Ten Rules for Query Letters – By MAGGIE STIEFVATER

I stumbled across this post recently while browsing Maggie’s site and thought perhaps some of y’all who are interested in traditional publishing might like to take advantage of her advice.

I completely forgot to post about queries yesterday, after I promised. I realize this makes me a Bad Person and you have my permission to throw Virtual Tomatoes at me now.

Okay, that’s enough.

Here are my thoughts on query letters. Because it’s early and I’ve only had one cup of tea, we’re gonna go with numbers to organize things, because good holy pete, there is nothing like a numbered list to add order to a blog post. So.

1. People overthink queries. Okay, so they are the only thing that an agent or editor might ever see of your work. So they have to embody everything about your personality and your books personality in a single page. So you will get absolutely nowhere if your queries suck, no matter if you’ve written the Great American Novel. Still, people overthink them. And this is why. Because…

CONTINUE READING…

What to Study to Become a Writer

I stumbled upon this lovely article by Maggie Stiefvater. It is a common misconception that you have to go through a creative writing program of some sort in school in order to become an author. Well, this isn’t your typical profession and it likely won’t be reached in a typical fashion. But don’t take my word for it; she says it much more eloquently.

A Proper Education

Today, I’m going to answer a question I get asked a lot. Well, I’m going to combine a few variations of it into one blog post. This is the question(s):

1 – “Did you go to school for Creative Writing?”
2 – “Do you have to have a degree in writing to get published?”
3 – “Have you taken classes in writing?”
4 – “Will you be my mentor?”

Continue reading …

Does This Costume Make Me Look Racist?

So, I’ve had some really interesting conversations lately. The good kind of interesting. Around this time of year, I see a whole lot of debate going on as to what costumes are and aren’t acceptable to wear.

sexy indian princess

I’m pretty sure no one thinks this is acceptable.

I have a few simple benchmarks for this kind of thing so I’ll just mention ’em here and you can see if you think it’ll help you decide what to wear:

1. Is it a specific character? (ie: An Indian VS Sitting Bull, or Pochahontas) If it is, and you’re sincerely dressing as that person because you like them, not to make fun of them, then that is not a caricature/racial stereotype. Go right ahead.

2. Is it something you’re actually afraid of? If so, go right ahead and empower yourself by putting on the face of your inner demons for a night. Samhain is the single most appropriate Holy Day for fear work. Do not let other people get in the way of your therapy or your expression of spirituality. They have no right to do that either.

3. Has someone told you your costume offends them? If so, ask them if they are part of the cultural/religious group you are portraying. If they are not, disregard their opinion. Oftentimes people who get offended on behalf of other people end up being wrong and members of the social group in question don’t actually care or think it’s funny too.

4. Does the costume have “Sexy” in the title? If so, it’s probably ridiculous. 

Just my two cents. Take it for what it’s worth.

10 Tips and Tricks for Creating Memorable Characters

 A friend of mine found this excellent article on developing good, fully-fleshed-out characters. 

Check it out!

Science fiction and fantasy are built on cool ideas and fascinating worlds — but those things are only as good as the people who live around and inside them. How do you create compelling fictional characters? It’s a huge challenge. But here are some tips that might make it easier.

There’s no silver bullet or easy formula for creating characters who live and breathe inside your head (and hopefully other people’s heads, too). If there were, we’d all be using it and it wouldn’t be such a nightmare. I struggle with this all the time — I’ll have a story reach an eighth or ninth draft before I realize that a major character is still basically a scrap of paper, carried along through the story on the wind. And after years of grappling with this issue, I’ve come up with some things can help me to imagine the character as a real, separate individual instead of a function of the plot or story.

Note: this essay is adapted from a mini-lecture I gave at Clarion West a couple weeks ago. Thanks to everyone there who asked questions and gave feedback on it. (And this is a good place to plug Clarion West, which is an amazing writing program that you should all support and apply to. I had such an incredible experience there, and felt privileged to hang out with the next generation of mind-blowing SF writers.) Continue reading “10 Tips and Tricks for Creating Memorable Characters”

Amazon wants to sell for less? Whoa!

Here’s an interesting article regarding the price of ebooks. Amazon is battling it out with Hachette for the right to price ebooks lower to reach a wider market. This could be big news guys. Finally, reasonably priced books for all!

A Message from the Amazon Books Team

A Message from the Amazon Books Team

Dear Readers,

Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents — it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year. Continue reading “Amazon wants to sell for less? Whoa!”

Createspace VS Lulu – Why I’m Switching

I have big news guys! I’m switching publishers for my novel, Blood of Midnight: The Broken Prophecy. Up until now, I’ve been with Lulu and as of now I will be changing over to Createspace.

There are several reasons for this and I want to present them here for you so that readers will know what they’re getting and anyone interested in self-publishing as I have will get a good idea as to which company’s services they might like to use.

First, let’s talk about the quality of the product. Here is a side-by-side comparison.

2014-07-14 08.41.18

On the left is Lulu’s version of my book. On the right is Createspace’s. Continue reading “Createspace VS Lulu – Why I’m Switching”

How to Write Fight Scenes

How to Write Fight Scenes

A gripping, movie-worthy fight scene is a joy to read but sometimes difficult to write. If you run into trouble when it’s time for your characters to throw down, I have some pointers that may help you get into the proper headspace and articulate what’s going on.

First thing’s first: Location.

Where does the fight take place? Familiarize yourself with the area. Even if you don’t go into painstaking detail in the actual scene, you—the writer—need to know this place inside out, including the area surrounding it.

Get some graph paper and sketch the layout of the location as best you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Treat it like you’re trying to describe a rough blueprint of your apartment to someone who’s never been there before. What is this space usually used for? Where is everything? Think about the place from a tactical perspective. Are there any features or objects that someone could take cover behind/under/inside? Is there anything that can be used as an improvised weapon? Are there features that present hazards? (Subway tracks, flights of stairs, a cliff edge…)

 

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  Continue reading “How to Write Fight Scenes”