Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A WRITER’S RESOLUTION ~ Jackie Wellington

In less than 24 hours, it will be a new year. Time to render resolutions, set goals, and establish work habits. And writers are not exempt. So what are the writer’s resolution? Lose weight? Maybe! Get out of debt? Definitely! Write more? ABSOLUTELY!!! Here are three things EVERY writer should put on their resolution list for 2015.
1.    Schedule Writing Time.
A Writer Writes! Point! Blank! Period!!! So schedule time to write. We have busy lives, but we cannot consider ourselves writers if we do not write. If you need help, check out writing challenges such as 365K, Writer’s Digest 30-Minute Writing Challenge, and P&W Writer’s Challenge.
2. Find An Agent.
Research agents. Follow them on Twitter. Read their blogs. Find out who their clients are and read their books. Then query! Query! Query! Do not be afraid of rejections. Rejection is a good thing to writers. Think about it. Normally, you might end up with a rejection which is not a form letter. It might be the one which gives a list of ways to make the manuscript better. See, a critique you didn’t have to pay for. These agencies are looking for new clients - Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Erin Murphy Literary Agency, and Writer’s Digest Guide to Lit. Agencies.
3. Read books in the genre in which you write.
To be great writers, we have to be great readers. If you write picture books, read picture books. If you write Middle Grade, read Middle Grade. If you write Young Adult, read Young Adult. Read! Read! Read! 
Now, set up your write station. Gather your supplies. And prepare to write and make history in 2015. Also, here is a bonus poem. Something for you to ponder. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
Happy New Year

Well, I woke up this morning
to a beautiful day
2014 is slipping away
2015 is here to stay
Time to make new wishes,
Cause that's what they are
The word "resolution"
is outdated by far

It's outdated to me
‘Cause we seldom follow through
Pledging to eat healthy,
lose weight,
just to name a few
But what makes "resolution"
the word not to use
“Cause it means "perseverance" and quitting is what we choose

January and February,
our resolution is kick in gear
March, April, May
quitting is getting near
June comes around,
no more gym to see
July, it's official,
resolution is decease

But what if we approach
the new year differently
Instead of "resolution",
"New Years Wish" is the key
We can wish to be thinner,
healthier, and mature
Wish to get out of debt,
and be financially secure

‘Cause if we make a wish
We hope it will come true
But in case it doesn't happen,
our self-esteem we wouldn't lose
And then we won't feel like a failure,
when our attempts didn't succeed
So death to you "resolution",

"New Years Wish" is what we need

Monday, December 29, 2014

Let the Story Rise: REVISE! by Kathy Halsey and Sherri Jones Rivers

Revision—is it a blessing or a curse? Do you dread changing anything? Do you resist murdering your darlings—those words that seem to be a piece of exceptionally fine writing? Are you clinging to them like a sailor to a life raft?  Elmore Leonard put it pretty succinctly when he said he just left out the boring parts. (Cutting speeds the pace.)

Kristen Fulton, non-fiction writer and founder of WOW, said that before her critique group sees it, she’s probably done 30-40 revisions of a manuscript! Before her agent sees it, she’s probably done close to 100. Wow!!!!

Creating ideas, crafting clever titles, concocting characters, now that's fun. "Revision" seems so serious. So let's revise our thoughts on "revision" as we march into 2015. We’ll share wise words from some favorite writers and some links for those on the revision quest!

Our writer friend, Dianna Ashton gave us a delicious new metaphor for revision. Think of it as baking. She confessed to the GROG that for her newest book, there were so, so, so many revisions. You gotta bake batches of cupcakes before the batter is delectable!

Dianna's Advice for revision? Do it. Do it again. Then do it again. In between revisions, put the manuscript away for a few days. Let it “bake.” Then come back to it with fresh eyes. Revise. Bake again. You may think it’s perfect before revising, but it’s not. You’ll be able to see how to improve it after you’ve let it bake a few times.

Another writer friend, Miranda Paul shared her process with us, too. Miranda said, “I write first drafts mostly on notebook paper,
then eventually get around to typing it up. Occasionally, an entire manuscript writes itself in my head first—in those cases, I go straight to the computer and type like a madwoman, thankful for the gift from my muse. 

Once a story is typed, I have this quirky method where I use the default font while it's still what I consider a working draft. When it's a solid manuscript ready for a closer eye, I change the font to Times New Roman for "revision" or "editorial" mode. After a round of on-screen edits, I always print out the manuscript, take it to a new location, and slash word count (for picture books) or scan meter (if rhyming). Then I put the changes into the computer and walk away. More of Miranda’s process can be found at her top 10 tips  Miranda has several books in the pipeline including the inspirational nonfiction picture book ONE PLASTIC BAG out in Feb. 2015! 

Revise with new eyes and motivation by joining these groups and checking out these links:
1. Meg Miller’s ReviMo Jan. 11-17, 2015
2. Julie Hedlund’s 12 Days of Christmas emailseries

Here’s to fun with revision and creating that picture perfect manuscript in 2015! Cheers to writing, friends! We'd love it if you shared your favorite revision tips in the comments, too.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Stretch With a Chain of Events Poem

It's time to “work out” your writing muscles. Take a deep cleansing breath and stretch

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Seven phrases are used in this concrete build-upon poem. This form is called "chain of events." The phrases build upon one another to show the location or action of one object, person, or animal.

Think of the House That Jack Built--This is the cat that chased the rat, that ate the cheese that lay in the house that Jack built.

Another example is the song, Hush Little Baby--Hush, little baby, don't say a word.
Papa's gonna buy you a mockingbird.And if that mockingbird won't sing,Papa's gonna buy you a diamond ring...

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The sequence can move from small to large, 

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large to small,

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or person to person.

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Here is my stretch:

This is the bird
perched on the black hat
that sat on the snowman
who saw the gold star
Shining in the night
And made a wish
For peace on earth 

For more writing inspiration share your stretches with us. We will be happy to post them.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Snowy Day Thoughts on Writing -- by Christy Mihaly

Oh, no, a big storm! What a mess! 

I have to shovel piles of heavy white stuff in order to get out of the house. I've got places I need to be. Important things to do! 

My back hurts. The cold wet seeps into my gloves, and my toes are freezing. Each shovelful seems heavier than the last. I’m hacking through a thick crust of ice, heaving dense mounds of icy snow.  

Oh, then there's shoveling the snowpack off my roof, before the roof collapses . . . .

Some days, the words are heavy and cold. It's endless drudgery.  

Some days it REALLY stinks.

Just after I’ve cleared the front walk, there comes the dreaded “SWOOSH,” and a roof-load of heavy snow lands, in a dense heap, right on top of my path.  Hooh boy.

Some days, everything I've written for hours is fit for nothing but the trash bin. Cut, hack, start over.

But . . . look, isn't that beautiful?

Some days, the sun glints off a fresh sugar coating. My trees snuggle under their fluffy blanket.

I hurry to don my snow gear, get out there, feel the fresh, crisp air on my cheeks. 

I want to make tracks!
Cheddar the dog does too!

I live for those days when the writing flows, the ideas come easily, and the joy of the process takes over. The path is clear!
By Daniel Case (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

There's special magic in each snowflake. 
Remember the excitement of a snow day, when school was cancelled? The compulsion to dive into a snowdrift, grab some friends, and make snow angels and snowmen? 

Some days the only thing to do is let go of work-work-work  (snow=need to shovel) and capture the old snow-day spirit (snow=YAY!).  

I'll cancel those appointments -- so sorry, snowed in! -- and settle in for a day of writing by the woodstove . . . after we play in the snow.

Sometimes, there's nothing to do but to dive right in . . .
. . . and feel the bite of snow on the tongue, and revel in the joys, discoveries, and fresh perspective, of a snowy day. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

6 Tips for Starting an Agent Seach by Leslie Colin Tribble

6 Tips for Starting an Agent Seach
Leslie Colin Tribble

Looking for an agent?  Me too! For the past year I’ve been haphazardly searching for an agent.  Finally, I realized I’m going about it the wrong way.  If your agent search has been less than stellar, like mine, read on.  Let’s make 2015 the year we sign with an agent.

1. Find an Author
What?  Find an author?  I want to find an agent!  Well, here’s the idea.  Find an author whose books you love and then research who their agent is.  Or, find an author who has a similar writing style and figure out the name of their agent.  You want to find an agent who loves your style of writing.  If you write sweet, quite stories, then don’t go looking for someone who only represents authors writing incredible books about mutant mushrooms wreaking mayhem on a community.  They’ll read your submission and say, “Oh nice, sweet, not for me." (Generally what most of my rejections say!)

2. Research
I know, research is only for those non-fiction folks, right?  Nope, we’re talking agent research here and that involves A LOT of reading.  Here are some great resources where you can find agent names and information about them.  Kathy Teman’s blog, Chuck Sambuchino at Writer’s Digest , Literary Rambles, Julie Hedlund's blog, SCBWI, Agent Query,  kidlit411, and Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market.  There are several Facebook pages you can ask to join as well, such as Agent/Editor Discussion and Sub Six.  The information is out there, you just have to find it.  

3. Track Your Research
You're going to want to keep all that research somewhere,  Query Tracker can do that for you or you can create your own spreadsheet.  The tried and true old school pencil and paper works as well.  I prefer a spiral notebook.

4. Narrow Your List
Up until now I've been partial to the shotgun method of finding an agent.  As in, "Oh there's an agent's name, I'll find something to submit to them."  This is probably not the best approach. You want to find someone with whom you’ll enjoy working, someone who will take your career to heart, someone with whom you resonate. So read, read, read and keep narrowing that list. I have a lot of work to do!

4. Hedge Your Bets
4.     Once you get a list of names check for negative comments on Preditors and Editors or Query Tracker.  Look to see if the agent has sold any books in the past year.  How many new clients do they take on? If you can't find much about them in all your vast research, take it as a sign and cross them off your list.

5. Attend Conferences
Conferences are the best places to find an agent.  You get to meet the person, see what they’re really like.  They become more than their professional headshot on the webpage.  Talk with them at lunch or dinner or chat with them at the meet and greet.  Conferences also open doors to agents who are closed to unsolicited submissions.  Just remember these are real people and don’t be annoying.  They just might be a tad tired from traveling and speaking so don’t press them to visit with you into the wee hours of the morning. 

6. Persevere
Finding an agent can take time.  Lots of time.  If you’ve done your homework and whittled down your list to a few perfect agents, then keep trying to win them over.  However, if you’ve consistently grown in your writing but you're still receiving those heart-rending no thank yous, then think about expanding your list.  Remember this relationship is two way.  The agent needs to love you as much as you love them.  They want to love your work so much that a potential editor is wowed just by their enthusiasm for you. 

But remember that you don’t have to have an agent.  You can find editors and publishing houses on your own with some diligence and a fabulous piece of writing to wave at them.  An agent can make your life easier though, and take care of that waving and allow you to continue doing what you do best, which is writing.  If you’re determined to secure an agent, make sure you put in the effort to find your best match.  Then, when you do find your perfect agent, get back to work and write so they have more to sell.