Stress And Writing

The stress is getting to me, guys.  I have a book coming out in 7 weeks, one with a dual conflict (rare) and a unusual romance (controversial) with an even more controversial ending (which I love). I’ve also just gone through a major job change that’s requiring a lot of work. And reviews from critics are starting to come in, I’ll finally get to see my book in hardcover when my author copies arrive this week (hopefully!), and I’m knee-deep planning my physical-but-also-virtual launch party (you’re invited!), and I’m 40,000 words into my next MS. Plus, my husband and I partnered with a photographer friend this summer to open up a studio where creative arts professionals can purchase a subscription to the space and come work. Add to that the intense amount of traveling my husband and I have been doing for our careers, and I’m tired. And brain-fried. And stressed.

I’m also happy, and enjoying working on the new MS, and excited to start revising the one I have drafted and waiting in the wings. I have started a warm-water aquarium (I love tropical fish), started a weightlifting class with a friend (if there ever is a zombie apocalypse, I can now save you), and am really enjoying the new seasons of my favorite shows that are hitting Netflix. So, life is wonderful, yes.

But stress. All the million things running through my brain all day. All the worry that there might be something helpful I could be doing for HOW WE FALL that I’m not doing. The change in gears to writing a strictly contemporary story. The worry that I will never be as good a writer as I want to be, that I might not be able to bring a story home and do the concept justice. (I WILL TRY.)

And the stress is a problem, because it’s what holds me back from just doing what I need to do, realizing that how well I write is in my own hands, and most of this is just one-day-at-a-time stuff. Stress overrides what I know. As a side note, if you get the chance to encourage a writer, do it. That little positive bump can mean a lot.

So, this is me staying honest on the blog and letting you know how it’s going. It’s also me saying I’m not going to let the stress control my decisions and it’s not going to take me down. I’ve beaten a whole lot of things to get here, and I just need to get a little more balance and find good way to blow off steam. I’m going to get enough sleep, keep up weightlifting, block off enough time each week for things that aren’t work, and keep reading awesome books. (Recently read and highly recommended: THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers, and SEX & VIOLENCE by Carrie Mesrobian. Both brilliant, completely absorbing, and powerfully written.)

Do you have a stress management plan for yourself? What do you do for coping?

Need Query/Pages Help?

Happy Saturday, readers!

I made a change to the site today. I’ve had the tab above that says “critiquing services” for quite some time, and last fall, I joined forces with Alex Yuschik, an editor who’s as sharp as she is supportive. My freelance editing has grown enough that we’ve moved it to another site to have cleaner breakdowns of what we offer. If you want to make sure your pages are the best they can be before you query, if your query isn’t landing you requests and you think it may have issues, or if you want constructive, honest feedback on your entire manuscript, let us know! You can still click the “critique services” tab above to go to the new site for my editing, or you can go right to

A bit about K&A:

K & A Editorial is a full-service editorial company for writers intending to have their work published. We do developmental editing, copy editing, line editing, and proofreading. Most of our clients come to us through referrals from literary agencies, publishing houses, and other authors. We’re serious about supporting the writing community, so keep an eye out for charity auctions, pitch contests, and giveaways we participate in—you may win a free critique!

For self-publishing authors: we offer a thorough 5-round editorial package designed to sharpen and polish your story until it’s ready for readers. Please see the whole-manuscript editorial tab on the editorial site for more details.

For writers pursuing traditional publication: we offer critiques of all your submission materials as well as partial and full manuscript critiques. We’ll help you improve your query and pages to catch an agent or editor’s eye. Check us out, and let us know if you have questions!

Have a great weekend, readers!

A Love Letter From A Writer

One of the reasons I write is because I love people. Yes, of course my friends and family, but what I really mean is I love our humanity. True, we need to see what’s wrong with the world, and often what’s wrong with it is us. Poverty, racism, selfish politics, narrow-minded judgments, greed–the list doesn’t have an end.

But we can’t stop with the negatives. It’s tempting to feel like the world is getting worse and life is downhill from here. It’s tempting to think we’re slaves to our flaws and being human isn’t all that great.

But let me tell you something: being human is such a wildly cool and incredible thing.

Look at you. You’ve survived bullying and kept it from defining you and your potential. You’ve been told you can’t go into math and science fields because you’re a girl, and you’re getting your PhD. You grew up with less than everyone around you, and you’re making it on your own now and giving back to the world. Your parents weren’t the people they should have been, and you dealt with so much you shouldn’t have. You weren’t born with the advantages and abilities a lot of us have, and you didn’t let it control your life. You were the victim in so many ways, but you kept going.

I mean, really. Look at you. You loved when you hadn’t seen much love yourself. You trusted when you weren’t sure it was wise. You forgave when you knew it wouldn’t even be noticed. You opened your mind and let someone show you something new. You did the brave thing, the kind thing, the selfless thing.

Really take a minute to slow down and look at what you are.

You’ve got a voice that makes me stop what I’m doing and turn up the volume.

You’re so strong, so fast, so agile, we love watching you because you’re a literal celebration of the human body.

You are so compassionate and kind, you stop to notice the people around you and really see who they are and what they need.

You’re brilliant. You contribute to our collective ideas and expand them, turn them upside down, make them make sense to us. You use your youth not as an excuse but as a strength.

The Most Impressive Kids Graduating From High School This Year

You know you didn’t get here on your own and you don’t think you’re better than the rest of us. Even when you’ve made it to the top, you keep on giving back and helping others.

You’re so funny and quirky, you light up whole rooms and conversations and friendships. I want to be more like you.

Being human is such a wonderful, powerful thing. We’ve all got flaws and a nasty broken spot that sometimes gets the better of us. But when that happens, we reach out, because we know we can’t do this alone. We crave deep connection and when we don’t have it, we’re lonely. We need each other. We love so strongly, so determinedly, that even when we get hurt we keep on loving.

Forget what you’ve told yourself that you are for just a moment more, and take a good look at who you actually are.

You make art. You dance, paint, write, sing, sculpt, speak, build, and design beauty and truthful things into the world. You make sure love wins. You speak for people who can’t speak for themselves. You help us up when we’re out of the resources and willpower and knowledge to help ourselves.

You do all of this. You’ve got all of this inside you, because you’re human. And that’s why I write fiction; I write about people and their lives because I believe so strongly that being human is a wildly cool and incredible thing. Love being human. Own it. Use it, develop it.

I mean, really, come on. Just look at you. You inspire me. You make me think I can do better. You made me believe I can take crazy leaps of faith and be better for it. The things you do simply stun me, that humans can make such brilliant, thought-provoking, gorgeous things. You believe in things, and you make me believe in them, too.

I want to be more like you.

“The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart, and being thoughtful, and being generous. Everything else is crap.”- Chris Ashton Kutcher:

Why I’d Rather Be Broke

I’m now just a few days shy of a month since I quit working full-time.

I’ve taught for three years. During that first year of teaching, I got my first solid idea for a novel and started writing seriously. It took me several months to figure out how to find time in my day for serious writing, but I worked at it, and I read books on craft, but I mostly ignored whatever might happen after finishing my novel. I simply read and wrote.

The second year of teaching, I started feeling the strain of working full-time and serious writing. I’d hit 50k several times in my novel due to starting over multiple times, cut and rewrote enough pages it would have taken a forest to print them all, and continued to read books on craft. My progress picked up significantly- I had a real novel taking shape, not just a wandering mess of words. I started looking a bit further into the future and made some connections in the book world. I branched out in what I was reading, discovered what a query letter was, used my vacation days to stay home and write, started this blog, and FINISHED my first novel. Yes, it took me two years. I still love it. It’s the first of a series– a huge story with a huge cast, tons of historical detail, and a complicated backstory. I don’t regret taking it on as my first for-real novel (I won’t tell you about my high school and college novels. Oh, the trauma), but I must have been crazy to do so. I sent it off to beta readers and started writing the ever-dreadful synopsis and crying over draft after draft of query letters. My friends and family will tell you, I had very few spare minutes in 2011. (I’m still not fully back to the social butterfly I was in the pre-writer era.)

2012 marked a big change for me. I barely knew anything (still working on that), but I knew how to find out the basics. I revised and revised from my beta notes, sent that first traumatic round of queries (go read the archives here- fun stuff), revised more, sent further rounds of queries, received requests (astonishingly enough)and started reading new books. I’ve always loved classics, and of course I read the big hits. But I as I learned about the book world, I discovered some pretty fantastic writers. Somewhere in between reading THE NAME OF THE WIND and THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, subtext, voice, and internal conflict started making a bit more sense to me. In August, I started working for my fabulous boss editor at Entangled Publishing- the same month I wrote my 6-week first draft of MOON RIVER. Two years for the first draft of my first novel, six week for the first draft of my second. The scope is smaller, it’s not the first of a series, and the backstory isn’t nearly so complicated, but I love it just as much. Writing and polishing MOON RIVER kept me distracted while I queried SILENCE- I’d taken a break with it for the summer while I did YET MORE revisions on it.

Thanks for sticking with me here. I promise there’s a point.

The summer of 2012 saw me completely overwhelmed but unable to quit anything I was doing. To be published, I had to write. To live, I had to work full-time. My internship with Entangled was teaching me valuable skills that dramatically increased my knowledge of the industry and writing in general. Reading new, brilliant fiction and books on craft kept me sane and were also necessary for learning to write well. But I simply didn’t have enough time to do it all. Knowing MOON RIVER was a notch above SILENCE in writing quality made me desperate to finish it and get it out in the world; querying and revising SILENCE was incredibly time consuming; reading anything for pleasure made me feel guilty because I needed to be making progress on my internship and adding to MOON RIVER’s word count and sending queries, but it was necessary for staying sharp. My husband and I started talking about what would need to happen for me to work part-time. It was just a dream, but looking at it as an option helped me keep going.

The fall of 2012, all these things I’d buried myself in started snowballing. I finished MOON RIVER. Beta notes on it came back that made me grin instead of cringe. My internship with Entangled was going really well. The writing community on Twitter pulled me in, and every day, I love chatting with the writers, readers, agents, and editors there. I’m learning so much from having them on my Twitter feed. I read, read, read. CODE NAME VERITY, SHADOW AND BONE, and WHAT ALICE FORGOT helped a number of things click for me. Reading made me a better writer and helped me to keep loving books.  Teaching forced me to prioritize and value my free time. Interning made me a better writer and querier. Participating in the online writing community made me a better reader and writer. I can’t emphasize enough how much I loved all this work- stressful and demanding as it was (and still is).

But I just didn’t have the time to do justice to the tasks I was undertaking. I was dabbling in six things, mastering none, and needing each day to have 50 hours. Teaching, as much as I loved it, wasn’t making me a better writer. I couldn’t really drop anything but the areas I was investing in were only creeping forward. All my stress and effort for very little return. I’d burn out before I made it.

And then MOON RIVER was all but ready to query and the Carol Mann Agency offered me an internship.

To jump, or not to jump?

I couldn’t add two more things to my day. Literally could not. One serious “will we die of starvation?” talk with my husband later, I gave my notice at work and the school graciously offered me a part-time position similar to a teacher’s assistant. I couldn’t do what I’m doing now without this job, so I’m very thankful for it. I know so many writers who would give their right arm to stop working full-time and devote themselves to writing, and I feel a bit guilty that it’s me doing it and not them.

We’re broke. There’s a real possibility we’ll be living in a cardboard box next month (or showing up on my sister’s porch). But I’m doing what I love. I’ve been working part-time for a month now, and every day is a blessing.  Stressful and demanding, filled to the brim with deadlines and to-do lists, but still a blessing. MOON RIVER has ventured out into agents’ inboxes, I’m getting to work with some fabulous writers for Entangled and CMA, and I’ve started my next novel- I can’t wait for it to be living and breathing on the page.

I’m fine with being broke to make that happen. I’ll eat rice for a year, forget what restaurants are, and start pricing gasoline not by the gallon but by the drip, if I have to.

Maybe I jumped off a cliff and I’ll regret it when I hit the bottom. Right now, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. Here’s hoping my optimism makes the landing softer.

Review: Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.

Publisher: Macmillan/Holt

Agent: Joanna Stampfel-Volpe

Editor: Noa Wheeler

I love fantasy. I love exotic stories with close-to-home characters. But I really, truly want a story to do two things: be enjoyable and make me think. The enjoyable element could be painful catharsis- Freak by Rebecca O’Donnell did this- or the pure charm and dry wit of Lemony Snicket. Making me think is generally a product of thematic weight and/or depth of character. When a book does these two things, I always end up caring deeply about the story. I’m hooked. The author has made me feel, and because of that, I won’t be able to put the story down.
Shadow and Bone, book 1 of the Grisha Trilogy, has these elements in spades. I ordered the book as part of a release contest, partially because of the impressive cover (I mean, how gorgeous is that?) and partially because I was intrigued by how much the book was being mentioned on Twitter by agents and authors. I read the first few pages and I was immediately impressed with the writing, before I had even gotten into the story.

Concisely put, here is why I loved Shadow and Bone: substance of character, plot, world, theme, and craft. Ms. Bardugo’s craft is admirable: her opening pages are a model of showing the story rather than telling information. Subtext and implication litter the first few chapters, adding charming detail and raising so many questions that the reader has little choice but to read on in order to find out. Why are these children orphaned? What border wars, and why? What is this Small Science? Who are these Grisha Examiners, and what are they looking for in the children? So smooth, in fact, is Ms. Bardugo’s writing, I barely noticed it. I had to slow down to evaluate her writing- her craft never gets in the way of the story or overshadows it. Instead, her writing upholds the story and amplifies it.

The characters are equally substantial- the book has a wide cast and I’m impressed by how well Ms. Bardugo handles the secondary characters. Each one has a bit of backstory and at least one intriguing detail that makes me want to know more, but none of them steal the spotlight from Alina Starkov. Alina is the protagonist- a girl who, in the middle of a horrifying military assignment, discovers she has a remarkable power. Alina is a beautiful blend of ordinary and extraordinary. She’s tough, smart, and caring. She’s secretly in love. She gets scared and overwhelmed and makes mistakes. Most importantly, she picks up the pieces of the disaster, goes after what she wants, and willingly pays the price for loving someone. Alina is unique not because she’s an abnormal human, but because she’s fully human. Ms. Bardugo makes both Alina and Mal unique characters by showing their humanity and putting it to the test.  Alina and Mal are wonderfully memorable, and I found myself terrified that things would go horribly wrong for them and unfailingly hopeful that they would come out in the end whole and together.

The complexity of the plot is an organic outgrowth of the world Ms. Bardugo built. A Russian-flavored culture, complete with mysterious Grisha, wastelands and palaces, a gritty military presence, and all the extravagance of the magical elite, provides a complex and fascinating backdrop for the equally complex plot. The story wasn’t confusing or fragmented by tangential plotlines- the complexity was the natural outcome of a fully-realized world in which characters have multiple motives. The bad guys don’t all want the same thing. The good guys aren’t all in agreement about everything. A mysterious and primal antagonist makes the reader question which is which. High stakes and international ripple effects add to the complexity. I couldn’t guess the ending, and I normally have at least a good idea of what happens. The plot of Shadow and Bone simply has substance- intriguing, richly-textured worldbuilding makes it real, and solid escalation of the main conflict intensifies the story beautifully.

Theme is, to my writer and English teacher self, the natural effect of a well-shaped story and deeply human characters. What those characters do and who they are can explore the toughest ideas and show the most challenging truths. Shadow and Bone handles theme remarkably well, allowing the profoundness of the subject matter and the humanity of the characters to bring out ideas and truths of life with subtlety and strength. Shadow and Bone contains a world of ideas. From self-sacrifice to the treachery of beauty, the themes are like its world and its characters: deep, substantial, and true to life.

I strongly recommend Shadow and Bone.

To purchase Shadow and Bone: Amazon, Books of Wonder, Barnes and Noble

For Ms. Bardugo’s author website, click here.

For Ms. Volpe’s agency blog, click here.

For an interview with Ms. Bardugo’s editor, Noa Wheeler, click here.




Writing Contests

I’ve discovered a whole string of worthy contests of late, and so I’m sharing the love and posting them below. If you’re a writer, check them out. Some end tonight or tomorrow! If you’re a reader, stalk the contests.  Reading the pitches for as-yet unpublished books is fascinating, and you never know- you might see the book on the shelves next year.

Share the Lobov Critique Giveaway from Karen Akins

Pitch Slam 2 from YALITCHAT

Operation Awesome Mystery Agent from Katrina Lantz and the rest of the wonderful writers over at the Operation Awesome blog. This one is run monthly!

Crits for Water by Kat Brauer- contests/auctions for charity here until the end of June

Three Two One Pitch contest from Dorothy Dreyer

Tons of Giveaways for writers and readers- closing midnight tonight!

Miss Snark’s First Victim regularly runs writing contests- sometimes weekly! Keep an eye on the blog.

Cupid’s Literary Connection– contests run here regularly as well.

Mother. Write. (Repeat.) – The fabulous “An Agent’s Inbox” is run here monthly. Don’t miss it!

Watch Monica B.W.’s blog Love YA  and Brenda Drake’s blog Brenda Drake Writes for contests, giveaways, and more valuable info for writers and readers. These ladies are fabulous and recently hosted a major contest with Mother.Write.(Repeat.) and Cupid’s Literary Connection.

If you’re not familiar with these kinds of contests, go here for a great post on the topic and some worthwhile tips.

Like my posts? Follow my blog, and follow me on Twitter!

Book Giveaway!

Hello, readers. I have some exciting news. The fabulous Rochelle Melander, writing coach and author of WRITE-A-THON: Write Your Book in 26 Days, has offered to give away a copy of WRITE-A-THON to one of my readers. See my review of the book here. Honestly, I think you’ll love it. Ms. Melander writes insightfully and honestly about the perils, rewards, and challenges of being a writer. It’s motivating and full of unique ideas. Frankly, this book is good company.

To enter the contest, do the following:

1) Follow my blog, if you haven’t already, and comment below that you’d like to enter the giveaway. I have all kinds of goodies and useful materials for writers coming up, so you’ll want to anyway.

2) Follow me on Twitter here. If you don’t have an account, you should. Twitter is one of the most helpful tools I’ve seen yet for making professional connections and finding invaluable resources.

3) Follow Rochelle Melander on Twitter here. Tweet to me that you followed Ms. Melander, using her Twitter handle so she sees the tweet too.

That’s all you have to do! Here’s what you can win:

First prize: WRITE-A-THON by Rochelle Melander

Second prize: An ebook copy (readable on PC) of Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide from the Gotham Writers’ Workshop, one of America’s leading private creative writing schools. This book isn’t just the thoughts of one author on how to write fiction; each chapter is contributed by a different writer, all 11 of them published authors. Publishers Weekly calls this one “fresh and full of concrete advice.” You definitely want to win a copy- you know you do.

Third prize: Yes, there’s a third. Everyone will receive something- something I’ll announce when we have our winners. Check back to see what it is!

Contest ends Friday May 4 at 5:30 pm central time. That’s this Friday- so enter while you’re here! I’ll use to choose the winners Friday night- results will be announced on Twitter. Thanks so much for reading!

List of Agent Blogs and Interviews

A writer’s job is to read, read, read. Read fiction. Read nonfiction for research and nonfiction on your craft. Read your manscript aloud. Read publishing industry news. Read more fiction- bestsellers, books in your genre, and books nothing like your own. Read until your eyes cross. Read, read, read.

One of the most important things for aspiring authors to read is agent blogs. Whether you are querying agents, trying to break into the publishing business, or simply learning more about the world of books, agent blogs are an absolutely necessary source of information. During my plunge into querying agents, I’ve painstakingly divested the internet of its most valuable resource (don’t argue with me on that descriptor): agent blogs.

Blog posts from industry professionals contain the personal details you need to make your queries stand out, the contests that will give you a leg up, and the industry knowledge that will help jump start your writing career.

Actively Maintained Agent Blogs

Thoughts from a Literary Agent: blog from Marisa Corvisiero.

The New Literary Agents– blog of Kae Tienstra and her business partner, Jon.

Chip’s Blog: Blog of MacGregor Literary.

Ask a Literary Agent: Blog from Noah Lukeman, president of Lukeman Literary and author of multiple books on writing queries and fiction.

Carly Watters: Blog of literary agent Carly Watters. Great post from July 12 on making your query stand out in the slush pile.

Bookalicious– blog of agent and top YA book blogger Pam van Hylckama Vlieg.

Mandy Hubbard: author and agent with D4EO Literary.

LaVie en Prose: blog of Meredith Barnes, ex-literary agent now working in digital marketing for Soho Press.

Rapid-Progressive: The blog of Victoria Marini, agent with Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency.

New Leaf Literary: The blog of a brand-new agency headed by Joanna Stampfel-Volpe

This Literary Life: The stylish and thought-provoking blog of Bree Ogden, agent with D4EO Literary Agency.

Magical Words: Featuring posts on helpful topics by several literary agents and published authors.

Confessions: Posts by agent Suzie Townsend.

Janet Reid, Literary Agent: Posts by agent Janet Reid of FinePrint Literary Management. This blog in particular contains a wealth of information and blunt advice for writers. Janet has also been known to host contests.

Query Shark: Janet Reid, master shark of the query waters, also maintains this blog where she dices queries to bits. Enter yours, if you dare! Reading the archives is one of the most entertaining and alarming things you’ll do as a writer.

Pub Rants: Maintained by agent Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency. Personal, informative posts about all things literary.

Rachelle Gardner: Posts by Rachelle with Books and Such Literary Agency. Many of these posts contain enormously helpful information on the daily life of a successful author- taxes, social media, and the changing publishing landscape are all covered.

Coffee. Tea. And Literary: Blog of the Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation.  Contests are occasionally run here as well.

Kathleen Ortiz: Agent with Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation.

Glass Cases: Blog of the fabulous agent Sarah LaPolla with Curtis Brown, Ltd., featuring short stories, flash fiction, and memoir and novel excerpts from readers.

dhs liter show + tell: The wide-ranging blog of DHS Literary/Inkwell Management.

DGLM: Blog maintained by Dystel and Goderich Literary Management. Frequent posts revealing the world of publishing and writing in valuable detail.

Full Circle Literary: Blog of Full Circle Literary, with archives going back to 2006.

Et in arcaedia, ego. Blog of Jennifer Jackson, powerhouse agent and Vice President of Donald Maass Literary Agency. Frequent “query wars” reports  and contests. Archives back to 2003.

The Knight Agency: Blog of The Knight Agency- fantastic recent post on preparing your manuscript for submission.

Lucienne Diver’s Drivel: News, advice, and entertainment from author, agent, and superhero Lucienne Diver.

Agent Savant: “publishing morsels from Laurie McLean.”

Agent in the Middle: posts by RT-award-winning literary agent Lori Perkins.

KT Literary: blog from “shoe-obsessed superagent Daphne Unfeasible.” Immensely informative peeks into her query pile included.

Call My Agent!: Blog from Australian “Agent Sydney.” Emailed questions will be answered in a blog post.

Writing and Rambling- A Literary Agent’s Industry Musings: posts by Nephele Tempest.

Fresh Books, Inc.: infrequent but substantial posts from Fresh Books literary agent and founder Matt Wagner.

All that’s new(s) from A to Z: posts from The Zack Company, Inc.

Ask the Agent: Posts from Andy Ross.

Kidlit: Blog from YA and children’s lit agent Mary Kole.

The Forest for the Trees: Maintained by Betsy Lerner- author, ex-editor and agent with Dunow, Carlson and Lerner Literary Agency.

Between the Lines: Business Blog of Books and Such Literary Agency

Jennifer Represents: the blog of Jennifer Laughran, children’s and YA fiction agent with Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Jill Corcoran Books: posts from Jill Corcoran, children’s book agent with Herman Agency.

Agent Incite: Posts from agent Mike Kabongo

Red Sofa Literary: Red Sofa’s agency blog. Eclectic industry news.

Babbles from Scott Eagan: posts from Scott Eagan from Greyhaus Literary Agency. Frank and unique presentations of industry news and advice.

Slush Pile Hell: “one grumpy literary agent, a sea of query fails, and other publishing nonsense.” Sometimes it helps to see what not to do in your query.

The Steve Laube Agency:  Browse it and learn from it- you’ll love it. Fantastic “News You Can Use” feature.

Upstart Crow Literary: new book announcements, advice on getting published, and more.

Navigating the Slush Pile: “Agent and book lover discovers the world of publishing one fast paced, eye opening step at a time, armed with only a handful of books and an English Lit Degree.” Posts by Vickie Motter, agent with Andrea Hurst Literary Management.

Inactive Blogs

BookEnds, LLC- A Literary Agency: Recently inactive, but chock-full of must-read posts on submissions, query letter samples, and pitch lines.

Fox Literary: Blog of Diana Fox of boutique agency Fox Literary.

Miss Snark, the literary agent: Inactive since 2007, but still a valuable resource.

Deep, Deep Thoughts: informative posts from John Jarrold of John Jarrold Literary Agency.

B.G. Literary: inactive blog of Barry Goldblatt Literary.

The Rejecter: Blog of a super-secret agent. See if you can find out who it is! Contains fantastic archives going back to 2006.

Lyons Literary LLC: “tips and quips on publishing from a literary agent,” Jonathan Lyons, formerly of Curtin Brown, Ltd., and McIntosh & Otis, Inc.

A Gent’s Outlook: inactive since 2007, but still valuable archives.

Blogs Interviewing Agents

Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog featuring new agent alerts, “How I Got Published” stories, conference/event spotlights, and author interviews.

Hunger Mountain: The VCFA journal of the arts Listed by interview type, the archives contain interviews with authors and agents.

Algonkian Writer Classes: Online Workshops and National Conferences for Agents: Great list of interviews with well-known agents.

Stacey O’Neale: Writer, Publicist, Superhero.  Most of these interviews are very recent and therefore most likely to contain accurate information.

Agent Advice: “a series of quick interviews with literary and script agents who talk with Guide to Literary Agents about their thoughts on writing, publishing, and just about anything else.”

Literary Rambles: “spotlighting children’s book authors, agents, and publishing.” The agent spotlights are invaluable for personalizing your query letter.

Mother. Write. (Repeat.) Long list of agent interviews. Be sure to check out the main page of this blog for “how I got my agent” stories, contests, and more.

YA Highway: Writers hosting contests, introducing agents, and collecting publishing news. Fantastic resource.

Comment to let me know what you think of these! I’d love to hear any agent-related blogs you follow. I’ll add them to the list! As always, thanks for reading.


This week I was working on synesthesia in writing with my students. It’s not used prolifically in modern fiction, and I am surprised because it is an extremely powerful tool.

M.H. Abrams defines synesthesia as “one kind of sensation in terms of another; color is attributed to sounds, odor to colors, sound to odors, and so on.” When writers do this, they give the reader another level on which to experience the idea or image. This adds weight, and not only that, the unusual nature of synesthesia almost guarantees your readers will remember it.

Common examples from everyday speech would be a “warm” color, a “heavy” silence, or a “bright” sound. Each of these things describe something perceived with one of our six senses to another sensory perception. Warmth is something we feel while color is something we see. Adding this layer of experience to a color gives it a 3D effect. These are, of course, very basic examples.

Switchfoot uses synesthesia to great effect in their song “Restless,” with the line “the endless aching drops of light”. This line has other poetic effects going on within it, but describing light in terms of drops, and more than that, describing the drops in terms of an emotion, gives them enormous power.

Many people have probably used synesthesia without noticing it; you’ve probably used some of those common examples yourself. The technique is well-worth using intentionally, however. A well-crafted use of synesthesia can make a passage memorable and impacting.

So, as I work over the draft of my novel to edit the language for active verbs instead of passive verbs, conciseness, fewer modifiers in exchange for stronger verbs and nouns, etc., I’ll be adding intentional, poetic use of synesthesia to the checklist.

What about you? Have you ever used synesthesia in your writing? Have you come across a great use of synesthesia in literature?