Boston/New England Area Events

I always find a lot of great events around Boston, many of them book/writing-related. I always forget to invite people until the last minute, so have some Event Round-ups!

So here are some things on the calendar:

Bookbuilders Bowling Night

Where: Sacco’s Bowling Heaven in Davis Square

When: April 10th from 6-8pm

Cost: $6, and pre-register

Why?: Networking and bowling! Only $6. And bowling!

https://www.bbboston.org/  Continue reading

INDIES: How Independent Publishers & Bookstores are Surviving & Thriving in Today’s Market

This was a panel put on as part of Bookbuilders of Boston‘s Spring Workshops. It was hosted at Emerson College. Well worth attending; the cheese plate was delicious.

Our panelists were: 

The affable Ned Lomigora, a sales rep at Zeeen, an online promotional platform for authors that especially works with Indies. He specializes in analytics and digital media. He’s also a presenter and contributor for WordPress Boston.

The illustrious Dale Szceblowski, the General Manager at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, one of the hubs of the literary scene in the Boston area. He’s been in the book-buying and book-selling business for 30 years. Vice President of the New England Booksellers Association.

And the perspicacious Judith Rosen, a Senior Bookselling Editor and the New England correspondent at Publishers Weekly for 15 years. Previously she has worked in marketing and publicity for trade publishers, Wordsworth Books, and wrote a regular column for the Boston Herald. Continue reading

2013 is Going to be a Good Year

2012 was a mixed bag of some good and some devastating bad, but I believe the universe will do us a good turn and 2013 will be great. Here are some of my goals for the year of Lucky 13.

Personal:

Go to the gym more. This is the traditional resolution for a reason. IT IS NECESSARY AFTER THE HOLIDAYS. Especially when you work in an office and there are cookies EVERYWHERE.

Learn how to use new technology. I got a space device touchscreen e-reader for Christmas. I asked for it so that I could read manuscripts without killing trees for my internship, but right now there are babies better at touch screens than me.

Save Money. Stick to my budget. Increase  my biweekly deposit into my savings. Every time I resist the siren song of take out, “spend” the money it would have cost by putting it into savings.

Take risks. Yeah, I like having at least a day a week that I do nothing and talk to no one. I’m still happiest reading by myself, but its time to be bold. Go for every opportunity life presents. Drink, Celebrate life, Be merry.  Continue reading

Book Rec for Traditional Publishing

My friend, fellow YA writer and book blogger Ellie, won a giveaway on Marissa Meyer’s blog recently and shared the bounty with me.

I had heard of the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market before, but assumed I didn’t want a copy before I was ready to sell. I was so so wrong as it is great inspiration fodder. I read through much of it at the gym that night and poured over the lists. I can already tell it’s an invaluable resource, so I ordered my own hard copy, despite my vow to wait. I have very little discipline.

The book includes inspirational interviews with NYT bestselling authors on their process, ways to keep your submissions organized, and a comprehensive list of literary agents, editors, and magazines that except and repped and unrepped submissions. Great for freelancers. Continue reading

Querying!

Some of the advice I’ve collected:

  • Lead in with a hook
  • But NEVER lead in with a question
  • Make accurate comparisons
  • DON’T EVER MAKE COMPARISONS
  • Make sure you have a bio paragraph
  • Who you are doesn’t matter, it’s about the writing
  • Make sure to mention books you liked that the agent has repped
  • Don’t just insert random titles to flatter, they don’t like that

So… that info is a little conflicting. It’s all from different sources: Agents themselves, authors who have queried, and querying writers. It’s from direct resources and live speakers at conferences.

No talk I’ve been to has completely universal advice. That’s because all people are different, it depends on the individual agent, even within the same agency, what they do and do not want to see.

The best advice is the simplest:

  • Make sure you have no typos. Typos make English majors cry.
  • Have friends read the letter that know what a good pitch sounds like AND friends that are versed in business letters. You want to sell yourself and your product in the best way.
  • Many agents are on social media or have blogs these days. Cyber stalk them (in a non-creepy non-invasive lurking type way) and find out what their pet peeves are. Most of them are totally open about what bugs them about submissions.
  • FOLLOW GUIDELINES. This is the most universal advice I have seen. Every agency does it differently. Some want three chapters inserted in the bottom of the email, some only take an attached PDF of ten pages, some don’t want pages at all until they’ve read the query, and there is the rare agency that still only takes paper submissions.
  • Find out what the agents like to see and what they’re selling. Many have a page of what they’re interested in. Look at those and see if you loosely fit in or have a unique twist to yours, then query away.

ALSO: Unsolicited phone calls are usually unwelcome, and those who call usually don’t know who to talk to. I know because I’ve gotten two calls from author-hopefuls in the past two weeks, and I am about the last person in the company that could help them.

If this is important to you, then DO YOUR RESEARCH. You will be rewarded for it by having a query that is actually read and considered rather than deleted because you didn’t follow the directions. That’s what those worksheets were for in school, to teach you how to follow directions.

If you still fail, don’t despair. Every agent is a special little snowflake.

THE SECRET: Agents are human people with reading preferences. Maybe they’re sick of paranormal romance or dystopia right now. Move on and find the next.

Author Panel: Rees Brennan, Black, and Bray

“I hate it when you wake up after a party and everyone’s dead.”

–Sarah Rees Brennan

I went to Burlington with the Boston Science Fiction and Fantasy Meet-up Group for an author panel last Friday. Glad I decided to get in on that action.

The writers of the night were Libba Bray, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Holly Black.

Once the authors arrived there was a lot of excitement from the crowd and banter from the stars of the night. Sarah did an interpretive dance of the plot of Libba’s Diviners.

Libba: “I don’t remember writing any of this. Can’t wait to see how it ends.”

We started with each author reading a short excerpt from their books. Diviners is about a flapper girl from the 1920’s with the special ability to get vibrations from objects. The prose was very flavorful and I love the Prohibition-era historic setting.

Sarah read from her novel Unspoken, which all of my friends have now read, so I think that one is next on my reading list. “I have to be standing for this because of reasons,” she said, as she began her reading. Libba spit out her Fiji water when Sarah began stripping.

I am intrigued.

It happened to be Sarah’s birthday, which might explain the delightful energy she had going on.

Next up was Holly Black. Since the closing book of Black’s Curseworkers trilogy Black Heart, has been out for six months, she gave us the special treat of reading from her current work in progress.  Continue reading

Books Recs for Strong Girls

A school librarian I know has two 8th grade girls looking for female protagonists akin to the kick-assery of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.

I asked my friends for YA recs with strong heroines. This is what I have so far.

Contemporary
Shrinking Violet – Danielle Joseph
Tokyo Heist – Diana Renn
The Good Braider – Terry Farish
Nowhere Girl AJ Paquette

Historical
Bloody Jack – LA Meyer
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle – Avi
Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
Scarlet – AC Gaughen
Climbing the Stairs – Padma Venkatraman
Catherine called Birdy – Karen Cushman
Love in the Haight – Susan Carlton

Fantasy
Song of the Lioness – Tamora Pierce
Graceling Realm – Kristin Cashore
The Chaos Walking Trilogy – Patrick Ness
Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones

Continue reading