, by the end of 1918, it was 39 years of age.
My grandfather was a chaplain in the Army in 1918. He was on a ship on his way over to France when the flu epidemic took hold. Luckily, he had a lesser strain of the virus earlier that year, a fact that we believe saved him from contracting it on the ship to France. He wrote in his journal about this particular time in his life.
On Thursday, October 3, 1918 he wrote:
How can one describe the situation adequately? A calm sea, save for a few white caps, a troop ship with circular camouflage near a cruiser off to the rear, two destroyers off ahead. The sun shining as if the world were a palace of love. Slowly the coffin shutes draped in Old Glory and burdened with once inhabited clay brought by six pall bearers. One after another until twelve were in line. With a low subdued voice I read, "until the deep shall give up her dead", etc. Then Chaplin X "the holy martyrs receive them, the angels in heaven take them to the holy city of Jerusalem." Amen. Then one after another, a dismal splish, a dull splash- twelve souls have departed this earth.
Of the illness itself, he wrote on Saturday, October 5, 1918:
Thank the Lord these days are soon over. Yesterdays two procedures repeated. I'm seeing men die at night. I see their eyes bulge in the death struggle, I hear their groans and delirium ravings, I know their desire to hold onto life, but in vain use that cough has nailed them into death's cold sweat. Men are glad for me to speak of religion- many are Christian in spirit.
About 118 men died on that ship. Each one on their way to France to serve their country; they never got the chance.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Bailey and her siblings were left in a dumpster of all places. They were brought to the shelter and a very nice veterinarian fostered them until they were old enough to be adopted. I can't speak for Bailey, but for me it was love at first sight.
I met Lucky at the shelter. As the shelter employee was opening his cage to get him out, she told me that he was almost adopted the day before but the lady changed her mind. When they put the ID chip in his neck- she thought it was the mark of the beast and refused to take him home. He came home with me instead. He's named Lucky because it was luck that saved him from living with that other lady.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
As an aspiring writer, I can't imagine having your work celebrated and not being able to take credit for it. The program was really well done. If you have a chance to watch it, you won't regret it.
Monday, September 21, 2009
The editors at Writer’s Digest have been live-blogging over the weekend about their conference in New York called The Business of Getting Published. Alot of great info. all in one place. Check out the blog: http://writersdigestconference.blogspot.com/
Editor, Ray Rhamey has a great post about activating passive verbs at http://www.writerunboxed.com/ Here’s the link: http://writerunboxed.com/2009/09/17/activate-passive-narrative%e2%80%94most-of-the-time/
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Here's a list of services that will no longer be available.
Specifically, the following will take effect after the close of business, October 2, 2009:
All branch and regional library programs, including programs for children and teens, after school programs, computer classes, and programs for adults, will be cancelled
All Parkway Central Library programs, including children programs, programs to support small businesses and job seekers, computer classes and after school programs, will be cancelled. We are exploring the possibility of relocating the Philadelphia Author Series programs to other non-library facilities.
All library visits to schools, day care centers, senior centers and other community centers will cease.
All community meetings at our branch and regional libraries, and the Parkway Central Library, will be cancelled.
All GED, ABE and ESL programs held at Free Library branches will be discontinued, students should contact their teacher to see if other arrangements are being made.
Here's the link to the complete article: http://ow.ly/p5jn
Monday, September 14, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
http://www.cherylklein.com/; I’ve mentioned how wonderful Cheryl’s site is in a previous post so I’ll keep it brief. She also blogs at http://chavelaque.blogspot.com/
http://www.bloomabilities.blogspot.com/ : Alvina Ling of Little, Brown and Co.. It’s a mix of personal posts and ones dedicated to publishing.
http://editorialanonymous.blogspot.com/: A super blog from an editor who remains anonymous but works in kids books. She answers questions and has some great insight into the business. Check out her archives for some awesome information on publishing terms and the whole editing process.
http://www.bowenpress.blogspot.com/ : Brenda Bowen’s Bunny Eat Bunny World blog. She was an editor in the biz for a long time and recently made the move to agenting. She’s at the Stanford Greenburger Assoc.
http://www.greenhouseliterary.com/: Website by Sarah Davies, a literary agent focusing on kids books.
http://www.upstartcrowliterary.com/ : New literary agency headed up by Michael Stearns, who was an editor at Harcourt for a long time.
http://www.janeyolen.com/: Jane Yolen’s website. Her journal gives great insight what it’s really like to be a working writer. She also answers questions and has transcripts of some of her speeches on the site.
http://www.lindasuepark.com/: Newbery winner, Linda Sue Park includes some great writing advice on the site.
http://www.robinfriedman.com/: Robin Friedman’s site includes some great interviews with kid book editors.
http://www.writingforchildrenandteens.com/: Cynthea Liu promotes other author’s books on her site, includes information on writing and holds some great contests where she’ll usually give away a free critique.
http://www.verlakay.com/: Verla Kay’s site not only includes information on writing but also includes the “blue boards” forums for writers to ask questions of other writers, list response times for agents and editors. If you want to write for kids, this is the site you need to bookmark and go back to often.
http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/: Cynthia Leitch Smith includes some great writing resources and interviews of industry professionals
http://www.write4kids.com/: A site dedicated to helping children’s writers achieve that allusive goal of getting published.
http://www.cwim.blogspot.com/: Great blog kept by Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market editor, Alice Pope. She includes updates on the market listings on her site and often includes interviews with writers.
http://www.underdown.org/: Harold Underdown’s The Purple Crayon site includes some great information on getting published, which editors have moved where and other writing tips. If you are submitting directly to publishers this is a great reference.
http://www.scbwi.org/: The website of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the site includes forums and publishing information and information on local meetings and events.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Check it out!
Have a Happy Labor Day!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Two of the blogs do serve up a healthy dose of snark, so be warned. They are:
Another blog, http://pimpmynovel.blogspot.com/is done by a man by the name of Eric who works in the Sales Department of a major publisher, his blog focuses on what happens after your book is acquired. The blog includes very useful information on the publishing biz. A look inside this mysterious world...
Casey McCormick has been blogging for a while but I only recently discovered her blog, http://www.caseylmccormick.blogspot.com/. On her blog, Literary Rambles, she includes a feature calledAgent Spotlights. The feature includes interviews the agent has given, buzz about the agent and feedback from writers about the agents.
So check them out!
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Intrigued, I took a closer look at the stump he left behind. It was pretty small and wasn't very wide and didn't seem to be diseased in any way. I wondered what would possess my neighbor to cut down a perfectly good tree and why would he drag it into his apartment? Then I did something that I don't normally do. I ratted him out to the management staff of the apartment complex. I figured they owned the tree afterall- my neighbor was really just renting the darn thing, they should know happened to it.
The apartment manager thanked me for calling (like you would thank a stranger you suspect might be a bit of a loon) and said they would talk to my neighbor. I don't know if anything came of my complaint but none of the other trees surrounding our building have been harmed.
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
Saturday, August 22, 2009
There's a great website that I find myself referencing time and again- its http://www.cherylklein.com/. Cheryl Klein was the continuity editor for the last few Harry Potter books. Her site is a treasure trove of editing and revision techniques. She's posted the transcripts of speeches she's given at various writing conferences. Check it out!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
I found this post about trends on the www.VerlaKay.com website. I'm hoping it's okay to post here. It was originally on Facebook. Anyway, it looks like Middle Grade novels are still popular, especially ones geared toward boys and bring on the funny!
Sunday, August 16, 2009
"Employee B (name redacted) please call information...(insert very long pause here), You know that Ball Blue Book of preserving, I cannot find it."
We count ourselves lucky that employee A did not transpose the first part of that title. I doubt that would be something anyone would want to preserve...
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I work for a midwest-based publisher. I don't really work "in"publishing. I like to think I work "next to" publishing. I handle customer support for a writing website. Most of the calls and emails I get are from subscribers who need help logging in or searching for a market listing, but sometimes the subscribers will ask publishing questions.
There was a guy who sent 275 queries to agents (that is not an exaggeration). He called to ask why no one had responded to these queries which he sent the WEEK before. DON'T ever do this. It's tempting to just send a mass query to every single agent in the Writer's Market. But it's not a phone book and should not be used as such. Also, giving someone only one week to review your work is terribly unrealistic. Following up this soon is just going to annoy the
What should you do?
1. Use the market guides to determine who accepts work in your genre of interest.
2. Use sites like Google to search for interviews the agent has given and to determine what kind of online presence the agent has. You want someone who is updated on the trends, so if the agent has a blog or uses Twitter, they are going to be pretty web savvy. These sites can also give you additional insight into their likes and dislikes.
3. Take a look at the agency's website to look for updates on their submission guidelines. The agent may also list the types of manuscripts they are interested in and may even list their recent sales.
4. Take a field trip to the bookstore, (I recommend Barnes and Noble) and look at the books they've agented. Are the books similar to your manuscript without being too similar? If a trip to the bookstore is unrealistic, search for the books on http://www.amazon.com/ or http://www.bn.com/ and read an excerpt.
5. Take a look on sites like http://www.verlakay.com/ to see what other writers are saying about the agent. Does the agent respond to status queries? Do they send personalized rejections and editorial suggestions when they request a partial or full manuscript- these are definitely a plus.
6. Once you have a narrow list of agents who accept the genre you write and who seem to be a good fit, then you are ready to send your query.
These steps are time consuming. There's no doubt about that, but they can make the difference between a stack of form rejections and requests to read your full manuscript. Keep in mind that once you narrow your search, you still need a kick-ass query letter. That's another post!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Asst. Store Manager: Ma'am, we don't have that book in stock, but I can order it for you.
Scooter Lady: Well how long will that take?
ASM: Three to eight business days, give or take.
Scooter Lady: Three to eight business days. I could be dead by then.
ASM: Yeah, I'm guessing that's probably not going to happen
Scooter Lady: Really, I was on life support three weeks ago.
ASM: You look pretty good to me.
Scooter Lady: Okay order the book. How much for these? She asks pointing to her stack of books.
ASM: I'll ring those up now.
Scooter Lady: Someone's going to have to take these to my car, 'cause they are not going to get there by themselves.
ASM: I'd be happy to.
So the ASM helps Scooter Lady take the books to her car. He helps her fold up her scooter, which really isn't a scooter more like a chair with wheels. So Scooter Lady goes on her way. She pulls out of the parking lot and pauses for a moment, then drives a few feet, pauses. This continues until she gets to the street. She drives through a red light at about 5 miles per hour across three lanes of traffic, finally turning left.
This does beg the question, should you be running errands if you were on life support earlier in the month? Driving should definitely not be an option.
Anyway, we hope Scooter Lady made it home safely, her book should be in by Saturday.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Bailey and Lucky mulling over another manuscript
One of the most important things a writer can do when they have revised and revised and revised their manuscript is to give their manuscript to a trusted beta reader- that one person or persons who will give the manuscript a good read and give feedback. If you don't have someone like that, you can find online critique groups through professional organizations like SCBWI or through websites like Writer's Digest(www.writersdigest.com/forums ).
There are also some great sites that offer this type of feedback for free. There is a catch. In most cases your work will be posted on the site and critiqued publicly. These sites aren't for the thin skinned or weak hearted, but they can be helpful just the same.
On Ray Ramey's Flogging the Quill site(http://www.floggingthequill.com/) , he will critique the first 16 lines of a manuscript. He offers some great feedback and even if you don't post your work, his critiques of other people's work are insightful and useful just the same.
Literary agent Janet Reid critiques query letters on her Query Shark blog(queryshark.blogspot.com) . Her critiques are often blunt and always insightful. She posts the query letter and her critique on the site. It's an invaluable tool to use when writing query letters.
Both sites deserve a look, just make sure you read and follow the rules.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
The picture to the right is my cat Lucky. He was the first runner up in the the Most Adorable Galleycat contest(www.mediabistro.com/galleycat) last summer. He's still a little bitter over the heartbreaking loss. But he's adjusting. He'll be making frequent appearances on the blog along with his feline partner-in-crime, Bailey.