Find your VOICE by writing these three exercises: Continue reading
Find your VOICE by writing these three exercises: Continue reading
Pen Friends ~ I am so excited for you! In this interview you get to meet the lovely, writer mom, Pitch Wars Alum, YA Author Jessica Olson and hear about her incredible her debut, Sing Me Forgotten, out with Inkyard/Harper Collins in 2021. As you know, we are huge fans of championing author’s debut work, so click here to add it on Goodreads and enjoy all of the amazing gems she has shared in this interview!
SP: Hi Jessica! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and your writing journey?
JO: I’ve been writing books since kindergarten, and I’m pretty sure my parents still have stacks of the books I wrote and illustrated as a kid moldering up in their attic. Compelling stories about little girls that got castles for Christmas and went on picnics and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. When I fell in love with Harry Potter as a young teen was when I moved on from writing (terrible) picture books to writing (even worse) novels. I was constantly scribbling stories in notebooks instead of paying attention in class during middle school and high school, much to my teachers’ frustration.
I started pursuing publication in college with a YA contemporary issue novel that I thought was the best thing ever written but was actually a pile of stinking garbage. I obviously was not able to get an agent with that manuscript, but I did not give up. I queried twice more over the next few years with two other manuscripts, slowly getting more and more interest in my stories—which showed I was improving—but no bites quite yet.
It wasn’t until I submitted Sing Me Forgotten to PitchWars in 2018 and was chosen as a mentee that things kind of took off. I received several requests from the PitchWars showcase, and I had my first offer of representation within 48 hours. After multiple offers, I chose to sign with Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis, and we went on submission shortly thereafter.
SMF went on to receive multiple offers from publishers, so Christa conducted an auction, which was a surreal and insane experience. I didn’t sleep or eat basically that whole week! Though all of the editors who made offers were wonderful, and they all seemed to be so excited for SMF, we decided to go with Lauren at Inkyard because she felt like the best fit for the book and shared the same vision I had for what the story could be.
Today we have Jenni Claar, a social media manager, sharing a very basic, go-to, take on Social Media–the pros and functions on how to use the major ones like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Take a look!
GATHER YOUR COMMUNITY, use:
It is useful for:
Business/Author Page (affected by algorithms – will only reach roughly 10% of your audience without paying for more…don’t waste your money!)
Post daily (mornings and evenings have the highest audience traffic)
Comments, likes, and shares increase audience.
1/3 Audience Engagement Posts, 1/3 Self-Promotion/Product Promotion, 1/3 Audience Care
*Images carry more weight in Facebook algorithms than links – share links in comments
Other ideas for Facebook-
*Facebook Groups Street Teams
*Book Clubs Personal Blogs/Newsletter
2. If you want to….
FIND YOUR READERS use:
Instagram – #bookstagram
YouTube – BookTube
3. If you want to….
NETWORK, FIND YOUR PEERS, MENTORS, AND ROLE MODELS use:
Lots of community happens here, be kind, active, and engage. Twitter circles grow quickly.
As we know, a good first line of a book (and chapter) can do much more than just begin the story. It grabs our attention, sets the tone, reveals something to come, lets us taste the narrative & voice, gives the first impression, and can be locked into our memory for years to come IF it is done well.
Look at the 7 approaches below and study them. (FYI: Thanks to Lorie Langdon for sharing these with us!)
I’ve also added links to some of the most popular first lines in YA Literature. Compare, enjoy, and then mentally put them into their correct categories. Then look at your own first lines. Where does it fit? Practice rewriting your first sentence. And if you are so bold, share it in the comments!
– Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
– Paper Towns by John Green: “The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle.”
– Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa: “I had a farm in Africa.”
– Stardust by Neil Gaiman: “There once was a young man who wished to gain his Heart’s Desire.”
– Stephen King’s 11/22/63: “I have never been what you’d call a crying man.”
– The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway: “He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish..”
– Lorie’s current WIP:“A brisk gale whipped the sea into peaks that pitched the Skylark around like a leaf in a flooded stream.”
– The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner: “Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.”
– Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo:“Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache.”
– A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
– Heather Webb’s Becoming Josephine: “The missive arrived in the night.”
-A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas:“The forest had become a labyrinth of snow and ice.”
-Maria V. Snyer’s Poison Study: “Locked in darkness that surrounded me like a coffin, I had nothing to distract me from my memories.”
Nova, signing off!
Today’s prompt is inspired by Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West‘s first line. (Isn’t it great?)
“War is no good for the young, or for love…”
Take her brilliant first line, let it fuel your imagination and run with it…
Write for 10 minutes without stopping, post in the comments what you come up with! And be sure to check out Joanna’s book!
Signing off, Nova
Have you ever written a note from yourself to yourself?
It was back when I first started writing. I wasn’t convinced I could finish writing an entire book, much less beat the odds and get published.
So I wrote a note to myself promising my future self that I would not give up on writing until I’d received over a thousand rejections for my manuscript.
Fast forward to heavy rewrites, beta readers, countless vacations spent editing, and slashing my word count like a ruthless ninja, and my novel still isn’t where I want it to be. The second book in the trilogy is nearly written, the characters loveable and the plot thickening, and yet… the first book in the series is still not query ready.
Ever found yourself in this boat?
The pressures of new jobs, moves, injuries and more steal you away from your love of writing and you can’t quite seem to get where you need to be?
That’s where I was.
Then a major life event happened. I moved from Texas to Beijing! Continue reading
If one were to bring up Mrs. Hudson in conversation, what would you presume we were talking about?
I hope you’d think of Sherlock Holmes, since there are very view (perhaps no) interpretations of Sherlock Holmes that fail to include Mrs. Hudson. Yet most of the time she is not vital to the plot. So what role does she play as a side character?
We’re going to look at Mrs. Hudson and other “famous” minor characters to find the reasons why side & minor characters are important to your story. Continue reading
How many times have you heard “write what you know”? It’s good advice – to a point. Because if everyone only wrote what they knew, we’d have no space odysseys, no dragons, no magical words, no elves or dwarves or krakens… and we’d be poorer for it.
So where does one draw the line between what you “should” write and what you can write? I’d say there isn’t a line, and if you’ve been limiting yourself, STOP! If you can make your readers want to enter the world you’ve written, no matter how unrealistic or crazy, then you’ve still succeeded in writing something good (i.e. interesting). You don’t need to be an expert in fighting to write a fight scene, or on trains to write about your characters taking a train ride. Same goes for flying on the back of a dinosaur, or piloting a ship through outer space – if you can make it interesting and immersive for your readers, only a few are going to nitpick the details. ♦ Continue reading
My writing dream all began when an innocent teacher said the fateful words, “Wow! You’re a good writer!”
And a monster was born.
I’ve been writing since middle school, more seriously since high school, and first tried to get published over five years ago. (*I’m still not yet published.) Over that period of time, I’ve made a lot of mistakes and learned many valuable lessons. But here I am still plugging away at my writing & publishing dream. Why do we writers torture ourselves this way?
We have words inside us that need to be heard.
***Note: There will only be two episodes in November & December!***
SO…..Today is the 9th week of CR’s journey. On the last episode, we broke down his query to show you the most essential parts that a Query should have. Today, we will hear from CR and standing out in a crowd.