Pitching Your New Novel: What Literary Agents Want

Thank you, , for putting together this fantastic thread of literary agents and their wishlists!

If you’re working on a novel currently, are still freaking out about what to write for NaNoWriMo, or are just interested in learning more about what different literary agents are in the market for today, check out this great Twitter feed wherein literary agents from all over came and submitted their “Write This For Me” wishlist.

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What We’re Reading — BookPeople’s Highlights

I still miss you, BookPeople! You should move to Baltimore with me 🙂

Check out some of BookPeople’s highlighted reads — they’ve always had great taste, in my experience.

(And, for those of you who’ve never been to Austin, TX before, BookPeople is the indie bookstore to visit!)

BookPeople's Blog

tommy

~ TOMMY W
Year Zero
by Rob Reid

purchase here“I’m reading this for my book club, Ludicrous Speed. It’s the book we’re discussing in November. This guy’s a new absurdist sci fi writer in the legacy of Douglas Adams & Terry Pratchett. It’s his debut novel, and it’s incredibly goofy and a lot of fun. The hero is a music copyright attorney who hates his job — and rightly so, it sounds like it sucks. The book’s about the fact that aliens have been pirating our music since the 70’s. Even the cheesiest 70’s theme songs are better than any music the aliens could create. The fine for pirating comes to more than the combined wealth of the universe. The aliens don’t want to pay. It’s this guy’s job to prevent them from wiping out all of humanity. In the back there’s a list of music all the main characters…

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Small Blogs Worth Reading

As discussed in my previous post, given the various and changing rules of the Liebster Award, I decided I would nominate as many small blogs as I pleased this time around (with “small” meaning basically whatever I want), and give them a bit more of a spotlight in this post.

(Disclaimer: These blogs are listed in no particular order.)

So, I’d like to begin with, BLOG NO. 1: Robert M. Wright — Storyteller.

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I have greatly enjoyed Wright’s writing and ideas, which he began sharing on his blog in August of this year. I’m a big sci-fi fan, so I not only

appreciate a lot of his subject matter (such as “Conflicts in Science and Religion in Science Fiction” and “Aliens and Earth… Why Take the Detour?“), but also his willingness to consider all manner of questions and possibilities. His blog is still young, but I think it has great promise given his considerate writing nature and dedication to providing posts of actual use to his readers.

Someone once said that when you’re creating a concept for a story, a character, a series, or a movie; ideas are like eating popcorn, you grabbed a handful because you can’t just eat one.

BLOG NO. 2: A Genealogy in Baltimore

I really dig this blog because it’s totally unique (at least to me!) in topic, and because it loves Baltimore (and I do too)! Baltimore is a vastly under-appreciated city, so I’m always on the lookout for anyone who’s willing and excited to claim part of it for themselves.

Just take a look at some of  A.G.B.’s About:

As the title of this blog suggests, I am based in Baltimore, Maryland and much of my family has never left the city and surrounding areas. I love Baltimore, especially for genealogy research. It’s a big enough city to have plenty of resources, but small enough that it is easy to identify ancestors in census records, newspaper clippings, etc. As anyone from Baltimore can attest, we lovingly call is “Small-timore” – everybody knows everybody, and if they don’t, then they know somebody who does.

If you’re interested in ancestry and Baltimore, give this blog a look!

BLOG NO. 3: The New Mercury Readings

I am so grateful for this blog not only because I’m always looking for new authors, but also because I love having books read to me. I’m a huge audio book fan, and I’m all about going to as many book readings and staged readings of plays as I possibly can.  (Plus, as you now know, I love Baltimore, and the Windup Space is one of my very favorite Baltimore bars. :))

In their mission statement for The American Mercury in 1924, cofounders H.L. Mencken and George Nathan got at the heart at what drives independent writers in this country: their desire to offer a “realistic presentation of the whole gaudy, gorgeous American scene.”

We don’t agree with everything that Mencken wrote, but we appreciate his independent thinking and willingness to challenge orthodoxies of all kinds–and the fact that 86 years ago, his Baltimore-based journal became a nexus for freelance writing and spirited debate.

In the spirit of Maryland’s most famous contrarian, we hold monthly nonfiction readings to celebrate the creativity and the integrity of independent writers and journalists. We also celebrate a city where truth is frequently stranger than fiction.

BLOG NO. 4: Michael Bradley – Time Traveler

Alright, I dig Mr. Bradley’s (can I call you, Michael?), Michael’s blog for a number of reasons (fellow sci-fi writers!), chief among them, however, is that I really appreciate his “Current Projects” page. I always feel far too shy to really discuss (let alone list and blurb!) the different writing projects I’ve got going, so I doubly appreciate his bravery in doing so. On this page, he not only gives you an idea of what novel-length projects he’s working on, but also film reviews, short stories, and nonfiction pieces. I love it!

And, if you agree with me that this page is pretty cool, you should definitely give the rest of his blog a look 🙂

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BLOG NO. 5: Writers for Writers

I’m also constantly seeking out writers who are working to help other artists, and that’s precisely what I’ve found in Writers for Writers. In this blog, I find constant little reminders about what it is to be a working writer, pointers on getting published, advice from fellow authors, and general inspiration.

There’s no shortage of writing tools, prompts, and activities on the internet, but nowhere are they organized in quite this way. Each week, Writers for Writers posts a new “menu” of activities to try. From focused drills to open-ended story starters to ventures out in the real world, the Weekly Menu will challenge you to stretch the bounds of your creativity and build up your knowledge of the craft. 

Writers for Writers helps me feel more confident in my abilities and never sounds patronizing, exhausting, or sarcastic. If you need a bit more inspiration in your life, pay them a visit!

Guess what? More Liebster!!

As some of you may know, I was recently nominated for the Liebster Award by blogger, Mike Coville of “Random Thoughts.” However, I was unable to accept the award because my nominator specified that nominees were required to have fewer than 200 followers…and I had just hit the 200 mark the week before.

Well, I am excited and honored to announce that I have been nominated for the Liebster Award once more!, this time by The Bewildered 20-Something Writer, who upped the ante to 300 followers or fewer. Wahoo!

So, for those of you who are now wondering — just what the heck is this award with its strange varying colors, symbols, and requirements? — let’s turn to my nominator for a few more details:

According to Wise Woman in Training’s post nominating me and a few Google searches of my own, the Liebster Award, which translates to “dearest” in English, is for smaller blogs that other bloggers think are just darn tootin’ swell (aww, shucks, thanks you guys).

 

Blogs are nominated for the award via other bloggers in the hope that the award will draw more attention to said blog and get it more views. If a blogger accepts the Liebster award, she answers a number of questions asked by the nominating blogger, and then nominates other blogs for the award in the same way. So, in other words, it’s like a feel-good chain letter (I’m sure I’m dating myself by using the phrase chain letter, but oh well) in the blogosphere.

I’ve seen varying numbers of how many blogs I’m supposed to nominate for it, as well as conflicting numbers on how small the blog is supposed to be (some say 3000 readers/subscribers or less, and some say 200 or less).

So, for our purposes (well, for my purposes, if I’m being honest), let’s make the rules for this one: the awarded blog must have 300 followers or fewer, and I get to nominate however-the-hell many other great blogs I want 🙂 (And, just for those of you out there wondering, I am planning on dedicating my entire next blog post to these new Liebster Award nominees (hence why they are not included in this post).)

First, I’d like to give just one more shout-out to The Bewildered 20-Something Writer, because her blog really does rock. I mean, if you haven’t checked out her writing yet then you should absolutely make that your very next stop (unless some medical emergency befalls you in the next five-or-so minutes, in which case you get a pass to pick the hospital as your next stop instead).

 

My responses to The Bewildered 20-Something Writer’s questions:

  1. What inspired you to start writing/blogging? I’ve been writing ever since I learned how to spell (and, actually, a bit earlier than that, but it’s mostly gibberish at that point). I only started blogging, really, once I learned that I was getting my first big break from McFarland & Co. to have my first book, The Trickster in Ginsbergpublished. I suppose I just realized then that, well, I wanted to dance around and tell everyone I knew and a bunch of people I didn’t, all about it.
  2. If you could shrink any animal–-real or mythical–-so that it was pocket sized, what animal would you shrink and keep as a pet? Tricky! But I’m definitely going to have to go with Ewoks from the moon of Endor (*cough*Star Wars*cough*). I know they’re already small, but I really dig the idea of pocket-sized ones 🙂
  3. Name three guilty pleasure books and/or movies that you’re sorry you’re not sorry you like (say that three times fast). Hmm…another tricky one. Well, as far as guilty pleasure movies go (although I am definitely NOT sorry about these ;)): Zoolander, Heavy Metal (1981), and Speaking of Sex (James Spader is definitely da bomb!).
  4. If you could change your name to anything, what would you change it to? Actually, this might be boring, but I like my name. I don’t think I’d change it. (Although I am rather strangely fond of the names: Zora and Star — don’t worry, I’m not in charge of naming any children.)
  5. What inspires you creatively, i.e., what gets your creative juices pumping again when you’re in a bit of a slump? Dancing. I love dancing. And Murder, She Wrote. And Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing.
  6. If you knew you only had one hour before the zombie apocalypse, what would you do? Hmm… I’d probably hop in my rocket ship and move to Europa.
  7. Name the weirdest/funniest/coolest/most memorable/etc. dream you’ve had. Wow, this one is actually really tough because my dreams are always so fantastical. I guess one I’ll share…that’s particularly weird…ah, yes! This is a dream I used to have as a recurring nightmare as a child: I’m in my old Baptist daycare building and, for some reason, it’s a totally round building now with a cylinder of walls in the center that separates the building into various rooms. I’m running in a circle through each room, chasing a woman. I’ve got shoes on, but the woman I’m chasing is barefoot, and, no matter how quickly I run, all I can ever do is just glimpse her naked foot as she flees into the next room. I’m chasing her in an attempt to save her, though she doesn’t seem to know this. You see, the floors of this building are toxic (as is evidenced by the tiny, child-skeletons that riddle the floor along with assorted, abandoned toys and whatnots), and she’s a sitting duck with those bare feet of hers. But, so far as I can remember and for all I know now, she’s still running. I never have caught up to her.
  8. What advice would you give your six-year-old self? Take a damn chill pill. And don’t give up on that Bambi rewrite.
  9. What are the five things that make you the happiest? My husband, my family/friends (cheater cheater pumpkin eater!), my pets, my faith, and road trips.
  10. Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Trek! (Sorry, Ewoks…)

Some Pre-NaNoWriMo Inspiration

Need some help finding that right writerly inspiration? Check out these magazines and journals for some cool fiction, nonfiction, and refreshing brain-slaps:

 

Orion (especially check out their “7 Ways to Write to the Future” article)

The first issue of the Orion Nature Quarterly was published in June 1982, and in its editorial George Russell, the publication’s first Editor-in-Chief, boldly stated Orion’s values:

“It is Orion’s fundamental conviction that humans are morally responsible for the world in which we live, and that the individual comes to sense this responsibility as he or she develops a personal bond with nature.”

Orion’s mission today is to inform, inspire, and engage individuals and grassroots organizations in becoming a significant cultural force for healing nature and community.

Ms. 

Ms. was the first national magazine to make feminist voices audible, feminist journalism tenable, and a feminist worldview available to the public.

Today, the magazine remains an interactive enterprise in which an unusually diverse readership is simultaneously engaged with each other and the world. The modern Ms. boasts the most extensive coverage of international women’s issues of any magazine available in the United States.

And the magazine’s time-honored traditions-an emphasis on in-depth investigative reporting and feminist political analysis, the Ms. Women of the Year Awards, and the renowned “No Comment” section-have been supplemented with discussion of such subjects as environmental feminism, women’s work styles, and the politics of emerging technologies, bringing a new generation of writers and readers together to create the feminism of the future.

Cemetery Dance 

Cemetery Dance has won every major genre award and is healthier than ever — with a higher newsstand and subscriber circulation than ever before, ever-increasing advertiser support, and a continuing reputation for superb content and design. We’re well-known for publishing the biggest and the brightest stars in the [horror] genre, often before they’re discovered by the big New York publishers.

Analog Science Fiction and Fact

Astounding/Analog (often all-encompassingly just called ASF) is often considered the magazine where science fiction grew up. When editor John W. Campbell took over in 1938, he brought to Astounding an unprecedented insistence on placing equal emphasis on both words of “science fiction.” No longer satisfied with gadgetry and action per se, Campbell demanded that his writers try to think out how science and technology might really develop in the future-and, most importantly, how those changes would affect the lives of human beings. The new sophistication soon made Astounding the undisputed leader in the field, and Campbell began to think the old title was too “sensational” to reflect what the magazine was actually doing. He chose “Analog” in part because he thought of each story as an “analog simulation” of a possible future, and in part because of the close analogy he saw between the imagined science in the stories he was publishing and the real science being done in laboratories around the world.

Real science and technology have always been important in ASF, not only as the foundation of its fiction, but as the subject of articles about real research with big implications for the future. One story published during World War II described an atomic bomb so accurately-before Hiroshima-that FBI agents visited John Campbell to find out where the leak was. (There was no leak-just attentive, forward-thinking writers!) More recently, many readers first encountered the startling potentials of nanotechnology in these pages, in both fact articles (including one by nanotech pioneer K. Eric Drexler) and fiction.

Mental Floss

For the record: mental_floss magazine is an intelligent read, but not too intelligent. We’re the sort of intelligent that you hang out with for a while, enjoy our company, laugh a little, smile a lot and then we part ways. Great times. And you only realize how much you learned from us after a little while. Like a couple days later when you’re impressing your friends with all these intriguing facts and things you picked up from us, and they ask you how you know so much, and you think back on that great afternoon you spent with us and you smile.

And then you lie and say you read a lot.

The Baltimore Review

The mission of The Baltimore Review is to showcase Baltimore as a literary hub of diverse writing and promote the work of emerging and established writers.

Nature

Nature is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions. Nature also provides rapid, authoritative, insightful and arresting news and interpretation of topical and coming trends affecting science, scientists and the wider public.

Nature’s Mission Statement

First, to serve scientists through prompt publication of significant advances in any branch of science, and to provide a forum for the reporting and discussion of news and issues concerning science. Second, to ensure that the results of science are rapidly disseminated to the public throughout the world, in a fashion that conveys their significance for knowledge, culture and daily life.

 

Writing for Sport

“It’s literary ‘wrestling.’ New writers don masks, and head onto a stage where they’re given three random words, a laptop hooked up to a gigantic screen, and five minutes to write a short story.”

— Annie Murphy, PRI, “Peru makes book writing into a spectator sport and invites aspiring writers into combat”

Check out this wild and wildly entertaining new way some people are building their writing careers:

http://www.pri.org/stories/2013-09-30/peru-makes-book-writing-spectator-sport-and-invites-desperate-writers-combat

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31 Days of Halloween: Day 5 “Happy Birthday, Clive Barker!”

Thanks, Book People, and happy 61st Birthday, Clive Barker!

(P.S. I love Baltimore, but I miss you, Book People!)

BookPeople's Blog

Halloween Scary House

October 5th marks the 61st birthday of one of the greatest writers of horror fiction in waning days of the 20th century. The yin to Stephen King’s yang, Clive Barker burst upon the scene with his six volume Books of Blood, changing the face of horror forever. Incorporating, at the time, transgressive sexuality and violence into the booming horror genre, these books, along with his first early novels such as The Damnation Game, set him up as the anti-King, the go-to author of horror fiction who was too scary to be read by your parents or the squares who attended your school.


With fame and acclaim under his belt (as well as a film adaption of his short story “The Hellbound Heart” directed by himself as Hellraiser) and Stephen King himself declaring him the future of horror, Clive Barker kicked off 1989 with the release of the first…

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