The Great Critique Partner Connection

tgnaCP

Hello gentle reader,

Are you a writer looking for a critique partner? If you are, you may want to check out the announcement we posted yesterday on The Great Noveling Adventure blog. Starting on 1st November, we’ll be hosting the Great Critique Partner Connection on our forums. If you want to take part, all you have to do is register on the forums and post about your manuscript under your category & genre.

Interested? Take a look!

Book of the Week – The London Scene by Virginia Woolf

Hello gentle reader,

last weekend I went to the National Portrait Gallery to visit the temporary exhibition about the Life, Art and Vision of Virginia Woolf. It’s an amazing exhibition and I really recommend it if you find yourself in London before 26 October 2014. I find there’s nothing quite as inspiring as seeing a great writer’s personal notes, letters and photographs. It gives us a ‘behind the scenes’ look at their life, struggles and inspiration.

VirginiaWoolf

Following my visit to the National Portrait Gallery, I decided to read one of Virginia Woolf’s works. I chose The London Scene, and again, I recommend it if you’re interested in London and beautiful writing.

The London Scene

From Goodreads:

Virginia Woolf was already an accomplished novelist and critic when she was commissioned by the British edition of Good Housekeeping to write a series entitled “Six Articles on London Life.” Originally published bimonthly, beginning in December 1931, five of the essays were eventually collected and published in 1981. The sixth essay, “Portrait of a Londoner,” had been missing from Woolf’s oeuvre until it was rediscovered at the University of Sussex in 2004.

A walking tour of Woolf’s beloved hometown, The London Scene begins at the London Docks and follows Woolf as she visits several iconic sites throughout the city, including the Oxford Street shopping strip, John Keats’s house on Hampstead Heath, Thomas Carlyle’s house in Chelsea, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of Parliament.

These six essential essays capture Woolf at her best, exploring modern consciousness through the prism of 1930s London while simultaneously painting an intimate, touching portrait of this sprawling metropolis and its fascinating inhabitants.

It’s a very short read (about 100 pages), yet incredibly powerful. Virginia Woolf managed to capture the essence of London in these essays, showing both what the city was like in the 1930s and what makes it utterly timeless. If you love London as I do, or if you dream of going there one day, then I strongly suggest you read The London Scene. You won’t regret it.

What have you been reading this week? Have you read any of Virginia Woolf’s books? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

How to Write a Successful Twitter Pitch

NB: this was originally posted on There And Draft Again in July 2013, but I have tweaked it slightly to share with you again today.

Hello gentle reader,

#PitMad is tomorrow! Organised by Brenda Drake (@brendadrake), it’s a great opportunity to “pitch” agents and editors on Twitter, with a 140-character tweet presenting your manuscript. You may know my agent found me thanks to a Twitter Pitch Party like this, so I can only encourage you to participate if you have a completed manuscript ready to query.

However, I know summing up a 80k novel in 140 characters is very hard. So here is my recipe for a successful Twitter pitch. Ready?

1 – Inciting Incident

2 – Main Character

3 – Plot

4 – Stakes

If you can fit it in:

5 – Category and Genre (ie: YA F for Young Adult Fantasy)

6 – Voice

Here are two examples of the pitches I used during the last Twitter Pitch Party I participated in:

1862: When dark magic throws London into chaos, a 16yo flower girl must sleuth through Whitechapel to save her job & city YA F

A flower girl in Victorian London tries to save the city from dark magic. SOMETHING STRANGE & DEADLY meets THE INFERNAL DEVICES YA F

It’s best to have at least 3 different pitches and to vary them throughout the day. It’s also advised to tweet only one pitch per half hour. Make sure to always include the hashtag in your tweet.

If an agent or editor likes your pitch and wants to request it, they’ll favorite it. As a result, don’t favorite pitches you like: you’ll give false hope to a fellow writer! Instead, show your support by retweeting their pitch.

Best of luck if you’re taking part in #PitMad tomorrow!

I’ll be around most of the day to support you, so don’t hesitate to ask for help with your pitches if need be!

The Great Noveling Adventure: Back and Better Than Ever

Hello gentle reader,

I’m thrilled to announce I’ve been invited by the ladies of The Great Noveling Adventure to join their group blog! It’s a blog about writing, publishing, and eveything book-related.

tgnahead

The blogging schedule will be as follows from 1st September 2014:

  • Media Mondays: a brand-new content feature to share downloads, printables, playlists, and more!
  • Travel Tuesdays: the ever-popular “Your Adventure” posts, link roundups, and guest posts.
  • Writing Wednesdays: Craft posts.
  • Things I’ve Read Thursdays: Book reviews!
  • Top Five Fridays: Lists of five favourite…whatever!

You can suscribe to the blog here and find us on Pinterest here. TGNA is also on Twitter here and on Facebook here.

And as if this wasn’t exciting enough, we’re having a HUGE giveaway to celebrate the relaunch of the blog!

Starting this Saturday and running until 7PM Sunday, we’ll be giving away prizes on our twitter account. Simply follow and retweet to win! These prizes include critiques, books, and more!

We also have several awesome prize packs that we’re giving away on the blog:

  • Two mystery book packages – Two lucky winners will each get a set of 3 books chosen by Serena, Kit, Isabelle, and Megan.
  • Character Sketch — one lucky winner will receive a character sketch from the super-talented Laura Hollingsworth, thanks to Alyssa.
  • Outlander Audiobook — one lucky winner will snag an audio copy of OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, courtesy of Lauren.
  • Ultimate Submission Package — one lucky winner will receive a Query Critique from Danielle Ellison, the author of SALT and FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS, and Senior Editor at Spencer Hill Press; a Pitch + Synopsis Critique (with up to three revisions!) from Sarah; and a 30-Page Critique from Valerie.

You have until 12AM (Midnight) EST Sunday to enter the rafflecopter giveaway on the blog! Don’t miss your chance!

A Writer in the Spotlight – April G. Tucholke

A Writer In The Spotlight Logo

Hello gentle reader,

I’m delighted to share with you another interview with a YA author! This week it’s April Tucholke, whose debut BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA is a great Gothic Mystery/Thriller/Romance. The sequel BETWEEN THE SPARK AND THE BURN is out now!

April Tucholke

Author: April G. Tucholke

Genre: Young Adult, Gothic, Fantasy

Website: http://apriltucholke.com/

Books: BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA (published 15th August 2013 by Dia)

BETWEEN THE SPARK AND THE BURN (published 14th August 2014 by Dial)

Biography:

April Genevieve Tucholke loves classic horror movies and coffee. She has lived in many places, including Scotland, and currently resides in Oregon with her husband Nate Pedersen. (Author Photo by Sung Park)

 

My interview (21st August 2014)

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Oh, I thought about it as a kid, but mainly because I was a big reader. I got a degree in creative writing when I was in my early twenties…but I don’t think I ever believed I’d actually finish writing a novel. And yet, here I am.

What do you say to writers who want to be published one day?

A. Read. Read everything. Every genre, the new books and the classics.
B. Give up watching TV for a year. Spend the time writing instead.
C. Pick up ten of your least favorite books…and then write down 5 things that each book did very well. This is an enlightening experience. Trust me. Figuring out what’s bad about a book you didn’t like? Easy. Figuring out what’s good about a book you didn’t like? Far more valuable.

Between the devil and the deep blue sea

To write BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, where did you get your inspiration from?

A. From this true story out of Glasgow, Scotland: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/8574484.stm
B. From all the places I’ve lived, and all the gothic books I’ve read.

What are you working on now?

I organized a YA horror anthology that will be published by Penguin in fall, 2015 called Slasher Girls & Monster Boys.

I’m also working on a dark, twisting, voice-driven YA mystery that will be published by Penguin in early 2016.

Between the spark and the burn

Which authors inspire you now? Any books you’d recommend?

Susanna Clarke. I’ve read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell three times. I’m in awe of authors who can write long books with epic world building. This is something I’ll never be able to do. George R.R. Martin, Scott Lynch, Diane Gabaldon, Connie Willis…

I’m drawn to dark, odd, beautifully written YA—books by Nova Ren Suma, Chris Howard, Laini Taylor, Melina Marchetta…

I’m inspired by the beautiful language in Zane Grey’s westerns. Truly. It—and I never use this word—transports me, into a world without the internet, and cell phones, and car alarms, and blasting music… Zane is marvelous.

Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’m the descendent of pioneers, and this is my history. I reread the series every year or so. The writing style is very simple and direct, but the stories aren’t. Laura and her family are often in serious danger, from wolves, from illness, from hunger…and yet the feeling I’m left with after reading is one of…peace.

Thanks for the interview, April!

Writers, are you ready for WriteOnCon 2014?

Hello gentle reader,

WriteOnCon is just around the corner, so I’m asking you today: are you ready for this awesome online conference? All the information below is available on the WriteOnCon website.

write-on-con-logo

What is WriteOnCon?

WriteOnCon is an Online Children’s Writers Conference. If you write Picture Books, Middle Grade, Young Adult or New Adult fiction, this is for you! But “WriteOnCon is also not exclusive to kidlit writers. Much of the information provided applies to all writers, and many of the publishing professionals who participate cross over.”

When is WriteOnCon?

WriteOnCon will take place on Tuesday 26 August and Wednesday 27 August 2014.

Where does it take place?

Online!

How much does it cost?

It’s FREE!

“ALL of the features of the conference are completely free, including posting in the critique forums. You don’t need to install special software on your computer to attend the conference. You don’t need to have a webcam to participate in the live events. There are no hidden fees or extra features that cost money.”

(Although the organisers accept donations)

Write On Con

Who can take part?

Everyone!

“The Conference is designed to give attendees many of the features of a live writer’s conference, but in an online environment. Thanks to technologies like blogging, vlogging, livestreaming, and chats, WriteOnCon connects writers with both industry professionals and fellow peers from the convenience of their own homes. Critique forums allow writers to receive feedback and exposure for their work, and the entire program is designed to be both informative and entertaining.”

“The schedule features more static elements during working hours, and most live events are saved for the evenings. Transcripts/replays for live sessions are also available for those unable to attend and all of the conference content is archived on the website.”

How does it work?

“During the conference, keynote addresses, agent panels, and lectures are presented as blogs, vlogs, moderated chats, webinars, podcasts, and livestreaming. There is also a critique forum, where participants can post query letters and writing samples to receive helpful feedback and comments from their peers and industry professionals. And there are also daily contests, giving random winners everything from books to personalized critiques from agents.”

All you need to do to participate is register at http://www.writeoncon.com/forums.

Then you’ll be able to use the critique forums, either to help out other writers with their queries/first pages or to post your own.

To attend the live events you’ll need to go to http://writeoncon.com/chat/ at the time of the event. “Should you like to participate with a comment or question, you will be able to do so using the field at the bottom of the chat window.”

To find a critique partner, you can check out the Crit Partner Match Up.

Have a look at the FAQ if you have any more questions.

Where are the full program and schedule for this conference?

They should be available on the WriteOnCon website very soon 🙂

Please note that the conference schedule uses Eastern Standard Time but international attendees are obviously very welcome to attend.

Is it worth my precious time?

Yes, yes, yes!

I took part both in 2012 and 2013 and I learned so much! I definitely recommend it, because everyone can find something of interest to them, whether they’re writing a first draft, revising or querying.

So don’t hesitate and join the fun! Here is my profile if you want to say hi (please do!). I’ll be happy to help with your query or first pages if need be, just ask!

And see you there…

On Querying and Originality in Fantasy

NB: this was originally posted on There And Draft Again in January 2014, but I have tweaked it slightly to share with you again today.

Hello gentle reader,

If you’re a writer in the query trenches now or if you’re planning on looking for an agent and getting traditionally published in the future, you know that getting rejections is part of the process.

For the purpose of this post, we are going to assume the Querying Writer has done her research, finished and polished her manuscript, written a professional query letter and put together a list of relevant agents to contact, along with their submission guidelines.

There are many, many reasons for an agent to send the Querying Writer a rejection, and for nearly every single one of them there’s a solution. Sometimes, the agent will tell you what’s wrong with your submission: it’s called a personalized rejection. Other times, the agent won’t tell you why she’s rejecting your manuscript: it’s the infamous Form Rejection.

Thankfully, a few agents use Twitter to reveal the most common reasons why they reject a submission. They use the #10queriesin10tweets or #tenqueries hashtags. And one reason that keeps popping up when it comes to Fantasy manuscripts is this one:

sara-megibow-tweet

The premise isn’t unique/original/inventive enough.

In a sea of submissions, agents and editors are looking for a Unique Concept. Or a Familiar Story With An Unexpected Twist. They want the Unfamiliar. They want to be Surprised. As we do, as readers.

So how do you avoid being rejected for lack of originality? Here are a few pointers:

  • Research the industry: find out what’s on the shelves right now or what will hit the shelves in the next 18 months. This will give an idea of what agents/editors have already seen and aren’t looking for.
  • Avoid tropes in your writing: I recommend this website to find out which writing devices have been overdone.
  • Read: writing a Fantasy book requires reading Fantasy books, to avoid the annoying predicament which consists in writing a book that already exists.

Are you worried about how original your manuscript is or isn’t? Have you had rejections stating your premise felt too familiar? What have you done to ensure your book was as original as possible? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

How To Write A Pitch For Your Novel

NB: this was originally posted on There And Draft Again in February 2013, but I have tweaked it slightly to share with you again today.

Hello gentle reader,

Whether you’re looking for an agent or self-publishing your book, there comes a time in your life as a writer when you have to write a pitch for your novel. Here is a bit of advice on what to do and what to avoid when drafting your pitch…

1 – Bear in mind the purpose of your pitch is to sell the idea of your story to an agent or a reader. “Hooking” them with a 10-line paragraph summarising your 90k+ novel isn’t an easy task, but it is doable, and necessary if you want  your book to make it to readers’ shelves. So let’s start, shall we?

2 – A pitch for a novel should be about 200 words long. Which is to say, it’s brief.

3 – A pitch should include:

  • Who your Main Character is and what he wants (his GOAL)
  • What the inciting incident is and why your Main Character chooses to do something about it (his CHOICE)
  • What is at stake should your Main Character fail in his endeavour (WHY THE READER SHOULD CARE)

4 – A pitch should NOT be too generic and vague. Chuck Sambuchino gives a great example of what a pitch should not be like on the Writer’s Digest website. Do go and read it.

5 – A pitch should not include everything about your story. It should not attempt to describe in detail the wonderfully complex world you’ve created. Thus it should only include your Main Character, the Antagonist and whoever is relevant to the Main Character’s goal, choice and problem. And it should not mention too many proper names and places. And it should make sense.

6 – Last but not least, you should have beta readers for your pitch. Try to find at least one who hasn’t read your novel and has no idea what it’s about. And try to have at least one who has read your novel and can tell you if your pitch does it justice.

I hope this helps! Feel free to leave me your questions and comments below!

(All GIFs are from Pushing Daisies and none of them belong to me)

The Writing Process Blog Tour

Hello gentle reader,

I was invited by the awesome Rhiann Wynn-Nolet to join the Writing Process Blog Tour. Rhiann is one of the co-founders of the Like A Virgin Contest and the CriTiki Lounge, which both help writers in their querying process. She’s represented by Stefanie Lieberman of Janklow & Nesbit, and writes YA/NA fiction with a gothic atmosphere and passionate characters. She blogs here and you can also find her on Twitter here.

What am I currently working on?

I’m working on a YA Historical Fantasy entitled THE BRIGHT AND THE LOST. It takes place in the 1920s during the London Season and it involves flappers in jazz nightclubs, debutantes in Mayfair mansions, dark magic and strange creatures. I like to think it as THE GREAT GATSBY meets DOWNTON ABBEY with magic, because that’s not ambitious or anything 😉


How does my work differ from others of its genre?

YA Historical Fantasy – Fantasy set in a specific historical era – is quite a niche genre. When I researched YA Fantasy books set in the 1920s, I found that most of them were set in the US and I thought it’d be interesting to write a story set in London instead. The Roaring Twenties did cross the ocean after all, and post-WW1 England is a great, dark setting which I wished to explore.

Why do I write what I write?

My answer to this question is always the same: I write the books I want to read. So I write books with clever, strong female characters, with magic and monsters, with darkness and love.

How does my individual writing process work?

I’m not the kind of writers who gets a Shiny New Idea and spends the next three months turning it into a book. I’m quite a slow writer. I get a Shiny New Idea, then I mull it over for months. Once this New Idea is fleshed out with a world, main characters and a loose plot, I outline. Only then do I start writing a first draft, which will need many, many rounds of revisions before it finds its way into the hands of my beta-readers. My CPs are the only one whom I ask to read earlier drafts, and I’m so lucky they’re the most patient people in the world.

And now, to tag some friends!

The wonderful Katie Bucklein who let me read her AMAZING YA Fantasy novel with pirates. She’s the Next Big Thing, you’ve been warned.

The lovely Melody Marshall who writes YA Fantasy and Science Fiction and is always happy to chat on Twitter.

My wonderful CP Jessica Rubinkowski who writes YA Fantasy and who just had a baby! She’s awesome, I’m telling you.

If I haven’t tagged you and you’d like to share your answers to the writing process questions, please feel free to do so in the comments section below!

The Quest for a Critique Partner

NB: this was originally posted on There And Draft Again in August 2013, but I have tweaked it slightly to share with you again today.

Hello gentle reader,

Today I’d like to share a few tips about finding the right Critique Partner(s).

frodosam

What is a Critique Partner?

A writer working alone always gets to a point where he needs another set of eyes to let him know how he can make his Work In Progress better. Beta readers can help by pointing out what they liked or disliked in the story’s plot, structure and characters. But their advice can only take the writer so far, because they are only readers, as their designation points out. Enter the Critique Partner. A Critique Partner is a writer, who can help another writer with all the aspects of his story, from plot holes to grammar mistakes.

Where can you find a Critique Partner?

If you’re lucky enough to have a local critique group, start there. But if you don’t have anyone in real life you feel can fill this role, look online.

– Social media is a good place to start, especially Twitter.

– Specialised websites also offer to help writers get in touch: Ladies Who Critique, How About We CP, CP Seek, She Writes, PublishingCrawl.

– Online writing conferences and writing contests are also a great way to find people who write your genre: WriteOnCon, PitchMadness, PitchMas, PitchWars, etc.

– For those of you writing MG/YA Fantasy, do check out the SCBWI forums and YA Writers Reddit.

– The National Novel Writing Months (NaNoWriMo, JuNoWriMo and CampNaNo) are also a good way to find writers in your genre.

– And don’t forget forums like Absolutewrite and Agent Query Connect.

How do I know I’ve found the right Critique Partner?

A CP’s feedback needs to be honest, constructive and helpful. But this works both ways: your feedback on your CP’s manuscript also needs to be honest, constructive and helpful. You need to agree on time frames, manuscript length and genre.

Most partnerships start with a casual conversation, then a first chapters swap. If you’re happy with the feedback received/given, you can move on to full manuscripts, and hopefully a long-term friendship!

How can you make it work?

Finding a good match isn’t easy: don’t be afraid to say ‘this isn’t working for me’ if you feel your CP’s feedback isn’t what you expect. Chances are you are going to be reading A LOT of each other’s writing in the next few years, so you need to be happy with each other’s schedules and comments. Balance is key: this is a partnership, and ideally both writers are at the same stage in their writing.

You know you’ve found the right CP if you feel this balance is there, and if you think your partnership works both ways. Hopefully this partnership turns into friendship, and your CP becomes the first person you turn to for anything related to your writing career, whether you’ve jut received a request for your manuscript or hit rock bottom while drafting your Work In Progress.

So tell me: do you have a hard time finding a CP? If you have a CP, where did you find each other? Let me know in the comments below!