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Find Yourself in Everything

by Jennifer Paros

Years ago, I had just put my youngest son to bed when I heard tell tale sounds, ran in, and found him throwing up.  Excepting the desk and the walls, there was much to be tidied.  A bit rattled over where to start, I cleaned the child first and set him out of the fray while I stripped the bed of everything.  Awkwardly scooping up bedding and clothing, I headed for the laundry room, still fueled by my emergency mentality.  But while crossing the living room, I stopped – perhaps to reconfigure my load – and something happened.  In a moment, I went from concerned and agitated to… a happy person.  All of a sudden I felt grateful for being able to take care of someone I loved, for having the son I did, for all of it. No longer did it matter that I had initially judged the conditions as unwanted.  The details of the experience itself didn’t matter; I was feeling love for the opportunity of life. 

This moment has remained with me, a reminder that if I could feel authentically happy and blessed in the company of a vomiting child there is something in me so smart and loving that the specifics of my experiences never matter to it as much as the creative act of living itself.  And since 100% of what I worry about are the specifics of what might or might not happen – as though my happiness depends upon those details – I am left to wonder why I am worrying when I’ve already been taught that that is simply not true.  more...

 
               
           

Pie

by Laura Munson

Mostly, I’ve been a back door sort of submitter.  I didn’t used to be.  I used to march straight through the front door and send my stuff out shotgun.  In fact, the very first story I wrote, I sent, wait for it…to the New Yorker.  And when I got that first form rejection, I was stunned.  I was twenty.  I was a dreamer, not really a writer.  And dreamers are a bit delusional.  So I kept sending out that short story—Harpers, Esquire, every magazine I could think of, every literary review I found in the Harvard Square kiosk (we didn’t have the internet yet).  Still rejection after rejection.  After rejection.  I had a bulletin board over my desk with a chart full of all my submissions written on butcher block paper.  In the section which I’d entitled Y/N, there were so many N’s that I did that N some courtesy and elongated it to Nope.  To this day it’s still Nope, only now I know how to make a spreadsheet on my computer.   more...

Show, Don't Tell:
Real Examples, Real Books,
Real Good Stuff

by Erin Brown

Show, Don't Tell! This maxim makes writers want to tear their hair out more than any other (well, other than, "Our agency isn't interested, but best of luck"). I've touched upon this topic a few times in the past, but inevitably, almost every first-time author I work with must overcome the tendency to "tell" instead of "show."

Many writers become frustrated thinking that the essential writing advice of "Show versus tell" means that every plot point must be shown (Egads, does that mean that I need to include everyone's point of view???? What about when my character goes to the bathroom—do I have to show that?). This is not what show versus tell means.  more...

               
               
   

Agent Query
Literary Agents in Profile

with Brian Mercer

Jen, tell me about your path to becoming a literary agent.

I read something recently about how, when you're looking through the windshield of your career, it's hard to see where you're going, but when you look in the rearview mirror it's so clear.  I like to say that I fell into being an agent, but I'm not so convinced by that anymore.

My aunt writes and produces kids' cartoons. My uncle married her when I was twelve and she would occasionally ask me to read some of her projects. This sparked my interest in children's media. Then, in college, I realized I had a skill for reading friends' essays and telling them how to make them better. I did a lot of writing in college, too, though mostly editorial and nonfiction — I wrote a column for my university’s newspaper for two years, and of course I was an English major. After college I worked in the

   

Jennifer Rofé
Andrea Brown Literary Agency

editorial department of a wine magazine, but then I left to become a teacher with the intention of transferring into educational publishing.  more...

   
               
               
   

Lie vs. Lay


by Cherie Tucker

Many people spend countless hours over a lifetime rewriting sentences to avoid having to use lie or lay, because they are never sure which is right.  Let’s clear it up.
           
Lie is verb that describes inaction.  It is a body a rest, inert, not moving, and incapable of doing anything to anything else.

Lay is an action verb.  You could substitute place (same la spelling), because both do something to something else.  The confusion between these two words often comes when we get into the past tense.
  more...

 

   

Using Relationships
to Reveal your Characters

by Jason Black

Abbot had Costello, Lucy had Ricky, Holmes had Watson, and Gilligan had The Skipper. Characters are never alone.  It’s simple; we are social creatures. We go better together.  Some part of us needs others with whom to share our thoughts and feelings.

Even characters who seem to be alone often aren’t, although their companions may take unusual forms. In Cast Away, shipwrecked Chuck Nolan had his volleyball.  In 2001: A Space Odyssey, astronaut Dave Bowman had HAL, the murderous computer nemesis who is without doubt the most well-remembered character in the story.  more...

 

   
               
   

One Writer’s Humble Place in the Publishing Universe...

by Laura Yeager

When people think of the results or effects of writing a manuscript, they often think of million dollar book contracts, movie deals and writing studios in the mountains. While some of us do reap these things from the words we sow, most of us don't.  

So what can the average writer expect from publishing his or her writing? In my experience, there are essentially four things that happen after one becomes a published author. They are as follows:  

1. Message  

The first effect of publishing is that your message goes out to the world. I've written about such things as living with bipolar illness, to creating a subplot in a short story, to surviving international adoption, to maintaining friendship in marriage. When your message goes out, you're not alone anymore. In almost every publication instance, I've gotten feedback from members of my various audiences. This is because much of my writing appears on the internet, whereby people are encouraged to respond to others’ ideas. And let me tell you, it's nice to be heard, and it's even nicer to be quoted. It's also wonderful to hear that your words have helped another overcome something difficult (such as complying to a manic depression medicine routine, to basing your subplot on a minor character, to a bringing a baby home from a foreign country, to celebrating your fourteenth wedding anniversary with your best friend.)  
 more...

 
               
   
   

 
       
       

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