Countdown to NaNoWriMo: You Have Permission

The best books start here.

Category: On Writing

T-minus ten days.

In these final days of October, when NaNoWriMo is still just a vague itch, an aspirational notion, a secret should I?, it can be easy to dismiss your own ambitions. To treat the idea of drafting a novel as a fool’s errand, a lark, a waste of time. A self-indulgence, a self-delusion, a set-up for certain failure. To convince yourself you have nothing to say, that no one wants to read your story, that it is hubris to think that you can be a real writer.

Let me take this weight off your mind: 

You have permission.

This permission is a blank check. Write it for whatever amount you’re going to need to carry you through the month of November. Use this permission to justify whatever it is you need to … [more]

The agents of Upstart Crow Literary are hosting an #AskUpstart session next Tuesday, April 9th from 1:00-2:00 pm EST. This is an opportunity to ask us any publishing or book related questions – we’re here to help! In preparation for that, here’s some information about the session.

 

Who’s participating?

Danielle Chiotti, Susan Hawk, Alex Penfold, and Michael Stearns. For more information about each of us, please click the ABOUT link for our bios.

 

What do you represent?

Children’s books of all kinds—young adult, middle grade, picture books, as well as graphic novels, and non-fiction for children and teens. In addition we also rep select cookbooks, adult fiction, and nonfiction. Again, more details and specifics in the About link.

 

Are all four of you open to submissions right now? 

Danielle Chiotti and Susan … [more]

I’m delighted to announce that Upstart Crow Literary will be hosting an #AskUpstart session next Wednesday, Nov 7th from Noon-1:00 pm EST. In preparation for that, here’s some helpful information about the session.

 

Who’s participating?

Danielle Chiotti, Susan Hawk, Alex Penfold, and Michael Stearns. For more information about each of us, please click the ABOUT link for our bios.

 

What do you represent?

Children’s books of all kinds—young adult, middle grade, picture books, as well as graphic novels, and non-fiction for children and teens. In addition we also rep select cookbooks, adult fiction, and nonfiction. Again, more details and specifics in the About link.

 

Are all four of you open to submissions right now? 

Danielle Chiotti and Susan Hawk are open. If you’d like to submit a query to one of us, … [more]

I’m delighted to announce that Upstart Crow Literary will be hosting an #askagent session next Tuesday, Aug 7th from 1:00-2:00 pm EST. In preparation for that, here’s some helpful information about the session.

 

Who’s participating?  

Danielle Chiotti, Susan Hawk, Alex Penfold, and Michael Stearns. For more information about each of us, please click the ABOUT link for our bios.

 

What do you represent?  

Children’s books of all kinds—young adult, middle grade, and picture books, as well as select cookbooks, adult fiction, and nonfiction. Again, more details and specifics in the About link.

 

Are all four of you open to submissions right now? 

Danielle Chiotti and Susan Hawk are open. If you’d like to submit a query to one of us, please click the SUBMISSION link and check our feeds this week, as we’ll be tweeting … [more]

DenbyJonesAt the New Yorker, tetchy old fogey and mediocre former film critic David Denby has published a lament about how few teens are reading books these days. He has one great overheard line—a student saying “Books smell like old people”; and a few careful caveats (“It’s very likely that teen-agers, attached to screens of one sort or another, read more words than they ever have in the past”); but mostly he is describing a decline of western civilization via smartphone. “If teachers can make books important to kids … those kids may turn off the screens,” he wraps up, making clear his real issue here: a favored primacy of one form of technology (ink on paper) over another (e-ink or pixels on screens).… [more]

There have been some great posts this week about the diverse books movement. Jacqueline Woodson’s 1998 article in the Horn Book, titled Who Can Tell My Story has been revived. Ellen Oh’s salient post Dear White Writer takes on diverse books and white privilege. There are numerous other articles and posts I could point you to; the discussion about diverse books is wide, intense, difficult, eye-opening, enraging, encouraging, and exciting.

In the last year, as the conversation about diverse books has picked up steam, a noticeable shift has taken place in my query box. It’s a shift that happens each time the trends change in publishing. Paranormal gave way to dystopian, which gave way to horror, which gave way to contemporary, which has recently given way to…diverse books?

The We Need Diverse Books campaign … [more]

I read a lot of queries this week–about one hundred. I sent a lot of rejections this week–about ninety-something (I requested four manuscripts).

Getting rejections is never easy (remember: I get them, too!). Sending rejections isn’t easy, either. But when I pass on your project and tell you to keep writing, I mean it. The passage below explains why. So even if you think I’m a jerk with no taste for passing on your project, you should listen to Ira Glass, because he’s a really smart guy.

Keep writing.

[more]

Looking for a little light reading/book chat/way to procrastinate whatever tasks are on your to-do list today? Head on over to the excellent Mother.Write. (Repeat.) blog, where I’ll be answering reader questions about all things books until 5pm. today.… [more]

I’m currently in the process of finishing up intensive manuscript revisions with several of my clients. And since I’m a total geek, I think it’s a whole lotta fun. But I’m not so sure my clients agree with me, at least not at this particular moment in time.yes

Giving editorial advice and doing revisions with clients is a large part of my job, and I take it quite seriously. That’s why, even when I sign clients whose manuscripts are in fine shape, I have them do at least one round of revision before I submit their project to publishers.

Why am I so keen on revision? Is it because I enjoy being a slave driver? Because I’m addicted to the pretty colors that pop up on the screenwhen I use track changes? No and no. … [more]

sand_drawingIf you have never participated in the Twitter feed #kidlitchat, you really ought to give it a shot. The discussions are always about smart topics and draw a wide range of commentators—both veterans and newbie writers, editors, agents, and the occasional gibbering weirdo. (I’m looking at you, @chrisrichman.) The tweets ratchet up the Twitter client in a fast and sometimes furious stream, so quick as to be nearly unreadable. Trying to follow the many threads of conversation is like watching three hundred tennis matches held simultaneously on the same court—there’s no way to keep the threads separate, and yet … you try anyway.

Last Tuesday night’s chat was a gem. You can read the transcript here, but the gist of the discussion was this: What qualities make a manuscript middle grade instead of … [more]