Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Remember to take notes when visiting the relatives this holiday season. They'll make great characters in your next book.

We'll be back soon. In the meantime, check out the latest Monday Mania.

Have a fabulous holiday!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday Mania: First Page

One of our readers submitted the first page of her novel. Feel free to make comments, but please keep them constructive.
Critique Archive 0014:
(April of last year)

In 1864, Gregor Mendel published a study revealing the results of an experiment that used ________ to determine the principles of genetics.

A. Pisum sativum
B. Garden peas
C. Legumes
D. All of the above

I rolled my eyes and circled ‘D’. This was a trick question since Pisum sativum and legumes were each terms for ‘pea.’ The question was especially tricky since you not only needed to know the correct answer (peas), but you also needed to know that the other two choices were still, technically, peas.

Pencils swished and tapped and, for one student directly behind me, screeched against paper; there were mutterings and the occasional deep sigh; the smell of sweat and fear was thick in the air.

I finished the last question of the section I was on (the two major kingdoms of unicellular organisms are: C. Protista and Monera.) and sucked in a deep breath, stretching my arms above my head and letting my gaze travel across the room. Because the final took so long, the two honors classes had been combined and the students seated in alphabetical order.

The twenty tables in the testing room were arranged in two symmetrical rows. The tables were designed to seat four people but with the scratch paper, calculators and extra pencils each student brought, plus snacks and water bottles, the tables were pretty crowded with just three of us at each one.

I was in the first seat of the first row, second table. This was because my last name was Bean. Abigail Bean. Next to me was Riley Porsche Bennett. I glanced at her out of the corner of my eye. She was the kind of pretty that made your breath catch in your throat. The kind that made you want to ask her to be still and not speak for a moment so you could just look at her. She had long, silky brown hair that was pulled back into a stylish ponytail. Her eyes were ice blue and her lips were full and naturally pink. Yeah, she was pretty, but she was also meaner than a deadly parasite and dumber than a single-cell organism.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Get Ready, Get Set, QUERY!

by Heather Moore

The holiday bustle is in full swing. Everyone is checking their lists twice. Lines are already obscenely long and panic fills the eyes of many a shopper.

Slow down. Breathe. If you haven’t finished your gift shopping, what are a few more days?

NOW is the time to send out those queries. Like most of us, other writers are preparing for the holidays, planning vacations, sending out cards to everyone they’ve known since a toddler.

But the agents are still in their offices, putting in full days . . . reading queries, requesting partials. Yet, the writers aren’t submitting at their usual pace.

Right now, agents are in the “zone” or the “evil dry spell” as referred to by Kristen Nelson, of Nelson Literary Agency:

Ms. Nelson says, “For unrepresented writers, this is actually a good thing because that means we are looking furiously for something new to take on because in the dry spell, we start reading our queries faster. We ask for more sample pages then we might ordinarily. We’ll take a chance on reading full manuscript of a work that maybe didn’t win us over entirely initially in the sample pages but because it’s so dry, we’re more lenient and will request a full.”

Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown Literary calls it the “December Publishing Coma”

He says, “This is a time when agents and editors alike catch up on their reading and try and get things in order for submissions in the new year. So if you are polishing off a query, go ahead and send it now (but I'd avoid the week around Christmas and New Years).”

So get busy. Put off that shopping and work on your queries!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday Mania: First Page

One of our readers submitted the first page of her memoir. Feel free to make comments, but please keep them constructive.

Critique Archive 0013:


· The USSR invades Afghanistan.
· Sony introduces the Walkman at a retail price of two hundred dollars.
· The price of gas is a staggering eighty-six cents per gallon.
· China institutes the one-child-per-family rule to help control the population.
· The Knacks are at the top of the charts with, ‘My Sharona’.
· Fonzie is king (“Eyyy,”).
· Robin Williams is running around in really tight pants, coining phrases such as “Shazbit” and of course “Nanu, nanu”.
· In the Sahara desert, it snows for thirty minutes.
· The world says goodbye to long-time idol John Wayne.
· And, on August 22nd at 12:26 a.m I enter the world

OK, so maybe me for John Wayne isn’t the best trade you’ve ever heard of but one would think that at five pounds some odd ounces I was fairly cute at least. I’d like to go on and on about how I was born. I’d like to tell you about how my entire family gathered around, happily anticipating my arrival and how joyous they were when I finally came. How they passed me around from one person to the next, cooing and smiling and tickling my little toes. I’d like to tell you all of these things and more, but I can’t. Although I’m sure my mother at least was happy to see me, this is a story that I cannot tell because it’s a story I’ve never heard. No one has ever told me about the day I was born. There is no baby book of which I’m aware to record the memories, no pictures that I have seen. The earliest picture I recall seeing of myself was taken when I was nearly a year old, practically bald with a rather large forehead.