#DearLaura

#DearLaura   How do you know when it is time to shelve a completed MS?   From: Tim Dear Tim, Congratulations on finishing a manuscript! Ninety percent of aspiring novelists never make it to this stage in the process. (I made that figure up, but it sounds correct to me.) Now, you’ve got this pile of words and nowhere to go with it. This is a difficult question to answer because I feel like I need more information to give you good advice. Therefore, I’ll give you a few different situations and… Read More

#DearLaura

#DearLaura   When you receive multiple offers from agents, how do you choose?   Sincerely, Too Stressed To Be Excited   Dear Too Stressed To Be Excited, What a good problem to have! Firstly, congratulations on attracting the interest of not one, but multiple agents. This is a very important relationship you’re embarking on and it pays to be choosey. There are a few things I would do right away if you haven’t already: Check their recent sales and existing clients at Publisher’s Marketplace. Stalk them on social media. Ask for a… Read More

Shelving My Emotions

The Order of the Key was my dream novel, the book of my heart. I invented the idea for it when I was fifteen years old and I never expected to be shelving it, unpublished, twenty years later. Jeez. Twenty years later. I don’t think I ever thought of it in those terms. To be fair, I haven’t been working on it this entire time, and the book I’m stuffing in the musty shelf of my mind is definitely not the book I started with. The version I’d created at fifteen contained… Read More

How (Not) to Get Past Impostor Syndrome

I used to think I’d feel like a real writer the first time I finished a book. For a long time, I could never stick with a project past the 30k mark, so getting all the way to the end of a novel-sized project would make me a writer, right? But when I had my finished and revised book in my hand, I still didn’t feel like a writer. This time, I was sure being unagented was the issue. Having an agent would mean someone believed enough in my work to tie… Read More

Roller Coaster Ride

GREAT IDEAS COME FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE The first novel idea that I seriously followed through with was a YA contemporary. The idea came from my own experiences as a school principal and a football parent. During the time I wrote the book a few years ago, I was immersed in football with my youngest son. I sat every afternoon surrounded by teens, in carpool line, at the football field, at games. My motive was to put a book into the universe that allowed kids to talk about the hidden epidemic of drug… Read More

#DearLaura

#DearLaura,   As a white writer, how do I write characters that represent ethnicities, genders, orientations, etc. that I’m not? The real world is a melting pot, but I’m terrified of getting something wrong and being blacklisted.   From: Scaredwriter Dear Scaredwriter, this is a question that begs for a much larger conversation about authenticity, representation, and who has the right to tell which kinds of stories. I, being a white cishet lady writer, am conflicted about this subject because my characters are far more varied than my own identifiers. I have… Read More

Sandboxes and Ticking Clocks

I am thirteen and I decide to write a novel.  I title it Auryan Knight.  It’s going to be amazing.  Magic!  Multiple girl characters!  Talking Animals! Other Worlds! I am seventeen and I’m still in Chapter Four.  Chapter Four: where all novels go to die.  Instead, I write a thirteen page mini-story that takes place in the last quarter of the book I think I’m writing and turn it in as homework for my English class. I am nineteen when I finish a draft.  It is barely over 50 thousand words and… Read More

#DearLaura

#DearLaura I’ve written a fantasy novel where the protagonist and supporting characters are in their teens. Some people have told me it’s adult and some have told me it’s YA. I’ve looked for a solid definition online, but haven’t really found one. What makes a book YA? FantasyWriter82 Dear FantasyWriter82, This is a hotly debated topic among people in the biz and in particular, writers, who tend to rebel against the need to box their work into a neatly branded package. I’ve read the commentary out there about what makes a book… Read More

Word Count Fatigue

It all started when I was listening to a podcast interview with a popular, indie romance writer. She said that these days, she likes to release a new book every single month. To keep up with this schedule, she writes around five thousand words a day. “That’s really the only way to stay fresh in your readers’ minds.” Lately, it seems like no matter what writing podcast I’m listening to, the advice I’m getting is all about speed, speed, speed. And I totally get it. Writing fast = new books = visibility… Read More

Ya Never Know

In my previous post, I listed all of the unpublished novels sitting in my closet or on my hard drive. Most of them haven’t budged since then. But ya know, ya never know. Writing is a weird business. Sometimes, a story you think is going great crashes and burns. Sometimes, a manuscript you’re sure is going to be the one can’t find its audience. And other times, projects you thought were going nowhere go . . . somewhere. Case in point: In 2013, I took my first stab at NaNoWriMo. I didn’t… Read More