Wednesday, August 5, 2015

IWSG: How to Get an Agent

Do you want an agent?


I see lots of you nodding your heads.


Getting an agent isn't the huge mystery some think it is.  Yes, plain old luck -- being in the right place at the right time with the right ms --  accounts for about 40% of your chances.  However, most of it comes down to one thing.

Learn Your Craft.

About 5 years ago, I joined a small online critique group.  We wrote short stories and polished them until they sold to zines and anthologies.  Then we started writing novels.  From the original group, some people have come and gone, but about 4 of us have remained with the group all this time -- and 3 of us got agents.  Yes, that's 3 out of 4.  Coincidence?  I doubt it.

Here's how we did it.

We started a private online forum, and anytime someone found a great article on writing craft, we'd run back to the forum and post it so others could read it.  When we found writing or first page competitions that offered agent feedback, like Miss Snark's First Victim, we shared the info, joined the contests, and discussed the agent feedback we and others received.

If one of us took a class from professional authors or editors, she'd rush back to the group and share all she'd learned.  

We picked apart each others work.  We didn't get defensive or angry or have hurt feelings.  We said "Thank you," took good suggestions, and worked hard to improve our writing skills.  

We began to improve.  A lot.  

We began to win or semi-final in competitions (like ABNA or Writers Conferences).  We queried and got a few full requests.  We commiserated on our rejections and learned from them.  Then we wrote new novels and got a lot more full requests.  Then we wrote even more novels until -- suddenly -- instead of a rejection, we each got an OFFER!


*And there was much rejoicing!*



Some of you may think: 
I don't have time for a writing group.
I can't find a group I like.
The groups I find don't write in my genre.
I can't afford to buy expensive craft books.
I don't have time to go searching for articles on writing craft.
I want people who're *nice* about my work -- it's my heart and soul after all...

You have more options than you think. 

Sometimes my group goes into hibernation when we're busy with life or writing new projects.  But we eventually come back together and share crits.  We are busy people, but we are committed.

Just as reading others books is important, so is reading articles on craft.  You don't have to buy expensive books.  There are plenty of excellent online articles that are free.

You don't need to have others writing exactly your genre.  Of the three of us who got agents, one writes Paranormal Romance, one writes YA Contemp, and I write Horror (and others in our group write everything from literary to epic fantasy).  The genres are different but almost all the techniques of good writing are the same.

Be aware of agent judged competitions (like Miss Snark's First VictimPitchWars, and SC Write Query Contest -- all free to enter and going on now), and read the feedback other readers and agents give.  Agent feedback is gold.  They rarely give it because they don't have time.  Soak up as much as you can.

If you want *nice* feedback, give your ms to your mother.  If you want to get an agent, find critique partners who know their stuff.  


You don't want an agent?  You're going indie?  Fine.

You Still Need to Learn Craft!

(If I sound unhappy, it's because I get disappointed when I pick up a book from an acquaintance on FB or wherever who has begged, "Please, please buy my book," and I find things like info dumps, POV head-hopping, cliches, and no understanding of "Show Don't Tell" or basic writing craft.  It's like they don't respect their readers enough to make a serious effort.)


To help you out, here are some articles on craft:

Activate Your Story by Agent Jill Corcoran -- on how to make sure you’re starting your story in the right place on Agent Jill Corcoran’s blog.

How to Open Your Story Three Dynamic Ways by Dr. John Yeoman -- on how to write openings that will make the reader keep turning pages on the Writer’s Village Wicked Blog.

Turkey City Lexicon from the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) -- their list of writing "dont's," ways not to write a story, or things they've seen too much of.  (This is a great article and very funny too!)

Writing Fix: Reinvent Your Story by Linda S. Clare – on how to take a trunked novel and breathe new life into it on the Linda S. Clare blog.

Write Better: The 7 Qualities of High-Concept Stories by Jeff Lyons – on how to make sure your story premise is high concept and stands out from the crowd at Writer’s Digest blog.


How to Write Genius Characters by J.S. Morin – tips on how to write characters who are smarter than your are on the J.S. Morin blog.

Finding the Right Door to Enter Your Story by P.J. Parrish – on how to write the crucial beginning chapters to your novel at the Kill Zone blog.

10 Errors to Avoid When Writing About Guns by Benjamin Sobieck – on how to write the correct details if your characters are using guns or rifles on Jane Friedman’s blog.

Skeletons in Her Closet – The Forensics of Skeletons by Fiona Quinn – on how to correctly describe skeletonized remains at the Thrill Writing blog.



This is a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. It exists so the community of blogging writers can share and support each other, blog-hopping to cheerlead and commiserate. To find out more, visit: Insecure Writer's Support Group. Plus, check out the IWSG Website for lots of helpful info and links.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Celebrate: Muse on the Loose & Giveaways

This week I'm Celebrating:
1)  Although my muse refuses to get back on the writing/revising train for my novel -- she's been a Muse on the Loose! -- she's been giving me good ideas for artwork and copy for promotions.

She helped me make this:

From this:

Pretty cool, huh? :)

2)  My wild & crazy Muse has also pointed me away from a new project -- Oooh, ahhhh! Shiny! -- (which had actually kept me scratching my head for a month because I couldn't iron out the details) and pointed me toward a project I thought up a while ago.  The old idea has a more interesting premise and characters.  My muse showed me a way to combine the new shiny one with the old one and create something unique and better!  It will be a novella, the first in a trilogy, and I'm starting to research, write the blurb, and plot now!  Woohoo!

3)  Although my Muse has been an uncontrollable nut for a while, I think she'll settle down soon and allow me to finish my novel, Bloodwalker.  (Yes, the one I swore would be done by the end of this month.  I gave up trying to be Speedy Gonzalez -- which was making my writing a dull, cliche-ridden disaster -- and had to admit that at heart I'm just a slow-but-meticulous Tortoise.)

Does your Muse ever get wild and crazy by giving you ideas for new projects instead of the one you're supposed to be working on?  Do you go with the new or stick with the old?


My kind and wonderful co-hosts of Celebrate the Small Things are:
L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge
Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Celebrate The Small Things Linky:



Grab the Linky html-code here:



 Celebrate the Small ThingsTo be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is visit the Celebrate page on Lexa's Blog for the rules, and then post every Friday about something you're grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever! (Originated by VikLit)



Foxy's Friday Freebies!

Foxy has been nosing around the net
When she finds great FREE STUFF, she'll feature it on Fridays Freebies posts -
  • Free short stories, novellas, and novels
  • Giveaways for books and swag
  • Free services for authors


Here are Foxy's suggestions for July 30, 2015:

(These are older freebies that you might have forgotten about)

Free First Page Critiques -- Three fabulous and talented published authors are willing to critique YOUR FIRST PAGE FOR FREE!  Dianne Salerni (author of The Eighth Day series, HarperCollins 2014) and Marcy Hatch (author of West of Paradise, WiDo 2014) and Krystalyn Drown (Legasea, Curiosity Quills 2013) will post your WIP's first page (350-400 words) and offer their impressions as will their readers/commenters.  That's AWESOME feedback and super-helpful for any aspiring author!  For rules and mailing address go read the side bar on any of their blogs. 

Free Query Critiques by Kim Graff (editor, cover designer, & agent intern).  Go to Kim Graff Blog - Free Query Critiques and read the instructions for getting a critique.  I know Kim, and she's a great editor!

Free Query Critiques from Matthew MacNish. He writes full, detailed and helpful crits that appear on his blog. Contact him at: mattmrush(at)gmail.com

Free Book Badges, Banners, and Countdowns at Ben Ellis Graphics

Free Copyright-Expired Books at Black Mask Free eBooks. (They're dated, but they're a fun change of pace and great if you're researching historical modes of speech and style.)


For Foxy's other Freebies, go to the Freebie page.

If anyone has a FREE short story (for download or online at a free ezine), novella, novel, special giveaway, or author service, please let Foxy know so she can plug you here!  Write to: laura.6eg(at)gmail.com


Friday, July 24, 2015

Celebrate: Relative Success & Giveaways!


This week I'm celebrating:
1)  The free offer of my short story "The Inter-Galactic Gourmet" netted over 70 downloads and 3 new reviews, all 5-stars (one from a UK author I don't know and two from authors I do know).  I'm sure I'd have gotten 50 times that  on Amazon, but since they refuse to loosen their rigid payment rules that are prejudiced against 3rd world residents, I'm on Smashwords for the foreseeable future.
2)  I haven't done a lick of work on my WIP, but I'm feeling more relaxed and stopped having the stress-induced nightmares I've had for almost a month.  Ahhhh, sweet sleep.  :)
3)  This week I hit 3800 followers on Twitter and 900 friends on Facebook.  Yay!  That's pretty good for only having the accounts for 4 months.  Plus they're quality followers - horror authors and other writers, not sunglass salesmen.  (Why is Rayban spamming everyone?  You can get sunglasses anywhere and they last for years -- unless you're my husband who regularly breaks his, usually by sitting on them.  lol)

Do you remember your dreams when you wake up?

My kind and wonderful co-hosts of Celebrate the Small Things are:
L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge
Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Celebrate The Small Things Linky:



Grab the Linky html-code here:



 Celebrate the Small ThingsTo be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is visit the Celebrate page on Lexa's Blog for the rules, and then post every Friday about something you're grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever! (Originated by VikLit)



Foxy's Friday Freebies!

Foxy has been nosing around the net
When she finds great FREE STUFF, she'll feature it on Fridays Freebies posts -
  • Free short stories, novellas, and novels
  • Giveaways for books and swag
  • Free services for authors


Here are Foxy's suggestions for July 24, 2015:

Free YA Apocalyptic SF novel – win Fractured Memories by Jo Schneider via rafflecopter on My Book Addiction blog. (ends July 29)



Free Urban Fantasy novel – win 1 of 5 signed print copies of Ink Calls to Ink by Nathan Crowder via rafflecopter on Juniper Book Solutions blog. (ends Aug 3)




Free Paranormal Romance novel – win The Omegas by Annie Nicholas via entry box sign-up on the page at Romance Novels and Giveaways blog. (ends July 31)


Free $15 Amazon or Barnes&Noble Gift Card – to celebrate the release of Stolen Moments (romance) by Cara Bristol she’s giving away a $15 gift card to either Amazon or B&N via rafflecopter on Romance Novels and Giveaways blog. (ends July 31)


For Foxy's other Freebies, go to the Freebie page.

If anyone has a FREE short story (for download or online at a free ezine), novella, novel, special giveaway, or author service, please let Foxy know so she can plug you here!  Write to: laura.6eg(at)gmail.com
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