Monday, August 11, 2014

Middle Grade Webinar 8/14

By popular demand (really!), I'm revisiting my Writers Digest class, WRITING AND SELLING MIDDLE GRADE FICTION. Last time I taught this webinar we had 100+ participants and it was really fun, and I hope interesting and inspiring for attendees! Here's what you need to know:

* The live webinar will be held Thursday 8/14 at 1pm Eastern. BUT! If you can't attend live, NO PROBLEM - everyone who has signed up ahead of time will get the webinar on-demand, and have access to all program materials for a year

* Everyone who has signed up ahead of time will get a critique of EITHER the first 500 words of their finished/WIP middle grade OR their query. Your choice.

* EVERY question will be answered, either during the presentation or in writing afterward -- if you can't attend and ask during the live presentation, you may simply send in your question to WD, and I will get to all of them.

This class is probably most useful for:

* Folks who are either ready-to-query or who are in the query trenches but haven't yet hooked an agent (or perhaps, have gotten rejections but don't know why!)

* Those just starting their Middle Grade writing journey (or perhaps don't even know where to start!)

* Published or unpublished writers in other categories who are considering transitioning into Middle Grade.

You can sign up for the Webinar with critique anytime until 8/14. Check out the Writers Digest website for more info or to register.

And if you have ANY questions about this class, please ask here or on Twitter!


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Story Structure from South Park

This has been ALL over social media in the past couple days, but it is really smart plotting advice from Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of "South Park" and "Book of Mormon." Like... REALLY smart and simple advice, not just for film but also very much applicable to children's book writers. Take two minutes and watch!

If you've ever gotten a critique that your picture book "read like a series of lists" or "was more like a vignette/series of vignettes" . . .  or perhaps your novel was "too episodic" . . .  THIS is what those critiquers probably meant, and how to fix it.

http://www.theafw.com/blog/south-park-writers-share-their-writing-rule-1/#.

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Infinite Repeat = More Micah!

OK so it might be weird to have a crush on a fictional teenager but... MICAH, though. Micah is the ultimate Badboy-with-a-Heart-of-Gold from THE ART OF LAINEY. He's a mohawk'ed, punk-rock-listening dude with a troubled past who also btw is super caring and kind and a huge fan of fancy baking and would love to make and feed you a scrumptious triple-chocolate-mocha-mousse-delight. I'm just saying. #yum

INFINITE REPEAT is a novella by Paula Stokes that gives us Micah-fans what we have wanted -- a story told from his POV that gives readers a glimpse into his backstory. It takes place entirely before THE ART OF LAINEY -- in other words, you don't need to read one to read the other. So if you haven't met Micah yet, here's a great chance to do so.

Obviously I love Micah and want to read about him just doing anything pretty much... but my favorite thing about INFINITE REPEAT is the relationship between Micah and his little sister Tris, who was one of the unexpected minor-character stars in the original book. Tris and Micah are such a compelling duo, and I totally platonic-ship them. I could read their conversations and banter all day. And I love how they are constantly both pushing each other and protecting each other. LOVE LOVE SIBLING LOVE!

Anyway, listen, enough out of me. I want you to get to know Micah. INFINITE REPEAT is $1.99 and can be found wherever e-books are sold. More about the book and all buy links on the Epic Reads site.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Spamvertisements Are Not Your Friend

What the heck are spamvertisements? They are that thing where a totally random "marketing guru" or "social media creative" - or just intrepid author with boundary issues - starts spamming people they don't know with advertisements about their or their poor client's latest book/project. The people being spammed AT are people who are big in that specific field (like in the case of books, they would be agents and editors) -- or just generally famous, like obviously Neil Gaiman, Veronica Roth, Stephen Fry, etc. -- or are huge "professional readers", popular bloggers and the like. If you look at their timeline it will probably look something like this:



Yeah. 

Don't do that.

I don't mind if my friends text me or call me up on the phone. . . or even if somebody I don't know well emails me to tell me something important. I don't even mind ads, when I run across them in the wild. However, I mind VERY MUCH if telemarketers call me specifically and interrupt dinner. You get the distinction?

BUT I WAS TOLD I HAD TO GO ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND PROMOTE MY BOOK!!!

Social Media of all kinds, including/especially Twitter, is all about. . . well, being SOCIAL. It's about connecting with people on a human level - not about YOUR BOOK YOUR BOOK YOUR BOOK - but about, like, how your dog caught an opossum or you are worried because your fire alarm seems to be haunted by poltergeists, or you need to find the best Chinese restaurant in rural New York. When, in the course of talking about mundane things, you also mention YOUR BOOK, it doesn't come across as sleazy - just as a part of your life, which it is. People are significantly (like scientifically 100000%) more likely to want to support you if you come across as a genuine, cool human being who also writes books, rather than a spam-machine-robot.

When you start a twitter account from scratch, it's almost like you are standing alone on an overturned apple crate in the park and speaking into a home-made paper megaphone. You have no audience yet -- you are just a lone soul standing around talking to the air. If you're lucky, you have a few real life friends that will start hanging around you. If you're entertaining, you'll get a few more, and they'll stick around. Soon you've got a nice little crowd going. Awesome! You get off the crate and start interacting. Now it's not you being a nutbar and talking to the clouds - it's you engaging with your group, having real conversations, cracking jokes, sharing ideas about things ranging from celebrity-silly to philosophically important - and occasionally one of you whips out the old paper-megaphone again to talk about a pet project or something, and nobody really minds, because hey, you all know where each other are coming from. Wheee!

If, instead, you use your crate as a platform from which to throw garbage at people . . . well they are REALLY UNLIKELY to want to stick around for that. If you start targeting people specifically -- that means you @mention their names and barrage them with advertising even though you don't know them -- they are likely to report you for spam and your platform will get taken away altogether. 

And it should go without saying - don't HIRE somebody to do this on your behalf, either. It's a waste of your money, and it will give you a black eye with the potential readers and bigmouths you probably want to impress.