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Wednesday's Word Count...Late

I know, I know. I didn't get my Wednesday's Word Count up this week. I'm sorry. By the time I remembered, I didn't think it was worth it since I had a spotlight to post. And well, I'd pretty much thrown in the towel on NaNoWriMo, and it's never fun to say, "I'm giving up."

Current word count:
22,903.

Goal last week:
20k.

Accomplished:
7,663.

Words 'til finish: 27,097 / 9,032 words a day until Nov 30th.

Goal this week: 2,100.

Comments: Some unexpected (but good) things came up this week and I got a whole lot busier than I expected to be. I knew I wouldn't be able to write my 20k, and I knew, if I didn't write that 20k, I'd never be able to catch up. So I decided to let it go rather than stress myself out. Instead, I focused on my secondary goal of 25k this month and 25k next month. That leaves roughly 2k for the next three days, which I can definitely do, and I feel so much better with that number than say, 27k.

What I have to remember is, it's still a lot more than I probably would have written without NaNo, and for me, that's still a WIN.

With three days left, how are my fellow NaNoers doing? And, most importantly, how was everyone's Thanksgiving? I hope it was full of thanks and good times!

Initial Paragraphs - No Indentation?

In the comments from Sunday's post on manuscript formatting, Sharon asked:

I'm curious about the last entry under chapters...Why don't you indent the first paragraph of a new chapter?

Thanks for the question, Sharon! Gives me something to blog about.

The way I understand it, in writing, an indentation denotes the start of a new paragraph, a sort of pause, setting it apart from any preceding text. When a paragraph is preceded by a header or title, this sort of denotation isn't necessary. It's obvious where the paragraph begins.

That said, this is not a hard-and-fast rule AT ALL in creative writing. If you take a look at several books on your shelf, you'll find that some authors indent their initial paragraphs and some don't. Essentially, it comes down to a matter of style, and it's so inconsequential you needn't really worry about it. I doubt any agent or editor really cares which you do on initial submission, and if they do have a set preference, it's obviously an easy fix.

Does anyone else want to weigh in on this, or provide more concrete information?

(If you missed it, don't forget to check out today's writing tip, too!)

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

Today's tip comes to you from Elise C. and features a great, free program to play with. Check it out!

"I'm using this great plot mapping system right now that is free to download called Dia. Here is the link to download it. http://sourceforge.net/projects/dia-installer/ It can be used for anything you need to map and it's all customizable including shapes, colors, arrow placement. It's really fun to fiddle with."

Thanks Elise! I had trouble downloading the program from your link, but this one worked great. Dia seems like a lot of fun (and an absolutely awesome outlet for my procrastination skills) but so far I'm a bit overwhelmed. Can't wait until I have more time to play with it.

Does anyone else use this program? Have any tips or tricks to share? If you download it, please come back and let me know how you like it!

How Do I Format My Manuscript?

There are a lot of different ways to format a manuscript, and a lot of different opinions on how to do so.  I've decided to share the way I do it, and then I'd like to open up the comments for others to share their preferences.  Note:  This is using Microsoft Word.

***

General Page Formatting:

  • 1-inch margins all around (under File -> Page Setup).
  • Double space to "exactly" 24-25 pt (under Format -> Paragraph -> Line Spacing).

Title Page and Page 1 Header:

  • Different first page header (under File -> Page Setup -> Layout tab - Click "Different First Page" under "Headers and Footers." Exit).
  • Add left sided header including full name, address, and contact information (under View -> Header and Footer - align left).
  • Add right sided header including word count (under Format -> Tabs -> Tab Stop Position 6" aligned right, tab over to right side of page).
  • Title in capital letters centered roughly halfway down (about 12 Enters).

Page 2 and On Header / Slug:

  • Click on page 2 and create a left-sided header as before.  Include last name / title of work.
  • Tab right as before and add page numbering by clicking the # button.

Chapters:

  • New page for each new chapter by using a page break (Ctrl / Enter OR under Insert -> Break - Page Break).
  • Chapter title centered in capital letters eight Enters down.
  • Text begins two enters after chapter title.
  • First paragraph of each new chapter not indented.

Text:

  • Times New Roman font.  12 pt.
  • 1/2 inch indent (standard tab) for each paragraph.
  • 2 spaces after period.  Note: This is a habit of mine.  I think the standard is 1 now).

Scene Breaks:

  • Enter down twice from text, center ** or ## symbols and Enter twice again.

***

I developed this standard based on Cynthea Lui's article "How to Format Your Manuscript" (she explains a lot of this better than me), Nathan Bransford's post "Formatting Your Manuscript," and my own preferences.  How do you format your manuscripts?  Any tips, tricks, or links you'd like to share?

Wednesday's Word Count

NaNoWriMo, day the eighteenth!

It's kind of funny. Yesterday felt like the longest day ever while it was happening, and now I'm wondering where it went! Here's my word count update...

Current word count:
15,270.

Goal last week:
15,000.

Accomplished:
7,987.

Words 'til finish: 34,730/2,894 words a day until Nov 30th.

Goal this week: 20k? Gulp.

Comments: I think I did pretty good. I wrote several, though not all, days this week and feel like I'm finally letting go. I've settled into the story and I'm finally loving the great reveal that happens with each paragraph, sentence, word. I think I need to write about 20k this week if I want to get back on track, and you know, I'm kind of up for the challenge. Let's see what I can do! Anyone else want to buckle down and try to catch up this week?

And on that note, how are you doing? What are your word counts up to? How is the week going? Do share!

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

Another Tuesday, another great tip. This one from frequent reader and commenter VR Barkowski. Make sure to stop by and visit her blog. She posted another great research tip there yesterday that you might not want to miss!

"The Seventh Sanctum website is crammed with all kinds of random generators plots, characters, names, ideas. It's also a whole lot of fun. I won't mention how much time I've wasted with the quick story idea generator. :)"

What a fun website, VR! I've certainly lost some time to it since you sent this tip in. Thanks so much! And hey, everyone, I'm getting low on tips again, so if you have one you want to send in, please do!

agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com

Agent News: Gwendolyn Heasley

Slightly old news, but in case you missed it...

Gwendolyn Heasley, author of the upcoming YA novel CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE RECESSIONISTA, joins Artists and Artisans as an agent, focusing on young adult.

"She's actively seeking authors of Young Adult manuscripts of all genres, specifically manuscripts that have a sharp voice and vivid settings."

Check her out on the Artists and Artisans web site, and the Guide to Literary Agent blog.

Best to all who query!

For Those That Have Been Asking...

...here are a few wedding photos!  They were taken by my best friend and her boyfriend who are just starting their photography business, DarkLight Pictures.  I think they turned out really good!

IMG_9733Blur copy IMG_9745 copy

IMG_9601 copy IMG_9715 copy

IMG_9809 copy

Wednesday's Word Count

First order of the day, BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER. Mine tried to crash on me this morning. I hadn't done a backup for two months, so I was definitely feeling the panic. Fortunately, I was able to get into safe mode just before throwing it across the room. Got everything backed up and it seems to be working fine now. I don't trust it though. I'll be backing up daily.

Current word count: 7,283.

Goal last week:
11,670.

Accomplished:
2,240.

Words 'til finish: 42,717/2500 words a day until Nov 30th.

Goal this week: 15,000.

Comments: Erm. As you can see, I'm getting epically behind on NaNoWriMo. I won't give excuses. I'll admit it. I'm just not motivated. *Sigh* I had meant to add a couple thousand words to my count this morning, but then the whole computer crash thing happened. I'm still within catch up range though, so I'm really going to try to focus on writing daily and see what I can do to get back on track!

How are you doing on your word counts (NaNo or otherwise)? I know some off you are blowing the rest of us out of the water. Totally. Awesome. Keep it up everyone!!!!!

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

Today's tip features a neat little writing tool and comes to you from the fabulous Heather Lane. Make sure to stop by and visit her blog, Edited to Within an Inch of My Life. But check out her tip before you go. She picked it up from Verla Kay's awhile ago, and it's a good one!

"When I am revising, I need to be able to get to each chapter easily. So, I highlight the words, Chapter One (or the title, if you use them for chapters) and right click to have the menu pop up. I select Paragraphs, and under Outline Level, I highlight Level 1. On the left hand side of my screen, an outline appears, and if I click there on Chapter One, I zap back to that first chapter, no matter where I am in the novel. Since I have different POV's within each chapter, I highlight the beginning of those, and right click to get me to the same menu. Then in Outline Level, I choose Level 2. So, my whole novel becomes outlined on the left hand side of the screen, and I get a feel for where things are, and am able to find anything quickly. All my chapter starts are at Level 1 of my outline, and all my POV switches are at Level 2. It makes revisions so much easier.

And I love anything that helps my revisions easier."

This little wonder is called Document Map and is a standard feature in Microsoft Word. I did a quick post about it here (and oddly enough, it was a Heather that introduced it to me!). It can be a little confusing at first, but give it a shot and I bet you'll be hooked. It's only a little effort for a lot of organization.

Thanks so much Heather!

Are the Spotlighted Agents All Legit?

From the comments:

Would you consider all the agents you profile "vetted" in the sense that, if they appear on this list, we can assume they're good agents who aren't just scam artists? They all seem to be true agents, which is nice. I know that I've been very weary of untrustworthy agents.

Yes! I only profile legit agents that have verified sales and/or work with (or have worked with) a well-known agency with verified sales and clients. If they're Spotlighted on my site, you can be assured they're trustworthy agents and agencies in the sense of legitimacy (no guarantees on the way they handle themselves and their clients, however, but so far all the agents I've spotlighted seem to be great).

If someone requested a profile on an agent who wasn't legitimate or trustworthy (hasn't happened yet), I would put up a warning post rather than a profile. Likewise, if something fishy came up about an agent I've already Spotlighted, I would notify everyone with a similar post and put the information on their Spotlight until I could get an official thumbs up or thumbs down from our writerly watchdogs over at Writer Beware.

If you have any more questions, please ask!

Agent Spotlight: Michelle Andelman

This week's Agent Spotlight features Michelle Andelman of Regal Literary Inc.

Andelman 250About: "With five years' experience in children's publishing, Michelle Andelman joined Regal Literary in 2010. She previously advised foreign publishers as a scout and got her start as an agent with Andrea Brown Literary Agency, where she worked with debut talent such as Lauren Strasnick, Dia Reeves, and Emily Horner. Michelle handles all categories of children's books, representing authors of middle-grade and Young Adult fiction, and author-illustrators of picture books and graphic novels. Her magnets are elegant, quirky voices, emotionally driven plots, and settings richly evoked or imagined. Michelle is a graduate of the Dramatic Writing Program at the Tisch School of the Arts, and the master's program in English and American literature at NYU." (Link)

Status: Open to submissions.

What She's Looking For:

From her Bio:

"Michelle handles all categories of children's books, representing authors of middle-grade and Young Adult fiction, and author-illustrators of picture books and graphic novels. Her magnets are elegant, quirky voices, emotionally driven plots, and settings richly evoked or imagined." (Link)

From an Interview (01/2009):

"I like my middle-grade quirky and charming, and my YA daring and emotionally driven, whether fantastic or realistic. I am on the lookout for innovative storytelling, fresh genre crossings with YA romance -- dystopian YA romance, for example, or YA horror with a core love story, and coming of age memoir." (Link)

From an Interview (08/2007):

"[She has an] interest in fantasy, sci-fi, thriller, adventure, romance, graphic novel, and serious literary projects. She's drawn to high-concept, commercial tween and teen lit if it's edgy, gritty, and daring or all sweetness and light. Stylized but authentic voices, magical realism, Jewish themes, interesting story structure, freak and geek protagonists, identifiable quests, and fully realized storyworlds always catch her eye." (Link)

Quotables:

About the Agency:

"Regal Literary Inc., a full-service agency with offices in New York and London, was founded in 2002. [...]  We are deeply committed to every aspect of our clients' careers, and are engaged in everything from the editorial work of developing a great book proposal or line editing a fiction manuscript to negotiating state-of-the-art book deals and working to promote and publicize the book when it's published.  We are at the forefront of the effort to increase authors' rights in publishing contracts in a rapidly changing commercial environment."  See the website for more info.

Pet-Peeves:

"I don't like an opening line that's 'My name is...,' introducing the narrator to the reader so blatantly. I might be prompted to groan before reading on a bit further to see if the narration gets any less stale. There are far better ways in Chapter 1 to establish an instant connection between narrator and reader. I’m also usually not a fan of prologues, preferring to find myself in the midst of a moving plot on page 1 rather than being kept outside of it, or eased into it." (Link)

Her Advice for Writers:

"My best one word of advice: professionalize. A new writer who has done her homework on the children's market ahead of time, and submits to agents in a way that suggests a professional approach to a writing career, is going to stand out. Professionalizing may mean doing a few different things that make all the difference: joining a critique group that can help you polish your manuscript before you query, researching and approaching agents according to submission guidelines, crafting a query that aims to pique interest in—rather than fully explain—your project, and joining the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI)." (Link

Editorial Agent?

Yes.  The entire agency appears to be editorial.  I also have the following quote from an old bio:

"She prides herself on being an agent who can be as strong on editorial as on advocacy for her clients, and she remains committed to working with debut novelists and bringing new voices to market."

Web Presence:

Regal Literary website.

Twitter.

LinkedIn.

AgentQuery, AuthorAdvance, & QueryTracker.

Clients:

Regal Literary has a list of clients available on the website. 

Ms. Andelman's clients include: Matt Blackstone, Jennifer Chen, Lara Ehrlich, Kirsten Hubbard, Elana Johnson, Samantha Mabry, Kristin Briana Otts, among others.

Sales:

As of 08/2010, Ms. Andelman is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 1 deal in the last 12 months.  Recent sales include 1 young adult.

NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.

Query Methods:

E-mail: No.

Snail-Mail: Yes.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

"Submissions should consist of a one-page query letter detailing the book in question as well as the qualifications of the author. For fiction, submissions may also include the first ten pages of the novel or one short story from a collection." Include a SASE for response.  (Link

See the Regal Literary website for complete up-to-date submission guidelines. 

Query Tip:

The Guide to Literary Agents blog shared some of Ms. Andelman's query tips here.

Response Times:

Due to the recent switch in agencies, Ms. Andelman's current response times are unknown. 

What's the Buzz?

Though Michelle Andelman has made two agency switches in the last few years, she seems to be well respected and good at what she does (I've heard repeatedly she has an excellent editorial eye!).  She's developing a great list of clients and sales, and her clients really seem to love her (check out the appreciation posts linked below!).  Even clients she represented at Andrea Brown still speak warmly of her.  Follow her on Twitter for additional insight.   

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

Interview with Michelle Andelman on Editors, Agents, and Blogs, Oh My! (06/2009).  

Agent Advice Interview with Michelle Andelman on the Guide to Literary Agents blog (08/2007).

Around the Web:

Live Industry Professional Panel with Michelle Andelman, Molly O'Neill, and Kate Testerman at WriteOnCon - Press "Replay" (08/2010).

Query Series: Kirsten Hubbard & Michelle Andelman at YA Highway.

Query Series: Kristin Otts & Michelle Andelman at YA Highway.

NYC Publishing Tips: The MOVIE at YA Highway featuring Michelle Andelman and others(02/2010).

Query Writing Tips by Michelle Andelman on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog (03/2008).

Agent Appreciation Day posts here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Regal Literary thread on AbsoluteWrite.

Michelle Andelman on P&ERegal Literary on P&E (recommended).

Contact:

Please see the Regal Literary website for contact and query information.

***

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail.com

Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.

Wednesday's Word Count - Nano Style

I haven't done my NaNoWriMo words for today yet, but here's my Wednesday update, as promised:

Current word count: 5,043.

Goal last week:
n/a.

Accomplished:
5,043.

Words 'til finish: 44,957/1729 words a day until Nov 30th.

Goal this week: 11,670.

Comments: I'm writing! I'm writing! And so far I'm staying on track. Now, what I've written royally sucks as far as I'm concerned, but I mainly wanted to push myself to let go and stop being overcritical. I think I've managed that. I'm tempted to slow down now and put more quality into what I'm writing but I'm not sure I should. We're only four days in. Might be better to keep pushing myself until I've gotten a good lead on Inner Editor, if ya know what I mean.

And for you curious souls, I'm writing an MG fantasy for NaNo this time around. Fun, fun!

Your turn! Post your word count (NaNo or normal) updates in the comments!

Agent News! Lisa Gallagher & Michael Bourret

From Publisher's Lunch Deluxe:

"Former publisher of William Morrow Lisa Gallagher is joining Sanford Greenburger Associates as an agent. She notes, 'I want to apply my extensive marketing experience to help bring writers and their work to the widest possible audience across various media and formats.' Heide Lange at SJGA adds, 'Lisa is that rare publishing professional whose talents include strong editorial insight, marketing expertise, and keen business sense.'

"In other agency news, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management is opening a second office in Los Angeles in December, to be run by agency vp Michael Bourret, who has been at DGLM for 10 years. He will continue to grow his own list of author clients while also 'aggressively pursuing new film and TV opportunities for the agency.'"

On Twitter, Michael says there will be more info up on the blog and web site soon.

Best to Lisa and Michael!

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

It's Tuesday and I have another great tip to share! This one is from children's author Nancy Viau, author of SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD. Check it out! And make sure to stop by and visit Nancy on your way out.

"Children's Writer's Word Book
by Alijandra Mogilner.

This is a great book for anyone who wants to know the reading level of a particular word. (easy readers, the educational market, kids' magazines, etc.)"


Sounds like an awesome book for children's authors, especially those writing for younger markets. Thanks so much Nancy!



What is a Beta Reader & Where Do I Find One?

I received the following question via e-mail:

I wonder, have you blogged about how one goes about finding Beta Readers? I looked around your website but couldn't find anything, but I seem to recall from a past post of yours that you do have and value BRs. I'm a bit abashed to say I don't really know what a Beta Reader is.

A beta reader is, essentially, someone who reads your work and offers input while it is in draft form.  Generally, they look for typos, grammatical errors, continuity issues, etc. in order to help improve and polish your work before its submitted to a publishing professional or made public.  A lot of beta readers will do more than check for typographical errors, however, and will extend their generosity and time by critiquing and commenting on plot issues, characterization, believability, overall feeling, etc.  Whatever they find that they feel could use improving.  Mostly, it depends on what you want and what you and your beta reader(s) agree to.  If you're particular and/or thin-skinned, the more up front you are regarding the kind of beta reader and feedback you're looking for, the better the experience you'll have. 

Oftentimes, beta readers will turn into critique partners if you're well-matched and find yourself returning to them as a reader/critiquer.   This can be an excellent arrangement if your partner continues to be as blunt and unbiased toward your work as they were originally.

As for finding beta readers, my advice is to sign up for a writing forum like Absolute Write and to post in the appropriate section that you're looking for beta readers.  Often times, writers looking for beta readers will offer to do the same in return.  If you're not already a member, you're likely to get a better response if you post around the forum for a while first.  Get involved, make a name for yourself, give back. 

Another way to find beta readers is to use your blog, if you have one.  Just put a post up detailing what you're looking for.  Some of your regular readers might be more than happy to help. 

Basically, If you have a way to connect with other writers, use it.  If you don't, start putting yourself out there and network.

In my opinion, it's good to use both non-writers and writers for beta readers as they'll approach the task differently, so don't be afraid to use your family and friends as well.  Just don't solely rely on them.  Unbiased advice from someone who knows the ins and outs of writing has its benefits.

Now, let's turn the question over to everyone else.  Where do you find your beta readers? What do they generally do for you?