Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Getting your manuscript in bed with an agent

When I started writing, I thought agents were a thing of the past with the booming of self-publishing. Last year, however, a friend and fellow writer asked me to help her get an agent for her latest manuscript. I put her in contact with one but, unfortunately, their phone conversation led nowhere. She never told me what they discussed or why her manuscript was not considered. Do we have to do back flips in order for an agent to love our MS the way we do? According to Agent Tina Wexler there are some things you can do to help yourself get noticed. In an article I found, Ms. Wexler provides these great tips:
1.      Write a really amazing query. Take your time, try describing your work multiple ways until you find the best approach, read successful queries online and have as many people as possible read yours so that you’re certain it makes sense and is a shiny apple.
2.      Demonstrate knowledge of an agent's list. This doesn’t mean you have to read every book they’ve ever sold, but by showing them you know a bit about who they represent, you’re telling agents you’ve done your research on who to query.
3.      Do your research on who to query. Period.
4.      Write a really amazing manuscript. Take your time, put your work through multiple revisions, read published works in your genre, and consider joining a critique group or finding a writing partner whom you trust who can help make your manuscript a shiny apple.
5.      Be nice. Agents, like most everyone, want to work with people who are personable. This does not, however, mean “Fawn over the agent” or “Send a bushel of apples to the agent.”
6.      Ask questions. Be a part of the conversation. Agents want critical thinkers who take this getting-published thing seriously. There’s plenty of fun to be had, but remember, this is a business, not a hobby or a get-rich-quick scheme. Agents want hard workers, writers dedicated to their craft who view getting published as the first step of a long journey, writers whom they will want to be with on that journey.
Do you have an agent? How hard/easy was for you to get one? Any tips for my readers?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Phenomenal Woman

Some of my fellow bloggers are poets, many of them are women, a lot of them are courageous, and some of them are cancer survivors. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so I want to share a beautiful poem by Maya Angelou.

Phenomenal Woman
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
Maya Angelou

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Did Your Manuscript Pass with Flying Colors?

A lot of you are getting ready for National Novel Writing Month better known as nanowrimo. Some of you continue to work on your manuscript. What important factors do you keep present when writing your MS?
I think everyone can agree that editing is vital no matter what part of your MS you’re writing.
Here are some of the things I keep in mind:
1)      Don’t be too obvious by explaining too much.
2)      Make sure your diction and dialogue are believable.
3)      Be sure you have a plot and an emotional arc.
4)      Arouse curiosity by keeping your reader wondering, yet engaged in the story and/or characters.
5)      Choose your verbs and adjectives wisely. They have to help the story move along. 
I know there are more elements that we can include in this list. Is there anything else you can add? 
Just pretend your MS is a student that needs to pass a test before sending it off to a publisher. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Are You a Tough Judge?

Not long ago someone recommended a book. She raved about the plot, originality, and theme. So, I eagerly checked it out from the local library because I trusted this avid reader. Bummer! I couldn’t finish the book and I returned it (thank goodness I didn’t buy it). I try not to be a tough critic because I know how much effort, time, and energy is dedicated to writing a book. I know literature is subjective, but who or how many people decide on what makes a bestseller?

How do critics do it? I am not sure I would like to be in their shoes, especially if the book is written by a fellow writer or blogger.

Have you critiqued any books professionally? Are you a tough judge? What do you take into account in order to consider it a great book?