Posts Tagged ‘agents’

I have news! The University of Texas at Arlington contacted me about developing/teaching a few courses for writers. This spring, I’m teaching Writing Young Adult Books. You do NOT have to be a UTA student. Anyone can enroll.

The class will run for five sessions, Monday Evenings from 7-9 p.m. CST.

Session one: April 30th
Session two: May 7th
Session three: May 14th
Session four: May 21st
Session five: June 4th (No class on May 28th for Memorial Day).

Basically, during the class, I’m sharing every secret I’ve ever learned about writing, querying, revising, landing an agent. And here’s the thing…You won’t just be learning from me and from the other students in the class…You’ll be learning from some amazing industry pros!

Check out these STELLAR SPECIAL GUESTS!
GWEN HAYES lives in the Pacific Northwest with her real life hero, their children, and the pets that own them. She writes stories for teen and adult readers about love, angst, and saving the world. Gwen’s first novel, Falling Under, was released in March of 2011 by NAL/Penguin and followed up by the sequel, Dreaming Awake, in January of 2012. She is represented by Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. You can find her at http://www.gwenhayes.com/

Gwen will be sharing her expertise in creating chemistry between characters!

Jeff Hirsch is originally from the suburbs just south of Richmond, VA. Growing up, he always knew he wanted to do something artistic but it wasn’t until he started writing poetry and short stories in Junior High that something really stuck. Jeff  graduated from the University of California, San Diego, with an MFA in Dramatic Writing and is the author of The Eleventh Plague and Magisterium (Scholastic).  He lives in Beacon, New York, with his wife. Visit him online at www.jeff-hirsch.com.

Jeff will wow us with his expert skills in writing taut action with emotional intensity!

Kiera Cass is a graduate of Radford University and currently lives in Blacksburg, Virginia with her family. Her fantasy novel The Siren was self-published in 2009, and The Selection is her young adult debut. Kiera has kissed approximately fourteen boys in her life. None of them were princes. You can keep up with her at http://www.kieracass.com/

Kiera will be Skyping into class to answer all your burning questions about the writers’ journey! (Did you know CW snapped up The Selection, and a pilot is in the works?! You might want to ask her about it.)

Rosemary Clement-Moore is the author of award-winning supernatural mystery novels for young (and not so young) adults, including Texas GothicThe Splendor Falls, and the Maggie Quinn: Girl versus Evil series. Her books have been included on the YALSA list of best books for teens, the New York Public Library’s Books For the Teen Age and Kirkus Reviews best teen books of 2011 and received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal. A recovering thespian with a master’s degree in communication, she now puts her drama queen skills to use writing novels and posting on Twitter. She loves coffee, dogs, history, Jane Austen, archeology, fantasy novels, comic books, Gilbert and Sullivan, BBC America, Star Wars, books with kissing and movies with lots of explosions. You can visit her webpage at www.rosemaryclementmoore.com.
Rosemary will appear (in person!) to teach us all about making magic on the page–creating rich narratives that sing with romance and  crackle with adventure.

Sara Crowe  is an agent at Harvey Klinger, Inc. where she represents adult fiction and nonfiction and children’s fiction. Her clients include NYT Bestselling author Jonathan Maberry, Nina LaCour, Michael Northrop, Lisa Schroeder, Kristen Tracy, and Dan Wells. Her authors have been nominated for Edgars and the Morris Award and have been on the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults list and in the Top Ten. She is consistently ranked among the top three YA agents in Publishers Marketplace. You can check out her submission guidelines at http://saracrowe.com

Lucky for me, Sara is my own (WONDERFUL!) agent.  She’ll be chiming in to offer advice and answer all your burning questions about agents and the industry in general.

In case I hadn’t mentioned it yet, I CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS CLASS!  https://www.uta.edu/wconnect/CourseStatus.awp?~~12CO1722001
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We’ve all heard about (or maybe even know!) writers with bad additudes–scribblers who are bitter, self-important, unrealistic, or just plain old hard-headed.

I worry about that quite a bit–I don’t want that to be me.  I’m no expert, but here’s what my interactions with writers, agents, and editors have taught me about cultivating a healthy writing attitude:

1.) Realistic expectations should balance optimism.

Some of my friends in our writers’ group tease me about being a bit of an Eeyore when it comes to writing. No, I’m not oozing with false modesty or self-deprecation. No, I’m not a naysayer.

I’m…cautiously confident.

For example, when I started querying my novel, I told myself I probably wouldn’t get requests. When I did, I smiled. When I got requests, I told myself I probably wouldn’t get offers. When I did, I danced. I always let myself dream and entertain thoughts of success, but here’s the key: I never expect them. I never feel entitled when it comes to getting published.

If and when it happens, I will shout and jump into the air and fly to the moon. Until then, I will keep my feet on the ground. I will keep putting one foot in front of the other.

2.) Live in the moment.

Once a manuscript is queried or goes on submission to editors, there’s not much more writers can do to influence the outcome. We have to let our work stand on its own. We have to let our wonderful, capable agents do their jobs. To wax Beatle-esque, we have to LET IT BE.

Here’s what we can do–we can read in our genre or field. We can work on another projects. We can take the time to support fellow writers. Day by day, we can enjoy the blessings we already have in our work, friends and family.  After all, a writing project should be fulfilling, but it shouldn’t be the only thing keeping a suicide watch at bay. (If  you feel it is, PLEASE GET HELP NOW.)

3.) Be circumspect.

At every point in my journey, I’ve been faced with the temptation to blab, blab, blab about the minutiae of my writing life. I’ve fretted. I’ve obsessed. I’ve contemplated word vomiting my ups and downs into cyberspace. But one thought stops me (almost) every time–I can’t regret what I didn’t say, blog, or tweet. My rule is simple: If I can’t say something constructive or share good news, it’s crickets for me.

4.) Embrace opportunities for real growth.

Setbacks and rejections are tough schoolmasters, but they are instructive, all the same. Every time I sit down to write, I process and exploit whatever feedback I’ve received.  I try to get better. I always want to always look back and see development and change. I always want to stretch for words just beyond my reach.

Stasis is my enemy, not rejection.

What about you? I’m so grateful for all my writing friends. What have you learned so far?

Hungry for more? Try this recipe for my cinnamon rolls. They’re from scratch, but they’re worth the wait!


Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

4 packages rapid rise yeast

1 cup hot water (not boiling, not lukewarm, just hot tap water)

2 tablespoons sugar

2 sticks real butter

1 1/2 cups warm (not hot!) milk (heat on stovetop or in microwave)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. salt

8-9 cups of flour

Filling:

More butter

Dark brown sugar

Good Quality Cinnamon (don’t cheap out on this one, ok?)

Frosting:

Even more butter

Powdered Sugar

Vanilla

Milk

Dissolve yeast in a medium bowl with 1 cup of hot water and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. You will not the yeast mixture is active if the yeast bubbles up (mixture should get very foamy, if not, you goofed with bad yeast or too hot or too cold water).

Melt one cup butter and combine with 1 1/2 cups of milk. Mix the milk/butter mixture with the yeast mixture. Add 1 cup sugar and then the eggs. Mix in salt and four cups of the flour. Mix until smooth. Add in the remaining cups of flour, a little at a time, just until the mixture is cohesive enough to handle. Save some of the flour to knead with. I usually save the last cup or so for this purpose.

Slap dough onto the counter and knead it a bit. Knead it just enough so it no longer so gooey and sticky in your hands.

Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Put the dough into the bowl. Cover the dough with a thin cloth and let it sit. Let dough rise for an hour to an hour and a half. Dough should double in size.

Spray a counter top surface with cooking spray. Spray your rolling pin, too. Divide the dough into two lumps. Roll one out one lump into a large rectangle. Soften a stick and a half of butter and smear on the dough. Sprinkle a lot of cinnamon (to taste, I like a LOT) over the dough. Smear a bunch (a heaping cup) of dark brown sugar. Roll up the dough from the widest side to make a log. Use a length of dental floss (unused, please!) to cut and section individual cinnamon rolls (1 1/2 inch width sections).

After placing the rolls in a greased 9 by 13 pan (you should have approximately a dozen), roll out the second lump and do the same. You’ll end up with two pans of cinnamon rolls. Cover pans with a thin cloth and let rise for another hour to an hour and a half. I put my rolls on my stove top and turn on the oven to preheat. The warm airflow near the oven helps the rolls rise.

When the rolls are nice and puffy, bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. I have a large oven, so I can bake both pans at the same time on the same rack. If your oven is not big enough, bake one pan at a time. Don’t use different racks.

After rolls have cooled a bit, ice with homemade frosting. For frosting, I use one stick of melted butter, one tablespoon of vanilla, some powdered sugar (just add until the mixture is the right thickness), and a tiny bit of milk. Add powdered sugar and whisk until icing is the right consistency.

Binge!

Are you ready to see a Rock-tastic face melting performance?

Then I suggest you iTunes  a Kings of Leon video.

Are you ready to watch Scarlet Whisper make a fool of herself?

Then look no further. I am here to amuse you. And make your ears bleed.

You’ve heard Eye of the Tiger. Now listen to EYE OF THE AGENT!

Eye of The Agent
 
Risin’ up, back in the slush,
Took my crits and I revised.
Went to workshop, and I rewrote this mush
Just a hack and her will to survive. 

So many times, it happened so fast,
An auto-reject from Bransford
Don’t lose your grip on your work in progress,
You must write just keep it alive 

It’s the eye of the agent, it’s the thrill of the slush
Risin’ up to the challenge of the query,
And the last known survivor gets a partial request,
And he’s watchin’ us all in the eye of the agent. 

Page to page, stuck in the inbox,
Hangin’ tough, keep on scribblin’
Full rejections with a scrap of feedback,
Help us kill, find the will to revise. 

It’s the eye of the agent, it’s thrill of the slush,
Risin’ up to the challenge of the query,
And the last known survivor gets a partial request
And he’s watchin’ us all in the eye of the agent. 

Risin’ up, straight to the pile,
Killed my gerunds and my adverbs.
Got some tension, now I’m not gonna stop,
Just hack and her will to survive 

The eye of the agent… 

Still Hungry?

Make like Elvis and grab a hunk o’ Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

2 sticks butter

8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, or cut up  bars

5 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

4 teaspoons flour

8 extra-large paper muffin cups (or use greased ramekins).

Melt butter and chocolate on very low heat; remove from heat. Beat eggs, sugar and salt with a hand mixer in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Beat egg mixture into chocolate until smooth. Combine with flour.   Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a standard-size muffin tin (1/2 cup capacity or use ramekins) with 8 extra-large muffin papers. Spray muffin papers with cooking spray. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake until cakes puff but center is not set, 8 to 10 minutes. Pull papers away from cakes or lift out cakes before serving.
Binge!

Myth:

1. a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, esp. one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature

New buzz on the Percy Jackson Lightning Thief movie, anyone?

Check out School Library Journal’s inside scoop on the movie companion guide.

2. an imaginary or fictitious thing or person.

Is Scarlet Whisper: Librarian/Rockstar/International Jewel Thief a mythological creature?

Discuss.

3. an unproved or false collective belief.

Check out super ninja agents Brandi Bowles, Emmanuelle Alspaugh, Colleen Lindsay and Jason Allen Ashlock bust myths about queries, agents, and publishing in general. This eight minute clip features their panel discussion from the 2009 Backspace convention. The video is truly worth a look.

Hungry for more?

Try my Italian Cream Cake. Although it’s delish, I don’t recommend trying to sneak it into the Percy Jackson movie.

Italian Cream Cake

1/2 shortening (butter flavor Crisco is best)

1 stick butter

5 eggs

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 cups coconut

1 cup chopped nuts (pecans are great)

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup butter milk

Cream shortening, butter, and sugar. Add eggs. Beat well. Add buttermilk, soda, flour, coconut, nuts and vanilla. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Makes three 9 inch layers. Cool completely. Frost.

Frosting:

1 stick butter, softened

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1 box powdered sugar (3 3/4 cups)

1 cup chopped nuts (optional, I don’t add them)

1 tsp. vanilla.

Combine until smooth. Frost your cake, then frost your beak.

BINGE!

I’ve added footnotes to this sterling query letter. Enjoy.

(1)Dear Agent:

(2) Are you terrified of death? (3) Imagine a world where sparkling, flesh eating zombies roam freely across the countryside. (4) By reading my novel, you will experience the terror of an undead apocalypse. (5) TWILIGHT HUNGER is wholly original; you’ve never met anyone like Hunter Steele. (6) Hunter’s zombie killing escapades are just the tip of the iceberg. (7) Can he save the voluptuous raven haired Desiree  D’Uathata (a fiery tempered fae) from an Islamic terrorist plot?

(8) By now, you must realize you’ve never seen the likes of TWILIGHT HUNGER before. My novel will appeal to anyone who loves good literature, especially men. (9) With over 144 million men in the United States alone, my 287, 000 word epic saga is destined for the bestseller list.

(10) I’ve had my fiction novel professionally edited by my aunt, who proofs the classified ads for our local Penny Saver. (11) My family and friends characterize my story as “unforgettably horrifying” and “strangely amusing.” (12) Although I know you’ll fall in love with my manuscript, I need assurances you will not plagiarize my ideas. (13) To this end, I’ve contacted the copyright office to secure the rights to the novel.

(14) Each chapter of my manuscript is attached to this e-mail as a separate word document. I quit my job this week in order to write a sequel, and I’ll be on vacation until next Thursday. I’ll await your call next Friday at 5:00 p.m. sharp. (15) Let’s make some money together!

(16) Hugs and Kisses,

Scarlet Whisper

(1)   Agents appreciate efficiency. Research is tedious and time consuming. Instead of selecting individual agents who might be the best fit, go ahead and toilet paper Manhattan with your query. Don’t personalize queries; everyone knows it’s a waste of time. If “Dear Agent” feels too impersonal, use “To Whom it May Concern” instead.

(2)   Always begin your query with a question. Agents love rhetorical hooks, especially ones which raise one’s blood pressure; it builds tension

(3)   Show how attuned you are to pop culture by adopting movie trailer narration in your query.

(4)   You know how fabulous your novel is; be confident and tell the agent how much they’ll enjoy your story!

(5)   You want to entice the agent without giving too much of the plot away. Don’t forget to mention your hard-bodied protagonist!

(6)   The use of metaphor marks you as a sophisticated writer. Pepper your query with bold clichés.

(7)   Only give the agent a taste of the action in your story; use adjectives and adverbs freely to highlight your plot. Keep the agent guessing what your book is about.

(8)   Confidence, confidence. Who wants a milquetoast as a client? Tell the agent how unique and profound your novel is; spare no descriptor!

(9)   It’s important to show you’ve done your market research; calculate how many people will buy your masterpiece. By sharing this information up front, you’ve told agent you’re a savvy business person. Include your initial word count, even if you think 287,000 is a little low.

(10)                       Of course, don’t forget to include the manuscript’s history. The agent will appreciate the expertise of a fellow professional. Also, be sure to clarify that your novel is “fiction.”

(11)                       Blurbs are a powerful selling point; quote your blood relatives. The agent enjoys reading these objective reviews.

(12)                       Be careful. Publishing is a cutthroat business. You know your novel is the next Pulitzer. Let the agent see you’re streetwise and prepared for a lawsuit.

(13)                       I’m sure you’ve heard your novel is granted copyright protection from the moment you wrote it, but it never hurts to go the extra mile. While you’re at it, secure the copyright for the cover artwork your daughter painted. Original black velvet canvases of sparkling zombies are hard to come by.

(14)                       Attach the full manuscript, regardless of the agent’s submission guidelines. They’ll thank you later. Attaching each chapter separately will make it easier on the agent when you send revisions two days after your original query.

(15)                       Let your enthusiasm and financial prowess shine through your query letter. In fact, send a box of cigars or a bottle of aftershave along with your submission.

(16)                       This is the clincher. You’ve been the consummate professional throughout your query. Seal the deal with an intimate greeting. The agent will develop distinct feelings toward you.

Still hungry?

After you’ve sent your query, wait for the stacks of manuscript requests to pile up in your mailbox or e-mail folder. Until then, build a bonfire with the mountain of rejections you’ve accrued. The crackling flames are the perfect compliment to my Indoor Smores.

Indoor Smores

Ingredients

4 cups Gold Grahams cereal

3 tablespoons butter

6 cups mini marshmallows

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

Spray or butter a 9 by 13 pan. Set aside cereal in a large bowl. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Add marshmallows and corn syrup and stir until melted. Stir in chocolate chips until ingredients melt together smoothly. Remove from heat and pour over cereal; stir well to coat. Press into pan. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Binge!