Friday Five… Must Follows

I’ve recently discovered Paper Hangover, a fantastic group blog that offers writing tips and advice, book reviews, weekly Friday Five topics, and teen interviews. I highly recommend you spend some time exploring the site–they have so much to offer! Today I’ve decided to give Paper Hangover’s Friday Five a shot. Here’s the prompt:

And here are my Must Follows (Click the links to be redirected to each Twitter page):

Savvy Authors – An online writing community for writers of romance, offering tons of diverse workshops, forums, and pitching opportunities. I met a few of my super talented CPs at Savvy.

YA Highway – A group blog focusing on (duh) everything young adult lit.

Gayle Forman – YA Author (If I Stay and Where She Went… LOVE) who always has thoughtful, witty Twitter contributions and awesome blog posts.

Georgia McBride – Founder of YALitChat, extremely knowledgable, host of Wednesday night YA Twitter chats, and overall awesome.

Vickie Motter – My agent… Hello! Of course you should be following her!

*BONUS* If you like reality TV of any kind, you follow Andy Cohen – He’s got nothing to do with writing or publishing, but he’s Bravo TV Royalty, and he’s absolutely hilarious!

Tell me–who are your must follows on Twitter?

Current Must Reads…

There’s been so much action in the YA blogging world over the past week or so. In the past few days alone, I’ve read several excellent posts that I’ve 1) Found profound/interesting/thoughtful/helpful 2) Caught myself thinking about over and over and 3) Want to share with all of you. Without further ado…

Writer Natalie Whipple’s What to Expect When You’re Submitting, a cohesive post covering every angle  of the one step of the publication process we don’t often hear a lot about, including: dealing with the internet, waiting, and your mental state… Submission can do a number on your sanity. I like to call it “pendulum swings.”

Triangles of Love, in which literary agent Sarah LaPolla says: A good love triangle should force your main character to ask, “Who do I want to be?” not simply, “Whom do I want to be with?”

Author Gayle Forman’s wise post on Jealousy and how she deals: I have two choices: give in to the insecurity and feel jealous of other authors’ virtuosity or give in to my better angels and rejoice in these wonderful books and tell the world about them.

An Extremely Honest and Scary Post by author Kirsten Hubbard, who talks candidly about debuting as a midlist author: But knowing my book wasn’t given a full chance to soar in this all-important first quarter — even if wasn’t because of its content or quality, but because of its genre (contemporary), my author status (debut), the economy (brutal), and publishing climate (insanely competitive) — it hurts.

Author Barry Lyga’s On the WSJ, YA, and Art, in which he shrewdly refuses to play into WSJ’s Meghan Cox Gurdon’s game: As long as there has been art, there have been naysayers and lack-a-wits jeering from sidelines, mocking the efforts of those who create. I’ve dealt with these nincompoops my entire life and I’m just too old to give a damn what they think or say anymore… I refuse to justify my art.

Subplots–Where to Find Them and How to Use Them from writer Amanda Hannah at YA Highway. I look at subplotting like braiding. We have a couple different threads, it’s just a matter of introducing them into the story at the right time and weaving them together.

So, that’s what I’ve got today. Am I missing anything? Do you have any fantastic links to share?

 

 

DIVERGENT ARC Winner! (And a Friday Five)

And the winner of a Divergent ARC is…

PAM HARRIS

Pam, please email me your mailing address at katy(dot)upperman(at)live(dot)com. I will mail your book out as soon as I hear from you. 🙂 

Thanks so much to all who entered, subscribed to the blog, and tweeted about this contest. If you didn’t win, please do stop by Alicia Gregoire’s blog, Slice of the Blog Pie. She’s hosting a Divergent ARC giveaway too! You can also purchase your very own copy of Divergent on May 3, 2011.

For the record, if I was a part of the Divergent world and had to chose a faction, I’d totally pick Amity. I like red and yellow, I have a not so secret wish to live on a farm, I hate conflict, I enjoy being outdoors, and I’m a hippie at heart. 

And, in celebration of Friday’s arrival (finally!), here are five blog posts  I loved this week:

1. Roni Loren’s How to Amp Up Sexual Tension in Your Story

2. Natalie Fischer’s Why I’m Scared (To Self-Publish)

3. Amie Kaufman’s Can Jack Write Jill? Writing Across Gender Lines

4. Anne R. Allen’s What If Someone Steals Your Plot?

5. Kate Hart’s YA Deals by the Numbers: Single vs. Multi Book Deals by Genre

Have a wonderful weekend! 🙂

Tales from the Trenches: KEEP CALM and WRITE ON

So, today my über talented and supremely generous cousin, Carla Essen*, sent me an enigmatic DM: What’s your favorite color? I’m making you something. My curiosity was immediately piqued, so I replied with: Pink or red, then I waited. A short while later I found this gem** in my inbox:

First, I’m so glad she chose pink for me. Second, how cute is that crown on top?! And third, I’ve taken the above statement on as my new mantra.

This industry has too many stresses that are too easy to get caught up in, especially if you’re stuck in the query trenches (like me!) or trudging down the long submission road (so I’ve heard!). I often find myself so keyed up about query etiquette, social networking, the perfect pitch, blogging and blog reading, the unforeseeable future of publishing, who’s gotten how big an advance, and (insert any number of trivial things here), that I forget my main goal: Write and write well.

So, from now on I’m going to KEEP CALM and WRITE ON. You should too!

*Carla has an amazing talent for photography, among many other things.
**You have Carla’s permission (and mine!) to lift this graphic to use on your own blog if you’d like. 🙂

RTW: My crystal ball might be broken…

Road Trip Wednesday is a “Blog Carnival,” where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This Week’s Topic: What do you think publishing will look like in 2111?


I wish I had an intelligent, enlightened answer to this question, but yeah… I have NO idea what publishing will look like in one-hundred years. I mean, look how much things have changed in the last hundred years. A century ago there weren’t even computers, yet now I carry around a device no bigger than a deck of cards that I can use to surf the internet, social network, take pictures, keep dates, call people, etc. So, who knows where technology and the book world will go? But, if I had to guess about the future of publishing, here are predictions I’d make:

1) Smaller, faster, better versions of eReaders will be the norm.
2)Paper books will be a luxury, something people collect and hold dear.
3) Self-publishing won’t have the stigma it does today.
4) Smaller, independent publishers will become more and more popular.
5) Bookstores will be fewer and farther between. 
6) Libraries will evolve into something like internet market places with downloadable books you can “borrow” to your eReader for a few weeks before they disappear.
7) I’ll have dozens of books published and will still be winning prestigious awards posthumously.

To be completely honest, most of the things on the above list depress me (except for number 7, obviously :)). I hate that bookstores are going bankrupt. I can’t ever see myself buying an eReader (though I certainly get their convenience) because there’s something so comforting and lovely about reading a bound book. And I worry that the ease of self-publishing will lower the quality of literature (this isn’t to say that everyone who self-publishes is incapable of writing a good story. I think we’ve seen–especially in the last few weeks–that self-publishing can be an amazing thing, but speaking in general terms, most people aren’t going to secure multi-million dollar contracts after publishing their own books.). 

So, that’s what I’ve got. Now, look into your crystal ball… What do you think publishing will look like in one-hundred years?

Thankful Thursday

Oasis for YA knows that the surest way to get good things in life is to be thankful for what you have.  So why not encourage a group thankful-fest once a week in which we all send out good energy and hope to get some back in return? Plus, participating in Thankful Thursday is a great way to connect with other writers.

Here are the rules:
1.  Do your own blog post on what you’re thankful for today.  It doesn’t have to be book or publishing related (but it can be!).
2.  Be sure to grab our badge and include it in your post.
3.  Post a link to your blog in the comments here so that others can find you.
4.  Go forth and share your gratitude!  (And when friending new blogs, be sure to let them know you found them because of their participation in the meme.)

Today I’m thankful for Literary Rambles, a forum focusing on all things children’s literature, hosted by Casey McCormick. Now, if you’re reading my blog, you’ve most like heard of Casey’s, but if you haven’t you’re SO missing out! Trust me, I speak from experience.

Last year I queried a manuscript. I “researched,” but I did it the hard way, and frankly, I probably didn’t do as good a job as I could have. There’s information about pretty much every agent out there, but it’s scrambled and sometimes dated and often hard to find. Agent research can be intimidating.

Good news! Casey has taken much of the difficulty out of the process with her Spotlights–in-depth profiles on dozens of the top agents representing kidlit. She shares information on what they’re looking for, their editorial style, query pet peeves, client lists, sales records, submission guidelines, and web presence. She also includes thoughts on an agent’s buzz, as well as links to interviews they’ve done. Truly, it’s just about one-stop shopping for anyone about to dive into the query trenches. And if that’s not enough, Casey’s also done helpful posts on blog topics, royalty statements, beta reading, character arcs and more.

As I prepared to contact literary agents about the book I’m currently querying, I spent HOURS combing Literary Rambles for information, clicking interview links, and perusing comments other readers left about particular agents. And because of this, I was able to select agents who I truly believe are a good fit for me, and my query letters are personalized and thoughtful.

Casey’s blog is organized, well-written and comprehensive. I can’t get over how selflessly she’s given of her time in an effort to help other writers.  So this Thursday, I’m thankful for Casey McCormick and Literary Rambles.

What are you thankful for today?

On Being the Exception (Or Not)

This video has been making the rounds on lots of agent/writer blogs and by now, you’ve probably seen it. It’s funny for many reasons, especially to those of us who’ve spent huge chunks of our lives writing, researching (for our books & the publishing industry in general), honing our craft and absorbing every little tidbit we can about plotting, world/character building, story structure, query letters, literary agencies, publishing houses, etc.

I’m assuming this video has given many agents a laugh, mostly because it centers around an aspiring author attitude that, unfortunately, they’re forced to deal with all the time: I AM THE EXCEPTION.  

And that’s why it’s funny to me. Embarrassingly enough, I can relate to some of the grandiose declarations of the video’s “novelist.” Long before I got serious about publishing, when I was writing blindly and hoping for the best, I too, believed I could be the exception. That’s dangerous, people. Very dangerous, and it leads to disheartened writers and crushed dreams. I’m wiser now, much more informed and eager to learn more, and now I reside comfortably in the I’ll Never Be The Exception camp.  

Still, I can embrace my formerly flawed outlook. Please tell me I’m not the only aspiring writer who’s had one or more of the following misguided thoughts:

1) My book is going to be a best seller.
2) I’ll  quit my job and live of my writing money.
3) I’ve already written the first page (it’s really awesome).
4) My book will be pushed to the front of the publishing line because it’s just that fabulous.
5) Nothing like MY book has ever been done before.
6) I don’t need a literary agent; I can manage my “career” on my own, OR
7) Literary agents  will be fighting over my book.
8 ) Soon I’ll be on a glamorous book tour.
9) I don’t need to brush up on craft–I already know how to spell and punctuate.
10) It’s only a matter of time before I see my book represented on the big screen.
11) I’m a story-teller–it will all work out.
12) I’m a student of the human condition–of course my characters will be amazing.
13) I’ll work on several projects at once and complete them all in a reasonable amount of time.

HA! What about you? What rule of publishing/writing/querying did you believe you might be the exception to?

RTW: If I Ruled Publishing…

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing or reading-related question and answer it on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

Today’s Topic: If you were made supreme ruler of the publishing world, what would be your first ruling?

My first ruling would be easy (and crazy and self-serving and totally unreasonable, but hey, I’m in charge!) and has to do with the querying process. Currently, it’s hard. And frustrating. And sometimes depressing. So I say, let’s make it easier on writers! With a shake of my all-powerful publishing scepter, I declare a complete flip of the querying process.

Why not create some kind of huge and very well-organized database where aspiring authors can post their query, sample pages and synopsis under a specifically narrowed-down category and genre? Then, when agents have a spare minute (they have lots of those, right?) they can troll the database for prospective clients and request partials/fulls through each aspiring author’s clearly posted contact information. Authors can link their data base profile to their Twitter/Facebook/blog/whatever, and have an individualized profile ID that they can pass on to agents they meet at conferences. That way, their information can later be accessed at the agent’s leisure. 

So, I’m a genius, right? I’ve completely revolutionized slush, and I haven’t even had breakfast yet. 🙂

What about you? What changes would you make to publishing if you ruled the world?


 

A brief but enlightening conversation about publishing…

Setting: My House, Dinnertime…

Players: Well-Meaning and Supportive Relative, Me…

Conversation:

Relative – Hey, Katy, how’s that book you’re working on coming along?

Me – Really well, actually. I’m moving pretty quickly. It’s a lot of fun to write so far.

Relative – What’s it about again?

Me – It’s a ghost story, a mystery, and a romance all wrapped up into one.

Relative – And what about that other book? The one you said agents were reading?

Me – Still waiting to hear back from most of them.

Relative – Here’s an idea… what about just calling Walmart and asking them if they’d be willing to sell your book?

Me (at a loss) – Um, that wouldn’t really work…

Relative – Why not?

Me – Because my “book” is a word file on my computer. Books have to be produced before they’re sold at major retailers.

Relative (thoughtful) – Oh…

Me – Before books can be produced, they have to be bought by a publisher. Before that–in most cases–they have to be agented.

Relative – Hmm… well, do you *think* Walmart will sell your book someday?

Me (undeniably hopeful, yet realistic) – Walmart sells best-sellers, for the most part. Books that have already proven themselves.

Relative – Yeah?

Me – It takes a long time or a ton of luck–often both–to get to that point.

Relative – Oh, well hopefully, right?

Me – Yep, hopefully!

Moral of the Story: If you’re not IN IT, you just don’t get it.

Bad Advice


The Word Play blog has a good post about bad writing advice today, my favorite of which was: “Write what you know. If I wrote about what I know, my books would be pretty boring!” submitted by @righter1.

The post reminded me of some bad advice I was witness to recently at a small writing conference. A panel of local authors was gathered to offer advice and guidance to aspiring writers. While a lot of their advice was valuable, one of their comments struck me as completely out of touch and very naive. Here it is, paraphrased:  “Write what you want. Don’t worry about your audience or genre. Your eventual publisher will figure all of that out.”

Okay, no.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a card-carrying member of the Write What Inspires You Club. BUT… you’d better know who your audience is!

Bookstores organize their stock into categories for a reason. People know what they like, and they want to be able to find it easily. If you write a book that’s a mash-up of space aliens, fairies, a child dying of cancer, the reunion of two scorned lovers, and a Big Brother inspired government take-over, what genre will it fall under? Where is your book going to be shelved?

If you’re not paying any attention to the genre you’re writing in, how will you learn by reading already published books within that genre? How will you write appropriately to please and entertain your audience? How will you write a compelling query to interest an agent or publisher in your manuscript? How will you be able to list comparable books if asked? How will you participate in marketing once the book (hopefully!) sells?

Yes. Hearing that advice spouted carelessly to a room full of hopefuls was horrifying. I was tempted to raise my hand and speak out, but at the time, it felt disrespectful. Who am I, an unpublished aspiring writer, to argue advice given by a seasoned veteran? Now, I sort of wish I would have. I know we’re all creative individuals, but publishing is a business and should be treated as such. I’m very proactive in researching the publishing industry and the genre in which I write, but I’m willing to bet some of the people at that conference aren’t. And now they’re stuck with advice that, frankly, sucks.

What about you? Any horrible advice you’ve gotten during the course of your writing journey?