Special Post: Ask an agent ANYthing and Harper is open to unagented submissions!

A couple of amazing things I had to share with my fellow writing friends…

If you’ve ever wanted an opportunity to ask a literary agent ANY question regarding publishing – now’s your chance! My agent (Barbara Poelle) is doing a monthly column for Writers Digest where she’ll be answering questions from YOU.

No writing/publishing question is off limits. (Unless you’re especially pervy. Then shame on you, Pervy McPervy Pants.)

If you’re uncomfortable with using your real name, Sleepless in Seattle’s are welcome. Or, you know…the more writerly version of that.

If you have something you’d like answered honestly, with good humor and spot on industry info, then direct your questions to:

writersdigest [at] fwmedia [dot] com with “Funny You Should Ask” in the subject line.

I can vouch 1,000% for how awesome Barbara is.

Here’s part of the announcement from Writers Digest itself:

Have you ever wished you could get advice on your writing life, your pursuit of publication, and everything in between, from an expert source would tell it to you straight, with good humor and grace?

So have we! That’s why we’re excited to announce WD’s new advice column, “Funny You Should Ask,” in which popular literary agent Barbara Poelle—known for her knack for spotting debut talent at Irene Goodman Literary Agency as well as for her approachable, refreshingly honest and sometimes irreverent style of instructing writers—will begin tackling your toughest problems and offering up her best advice for writers in the pages of Writer’s Digest magazine.

For the full article and extra details CLICK HERE.

On to the second bit of writerly awesome! Harper Voyager is going to be open to unagented submissions for the first time in a decade!!! The window to submit your work is only going to be from October 1st-14th.

(That’s starting THIS Monday, kids.)

For submission guidelines check out the link HERE.

 

Lastly, I finally joined tumblr last week. And guys, I’m kinda addicted. If you’re there and want to hang out and share things or ask me questions about writing, or publishing, or kittens, or of I’m team X,Y or Z…here’s where you can find me: http://kerrimaniscalco.tumblr.com/

 

Friends hate me writing my book.

Friends hate me writing my book.

First of all, hi blog friends. *waves* It’s September, my how the summer FLEW by. I’m still in the writing cave, but something came to my attention last night that had my little hackles all raised and scary-like. And when I get mad, it’s NOT a pretty sight. There’s red-hot fury, then there’s stringy drool and panting and A LOT of obscene gestures as I transform into the HULK. Here’s why. Someone came across my blog by searching:

“Friends hate me writing my book.”

Let me clarify, that the search term and subsequent finding of MY blog didn’t make me bare my teeth and go all crazy-eyed. No friends, it’s the sadness of knowing there are people out there who would actively shoot down their friends dreams. Writing a book is hard. Sharing your words, your art, your freaking bloody little heart on your sleeve for everyone to pee on, is soul sucking scary hard.

Having people in your corner is so important when all those little doubt devils rear their ugly heads. If you’re the person that’s been beaten down, I want you to take a deep breath, because I’m about to tell you something important.

You are amazing. 

Don’t you ever forget that. Having a dream, then having the strength to put the time (and effort) into writing and rewriting your book until you bleed vowels and eat consonants is no easy task. If your friends go as far as HATING the very thing you’re passionate about, well, I can only say that they’re truly not worth giving up what sparks your soul for.

Keep writing your book. Keep your chin up. And when all else fails, write those naysayers into your project and kill them off slowly, and painfully. Bleed your frustrations into your pages, your art will thank you.

Hold your head high, put those blinders on, because if you ask me (which, I’m aware that no one did) those friends are sounding mighty jealous that you’ve found something you love doing. Write your book. Do your thing. And know, that one day after you’ve edited the heck out of that manuscript, I’ll be waiting in line to get my grubby little paws on it. To hell with anyone who tries to crush your dreams.

Write on.

*steps off box, ends rant*

Interviewed by the fabulous A.G. Howard!

Today I’m hanging out over at my dear friend A.G. Howard‘s blog, A Still And Quiet Madness. The uber lovely Anita interviewed me and I’m dishing for the very first time publicly some information on what my book is about… I don’t even have the quick summary up on my blog, so be sure to click on the link below!

CLICK HERE FOR THE INTERVIEW AND SUPER SECRET THINGS

Anita’s debut (being published by Amulet)  SPLINTERED hits shelves everywhere in January, so wander around her beautiful blog while you’re there! She also said some blush-worthy things and you should totally give her a giant hug for me.

5 things you can do to immediately improve your writing.

READ! 

No, seriously. Put your laptop away and open up a book. Read everything you can get your hands on in your genre (and beyond) and devour the words on the page. Reading is one of the most important things a writer can do to help with their craft. Go on, I dare you to stop working and read at least 2,000 words. You’ll be amazed by how much your brain picks up on while going over already published pages.

Do things you enjoy that DON’T involve writing.

Go for a drive, go to the movies, hangout with your friends, GET OUT OF THE HOUSE and go sit in a bookstore. Is there a park nearby? Then go there. Surround yourself with people and random interactions, then sit back and absorb all the details around you. (Not in a creepy way, of course.) Make sure you bring a journal just in case something brilliant comes your way. You never know what passing piece of conversation will inspire you.

Talk to other people in creative fields.

How can this help to improve your writing? Simple. Talking to people in creative fields, whether they’re making music, art, acting, or writing, you’ll start to feel more confident in your work. You realize that if you’re feeling blocked creatively that these are feelings EVERYONE goes through. Sometimes talking to someone about their creative process helps you to understand your own as well. Plus, it’s just nice to commiserate with other people who get the ups and downs of the creative life.

Write a short story.

Now I’m just talking crazy, right? Sort of…but hear me out. Short storying writing is HARD. Like I’d prefer to write ten novels in ten months rather than write one short story. Why? Because they are SUPER hard. That being said, they’re also really great learning tools for every writer out there. If you can come up with a story arc, plot, well developed characters AND have all the important points that make for a really great novel in 5,000 words or less – then you’ll start writing much tighter prose. While writing short stories you realize how important each individual word is. I dare you to write a 1,500 word short story today.

Listen to your favorite song.

Why is this something that will help your writing? It’s all about layers. Think about the emotions you feel while listening to your favorite song, or artist. Do you remember the first time you heard it, or who you were with, the kinds of feelings you had at the time? When I feel stuck on expressing emotions in my characters, I pick out music I think they’d listen to and immerse myself in the emotions I experience while listening to it. Normally I can’t write with sound on in the background, but I always take music breaks when I need to recharge that part of my writing. And it’s just nice to take a break from working working working to hear a great song every now and then. 🙂

Do you know how incredible you are?

I know I’ve said this before, but it’s something I firmly believe in. If you are querying, or are out on submission, or doing anything where you’re receiving rejections, celebrate them. Want to know why? You are actively DOING something. You decided to go for your dreams, you didn’t just talk about it – you sat down and wrote and revised and then you bravely put yourself out there. You are incredible!

Seriously, you are. How many people do you know that are brave enough to wear their heart so openly on their sleeves?

I wrote five books and queried them for over two years, before I signed with my agent on my SIXTH novel. As you can imagine, I racked up A LOT of rejections. Some were form letters, others were personalized, and a decent amount were encouraging enough for me to keep going.

Sure there are days where you feel like giving up, or question your sanity, but that stuff will pass. Really. It will.

If you’re feeling particularly down, allow yourself a day or two to regroup. Do something – ANYTHING – other than writing or querying. Go for a walk. Make a fancy dessert. Rent a bunch of movies and laugh until you cry. Watch a baseball game. But whatever you do, stay away from your computer.

Do not check your email. 

Do not touch your project for 24 solid hours. 

Read that book you keep putting off.

Meditate. 

By the end of the day you’ll start to feel something. You know what that is? It’s hope blossoming in the pit of your stomach. That’s also passion for your work. An entire day away from it is hard. You miss it. How can you even think of giving it up now, after you’ve come so far?

Now take that query letter back out and see what you can do to improve it. Do the same with your manuscript. Then get back out there and try all over again.

You know why I used to celebrate my rejections? Because I always believed that better things were in store for me. I just couldn’t always see it at the time, but I had faith it would all work out. I am a firm believer in the saying, when one door closes a better one opens.

Keep knocking and your door will open.

What’s even more impressive is this: you are learning so much about yourself. Look at how strong you are. You fell down, but you got back up again. I bet you didn’t know you had that kind of inner strength before.

Thank you for being incredible. 

25 First Sentences

If you’re a writer, you know how difficult it is to nail that elusive (and all-powerful) first line. Writing an entire book is often more enjoyable (and possibly easier) than coming up with that griping, you’ve GOT to read on sentence. Here are 25 first sentences from pretty amazing books that you can mull over this weekend. Recognize any of them? How does your first sentence compare? Does it set the tone of your novel?

First Sentence:

1. “So you want to know all about me.”

2. “He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.”

3. “My mother used to tell me about the ocean.”

4. Daddy said, “Let mommy go first.”

5. “When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.”

6. “The ornate script on the board twisted in the candlelight, making the letters and numbers dance in my head.”

7. “The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.”

8. “I wait. They keep us in the dark for so long that we lose sense of our eyelids.”

9. “There is one mirror in my house.”

10. “Janie Hannagan’s math book slips from her fingers.”

11. “Enders gave me the creeps.”

12. “I smile at myself, at the foolishness of my imagination.”

13. “I’ve been locked up for 264 days.”

14. “It is my first morning of high school.”

15. “The first time I died, I didn’t see God.”

16. “I used to be someone.”

17. “Prayer candles flicker in my bedroom.”

18. “A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories.”

19. “I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up.”

20. “It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure.”

21. “Sing, O Goddess, the anger of Achilles, son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans.”

22. “They called the world beyond the walls of the Pod “the Death Shop.””

23. “I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one.”

24. ““Where are you?” Aunt Hannah demanded as soon as Alex thumbed talk.”

25. “The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle.”

Authors and titles:

1. Ellen Hopkins CRANK

2. James Dashner THE MAZE RUNNER

3. Carrie Ryan THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH

4. Beth Revis ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

5. Suzanne Collins THE HUNGER GAMES

6. Michelle Hodkin THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER

7. Scott Westerfeld  UGLIES

8. Lauren DeStefano WITHER

9. Veronica Roth DIVERGENT

10. Lisa McMann WAKE

11. Lissa Price STARTERS

12. Ally Condie MATCHED

13. Tahereh Mafi SHATTER ME

14. Laurie Halse Anderson SPEAK

15. Megan Miranda FRACTURE

16. Mary E. Pearson THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX

17. Rae Carson THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

18. Aldous Huxley BRAVE NEW WORLD

19. Jack Kerouac ON THE ROAD

20. Lauren Oliver DELIRIUM

21. Homer THE ILIAD

22. Veronica Rossi UNDER THE NEVER SKY

23. Orson Scott Card ENDER’S GAME

24. Ilsa J. Bick ASHES

25. Marissa Meyer CINDER