What I Wish For . . . Manuscripts!

Steam punk cupcakes from Border City Cakes

Agent Bree Ogden let us all know that she is no longer representing YA paranormal which she feels will soon peak.  When asked what was hot, she listed:

  • Science fiction
  • Dystopia
  • Steam punk

Don’t know what steam punk is?  Her response — then you need to find out.  That cracked me up because I LOVE steam punk.  Loved it even before it was IN.  But that’s just me.

For her part, Namrata Tripathi is looking for younger, shorter picture books that are character driven.  A word of hope for picture book authors — all of the picture books that she’s loved enough to take to acquisitions have gone through.  Loved enough.  I think that’s key.

Your work not on either of these lists?  Then start doing your research for the agent or editor who is right for you.  You can’t find them until you start looking.


Publicity and You

Marketing budgets may not be what they once where but there is something you, the author, can do about it.  Bring your talents into the equation and get out there and publicize your book.

Quit whining.

I mean it.

You don’t have to do public speaking and school visits although they can help.  Any skill that you have should be brought to the table.  “Tell us everything you can do,” said Atheneum’s Namrata Tripathi.

The author for Nevermore, Kelly Creagh, was the engine behind a website, bookmarks, temporary tattoos and a song that she wrote and Atheneum recorded.  The site alone is so awesome that Borders doubled their order after visiting it.

And don’t overlook a web presence.  A blog and a site and time spent engaged in various social media can help build a fan base who will purchase your book as well as telling others about it.

But do not be the author that cannot be trusted out of your editor or agent’s sight.  One author tweeted negatively about the publishing industry, griping about how long editors took to respond and stating that such laziness would not be tolerated in any other industry.  Bad, bad judgement.  Her ms was on the desk of at least one editor who returned it to her agent immediately.

Publishers are still willing to publicize your book but you need to help.  Why whine about how things used to be?  This is the publishing world of today.  Take advantage of the many opportunities it offers and an editor or agent will see you as an asset.

(Again, this was compiled from comments made throughout the day and the information is from multiple sources including Tripathi and Ogden.)


Finding the Right Editor for Your Work

Darth Tater (you had to be there at just the right moment)

Namrata Tripathi, Executive Editor at Atheneum, gave an excellent session at the Missouri SCBWI conference last Saturday.  Her topic was finding the right editor for you and your book.

Since I’m not into transcribing the session, it is her session after all, what follows will be mostly her, but also a bit of me and various other conference speakers.

An editor is an intellectual and creative partner.  As such, they have to be  good match for you.  Before you submit your work to someone, see if their taste is similar to your own.  This is especially important because you will be reworking your manuscript with this editor and it will work best if your sensibilities are similar.

This means that you have to find out what the editor has edited.  One way to do this if to check out the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s document, “Edited By.”  Lin Oliver pointed out that this guide is updated every few months to keep the listings current.  If you have the name of an editor you are interested in, check to see if they have responded and are included in this publication.

When you read a book that you love, you should also check out the dedication and the author notes.  These may reveal the name of the editor.

Other places to find editor names?  Do a google search.  Editors and authors often give interviews and you may find out something about an editor you are interested in.

Tomorrow — some ideas on how to publicize (and how not to publicize) you and your work.


YALSA Nominees

I know I promised conference tid bits today but that will have to wait until tomorrow.  Why the delay?  Because Kristin Wolden Nitz found out that her YA novel, Suspect, has been nominate for the YALSA best fiction for young adults list.

Hurray for Kristin!

The final list won’t be selected until the ALA midwinter conference but it sure is nice to have this little bit of amazement so early in my week!



Goals into November

Word count was wonderful last week — clocking in at 10,287 words with a goal of 6000.  I rewrote a large number of tutorials and did some critiquing and layout.

This week will be spent on more tutorials, more layout, a Children’s Writer article and my next article for WOW! Women on Writing. If possible, I also want to work in a query and rewrite a picture book.

I had the picture book manuscript critiqued at the conference this weekend.  The agent, Bree Ogden, really liked it and gave me some insight on how to strengthen it by strengthening my characterization.

It was a really good conference and this week I’ll be chatting a bit about what various speakers had to say.

Hope you are all meeting your goals!


Setting Your Story When it Happens

Years ago, I was interviewing Highlights editor Marileta Robinson.  She commented that children’s writers really need to get to know kids today before they try writing for Highlights.  When they don’t, it shows, because you can tell that the stories are set in their own childhoods.

I nodded and agreed, because I could see her point.

But I didn’t get it, really get it, until I was at a book club discussion last week about an adult novel.  The novel is set in the present day with frequent flashbacks to the main characters’ high school years which took place in Atlanta in the 1960s.  The baby boomers in the book club were astonished by what went on — partying, permissive parents and the variety of pranks the girls played on each other.  This, they assured us, never ever would have happened in St. Louis, Missouri in the 1960s and we’re pretty sure that Atlanta wouldn’t have been that much more hip and permissive than St. Louis.

In the 1960s.

But fast forward to the 1980s, when two members of the book club were in high school, and this all seemed plausible.  This made us think that the author went to high school in the 1980s.  And it could be true.  Her bio simply says that she’s a baby boomer.  The youngest boomers graduated in 1982.  But high school in 1982 was a very different beast than high school in the 1960s whether you were in St. Louis, Atlanta or San Diego.

So unless you’re basing the story in your own childhood make sure all your facts are accurate!  If you don’t, someone will notice.


Korean Paper weaving

Jiseung is the Korean art of paper weaving.  Again, I have All Things Paper to thank for the post that introduced me to this incredible art.  The artists first spin paper into chords and then use it to create baskets which are then water-proofed with rice paste.

“Just how waterproof?” you ask.  Water-proof to the point that they make chamber pots out of it.  Seriously!

Here is a video of master weaver Na Seo Hwan at work.

Awesome and amazing!


Writing with Anya Achtenberg

This guest post is from writing buddy Anya Achtenberg about her upcoming class which starts in one week.


Dear Friends,

Do you have a book in progress? A project developing that you are writing in fairly regularly? A manuscript that is sitting and wanting to be brought back to life, developed, finished?

I have been doing this work with writers in many formats for a very long time! A session of my online class —Claiming and Polishing the Power of Our Stories: Intensive critique classes online in fiction and memoir—will begin November 9th.
I will be teaching this directly from my own site, not any other organization. Please send this news on to anyone who might be interested.

Some of the writers participating have already chosen the option of doing this work with the 10 sessions spread over a 20-week period, where you submit work and comment every 2 weeks instead of every week, giving more time to the process.

If there are writers who want to do the 10 sessions in 10 weeks, I should be able to accommodate them as well—let me know your preference.

See the class description below.

Many thanks.
Anya Achtenberg

Claiming and Polishing the Power of Our Stories: Intensive critique classes online in fiction and memoir. (10 sessions)

This is an advanced writers’ workshop open both to writers who have studied or worked with me, or those who have not but are invited to participate after sending a 3-page sample of your work in fiction or memoir, and a paragraph describing the project you are working on, or aim to develop. The workshop focuses on your work-in-progress and the questions you pose about craft, which will be addressed specifically in relationship to your work. This intensive critique class will respond to each individual’s needs as they continue to develop and revise their work toward the completion of a memoir, novel, collection of short stories, or collection of memoiristic essays.

Many of the fiction writers in the class may have an autobiographical connection to their work; this connection may be direct, or may be subtle,
internal, roundabout, and not absolutely necessary or identifiable.

This course means hard work, following your own strong impulses and directions, and receiving and giving helpful, extensive feedback.
Participants in the group who have studied with me previously have shown themselves to be insightful and constructive in their responses, and I aim
in my feedback to you to illuminate in large and in detailed ways the deeper subject matter, language and structure of your project.
The course will begin November 9, 2010.
Fee: 340$ payable in full before the start of class.
Please contact me at aachtenberg@gmail.com or 651-214-9248 to register.

Remember, if you have not studied with me before, please email, within the
body of your email and NOT as an attachment, a paragraph or one page project description, and a 3-page writing sample from your project.

If you are looking for another kind of online workshop with regular
lectures posted each week, I will continue to teach Claiming Our Stories… Parts One and Two with writers.com

See:  http://www.writers.com/achtenberg.html#story

I look forward to working with you,

Anya Achtenberg

Korean Paper Making

Writers are nothing if not fact junkies and lovers of obscure bits of knowledge.  And this tidbit combines two of my passions — trivia and paper art.

Here is a little something to add to your paper lore — Korean paper is made from the mulberry plant.  It has the smoothest surface of all handmade paper and is thus an excellent medium for calligraphy and painting.  Cool!

Check out Aimee Lee’s video of  paper making at a family owned Korean paper mill.

Special thanks to All Things Paper for bringing this awesome bit of reality to my attention.


Goals — Powering (snore) into November

The 1st.

The beginning.

But my body says, “Nap time.”  Maybe it is the cool weather.  Maybe it is the fact that today has been so dark and then light and then dark.  Btu I’m am ready to power nap.

Still, I managed to meet my writing goals last week, clocking in 7577 words.  Not what I wanted to accomplish but at least I made my goal.

Fingers crossed for this week which is only a four day work week and I’ll be spending one morning running errands (library) and getting my maim-o-gram.

This week I’ll be:

  • Writing new tutorials.
  • Rewriting those the editors have commented on.
  • Starting a new article.
  • Collecting interviews for another.
  • Blogging.
  • Critiquing manuscripts.
  • Doing some layout work.

Wish me luck!