Category Archives: Editors

Cover and Contest!

My newest novel, NEVER THAT FAR, is published and released TODAY by Shadow Mountain.  a huge thank you to Jennifer De Chiara and Steve Fraser who represented me for this deal. And a big thank you to the amazing Lisa Mangum, my editor at Shadow Mountain.

A normal person could post a pic. I cannot. But, dagnabit, I will by end of today. So until then, imagine a pretty cover

 

 

HERE

 

 

Now! Here’s the contest! If you go to FB, you can add your goals under this post there.

I’m getting ready for a sing off! And I’m challenging Trent Reedy. And Claudia Mills, too! Yes! Where? At WIFYR this June!

We’re getting the ball rolling a little early with Getting Ready for WIFYR Writing Contest where you might win a book or two. My newest novel NEVER THAT FAR is one of the prizes. So is Trent Reedy’s book DIVIDED WE FALL.

Here’s how it works:

Say what your writing goal is for April AND May (I’ll reveal my goals tomorrow). And the most amazing Stephanie Moore will keep track of things for us.

You get to put your name in our virtual drawing if you sign up to play, if you complete your writing weekly goals, meet your goal, and every check-in on our Friday FB post. Invite all your friends! Got friends on Twitter? Instagram? Invite them, too!

The writing goals can be whatever you want them to be: 50 words a day, 5000 words a day or anything in between. They can be editing goals, if you like. Anything to help you get ready for our week-long writing conference this June.

The winner will be randomly drawn and notified on June 1, 2018.
Then we’ll pop the prize in the mail (US residents only), signed to you.
Woot woot!

But that’s not all.

Trent and I will have a sing off at WIFYR. Or we’ll sing a duet. Or something.
And Claudia Mills? That will be a flannel shirt wear-off contest .

Oh my gosh, this just keeps on giving.

So join us for our Getting Ready for WIFYR Writing Contest.

(You DO NOT have to attend WIFYR to play. But if you want to register, go here: http://www.wifyr.com. There are a few spaces open, but many of the classes are almost closed.)

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Sexy Sense of Place

“The author must know his countryside, whether real or imaginary, like the back of his hand.” Robert Louis Stevenson

When my first editor, the amazing Mary Cash, bought my first book KELLY AND ME, one of the things she said was, “We need more sense of place.”

“How do I do that?” I asked.

“Read,” she said.

And so I did. I found lots of books that painted worlds for me. But the authors I learned the most from for that writing exercise were Bill and Vera Cleaver. They wrote WHERE THE LILIES BLOOM (Newbery winner). All their books (yes, I read them all) were so beautifully detailed that I fell in love. I’m STILL in love with their writing.

A Few Facts about Sense of Place

  1. If well done, setting can become a character (what one reviewer said about KELLY AND ME).
  2. Not just fantasy novels need world building–ALL books do.
  3. If you feel like the book you’re reading is a desert (when it’s not!), that’s because the author has failed in making the world real and visible. The author is your eye.
  4. When your main character talks about place, remember he will speak only about what he notices. YOU have to make him notice what allows the reader to believe they are there.
  5. Use all five sense when you write. At this moment I can hear the baby and, across the street, a lawn edger going. I can feel the cool air blowing in around my feet from the open window. Outside my window there are two trees, one with leaves the color of an almost-ripe lemon. The smells coming from the bathroom? Let’s just say the wintergreen smelly thing ain’t helping a lot. And then, of course, there are the keys under my fingers. All of this is part of my sense of place–of the world I am in right now.
  6. Don’t use all sense at once, like I did above. After you build a place, it’s your job to remind the reader where they are. And I don’t think it’s a bad idea to do that two or three times a page.
  7. The amazing Tim Wynne-Jones gave a great talk when I was at school at VC, about the emotion sense of place can give a book–how it can forecast doom or help readers feel joy. There’s a name for this, and try as I might, I can’t remember what it is. When I do, I’ll add it.

 

#32 Rewrite your book opening using sense of place.

#32.5 Do what Mary Cask said: Read for setting. How does the writer do it successfully?

 

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Filed under Editors, Exercises, Setting, Voice, writing process

What Matters Most

Have you noticed time streaming, screaming past? Like water through your fingers? Like sand through the hourglass?

Yes, these are the days of our lives.

And once again, I have been reminded how sacred and fragile life is.

A late Sunday night when a child announces a friend is dead.

An email with someone telling me the cancer is back.

A call from a dear friend saying the chemo isn’t working.

Mass shootings.

Mass murders.

Kidnappings.

You know (oh, you know) I could go on.

But this morning, for just a moment, I want to share what my writing life has done for me.

When I mailed that first novel off so many years ago, I had no idea how my world would open up. At the time I had three babies and was so very shy I couldn’t talk to people. (Really.) I’d worked on the novel called Me and Kelly for several years until I’d realized how it needed to end. When it was very nearly ready to be published, I was on bed rest with my 4th pregnancy and I got a phone call from a guy named Rick Walton. He’d heard about me from a writer named Louise Plummer. Did I want to talk about books and writing?

Yes! I did.

Every day, Rick called me. We spoke for a couple of hours. By the time I went to the critique group run  at his home, Rick was my friend. And at that group I got to know several other people who changed my life. Made my life amazing. I wrote books with some of them. Ran the first really successful writing conference in the Provo, UT area with two of them. Became fast friends with nearly all of them.

The other day, after the telephone call from my dear friend, I realized just how far-reaching my writing life has been. I’ve met teachers in other states who’ve become my friends. Other writers from all over the country who have changed who I am. I’ve gone to school in a place hot as hell, watched my writing career completely stop for seven years, lost loved ones, a marriage, hope. I’ve made more and more and more friends, had my heart broken more times than I can count, agonized over family situations, known editors who I’ve known–without a doubt–wanted me to succeed. Who helped me make my books better and better. I’ve gotten letters from adults about my books. From children. Spoken to translators who have lost children. Learned to love people I thought I would never have anything in common with. I’ve run conferences, been to conferences, accepted awards, been passed over for awards, and all along what has mattered most are the people behind it all.

The people.

You.

I am not who I was when I started that lonely process of writing a middle grade novel. I am better because of the people I know and love.

The best part of my life is my religion and my family. But a very close second is my writing world because it has afforded me so much–the friends I would have never met. Those people who have made my life richer. The people who have been my example. Shared experiences. Shared their love. Who have cared for me, no matter what.

How grateful I am for the people I know.

You all have made me better. I am touched to know you. So grateful I do.

 

 

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Filed under CLW, Editors, Family, Life

Kyra Leigh, Queen Bee

Today I just thought id give three little *hints* on how to get your book ready to send to an editor/agent.

1. Print a hardcopy and scribble all over that baby. Right before I sent to my agent, I felt as if my novel was 98% where I wanted it, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t get it to %100. So I printed a hard copy {three, actually} and read and edited every little line. It was tedious work, but so worth it.

2. DON’T GIVE UP! When I was sending out Reaper to editors, I got numerous rejections. {most of which were extremely encouraging, but still, they hurt. And I cried often.} I kept emailing my agent asking what had I done wrong? What needed to be changed? And he kept reminding me “Don’t give up, the book is where it needs to be.” And so I didn’t. And someone found the novel and loved it as much as my agent did.

3. If someone turns you down, it doesn’t mean they hate your work. Sometimes it really isn’t “the right time.”
I sent my first novel to more than one agent. Steve was one of them.  He told me the book had promise, but that it just wasn’t the right time, and to keep working.
It took me a year and a half, but eventually I got there.

I don’t know if this helps or not. But thought I would share that for the day!

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15 Minute Monday

I just saw this “Give Yourself an Exciting Horoscope!” Geez. All this time I’ve been looking at the old, boring, supposed-to-happen horoscopes. I think I’ll opt for exciting from now on.

This morning I’m sending an email to an editor. I have an idea. An awful idea!
The Lynch gots a wonderful, awful idea!

This idea is naughty, even.

And I want to see what my-hopefully-soon-to-be editor thinks. I sorta think she’ll say no. If she does, I’m talking to my agent.

I’ve never done this before–you know, come up with an idea that I think is controversial in the publishing world. I mean, I’m even thinking of using a different name. Probably I’ll use a play on John Green’s name, because that will help sell the novel. Joan Green. Anyway, let’s put that aside. My question to you is, when do you KNOW you must write a book?

Maybe a book outside your comfort zone.

Maybe a book that could get you in trouble.

Maybe a book that needs to be written but will be hard as all get out. (Yes, that’s a thing. That’s historical slang.)

Usually when I write anything it’s because I must. Something hilarious happened. Or something horrible. Or something frightening. And now there’s this emotion and it needs to be set free.

And this idea is sorta like that.

I have this unhappy feeling in my gut that has to come out.

So–

Why do YOU write?

Not the average answer, “Because I have to.” We all know that. But why do you have to write? And why do you choose the ideas you choose? None of this, ideas choose me. We pluck them from the air or from the news or from other titles or from people.

Your answer is?

 

 

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And Here We Are!

The New Year is here!

Are you excited? I am. I’m not sure why I think the 31 of December has less value than January One, but I do!

Have you looked ahead and seen that both February and March start on a Sunday. (We know how I love that!)

 

Do you have goals you’d like to share? Please do, if so. We’ll keep track of them until next year.

Here are three (of my millions) of goals:

1. Have more author, editor and agent interviews here on the blog.

2. Edit book with Ann Dee and send off.

3. Write 5000 new words a week (or more) unless I’m revising.

 

Now, I need suggestions. Outside my office window are enough birds to star in Hitchcock’s movie The Birds. They’re huge. HUGE. Like Lord of the Rings huge. Only these aren’t eagles.

They keep pecking at the house.

Other than killing these things, any idea how to keep them from pecking at the wooden eves?

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Filed under Agents, CLW, Editors

And Becca Birkin Went to SCBWI . . .

by Becca Birkin!

I got back from SCBWILA a week ago. It was exhausting, and reminded me that the writing world is fast-paced. Agents and editors are very busy. Not only can they afford to be picky, they have to be.

 “The quality of what’s being published these days is very high, and your manuscript may be very good, but they are holding out for great.” SCBWI Market Report, Deborah Halverson.
So what can we do to move our manuscripts from good to great? The following is advice from the editor/agent panels.
Structure: Wendy Loggia, executive editor at Delacorte, likes manuscripts that show mindfulness in structure and clear vision of what the book will look like. The book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is an example. The main story and the backstory of the girl are separated with visual “play” and “pause” icons.
Uniqueness: Marylee Donnely of Candlewick Press said, “When I find something that’s fresh or exciting, it’s like meeting a new person that enchants or excites you. This is a storyteller I want to listen to.”
Your book is going to be up against hundreds of others in your category. Can you probe deeper for that extra element which could make your story stand out?
Polish and Pitch: While it’s a fast-paced world, “There is no speeding up how to get better as a writer,” said Luica Montcreve of Dial BFYR. So do your work. Write, revise, repeat.
As you edit, make sure you create a great pitch. This is your chance to frame the unique and special in your story, something with a word-of-mouth factor. Use specific details that make it stand out. “A story about a boy whose family doesn’t love him” could be lots of plots. “A boy with magical power must defeat the wizard who killed his parents” has instant recognition.
Now go back and make sure your story is as strong as your tagline. As you craft a great pitch and a unique story that lives up to that expectation, your manuscript is another step closer to great.

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Filed under Character, Editors