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Mar 31, 2021

Another Day, Another Rejection Notice

By: Bobbie R. Byrd

        You’ve finally done it: you’ve completed the final edit on your debut novel. Your creative obsession bears the term THE END on the last page. The words are on paper; now the fun part begins. Time to get that puppy published!
        Thus, begins your quest for a literary agent or publisher. You start with what’s known as the query. That’s when you realize you need a synopsis of your novel. Two weeks later, and with most of your pulled-out hair still on the floor, you have a coherent summary to go with your query letter. You work up a list of potential agents and publishers, research them all, read through their submission guidelines with a fine-toothed comb, set up your query tracking software, and send out a batch of queries. 

Mar 29, 2021

Agent Spotlight Series: Ellen Goff

A warm welcome to Ellen Goff, Associate Agent at HG Literary. Ellen graduated from The University of Chicago with a BA in English, a minor in Cinema and Media Studies, and a focus in Creative Writing. Ellen has worked everywhere from The White House under the Obama administration to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. At HG Literary, she assists Carrie Hannigan on all children's titles from picture books to middle grade to young adult. Ellen's own list consists of YA writers and illustrators. She is also a Foreign Rights Associate on HG's foreign rights team. Ellen runs a YA writing group and workshop in NYC.

Mar 26, 2021

3 Tips on Giving a Helpful Critique

By: Kiefer Nunez

Have you ever received a critique on your writing that leaves you scratching your head? You read and reread all the comments, and you’re still left dumbfounded because of how vague they are. It’s like when a friend says, “I hate politics.”

You ask, “Why?” 

They respond, “It’s not for me.” 

The response inclines you to ask follow-up questions or forces you to assume the answer. Being vague isn’t helpful. So below, I’ve listed three tips to write helpful critiques. 

Mar 25, 2021

Agent Spotlight Series: Danielle Bukowski

A warm welcome to Danielle Bukowski, Associate Agent & Foreign Rights Manager at Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. (SLL). Danielle joined the foreign rights department of SLL in 2014 and works closely with Szilvia Molnar to promote SLL’s titles abroad. Her clients have been excerpted in the New Yorker, finalists for prizes, and have multiple foreign sales. Recent and forthcoming books include Memorial by Bryan Washington (Riverhead, 2020), At the Edge of the Haight by Katherine Seligman (Algonquin, 2021), The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson (William Morrow, 2021), The Stars We Share by Rafe Posey (Viking/Pamela Dorman Books, 2021), They Could Have Named Her Anything by Stephanie Jimenez (Little A, 2019), and The Reluctant Fortune-Teller by Keziah Frost (Park Row, 2018). Danielle graduated from Vassar College with a concentration in English.

Mar 24, 2021

Creating Memorable Characters in Your Writing

By: Patricia Jellerson

Are you satisfied with writing an interesting and readable manuscript? Of course! But we want more, right? Every author hopes to have a work that people just can’t put down, a ‘page-turner.’ For many readers, character and character development are the most important elements of fiction writing. They want to be drawn in and fully involved with the people you have created. Often, the plot could be weak, but an interesting character will move it along and still capture the reader’s interest. But, how do we create memorable characters? 

Mar 23, 2021

Agent Spotlight Series: Michael Carr

A warm welcome to Michael Carr, literary agent at Veritas Literary Agency. With a strong background in editing and writing, Michael enjoys teaching at workshops and conferences to help develop emerging writers. He is fluent in Spanish and also speaks Portuguese and French. Before joining Veritas, Michael had professions as diverse as programming simulators for nuclear submarines and owning an inn in Vermont.

CritiqueMatch: Share a fun fact about you.
Michael: I once took a camel trek through the Tunisian Sahara and slept in an earth-sheltered building that had been used as the set for Luke Skywalker’s uncle and aunt’s house in the original Star Wars movie. Most of the old set was still there, slowly fading in the desert sun. The room cost me five dollars for the night.

Mar 22, 2021

Using Word Clouds to Improve Your Writing and Marketing

By: Emily Michel

We have all seen the lists of no-no words. That, very, just, then, and dozens of others you are supposed to stay away from. But what about the ones particular to you, a quirk or ten you picked up over your many years of being human? And how do you even know you are overusing them if they aren't on someone's prefabricated list?

If you couldn't guess from the title, the answer is word clouds.

Mar 19, 2021

The Poop on Critique Partner Duties

By: Joanne Steel Yordanou

You’ll be doing your critique partner a favor in stating what stage you’re in with your work. There are some writing teachers who give profound advice about both writing and critiquing. Then you can check off what you need from your partner: High-level feedback; Grammar; Line-by-line; Plot feedback; Character feedback; and Other. You may have read Lisa Cron’s description of giving up plotting and pantsing for your protagonist’s internal struggle in The Story Genius or Robert McKee’s dissection of substance, structure and style in Story and these things may be swirling your mind as you read your partner’s piece. But a writing teacher once taught me about the poop sandwich, and it is this brown burger that you should keep in mind as you critique your partner’s work.

Mar 17, 2021

What Feedback to Implement

By: Rachel Hanley

When my first short story was accepted for publication, I knew to expect at least one round of revisions with the magazine’s editing team. No problem. I was even excited for my first professional editor letter. 

Then I got the letter. They made lots of small suggestions and even one larger suggestion that re-framed an entire scene. The team’s insight made complete sense to me, so I implemented everything without any complaints. Well, almost everything. Then there was the feedback for the ending. The editors wanted me to change the ending, and they had a specific idea of how the story should end… and I hated it. Their version just wasn’t a story I wanted to tell. If I made the change, I would no longer feel proud of publishing this work; it wouldn’t really feel like my work anymore.

Mar 16, 2021

Agent Spotlight Series: Katie Salvo

A warm welcome to Katie Salvo, senior literary agent at Metamorphosis Literary Agency.

A traditionally published novelist, certified copy editor, and avid reader with eclectic genre interests, Katie Salvo loves nothing more than to see authors succeed in introducing new ideas and fresh voices to the publishing industry. With a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, Katie has a background in literary criticism, philosophy, political theory, and history. She is particularly interested in representing women’s fiction, suspense, romance, middle grade, young adult, LGBTQ+, narrative nonfiction, and historical biography.

Mar 11, 2021

Overcoming Writer’s Block 101

By R. L. McIntyre

Creativity is a fickle thing. It appears at the most inopportune times when the ability to transfer it to the page is limited, which makes its absence when we’re ready to write even worse. Often, it might feel like trying to wrangle a cat. If you own a cat, you know they determine when they will hang out or not. It’s not something you can force. Somedays, you can convince the creativity cat to sit with you, and it’s great. Other days, you sit with a blank page ready to begin an adventure, and the cat leaves.

Mar 10, 2021

Agent Spotlight Series: Jon Michael Darga

A warm welcome to literary agent Jon Michael Darga! Jon has represented and edited books across a diverse range of genres, which include the forthcoming titles How to Save a Life, Entertainment Weekly reporter Lynette Rice’s oral history of “Grey’s Anatomy”; Anthony Chin-Quee’s memoir I Can’t Save You, about the hidden truths of race and survival in the medical world; and Violet Lumani’s forthcoming YA trilogy, beginning with Foretold, centered around a girl with OCD learning to hone her divinatory powers.

Mar 9, 2021

Finishing Your Novel: It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

By: Lily Sayre

Reaching the end of your novel can feel impossible. Perhaps your inspiration has run out, your plot is wearing thin, and you’re lost in the messy middle of your manuscript. Or maybe you’ve sat down as I often have, with a brilliant idea that fizzles out the moment you try to put it on a blank page.

All authors can agree that regardless of where you are in the writing process or what your goal for your manuscript may be, finishing your novel is essential. Although it may seem like your story “just isn’t working,” the odds are that you can make it to your ending by applying these four techniques I’ve used to finish more than eight manuscripts in seven years:

Mar 8, 2021

Agent Spotlight Series: Amy Elizabeth Bishop

A warm welcome to literary agent Amy Elizabeth Bishop! Amy Elizabeth Bishop joined DG&B in 2015 after interning for them in 2014. Her list includes titles such as The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim (a Reese's Book Club selection and NYT bestseller), The Silence of Bones by June Hur (a Junior Library Guild selection and Edgar Award nominee), and Living Brave by Shannon Dingle (forthcoming Summer 2021). Before diving into the world of publishing, she graduated from SUNY Geneseo with a degree in Creative Writing. Though she grew up upstate, she currently resides in Astoria, Queens. You can find her on Twitter at @amylizbishop.

Mar 5, 2021

Courtesies That Catch a CP

By: Jessie Schat

Whether new to CritiqueMatch (welcome!) or a long-time resident, finding a solid, dependable critique partner (CP) is vital. No pressure, right? Unfortunately, some can’t seem to keep a partner around after the first read, or a CP flakes after so long. If that hits home for you, I’m sure you’ve wondered that famous “Why?”

And no, I don’t believe it was your onion breath this time.

Mar 4, 2021

Working with a Critique Partner: A Match Made in Heaven

By: C.S Gregg 

Like every geek worth their salt, I have lofty aspirations of becoming a prolific writer. Also, like many geeks, I have no friends. Specifically, my life is marked by a dearth of friends willing to pour through the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of words of that novel I’ve been talking about for so many years. So, finding a critique partner has been the missing ingredient to taking my craft to the next level. That’s right, I call writing “my craft.” Impressed? Well, CritiqueMatch has been an invaluable tool in helping me find the critique partners who have given me the confidence to speak with such hubris. And, like any tool, there’s a right way and a wrong way to use it. Here are a few tips that I think might help you to find and work with critique partners online.

Mar 2, 2021

What it Takes to Write

By: Andrew Rydberg 

One of the most difficult parts about writing is getting started. You’ll get a million ideas, characters, scenes - you name it. But every time you sit down and are about to put it all on paper, your mind goes blank. Doubts start flooding in, you forget some of the key items you wanted to include, and every menial distraction becomes overbearing. Finally, you say, “forget this!” and walk away, thinking maybe next time will be better. It’s a common roadblock. But it’s not as hard to get around as you think.

Mar 1, 2021

Agent Spotlight Series: Hannah VanVels

A warm welcome to Hannah VanVels, literary agent at Belcastro Agency! Hannah’s life is consumed by all things bookish, and she can usually be found curled up with a good cup of coffee or a glass of wine. She earned her BA at the University of Michigan and holds MA degrees from Tel Aviv University and the University of Chicago. In addition to agenting, Hannah owns a freelance editing business. Hannah has worked various book-related jobs including a stint as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble, a freelance editor for scholarly and academic essays and journals, and most recently as the acquiring editor at a young adult imprint with HarperCollins Publishing. Hannah loves working closely with authors and coming alongside them to make their vision come to life on page. She lives in West Michigan with her partner, two German Shepherds, and two cats.