I write stuff for kids...and muse on writing, children's books, and the publishing industry in general

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Evolution of a Logline... (*please help*)

My logline has been through a number of changes over the last few months.


It all started when I entered an agent pitch contest over on Market My Words. I was the joint winner of that contest (here's my post about it), and I received a fantastic query critique from the awesome Mary Kole. Here's the pitch I submitted for that contest:

When misfit Verity is brutally murdered by the boy she loves, she awakens to find herself filled with deadly new powers, uncontrollable rages, and an unquenchable desire for vengeance.

First Logline

Last week, I was lucky enough to be given a spot in Miss Snark's First Victim's Logline Critique (here). This is the logline I submitted for that critique:

When misfit Verity is brutally murdered by the boy she loves, she awakens to find herself filled with uncontrollable rages and an unquenchable desire for vengeance. And if she doesn’t find a way to harness her hatred and her deadly new powers---soon---she won’t be able to stop killing, not even the one person who may save her.

Revised Logline

I received some fantastic suggestions for amendments from the MSFV Critique session, and revised my logline to the following:

When misfit Verity is brutally murdered by the boy she loves, she becomes a ghost with telekinetic powers, the ability to burn her victims, and an unquenchable desire for vengeance. Her search for her killer and her increasing body-count stretch her sanity to the limits, and unless she can find a way to regain control of herself, more innocent people—including the one boy who can still see her—will die.

As you can see, this version gives a lot more detail about my plotline.

Current Logline

Based on your fantastic suggestions from this Logline Blogfest (thanks so much!), my logline now reads as follows:

When misfit Verity is brutally murdered by the boy she loves, she becomes a ghost with deadly new powers, the ability to burn her victims, and an unquenchable desire for vengeance. The search for her killer and an increasing body-count stretch her sanity to the limits, and unless she finds a way to regain control of herself, more innocent people—including the one person who can still see her—will die.

My New Challenge - Creating a Rockin' One-Sentence Pitch

What I'm trying to do now is shorten my two-sentence logline into a rockin' one-sentence pitch that gives more info than my first attempt. If I start again with my "older" one-sentence pitch, and add a few things, I get:

When misfit Verity becomes a ghost after being brutally murdered by the boy she loves, her deadly new powers and an unquenchable desire for vengeance lead to an increasing body-countif she fails to regain control, more innocent people will die, including the one person with the power to save her from herself.

Hmm, what do you think???

If you want to have a squiz at some posts on loglines, check out here and here.

I'm taking part in Steena Holmes's Logline Contest, so check out the other entrants here. Don't join in ok - I want the prize for myself (*winks*). All right, all right, I'm only joking (*grins*).

Can't wait to hear what you think of my new logline and work-in-progress pitch.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Second Crusader Challenge Wrap-Up (Vote For The Winner)

All-righty-ho, I hope you all had as much fun with the Second Crusader Challenge as I did. I was so impressed by all the entries, and particularly with all the different ways the entrants managed to work "kartofflepuffer" into their posts. Well done everyone.

It's time now to vote for the winner. We had an amazing 18 entries in this Challenge. I had to guess on the points for a few entrants, so if I've listed you as a semi-finalist and you didn't get the full 200 points, please let us know so I can take you off the semi-finalist list.

Here are those who entered the Challenge but either aren't putting themselves up for the prize (me) or didn't score the full 200 points:

  1. Rachael Harrie
  2. Hart Johnson

(*Drumroll*) And here are the semi-finalists - all entrants who scored 200 points, in the order I received their comments:
  1. Adina West
  2. Kangaroobee
  3. Kittie Howard
  4. Marieke
  5. Grandpa
  6. Megan Bickel 
  7. Joanna St. James
  8. Sarah G
  9. Jessica Stanford
  10. L'Aussie
  11. Su
  12. Quinn
  13. kar_took
  14. Rachel Morgan
  15. Julie Hedlund
  16. The Weed
Phew, that's a lot of entries to be judged. So don't make me choose the winner (*pretty please*) - it's going to be too hard! Drop me a comment in this post and let me know whose entry you liked the best. No hard-and-fast judging criteria, just whatever took your fancy (most humorous, most revealing, best secrets revealed, whatever).

Can't wait to find out who the winner is! I'm designing a winner's badge for your blog as we speak (woot!), plus there's all the other prizes.

Oh, and everyone who took part in this Challenge, make sure you're all ready to point your followers toward the Insider Scoop interview featuring the winner :)

Judging will be open until next Friday, November 5, so make sure you pop back and cast your vote before then...

Friday, October 29, 2010

You May Not Know This About Me But...

You may not know this about me but...
  1. I have a very dark bent to my writing. Think YA Horror with a Paranormal flavor, lots of visual imagery and build-up of suspense (oh, and murders, nasty psychopaths, skeletons in the closet, and ghosts – not for the faint-hearted!)
  2. I'm a member of The Voice, a fabulous YA critique group which grew from WriteOnCon 2010. I love working with my critique partners, and I get so much value from their input, and lots of laughs as well. I’ve also made some really great friends, some of whom are Crusaders too (*waves to Marieke, Tessa, Christy, Lisa, and Rachel*)
  3. I have an awfully sweet tooth, though more for chocolate than cakes or ice-cream. Choc-coated honeycomb is my number one addiction
  4. Those who’ve seen me around the blogosphere will know I love exclamation marks and emoticons (*bounce*), though I make sure I don’t bring those over into my manuscripts, of course
  5. I started out writing picture books (of the quirky and humorous kind), though I’m really concentrating on my YA writing at the moment. The whole “dark bent thingy” doesn’t really work in picture books, you see
  6. I survived WriteOnCon 2010 in the picture book forum, and I'm counting down the days to WriteOnCon 2011, where I’ll be braving the YA forum. I hope to see you all there! 
  7. I wish I could take part in NaNoWriMo, but self-preservation has whispered in my ear and I’ve reluctantly paid attention. I can’t promise not to grumble a little, though...
  8. I love blogging, meeting my fellow bloggers, commenting along, taking part in blogfests and contests, and generally supporting other peoples’ platform-building. I remember my first few months, you see, where I only had a few followers. It wasn’t very long ago, believe it or not
  9. Perhaps because of #8 above, I’m particularly proud of my Writers’ Platform-Building Crusade, which has far exceeded my expectations – we reached 45 Crusaders today, woot!!!
  10. I also enjoy tweeting (@RachaelHarrie) and meeting my fellow Tweeterers (is that a word? Tweeters? Twitters? Twitterers? Twits? Tee hee)
  11. I have a wonderful husband and two gorgeous girls who brighten my every day. My eldest girl loves eating kartofflepuffer (sometimes) and is happiest when she’s playing with my umbrella (true story, I always worry about the whole opening-up-an-umbrella-inside-the-house thing, though more for the sake of my ornaments than bad luck – I’m not superstitious luckily). 
  12. Needless to say, I don’t get much sleep, with the youngest only 5 months old and the eldest waking at 5am (or earlier) every morning... 
  13. I’m still negotiating with myself for more time to spend doing the things I love (yep, writing’s pretty high up on that list). If only there were 36 hours in every day...48 hours? 72 hours?
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed finding out a little more about me. This post was brought to you courtesy of my Second Crusader Challenge. Check out my Writers’ Platform-Building Crusade if you haven’t already, it’s a great way for aspiring writers and beginner bloggers to connect, network together, build up their followers, and pay it forward to others.

Did you pick the three random words we had to include as part of the challenge? Oh, ok, I’ll spill. They were “kartofflepuffer,” “skeleton,” and “umbrella.” Sneaky huh? What sort of cruel challenge-writer puts “kartofflepuffer” as one of the words??? Oh wait, that was me (*smirks*).

Anyway, I thought I’d combine two posts together – I’ve recently been awarded The Versatile Blogger Award by the lovely Tessa Quin (check out her sites: The Quest for a Literary Agent if you haven’t already) and the fabulous Miles McG (pay him a visit at An Author's Quest).

As part of the “rules” for this award, I had to share seven things about myself. Hmm, I’ve done thirteen, so that should more than satisfy the requirements...

And that’s all, really. For now, anyway :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Twitter Tip Thursday

Here are some of the tips and useful links I've come across on Twitter this week (I’m @RachaelHarrie if you want to follow me):


Narrative Non-Fiction is Hot Hot Hot! http://tinyurl.com/24olt45 @ingridsundberg


Awesome Genre Glossary from Jennifer Laughran (Good to know MG is not a genre - groooan) @literaticat http://is.gd/gopgN @HeatherKephart


Pro writing qualifications impress me more in people with consistently pro behavior: please follow formatting guidelines! @dknippling

Ask Daphne! About a Different Kind of Formatting: Make email sample pages readable. http://bit.ly/cpeGSH @4KidLit

How to RESEARCH Agents & Editors http://wp.me/pIkHt-Te @jafhedlund

How to PERSONALIZE QUERIES: http://bit.ly/drQtNE @AngelaAckerman

Should you mention using a freelance editor in your query? http://ow.ly/2YWPn @Kid_Lit

And...uh...don't include an embedded image of your "book cover". Just...don't.@ElanaRoth

Submit One Project At A Time: Excellent advice and the reason behind it. http://bit.ly/aurEjM @4KidLit

An agent confesses-and the lessons we can learn from it: What gets your ms pulled from the slush pile? http://bit.ly/adnm27 @4KidLit

New interview! How to write an amazing query letter, with @ElanaJ plus a chance to win a preorder of POSSESSION http://bit.ly/8XAVTb :-) @Mariekeyn

Pub Rants: Kristin's top 10 List of Why Adult and Children's SF&F Query Letters Get a Rejection http://is.gd/gora8 @HeatherKephart


Have trouble writing the dreaded synopsis? Here's a simple & easy synopsis-writing template: http://bit.ly/aQBaBQ @JodyHedlund

On writing:

From the archives: On #writing excellent dialogue tags http://ow.ly/2VOz1 @Kid_Lit

The Big Ol' Genre Glossary: Find out how to classify your WIP. http://bit.ly/bjn7IZ @4KidLit

Tip Thursday: 3 reasons to Ditch your Novel's Prologue.: How do you know to dive right into chapter one? http://bit.ly/9EqTn8 @4KidLit

Them’s the breaks: where to put paragraph, scene and chapter breaks in your work | Not Enough Words: http://bit.ly/aBtXh8 4KidLit

Keep Yourself Inspired on a Daily Basis: Train your brain to write at the same time everyday. http://bit.ly/bS1sen 4KidLit

The Myths & Realities of Being a Published Author: These reality checks made us laugh out loud. http://bit.ly/cG2lLd 4KidLit

Best Articles This Week for Writers 10/22/10 http://bit.ly/aVQk7i @4KidLit

If a story ends up just like you imagined it would, you've done something wrong. It should surprise the reader AND the writer @susanorlean

RT @FakeAPStylebook: Avoid long, labyrinthine sentences, as they can harbor ferocious minotaurs @Natalie_Fischer

Use Motion to Spice up Your Scenes: Don't let your characters just stand around. http://bit.ly/aRmFJm @4KidLit

7 Things I've Learned So Far, by Amanda Flower: 'Don't chase the market,' and other great tips. http://bit.ly/dm5QiZ 4KidLit

Great post on the evolution of a short story: http://bit.ly/ae4AXV @charlwrites

If your character has an accent, make sure you're consistent @SammyBina

Do You Have a Strange Attractor?: Game changing twist on high concept. http://bit.ly/dbXOIx @4KidLit

Symbolism – How to Make it Work in Your Writing: Layer in depth and meaning. http://bit.ly/b02BgA @4KidLit

Are your readers taking you too literally? http://bit.ly/aVXtKS @jennwwrites

How to get started as a writer: 'Take it step by step, day by day.' http://bit.ly/cGmesx @4KidLit

Guard against cliches Tip Tuesday #60 | Literary Rambles: http://bit.ly/aQRNbg @jafhedlund

From the archives: Am I wrong to pursue a #writing career? http://ow.ly/2VOJ5 @Kid_Lit

Why do so many writers pursue writing & publication against such adversity? http://bit.ly/b6D5Sf @JodyHedlund

@SammyBina posts about The Dangers of the Thesaurus!: http://wp.me/pF0gi-16U @CA_Marshall


All words are good words...or are they?: Eliminate common words and strengthen your manuscript. http://bit.ly/9nfPJx @4KidLit

I'm at @Georgia_McBride’s blog today where I apply her "Newbie Writer No-No list" to a slew of contest entries? http://tinyurl.com/26z9fjx @suzannelazear

RT @paulgreci: On the blog: The Fine Line between the Writing and the Writer: http://dld.bz/3gYu @JodyHedlund

How much does the average writer have to change in a book from 1st draft to final copy? http://bit.ly/bGeJnZ @JodyHedlund

Picture Books/Early Readers/Chapter Books

The definition and challenges of the early reader and chapter book market: http://ow.ly/2XG6q

How to save the picture book by keeping it off the endangered species list. http://tinyurl.com/36szqjy @ChristieWild

Free Rhyming Dictionary Online: End, beginning, last syllable, first syllable, double, triple rhymes. http://bit.ly/9NXqXC @4KidLit

Tips for Illustrators - Jonas Sickler on how to market yourself as a freelance illustrator jonasillustration.com/blog_jonas_sic… < highly recommend @jothompsonillos

Julie Danielson's (7-imp's) Picture Book List http://sergioruzzier.blogspot.com/2010/10/julie-danielsons-picture-book-list.html@sergioruzzier


Ever wonder how Magical Realism differs from Paranormal? The BIG OL' GENRE GLOSSARY is here to help: http://bit.ly/bdTrmH @literaticat


Blogged about finding the right agent, inspired by last nite's #YALITCHAT --> http://bit.ly/hJVmK (sorry no pictures) @Georgia_McBride

Agent Spotlight on Louise Fury of L. Perkins Agency - http://bit.ly/9ZdwyZ @Casey_McCormick

I think we all want to think business decisions like taking on new clients are motivated by LOVE. Romantic. Sometimes, they are not. 1/2@Georgia_McBride

Ideally agents and clients would find perfect, harmonious agreement + passion re: the work. Not always the case. Nor a guarantee of success. @Georgia_McBride

New agent seeking writers! Denise Little of The Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency: http://tinyurl.com/2cdqcqu @ChuckSambuchino

RT @WeronikaJanczuk: @JillCorcoran is looking for romantic comedies for teens (http://bit.ly/bWIjYz) @CA_Marshall


Things Every Author Should Know about Promotion: Decide what your time is worth. http://bit.ly/d4HWQE @4KidLit


2010 Top Creative Writing Blogs: http://bit.ly/buZXaU @LynetteBenton

Tweeps: How do I set up a blogroll on Blogger to show the blogs I'm following? --> http://bit.ly/9lufzT @CA_Marshall

From the archives: Authors behaving badly online http://ow.ly/1WeJJ @Kid_Lit


How Writers Can Use Twitter for Networking & Success: http://bit.ly/9P4twq (via @alexisgrant) Excellent article! @JodyHedlund


Some helpful #nanowrimo preparation tips http://thegracefuldoe.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/preparing-for-nanowrimo/ @thegracefuldoe

Preparing your characters for #NaNoWriMo http://thegracefuldoe.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/nanowrimo-character-outline/ @thegracefuldoe

NaNoWriMo Boot Camp, Day 1: Choosing the Right Idea blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/10/nanowr… @NathanBransford

NaNoWriMo Boot Camp Day 2: Goals and Obstacles blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/10/nanowr… @NathanBransford


The temptation of thinking someone has made it blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/10/tempta… @NathanBransford

Weekly #kidlitosphere round-up: agent/editor insights, marketing, trends, giveaways, videos, new releases & more: http://bit.ly/9Y5yY @CynLeitichSmith

List of Writer's Acronyms: Often I come across acronyms on blog sites and I'm stumped. So, I did research and here... http://bit.ly/cUSJBS @ClarissaDraper

Guest post by Maria Rainier on freelancing for children's markets - http://bit.ly/9hRTtv @Casey_McCormick

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Semi-Finalist, Never-ending Scene Blogfest (or cliffhanger--whatever) (woot!)

Well, I'm jumping up and down right now cause I've been chosen as a semi-finalist in Brenda Drake's Never-ending Scene Blogfest (or cliffhanger--whatever). Woot!!!

Here's my entry for those of you who haven't checked it out. AND, three of the Crusaders are in the semi-finals, Marieke, Rachel Morgan, and me. How cool is that!

Voting closes at 6am on Thursday, so pop on over, check out all the entries, and cast your votes. Can't wait to see who the winner and runner-ups are - there's prizes from C.A. Marshall on offer!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Insider Scoop - Interview with Rachel Morgan, Aspiring Author

Welcome to The Insider Scoop, where I’ll be bringing you interviews, useful tips and tricks, and all sorts of insightful information from those deep within the children's book industry.

Today, I'm interviewing Rachel Morgan of Rachel Morgan Writes, aspiring author, fellow Crusader, winner of my First Crusader Challenge, blogger extraordinaire, and all-round lovely person!!!

Can't wait to see what Rachel has to say about herself, her writing, and other interesting matters.

To jump straight in...

Question 1: If you had to describe yourself in five words, what would they be?
  • Perfectionist (I write a blog post, comb through the whole thing for errors, hit publish, check it again, see a tiny typo, go back and edit it out. Yes. It’s tedious.)
  • Self-disciplined (I must be, or why the heck else would I keep getting up at crazy-early hours just to write?!)
  • Shy (in real life, anyway!)
  • Creative (I love playing musical instruments and making crafty things...)
  • Weird (that was tech-minded boyfriend’s contribution! Actually, his five words to describe me were: a-pain-in-my-bum. He he he...)
Question 2: When did you start writing?

At age five. Well, technically, I dictated to my mother (since my actual physical writing ability wasn’t so great at that age), but I did the illustrations and the story was my own! I think I actually still have that little book... *climbs into top of cupboard and scratches around for a while*

Anyway, I’ve always had stories in my head and I spent years writing ideas down on scraps of paper and bits of tissue and on the back of school notes. Wish I knew where all those scraps got to!

Question 3: When did you decide to start writing seriously? And how do you keep yourself motivated?

I was doing a Masters in Biochemistry and had one of those light bulb moments: “You know you’re not happy here. You know you really want to write. So, hello?? What’s stopping you? Get out of here and do it already!”

And I suppose what keeps me motivated is that I really, really, really want this to work out and that—bonus—I really enjoy it too!

Question 4: Are you a plotter or a pantzer?

It’s generally a specific scene that sparks an idea for a story, so I like to jump right in and write the scene before I forget it. Then I’ll do a bit of planning—just the major points—but any serious plotting usually gets interrupted by my impatience to just get to the story! And I don’t always write in order. If a scene from three quarters of the way into the story pops into my head, well then it has to be written right then.

Question 5: Which is more important to you, a great plotline or fantastic technical writing?

Your writing can be as fantastically and technically brilliant as the greatest writers in history, but if you haven’t got a good story to tell, no one’s gonna keep reading (unless it’s a school set work your teacher forced upon you... And even then, well, who actually reads the whole thing?!). So I guess I’m going for a great plotline!

Question 6: Tell us about your current WIP.

Main character wakes up believing she is someone entirely different from who she actually is. She runs away from her (now very confused) brother who keeps telling her she’s delusional, and lands herself in great deal of trouble. After figuring out that all her memories are indeed false and that the life she thinks she had never even existed, she sets off to find out who she really is and what could be so important that someone had to hide it in her mind.

It’s of the YA variety (adults can be so boring sometimes!). It’s set in a world where magic exists and people know about it (where’s the fun in sticking to reality?). There’s mystery, adventure, action and, of course, love!

Question 7: If you could be published in any genre, which would you choose?

YA Fantasy. (Um, I think... Does that sound like it fits what I just described?!)

Question 8: Lastly, chocolate or cupcakes?

Um... A cupcake with chocolate in it? Come on, that’s a tough one!


Thanks Rachel for taking the time to be interviewed today (how cute are the piks of her first book!). Make sure you all pop over to her blog and say hi (and don't forget to follow along, she's only a few followers off 100, woot!)

Hope to see you back next week when I interview Hart Johnson of the hilariously naked Confessions of a Watery Tart.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Never-ending Scene Blogfest (or cliffhanger---whatever) October 25-26

I'm participating in Brenda Drake's Never-ending Scene Blogfest (or cliffhanger---whatever) October 25-26. Check out the other entrants here.

The challenge in this blogfest is to write a new scene or post a scene from your current project that is no more than 500 words, which has a rocking cliffhanger (pun intended). The aim is to leave you hanging, craving more, and cursing my name for making you want to turn a page that isn't there. Easy peasy! Hmm.

Well, here it is, with a total of 455-words. A scene from the end of Chapter 1 of my current YA Horror work in progress, FROM THE OTHER SIDE. Those who participated in Elle Strauss's First Page Blog Fest may recognize the situation my main character, Verity, is currently in. Check out my first page here if you're interested. 


I still couldn’t remember what had happened to me. I needed to jump to my feet and run. Run away from whatever---whoever---had caused my injuries.

I tried to command my muscles yet again, tried to force them into action. I didn’t even have the strength to move. It was all I could do just to keep sitting there, to stop myself from flopping over onto my side and...

Somebody snickered nearby. I jumped, shocked by the unexpected noise. From the silence in the cave I had thought the girl and I were alone. That they had left us lying here after doing…whatever. That I had plenty of time to force my body to move again.

I jerked around, using all my strength to do so. A boy of eighteen years or so watched the girl and me. He had a smile on his face and a look of excitement in his eyes.

I stared at him, as I struggled to accept he wasn’t going to help me. That he was one of my torturers.

The boy didn’t seem bothered that I was sitting up. He would know there was nowhere for me to go, nothing I could do. I was isolated, unable even to rely on the unconscious girl beside me for help. And the entrance to the cave was a long way away. I could see it over the boy’s shoulder now. I doubted I could even walk there, let alone run.

The boy’s eyes glittered in the candlelight. His expression---his smirk, his look of pride, his piercing gaze---reminded me of a serial killer I had seen on television. My skin crawled. A trick of the light, perhaps. I stared into his face, searching for a single shred of humanity.

“Help me,” I croaked. My mouth felt dry.

The boy didn’t respond.

“Please. Help.” Louder this time.

He was good-looking, even with the nasty-looking scratches on one cheek. I wondered who he was. I guessed the marks on his face came from the girl beside me. She had probably tried to fight him off; they looked freshly-made. I could picture that. I cheered the girl in my mind, even as I wondered whether I had fought as well. Why couldn’t I remember?

“Let us go. Please.”

It was no good. The boy turned away. Contempt and disdain were written clearly on every line of his body.

The boy looked familiar. There was something about him…

The tickle in my memory became a scratch.


I finally remembered. The boy was called Draven.

He has another name as well. A normal, everyday name. That’s right, it was Erik. Erik Stabler.

I’d been in love with him for the last five years.


Hope it's left you wanting more. I'd tell you what happens next, but where's the fun in that ;)

Although, while it's not actually part of my manuscript, I did write a little "alternate scene" for Erica and Christy's Take Your Main Character On A Date Blog Fest (check it out here if you're wanting to sneak in a peek and find out a little about what happens to Verity).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Second Crusader Challenge

It's time for the Second Crusader Challenge, woot! Check out my original post if you haven't heard about my Writers' Platform-Building Crusade or if you'd like to come on board.

And the Challenge is:

Write a post beginning with the words, "You may not know this about me but..."

The rest is up to you. You can use the piece to introduce yourself, tell us about something that inspires you (writing-related or otherwise), tell a funny story, write a poem, or anything really. So be creative and let’s see what you come up with.*

And...a Crusader Challenge just isn’t the same without a grand prize. I've come up with three little incentives today:
  1. I'm designing a special Crusader Challenge Winner badge, for the winner (and Rachel Morgan, as winner of the First Crusader Challenge) to put on their blogs;
  2. in the spirit of platform-building, I'll be giving the winner the chance to be featured as an interviewee for The Insider Scoop on Rach Writes...(watch out for Rachel Morgan's interview this coming Monday); and
  3. just to make it a little more interesting (I'm blatantly borrowing this idea from Erica and Christy!), how about the non-winning entrants also put a post on their blogs referring their own followers to the particular Insider Scoop interview featuring the winner (I'll let you know when it's coming). 
Worth playing for???

“How do we pick a winner?” you ask.

Well...let’s work it on a points system:
  • I’ve written a Crusader Challenge post beginning with the words, "You may not know this about me but..." and I’ve commented in this post with a link to my own post (+100 points)
  • I’ve included the completely random words “umbrella,” “skeleton,” and “kartoffelpuffer” in my Crusader Challenge post (+40 points) – there has to be a bit of a challenge for you, can't wait to see what you do with "kartoffelpuffer"!!!
  • In my Crusader Challenge post, I’ve included a link back to this post and told everyone about the Crusade and the Crusader Challenge (+20 points)
  • I’m following all my fellow Crusaders (as listed on the Rach Writes... List of Crusaders page) on their blogs (+20 points)
  • I’ve included all my fellow Crusaders on my blog, in a blog roll / list / Crusader button linking back to the Rach Writes... Crusade pages (+20 points)
If it comes down to a tie, I’ll pop links to all the posts with the highest score (200 points) in a new post on Rach Writes... and call for votes on the winner. I’ll make the final decision if the voting is inconclusive.

Entries will close next Friday, October 29, so make sure you comment in this post before then and leave us the link to your Crusader Challenge post (plus how many points you earned). Make sure you give the exact link please, not just the link to your home page.

Have fun!!! Check out the other Crusaders’ posts and comment along. Can't wait to see what you come up with :)

* Hmm, kind of like the First Crusader Challenge, but we've got lots more people on board so it should be fun. Just you wait for the Third Crusader Challenge, that one will be totally different!!!

Twitter Tip Thursday

Here are some of the tips and useful links I've come across on Twitter this week:


Report from last night's panel on trends in #kidlit @megcabot http://ow.ly/2Wprk @Kid_Lit


Successful contemporary YA query: Mindi Scott's query to Jim McCarthy (Dystel & Goderich) for FREEFALL: http://bit.ly/aZsPHX @taralazar

"Query until someone puts a ring on your finger." - Kristen Lippert-Martin. Excellent advice at http://tinyurl.com/3y9hnum @RachelMorgan13

EXCELLENT article: http://tinyurl.com/3aenvny My Query Letter Manifesto. Not only great advice but a highly entertaining read :-) Go see it! @RachelMorgan13

To be honest, I DO get to your ms faster if you check in - but I also make a faster decision about it. @Natalie_Fischer

I'd say a quarter of #queries are probably much too long or way too short. The best pitches are usually 2-3 paragraphs. @MandyHubbard

A great & funny blog post about the slush pile from agent Steve Laube: http://bit.ly/9F6bSu @RachelleGardner


Why GIVE Critiques?: People thank me all the time for giving free chapter reviews. But, I love doing it. Why? Beca... http://bit.ly/9hC5ur @ClarissaDraper

On writing:

New On The Blog: Balancing The First Pages Of A New WIP http://bit.ly/cxdQh4 @CA_Marshall

Newbie writers: watch out for these big writing no-no's. (sorry no pictures): http://bit.ly/hJVmK @Georgia_McBride

What do writers make at different publishers? The famous (and now updated) "Show Me the Money" survey with answers: http://dld.bz/z6f2 @elizabethscraig

Why your beginnings don't really matter. http://bit.ly/a2wOTO @ChristieWild

Great post with awesome examples! Opening Sentences: Reeling Your Reader In: http://bit.ly/d0astJ @jafhedlund

Many of life's failures are people who did not realise how close to success they were when they gave up. Be encouraged.Keep going. @pichetsinparis

Top 3 (posts and reads): http://wp.me/pHil1-c6 @kangaroobee

Use this 2 get ur brain churning on how to make your ms stand out, not just your blog! http://www.copyblogger.com/usp (via @ingridsundberg) @Natalie_Fischer

The Writer's 10 Commandments. Read http://markterrybooks.blogspot.com/2010/10/writers-10-commandments.html @pichetsinparis

New On The Blog: Friday Five: Advice For Writers - 14 Oct 2010 - Formatting A Manuscript http://bit.ly/czxkSE @CA_Marshall

Three essential tips to writing a publishable novel - http://ow.ly/2TUN9 @BubbleCow

Writing a fiction synopsis? Here's what one should look like: "The Big Easy" (crime/noir) http://tinyurl.com/298fen2 @WritersDigest

Here's your top 5% of slush pile. How to rise to the top and not get an automatic rejection. http://tinyurl.com/29qot6p @ChristieWild

Making a Book Stand Out: The Critical Aspect of Having a Compelling Story http://bit.ly/c5s0MR @JodyHedlund

You know you've got a cliché when you see the exact same line in another book. Love the line! Check out the post. http://trunc.it/bx5nz @ClarissaDraper

Do you have a BUSINESS mindset for your writing career? Should you? http://bit.ly/antyd8 @RachelleGardner

The three stages of learning to write successful science fiction: wp.me/pz1mb-6s....I love these snippets...they urge me on. @bamawm

Confusion is not tension. If reader has no idea what u're talking about, they will abandon the book @Georgia_McBride

"Nobody uses large numbers of adjectives when they think..." Alexander McCall Smith @jafhedlund

Do you get frustrated by the Writing Rules? Read this: http://bit.ly/91GS4f @RachelleGardner


Our 1st drafts are a lump of clay. Beauty comes after we shape & mold & polish time and time again.@JodyHedlund

Recognizing and fixing repetition in your manuscript: http://bit.ly/hJVmK @Georgia_McBride

Knowing When It's Good Enough http://nblo.gs/9b34x @ali_cross

Writing Resources

New stuff on a Tuesday! A resources page! http://kidlit.com/resources-for-writers/ @Kid_Lit

Picture Books

This is good! Must read for PB authors!! http://bit.ly/bp4zbm 12 Common Picture Book Mistakes by Elizabeth O. Dulemba @KatApel

What are picture book editors looking for? http://bit.ly/ck46OG Each story needs to have a twist. Why is your story different? @taralazar


Agent Spotlight on Elena Mechlin of Pippin Properties, Inc. http://bit.ly/dnJm0Z @Casey_McCormick

Five tips on how to connect with an agent: http://bit.ly/a1wMpY @4KidLit

NEW on blog: exclusive requests: sign of a bad agent? www.adventuresinagentland.blogspot.com @Natalie_Fischer

I blogged about #AgentFail today. Check it out: http://bit.ly/9ZYgB4 @RachelleGardner

RT@4KidLit How to handle "WHO offered you representation?" What to do if you get push-back. http://bit.ly/dA3c6v @auntiflamingo

Dealing with Rejection

3 Steps Writers Should Take After Getting a Rejection: http://bit.ly/dpt3zf (via @JaneFriedman) Excellent post! @JodyHedlund


What is branding? Guest post by author Karen Witemeyer http://bit.ly/b16JwC @RachelleGardner


What is RSS? Reading blogs? Get organized, stay informed, save time, protect your privacy. http://tinyurl.com/3antp96 @ChristieWild

Think in Stories to Write Better http://bit.ly/csEEqN @Kangaroobee

5 Ways Blogging Makes You Better: http://bit.ly/aM7NVB (via @CassFrear) @JodyHedlund

The number ONE way to generate more traffic to your blog: http://bit.ly/9DIsSk @JodyHedlund


L'Aussie Writing : Will I NaNoWriMo or Won’t I NaNoWriMo? Some tips to help you decide: http://t.co/aKJs3t0 @pichetsinparis

Got an idea for NaNoWriMo? How to create a basic outline: http://thegracefuldoe.wordpress.com/2010/10/16/nanowrimo-creating-an-outline/ @gracefuldoe

@the creative penn great post Joanna http://dld.bz/zCRD Nano Notebook @papyri


Guest post from Alane Ferguson on censorship http://ow.ly/2U04o @Kid_Lit

WRITERS. New fair deal ePublisher/agent accepting submissions now. http://is.gd/g2ZKu RTs? <3>

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up and Crusader Biz(ness)

Ok, I know it's Tuesday, but wow, what a week everyone!!! Where do I even start...

My Following Peeps

Hmm, with you, I think. So many new people have come on board Rach Writes... and I have to say a huge welcome and thank you for following (*jumps up and down*). I can't wait to get to know you all better. So drop by any time, leave me a comment or seven, and I'll make sure I do the same with your blogs as well.


Did you see, did you see? I reached 100 followers (WOOT!!!). Congratulations go to Hart Johnson at Confessions of a Watery Tart for being my 100th follower. I'm still laughing after reading some of Hart's posts, so make sure you check her out!

I was planning on having a 100 followers contest, but instead I'll just have to do an extra special 150 followers contest. In the meantime though, I'd love to interview you for The Insider Scoop, Hart, as a little prize. Just shoot me an email (address in the Contact Me page above) if you're interested. Can't wait for you to spread the nakedness around Rach Writes... (aha, that's got you all interested hasn't it!)

Writers' Platform-Building Crusade

If you haven't already checked out my Writers' Platform-Building Crusade, pop up to my new pages at the top of my blog. There's been such a fantastic response, and would you believe there are well over 30 Crusaders now (check out the List of Crusaders page near the top of my blog).

I love seeing you all meet each other, and it's fantastic to see so many people visiting their fellow Crusaders and commenting so often.

First Page Blog Fest

I took part in Elle Strauss's First Page Blog Fest last weekend. Had a fantastic time and met heaps of lovely people. I really enjoyed reading everyone's first pages. Here's the link to my first page of FROM THE OTHER SIDE if you'd like to check it out.

First Crusader Challenge

Woot, what a great challenge we all had!!! Check out the entries by the finalists here if you haven't already.

And the winner of the First Crusader Challenge is (*drumroll*)...the lovely Rachel Morgan over at Rachel Morgan Writes. Pop over to her blog and have a read of her poem - how cool is the ending (and I love how well she incorporated the random words in her poem)!

I'll be interviewing Rachel next Monday, October 25 for The Insider Scoop, so make sure you visit and have a read.

Second Crusader Challenge

(*Drumroll*) Coming on Friday. Stay tuned...

Crusader Biz(ness)

Crusaders, we've had heaps of new peeps join, so make sure you update your blog rolls or sidebar links to include our new friends. Also, a reminder to blog and/or tweet about the Crusade if you haven't yet.

Would all Crusaders please check out your names and links in the List of Crusaders page above, and let me know if there are any errors that I need to fix. If you look on my sidebar, you could pop that picture on your own blogs and link back to my Crusader pages now they're here to stay.

The Insider Scoop

I posted my third interview with Caitie Flum for The Insider Scoop. Check it out here if you haven't already, there's heaps of insider info, including some little secrets about the submissions process that I hadn't heard about before...


Thanks to so many wonderful people for giving me such lovely blogging awards. Here is my post where I thanked everyone who gave them to me, and I've popped them up on a new blog page as well.

I promise to pass on those awards soon.

And thanks to Erica and Christy over at Erica and Christy for giving me the Happy 101 (which we've christened "The Sweet Friends") Award. The girls both rock, so make sure you pop over and say hi from me!!!

Twitter Tip Thursday

Every Thursday I post a list of useful links that I've come across during the week on Twitter. Check out last Thursday's post here. I've even sorted them out to make it easier to find what interests you.

Phew, what a monumentally long post. That's all for now, can't wait to see what the week ahead brings.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Insider Scoop – Interview with Caitie Flum, ex-agent intern and proofreader (Part 3)

Welcome to The Insider Scoop, where I’ll be bringing you interviews, useful tips and tricks, and all sorts of insightful information from those deep within the children's book industry.

Today, we continue our interview with Caitie Flum, an ex- agent intern with Hachette Book Group and Writers House, and a proofreader in the medical industry.

This interview has been posted in three parts as follows:
  • Part 1 – a day in the life of an agent intern (here)
  • Part 2 –evaluating queries (the inner workings of a literary agency) (here)
  • Part 3 – the specific things that agent interns report on when assessing queries/manuscript submissions for a literary agent, plus more about queries (today)
So, onto the final part this interview…

Question 5 - What information concerning a query/manuscript submission do you put in a report to the literary agent? [Out of curiosity, do you have a standard checklist that you compare against - if so, is this something you can share with us?]

I don't have a checklist, but I will give you an overview of the things I included.


Usually if anything beyond decision it would be underlining things I loved or a quick sentence about the book's greatness.

Rach: First impressions so do count!

  • Reaction after first 5-10 pages.
  • If there was any character development in first 50. So many partials have just action, action, action and nothing to develop who the character is or their motivations. Character is so important (especially in YA and MG) and if the writer hasn’t made it a priority in the partial, it is an issue.
  • Impression of main and side characters.
  • Any major issues I saw.
  • After 50 did I need more?
Rach: That’s interesting. “Need more” vs “want more” or “wouldn’t mind looking at more.” Seems a much higher test that needs to be passed!


This was always the longest because this is what the agent would see, or, more likely the foundation for my editorial letter to the author (which made me very nervous).
  • I would include everything from the partial.
  • Lots of time on major issues with suggestions on how to fix overall quality of writing (it is easier to fix an okay story than an okay writer).
  • Analysis of market and how well it is written with market in mind.
  • What I think the hook is.
Question 6 - What causes you to automatically reject a query/manuscript submission? Is there anything in particular we should avoid saying/doing when submitting a query?
  • Too much voice in the query, like I said before it is usually covering up for bad writing or story.
  • Sending us a query for a genre/type of book we don't do at all.
  • Comparing self to blockbusters (Twilight, Harry Potter). Comparing is fine, but find something that wasn't a smash, it shows you actually know your competition.
  • Trashing a book we represented. It didn't happen to me, but Jodi Reamer was upstairs and she would get queries trashing Twilight all the time. Guys...she represented it. She helped it make a ton of money. Even if you don't like it, don't bash things she worked on then claim yours is better thinking she will want yours!
  • Too many errors. I forgave a typo or two, but grammatical errors or too many typos showed laziness.
  • People talking about more than one project in one query. Just don't.
Rach: Great advice Caitie, thanks!


Well, that wraps up this interview with Caitie Flum. Thank you so much for sharing your insights into this world with us.

A final word from Caitie… I have a book blog where I also discuss the publishing world at caitieflum.wordpress.com. If you look on that blog, you will see I am currently accepting queries/partials from writers who want a critique. I will give you what I gave the assistant.

And stay tuned next Monday, October 25, where I'll be interviewing the winner of our First Crusader Challenge (announcement of results to follow shortly).

Sunday, October 17, 2010

So many awards by so many cool peeps (aw you guys!!!)

So, as promised, here are all the wonderful blogging awards I’ve been given over the past few weeks, and my lovely blogging friends who awarded them to me. Make sure you go check them out!

Cherry On Top Award

Tessa Quin (The Quest for a Literary Agent and BookAways)
Ishta Mercurio (Musings of a Restless Mind)

One Lovely Blog Award

Tessa Quin (The Quest for a Literary Agent and BookAways)
Project Freya (Project Freya)
Quinn (Seeing, Dreaming…Writing)
Erica and Christy (Erica and Christy)
Melissa Gill (Melissa Getting Published)
Catherine Johnson (Kangaroobee’s Blog)
Jessica Stanford (Girl, Unpublished)

The Versatile B
logger Award

Tessa Quin (The Quest for a Literary Agent and BookAways)

Happy 101 Award

Quinn (Seeing, Dreaming…Writing)
Rachel Morgan (Rachel Morgan Writes)

Thank you so much you guys. You all rock!!!

Now, there are some "rules" for these Blog Awards (how fun is that!), and I'll pass them on here:

The Versatile Blogger Award Rules:
  1. Thank and link back to the person that gave you the award.
  2. Share seven things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award to fifteen bloggers that you think deserve it.
  4. Lastly, contact all of the bloggers that you’ve picked for the award.
One Lovely Blog Award Rules:
  1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
  2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
  3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
The Cherry On Top Award Rules:
  1. Thank the one who awarded it
  2. Answer a question: If I had the chance to go back and change one thing in my life, would I, and what would it be?
  3. Choose up to 6 people to pass on the award to!
The Happy 101 Award Rules:
  1. Thank the person who gave me the award.
  2. List ten things that I love.
  3. Pass the award on to (up to) six other people.
So this post doesn't get too long, I’ll post separately my answers to these questions. And…I’ll also post separately to give my own awards to some deserving friends/fellow bloggers/internet peeps. So stay tuned…
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