Monday, May 28, 2012

Is distinctive voice always a good thing?

Obnoxious Distinctive Pinkie Pie
The other day, I talked about books that hooked me from page one. Why did they hook me? The same reason, every time: Voice. A well developed voice (be it author or narrator) is what grips the reader from the first paragraph and refuses to let go. Which of course is why authors crave it and why agents scream for it.

Voice is great. Distinctive voice, better. Really distinctive voice, best. Right?

From a reader's perspective I'd argue: not always.

Voice can be an instant turn-off for me. Particularly narrator voice. If I find a main character annoying, chances are I'm simply never going to like the book. In fact, I'm probably going to put it down right then and there. If I do keep going because I feel I have to, it's going to feel ... like I have to. It was that beautiful-much-sought-after-by-writers distinctive voice which suddenly made reading a chore. By developing an (overly?) distinctive voice for the main character, the author narrowed the audience for their book, excluding me. In that case, I'd much rather read a book with less voice, but killer characters, premise, and plot. But maybe I'm crazy?!?

What do you think about voice? Is distinctive voice always a good thing?
Can voice land you an agent, but limit your audience?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Literary Agencies that Represent YA & MG Sci-Fi, Fantasy

We heart literary agents!
Looking for a lit agent can be tough. Places like QueryTracker, AgentQuery, and Manuscript Wish List are amazing resources. But it can still be a challenge to find an agency with agents that represent both the genre and age category you're writing for.

So, here is a list I compiled of 200+ literary agencies with agents that represent YA or MG speculative fiction.

Hope this helps some of you on your querying journey!

Note that I've just listed the agencies here. Some have one agent who reps YA or MG SFF, some have multiple agents who do. Hopefully with a bit more sleuthing you can find the agent that's the right fit for your project.

This was last added to in April 2019, last link-checked Jan 2013. 
Agency preferences are subject to change.

Please check the agency guidelines before submitting!!

Literary Agencies that Represent
YA or MG Fantasy & Science Fiction

I've tried to screen these to the best of my ability, however, there are some newer agencies on the list. Always, always do your research before submitting! Make sure you submit to a reputable agent!

The table below contains two tabs: YA and MG. You'll need to toggle over if you want to see the MG list. (Here is a link to the actual spreadsheet)

*If agency name is followed by an asterisk, they rep YA, or MG but didn't specify if they'll take speculative YA
Last Addition: April 2019
Last Complete Check: Jan 2013

NOTE: If you can't get the scroll bar to work, try these work-arounds:
(1) Click on the chart, then use page-up/page-down keyboard commands
(2) Click on the white space toward the bottom of the scrollbar to scroll down. 
Dragging the grey bar seems to work to scroll it back up

Other Resources: Query Resource Roundup || Query Tracker || Manuscript Wish List || Agent Query || Literary Rambles: Agents who rep  YA  MG  PB || Publisher's Marketplace || My List of Links to Agent Interviews || Association of Authors' Representatives || Published To Death || List of Agent Blogs || Agents Looking for SFF Writers compiled by Erica Verillo.

This post was inspired by Amanda over at It's all in my Head. Thanks Amanda!

Also check out the Contest List and Pitch Factory if you're interested in entering an agent-judged contest as an alternative to querying!

Got any more agencies to add?

If any of you know of any other agencies that have agents who represent Young Adult fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal/dystopia etc, let me know and I can add them to the list! Also if you notice any errors or misrepresentations, please let me know so I can correct them!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book Recommendation: Bitterblue

Kristin Cashore
Pages: 576
Ages: 14+

Leck has been gone for eight years, but his kingdom is still suffering in the aftermath of his insane rule. Now his daughter, Bitterblue, is queen of Monsea, and the palace is determined to push the past behind them and start anew. But after years on end buried in court decisions and paperwork, Bitterblue begins to question the sanity of her advisers, and wonders if anything is really being done to heal the city. Disguising herself as a commoner, she creeps out into the city after nightfall and begins to get a glimpse of just how much her father took from those beneath him. To truly heal the city, she needs to uncover the secrets of her father's past, if she can bear to search for them. 

Bitterblue was a, yes, bittersweet conclusion to the Seven Kingdoms series.  While reading the other books might help, and many of the characters make guest-appearances, this volume was really stand-alone. I loved it just as much as the other two, though in a very different way. Where Graceling and Fire were action-packed, this book took place primarily in the castle. Cashore did a brilliant job (as always) in bringing the reader right alongside the main character. You could feel Bitterblue's frustration at how little she understood, and her and longing to be free from the confines of the castle, but all the while knowing she needs to do something to heal the wounds her father left. The book is more political and a little darker, perhaps, than the others -- of course, given that the main character is devoted to uncovering Leck's past, you couldn't expect it to be light. Bitterblue is a castle-full of intrigue, heartbreak, and deciphering, and a great cross-over for lovers of mystery who'd like to ease into high fantasy. Highly recommended!

 (and Ms. Cashore, I really hope there are more books with Bitterblue - love this heroine!)

Want more book suggestions? See my other Book Recommendations.

But you don't have to take my word for it
Need some more convincing? Check out the reviews of Bitterblue at Reading Teen,  Almost Grown Up, and Anna Reads.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Non-Bookish Blogs/Sites

This week's Top 10 topic was a bit of a stretch for me. I'm super lame and with the exception of an apparently incurable obsession with Pinterest, I really don't browse the internet for fun all that much. I don't even get on Facebook unless I have to. I know, *gasp* right? Which is why I'm super excited to see what all of you have put for the Broke and the Bookish's Top 10 this week. Maybe I'll get some procrastination inspiration!

Top 10 Blogs/Sites that aren't about Books:
Now, I also excluded myself from including blogs about writing books because I figured (a) that is cheating and (b) they would take over the whole list.

Just For Fun
These are my go-tos when I need a little dose of fun. Or just a little more bizarrity in my life.

PhD Comics
Sometimes these comics portray my life a little too accurately. But in a strange way it does help to know that all around the globe, fellow grad students are laughing at my/our plight.

This is one of my new bloggy faves. The stuff on here is just so awesomely all over the place. For example, did you know that Nestle owns Ralph Lauren? That some people make chairs out of magnets, plastic and iron filings? Or perhaps you've really been wanting an origami ukulele kit?

So I don't often click on reddit posts, but they're is fun to keep on my igoogle page, if even just to see the  currently trending titles.

I know it looks like a book.
It is, but it's also a blog!
Ok, these sound all newsy and "educational", which usually means boring ... but really I do love them. Even Google Scholar, which I've been spending far too much time with lately due to my hideous lit review.

"Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? How did the legalization of abortion affect the rate of violent crime?" 
-- find out on this blog/in the book

A great blog from the NY times with all sorts of breakdowns of economic/sociological/psychological phenomena.

My favorite news site ever!

Google Scholar
Oh darling Google Scholar. I can hardly remember the days before you were an ever-open tab on my browser. Now, there's always one more peer-reviewed journal article that needs reading.

I also like to make things out of other things. Preferably involving twigs, yarn, paints, fabric, old clothing, or all five.

You knew it was coming, I mean who doesn't have Pinterest on their list this week? If they don't, they're lying. We all know they spend at least 4 hours a day on there pinning and re-pinning away.
I guess it's also cheating that I put this on here, because I do use this to collect images to inspire my WIPs. But I'm ok with cheating. I mean it's Pinterest.

Oh She Glows
So I love finding new recipes, particularly vegan ones, and this girl is the queen of veganizing. Love her concoctions. Also check out Bryant Terry!

This site is a great source of inspiration for all things handmade. And if you want to see some really cute wool ornaments/toys, check out my friend's site: Bossy Feltworks. Also for awesome vintage, you should drop by Meat Market Vintage ... they used to have an Etsy, but now it looks like they're flying solo!

** I also suspect that tumblr will be making a stronger appearance in my life in the near future.

What are your favorite non book related blogs/websites?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

You had me at hello : Books that Hooked

The first 'big-kid' book I ever owned was Little Women (thanks Nan!). Inside, the lady that gave it to me pasted a sticker that read: 

         Books fall open, you fall in.

My whole life, this has been so true: I don't just read books, I devour them. I lose myself in them. 

Or it was true. Don't get me wrong, I still love to immerse myself in a story - and I try to do so on a regular basis - but the fact of the matter is that it takes more to hook me than it used to. So I love it when I find a book that just grabs me from page one.
Here are a few recent reads that 'had me at hello':

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos - R.L. LaFevers
I usually read YA, not MG, but oh the snarkiness of this protag! I adored her!

Circle Nine - Anne Heltzel
This one sucked me in by the beautifully confusing chaos of its MC's mind. I couldn't put it down because I had to figure out what the heck was going on.

Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater
In the post-Twilight years, I was so skeptical of werewolf stories. But reading Ms. Stiefvater was such a lovely experience.

The Iron Thorn - Caitlin Kitteridge
I mean how can you not be hooked with an opener like: "There are seventeen madhouses in the city of Lovecraft. I've visited all of them." ?!?? Answer: you can't - you must read on!

Of course that's just a few books. There are so many others that could populate this list... Chime by Franny Billingsley, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Soulless by Gail Carriger, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Bumped by Megan McCafferty, Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen, The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale etc...

So what is it that hooks?
Looking back at all of these examples, it's the voice that grabs me. The distinctive attitude of the narrator, the lyricism of the author, the flavor of the story. I might not have heard anything about the novel or feel sort of "meh" about the description on the dust jacket, but if the voice grabs me, I'm gone.

Have you had any 'had me at hello' reads recently? Which books hooked you from the very start? What are your favorite first chapters/first lines? Is it the voice that hooks you too? Or something else?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Getting to know you (aka agent-stalking)

I'm not stalking ... just curious
Hopping on the query train is a scary thing for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that you're looking for more than just someone who thinks you have potential and therefore will try and fix/sell your work. In many ways, you're looking for a partner ... as Anne would say: 'a kindred spirit.'

You've made your spreadsheet, with all the names of potential agents, and the work they've repped in the past, some of it (hopefully) somewhat in the same literary universe as yours. You've read at least one or two or twenty of the novels they've represented. You've got some sort of rating system where by  gut instinct use of an elaborate algorithm derived from years of research, you've determined your exact agent-writer matchability score. But then you start to personalize your query letters and you panic. 'How well do I really know this agent? Are we really the best fit? What are their pet peeves? What do they like to see in a query letter and what don't they? Do they like a personalized intro first or the pitch first? Is this book right for them right now? Will they even like me??'

Interwebs to the Rescue!  -- Agent Interviews
Thankfully the internet is a beautiful place, and much of this information is right at our fingertips. In addition to QueryTracker, Agent Query, Publisher's Marketplace, there are all sorts of places to find transcripts of interviews where agents dish on their likes/dislikes and generally provide all sorts of useful insight for the nervous querier. Here are some of the best sites I've found for agent interviews:
Haunting author blogs and twitter feeds are also great ways to get to know your potential future agent. And remember, it's not stalking, it's research! ; )

What about you?  What are your tips for researching literary agents? How do you personalize your queries? Have you ever launched an agent to the top of your list based on the personality you've seen shine through in blogs posts or interviews?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Passing on the writerly love!

What an awarding week! I've been slogging through a massively unwieldy literature review for my dissertation and it's been ugh, just ... sloggish. Thankfully, the folks over at Bookshelf Muse have dubbed this Random Acts of Kindness to Writers Week and I'm definitely feeling the love.  I adore the online writing community - you guys are the best!! So now it's time for me to pass on the love with some awards! All these bloggers have awesome writing blogs. If you haven't checked them out yet, you should!

Thanks Randi Lee at the Emotional Process of Writing  a Novel, A.K. Fontinos-Hoyer , Katharina Brendel at My Writing Journey, Liz Parker at the English Bad Ass and Charity at This is Life for making my week a little brighter with these sweet awards!

I'm awarding the Kreativ Blogger Award to:

Sydney Aaliyah // Tonya at Tonya's Musings // Miss Cole Seeks Publisher // Alisia Leavitt  // Robin Writes//Melanie at Daydreamer to Writer  // Donelle at a Little Dversion 

And I'm awarding the Sunshine Award to:

Amy at Limey YA Lit Girl
// Skye at Write or Die Trying  // Laura at Stranger than Writing // Elodie at CommutingGirl  // Kate Scott Writes // Christina G. Gaudet // Aderyn Wood // Mandie Baxter //Danica's Writing Corner  // Stephanie at My Personal Fairytale 

For more details on the awards, read onwards!!

Kreativ Blogger Award

Randi Lee at the Emotional Process of Writing  a NovelLiz Parker at the English Bad Ass  and A.K. Fontinos-Hoyer  awarded me with the Kreativ blogger award, which I'm totally flattered by, because they have AWESOME writer blogs. Seriously, if you haven't checked them out, you need to!!

How the Kreativ Blogger Award works is this: (1) Answer the 10 questions below, (2) Share 10 random facts about you, and (3) Nominate 7 other bloggers for the award! So without further ado:

Ten Questions:

1. What is your favorite song? At this precise moment I really like Bronte by Gotye, and also the anime video that goes with it. 
2. What is your favorite dessert? Anything smothered in chocolate.
3. What ticks you off? People who drive really fast through roundabouts, either completely oblivious to or not caring that I am walking on the crosswalk.
4. What do you do when you're upset? Yeah, I go ahead and cry. But I also do this when happy, sad, embarrassed, joyful, hungry ... I'm not emotionally prejudiced. Tears can be for any occasion.
5. Which is/was your favorite pet? My favorite future pet would be a chicken or goat, especially if I learn how to make goat cheese.
6. Which do you prefer, black or white? Black, no question. White never stays white anyway. 
7.What is your biggest fear? Hmm ... well I really would rather not see one of those freaky spiders they apparently have here in Australia. You know, like the kind that eat snakes.
8. What is your attitude mostly? Frantic. Is that an attitude? 
9.What is perfection? A day spent discovering new things (preferably at the ocean or on windy, cobbly streets), and then coming home to my husband, a cup of tea and a book.
10. What is your guilty pleasure? **see favorite dessert**

Ten random facts about me: 
1. When I was younger used to write with no spaces between words. Asyoucanimagineitwasverydifficulttodecipher.
2. Sometimes I wish I could be a little kid again so that I could wear costumes, climb trees, and build forts without people looking at me funny. 
3. 95% of my clothes I buy used.
4. I always wake up before 6am.
5. If I don't eat something right away in the morning, I get very grumpy. 
6. When I get very grumpy, nothing sounds good to eat. 
7. I've been a vegetarian since I was 15. 
8. TV shows usually annoy me because I feel like I'm wasting my time -- I'm recovering from this, sort of.
9. I can't bear to waste my time. 
10. I once drove all night so that I could get to a certain beach in time for low tide (Unlike watching TV, I did not consider this a waste of my time).

Sunshine Award
I received this lovely award from Katharina Brendel at My Writing Journey and Charity at This is LifeIf you haven't checked out their blogs yet, you should definitely hop on over!For the Sunshine award, answer the ten questions below post ten random facts about yourself, and then pass the award on to ten other bloggers!

The Ten Questions:

1. Pantser or Plotter?
I'm more of a pantser I suppose ... well no, that's a lie. I'm more of a plotter, but I don't necessarily plot conventionally and I never follow my own advice anyway.
2. Do you listen to music while writing? Yes, but only instrumental music. Never classical, unless I'm writing an epic battle scene, but instrumental. Right now I'm listening to Nightmares on Wax.
3. What genre do you write in? Fantasy, dystopian, and my next WIP is going to be a bit steampunky I think.
4. Books on writing you recommend? I can't think of any off the top of my head.
5. Which are your favorite authors? This is an impossible question for me! when I was growing up, Madeline L'Engle, L.M. Montgomery, C.S. Lewis. Now there are so many to add to the list I couldn't even begin!
6. How long have you been writing? I think my first "book" was when I was eight. It was fifty pages, and its protagonist was "Annamarie" who was the daughter of a woodcutter. I think I wrote short stories before that though.
7. What is your favorite part of the writing process? I love it all, except when I doubt myself.
8. How do you capture ideas when you are on the go? I always try to keep a notebook or at least a scrap of paper on me.
9. How do you handle bad reviews? I try to distance myself from them and think of them more academically. Sometimes the reviews say more about the audience/reader than the work. But sometimes/most times they actually can provide really valuable feedback for me on how to improve my writing, and that's great!
10. Worst writing mistake you make: Using "was" ... I think my dissertation writing is affecting my other writing!

For the ten random things, I'm going to cheat and refer you to the list above!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Things I learned from my mom

In celebration of Mother's Day I blogged on my other blog today:  Things I learned from my mom.

Feel free to hop on over and check it out!

(and if you're my Mom - click on that link up there! It's my other blog, not this one. I might have told you the wrong one!)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Book Quotes

Visit the Broke and the Bookish!
This week's Top Ten Tuesday question at the Broke and The Bookish asks:

What are your Top 10 Favorite Quotes from Books?

I was so excited when I saw today's topic. Some of the quotes popped into my head the instant I read the question. Others are from books/authors that I love as a whole, and it was painful to try and just pick just one excerpt. But I did it! Hope you enjoy!

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
      - A Poem by Bilbo Baggins
         in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring

"It is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." - Albus Dumbledore in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

“Some beautiful morning she will just wake up and find it is Tomorrow. Not Today but Tomorrow. And then things will happen…wonderful things.” - Anne Shirley in L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Windy Poplars

“The minute we begin to think we have all the answers, we forget the questions.”― Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet

“The world isn't just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? Doesn't that make life a story?” ― Yann Martel, Life of Pi

“I know that the whole point—the only point—is to find the things that matter, and hold on to them, and fight for them, and refuse to let them go.” - Lauren Oliver, Delirium

“There were two things about Mama. One is she always expected the best out of me. And the other is that then no matter what I did, whatever I came home with, she acted like it was the moon I had just hung up in the sky and plugged in all the stars. Like I was that good.” ― Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees

Never promise to do the possible. Anyone could do the possible. You should promise to do the impossible because sometimes the impossible was possible. And if you failed, well, it had been impossible. - Terry Prachett, Going Postal

"A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge." - Tyrion Lannister in George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones

“Do you realise modern social mores exist for a reason?"
"I was hungry, allowances should be made.” 
― Gail Carriger's Soulless

What are your favorite book quotes?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Book Recommendation: Insurgent

Veronica Roth
Pages: 544
Ages: 14+

After what happened, nothing could ever be the same for Tris. And it isn't. Torn with guilt for what she's done, and sorrow at those she's lost, Tris tries desperately to find new purpose and meaning in a world where factions are crumbling, alliances are shifting, and the city is devolving into chaos. But will her search for the truth drive her further from those she loves?

Even more so than Divergent, Insurgent is an action-filled page-turner. Tris and the rest of the "loyal" Dauntless are on the run, desperately trying to stay one step ahead of their pursuers while developing a plan to take back the city and avenge those from Abnegation.

I loved that Tris' character got even more complex in this book. She pushes back emotions that you want her to confront, she reacts in ways that you see will hurt her in the long run. Much of the story explored the nuances of being influenced by the different factions, and I found it disturbing and wholly fascinating. Tris lost some sympathy from me in this book, but I actually love the story all the more for it.  Definitely a favorite for 2012!


One thing I will say to those of you who haven't read it yet: Re-read Divergent before diving in. I didn't, and since it had been so long, I got quite lost in the cast of characters. There are a LOT of secondaries in this book, and I felt I didn't get enough time with any one of them to really remember the whole of who they were. So do re-read Divergent (or check out Veronica Roth's "But I read Divergent a year ago!" -- thanks Crystal for pointing this out)

For more Divergent/Insurgent fun, take this quiz to see what faction you are. As I suspected, I was Amity. If I had to choose, I think I would pick Amity, Erudite, or Divergent (obviously)!

Want more book suggestions? See my other Book Recommendations.

But you don't have to take my word for it
Need some more convincing? Check out the reviews of Insurgent at The Pretty Books, It's All in my Head, and the very lengthy review at Reading Teen.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Novel Editing Part III: Them's Cuttin' Words

Ok, so can you tell by the uncharacteristic twang of my title, that I've been watching a lot of Firefly lately? (P.S.: Best. Show. Ever.)

But to the topic of my post ... I already talked about my attempts to reduce my WIP's word count by Chainsaw and by Pruning Shears, but today I wanted to talk about specific words that are overused and/or unnecessary. How do you get rid of 'em? Easy! Carve them out, one by one.

The Scalpel

We've all seen the lists. Five overused words! Top Ten words to carve from your novel! Comprehensive-overwhelming-list-of-words-you-need-to-cut!

So I sat down, and I did it. It was the most painful part of the process by far. Cutting the big stuff? Characters, scenes? Easy! Tightening up sentences and paragraphs? So fun! Trying to cut specific, commonly overused words? Torture! Here's what I learned.

  • Cutting overused words did improve my novel.
  • It did not reduce word count!!
  • Some words are super easy to cut, others required a total re-write of sentences or paragraphs.

Shallow Cuts, aka The Easy List:
These, are my faves.You can fly through these ones, often (but not always) with very little re-writing. While they're part of everyday speech, you can often cut them out of a sentence without changing its meaning. Here your word processor's "Find" feature is invaluable. Does the sentence read all right without the word? Great!
Find. Highlight. Delete!

  • Almost, about, around, approximately, basically, nearly
  • Back 
  • Just
  • Then
  • That
  • Very, really, truly, actually, exactly, utterly
  • Somewhat, somehow, sort of
  • Little, (a/little) bit, all
  • Adverbs (do you really need that adverb?)
  • She noticed/saw/looked (the reader knows if it's described, it's the MC who saw it)
A Little Deeper:
These get trickier. You probably will need to replace or re-write, not just cut.
  • Like
    • Is it for a simile? Is your WIP overrun by similes??
    • "Felt like" "seemed like"? The verbs might be able to stand on their own (but these are kinda weak verbs ...)
    • Other possible replacements: same as, this way, about 
  • "The [Subject] was [Verb]ing"
    • This is actually an easy one. Just replace with: "The [Subject] [Verb]ed"
      For example: "She was dancing" changes to "She danced."

Brain Surgery:
Maybe it's just me, but editing for these overused and otherwise problematic phrases was often painful, and sometimes resulted in reworking entire paragraphs to accommodate the revisions. The end result was satisfying, but the process was loooong.
  • It was/There was
    While this sort of construction can be used to add emphasis to the sentence, overuse diminishes that power, and makes the writing sound a bit stuffy. The problem is there are lots of different reasons that you might have used it.
    • She/he/it was + [adjective]
      Use action, feelings, dialogue, or body language to convey the message. For example:
      "She was tired" could easily be conveyed by saying:
         >> Her arms drooped.
         >> She considered another shot of espresso.
         >> "Please tell me this shift is almost over."
    • She/he/it was + [location]
      People, and even objects don't always just have to be there. They sit, sprawl, spread, sway, stand, lay, hang, dangle, perch ... etc. 
    • Was it too passive?
      This can be a trickier fix, but too many instances of "was" might mean you're slipping into the passive voice. Passive sentences aren't always bad, but too many can be distracting.
  • Suddenly
    While overused, taking "suddenly" out of a sentence can leave it sounding too flat. Unfortunately, reworking can be a pain. I find I'm left with a few options:
    • Show the characters' reaction to the event (check out the Emotion Thesaurus' Surprise section)
    • Provide a longer lead-in to the event, then describe the event in more dramatic detail.
    • Leave in the suddenly. Cause face it - some things happen suddenly!

Your Own Personally Overused Words:
Everyone writes differently. The words I overuse may not be the ones you overuse. How can you spot these in your own work? It's difficult to do on your own. Betas/critters can help, but if you need some instant computerized feedback, these resources can be invaluable at helping you spot problem areas:

Other Great Resources on Overused Words:
Janice Hardy - Spit n' Shine || Rachelle Gardner - How to Cut 1000 words || Vampire Words || AK - Just & Other Words that Plague 1st Drafts || Overused Adverbs, Adjectives || Overused Words || Peggy Edelman - Wordle Underrated || How Do You Know When Your Manuscript is Ready? || Words that can weaken sentences ||

What words or phrases do you think authors overuse? Which words show up too often in your own work? What tips do you have to make this part of the editing process less painful?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

When Writing's a Chore: Things I Do To Trick Myself

Do you ever have those days where writing feels like a chore?

I'm having one of those days. Not with my WIP actually, but a journal article I'm supposed to be writing for my PhD. After working so hard on editing my book, I got a serious case of writer burn-out. I'd sit down in my chair, and my mouse (all on its own of course) would move away from the journal article and click on my email, my blog feed, my pinterest, some random/awesome website comparing U.S. Politicians to Game of Thrones characters . . . anyway, you get the picture. And then I remembered: Do one of those things to trick yourself into thinking you want to write!

Change of Scenery: 
This doesn't necessarily mean I pack up and head for a coffee-shop, though that's great too (Sidenote: I wish there were more coffee shops set up for that in Australia - in my mind it's the country's only major shortcoming). What I often end up doing is moving from the desk to the couch or the bedroom. Often that can snap me out of whatever I was doing and into "Girl, Focus!" mode.

Change of Clothes: Ok, so growing up I lived in dress-up clothes. There was a new outfit for every mood, or sometimes every song if I was listening to music! Now, if I'm feeling unmotivated to write, I'll switch from pjs to professional or vice versa. Just the change itself usually helps get me in a better mindset - either more relaxed or more energized.

Pleasure by Association:
 I think I did this for a long time without even really realizing what/why I was doing it. Basically I'd schedule my writing to coincide with something nice. For example, my husband and I would sit on the couch and work on stuff together - different projects obviously, but at the same time. When he wasn't available, I'd get myself a nice cup of tea or a sodawater and lime and settle in. 

Music: So I can't very often listen to music with noticeable lyrics while writing, but things like RJD2, Ratatat, Four Tet, Mum, Little People, or Sunlounger are all great. And sometimes I'll do a pre-write pump up song with something embarrassing like Haddaway or something actually good like Teagan and Sara or Florence or Feist. 

Remember that Feeling?! I try to remember the euphoria of writing when everything's going right, and remind myself that it could happen again, today maybe, if only I would just start writing!!! 
Of course this one doesn't work so well for journal articles. I don't think I've ever felt euphoric writing an academic article. 

Take a Break:
 If I'm really stuck, I take a break from writing for a day or two, or even just a few hours. Besides, pretty much all my best story ideas come while doing the elliptical, going on a hike, or washing the dishes. 

More resources on dealing with writer's block:

Writer's Block || Fear is the Mind Killer || Writer's Block? Plotting Day! || How to Beat Writer's Block || Overcoming Writer's Block || Writers Digest Links || Writer's Block: Does it exist? How do I get over it? ||

Also check out tips from other authors the first Wednesday of every month at the Insecure Writer's Support Group!!

So what do you do to get yourself out of your writing slumps?


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