Recently on tumblr someone asked me if the NL team had their wishlists somewhere online. I have mine on the blog and try to keep it current-ish, but I thought updating all of our wishlists and posting them would be a great way to kick off the fall.
So here they are—click on our names to be directed to the wishlist!
Short Story Contest
Contest: Atlantis Short Story Contest
Criteria: English only | previously unpublished | ~2,500 words or less | up to 7 stories per writer | international
Prizes: First Place - $300 and in-depth feedback | Second Place - $100 and in-depth feedback | Third Place - $50 and in-depth feedback | Top 15 - in-depth feedback | Top 40 - name and short story posted on website
Entry Fees: $10-$25 depending on whether or not you would like feedback
Entrance: online only
Deadline: November 30, 2014
Ahhh! This is so cool!
An author was writing historical fiction, and decided (in hopes of escaping anachronistic language) to only use the vocabulary that Jane Austen used. They made a custom dictionary of all the words Jane Austen used in all of her books, and used that to spell check, so it flagged modern words and phrases that she would have totally overlooked otherwise.
I’m thinking it would be incredibly easy to do the same thing for fanfiction, especially book-based - compile a dictionary of, say, all the words GRRM used in ASOIAF, and use that as a spell check dictionary so it would flag any words GRRM did not use…
Or a particular TV show character’s dialogue, though that would involve much more manual effort…
edit: apparently, some historical fiction authors use old dictionaries (circa: 1700-1800s) as their custom dictionaries, even when writing about much earlier time periods. This helps them escape writing with modern-sounding anachronisms that throw modern readers out of the story, but also allows them to use language that a modern reader can understand when writing about time periods where characters should be speaking, say, Old English.
These are some great resources for authors of historical fiction (and/or fan fiction)!
1. People overthink queries. Okay, so they are the only thing that an agent or editor might ever see of your work. So they have to embody everything about your personality and your books personality in a single page. So you will get absolutely nowhere if your queries suck, no matter if you’ve written the Great American Novel. Still, people overthink them. And this is why. Because
2. Agents are people too. More importantly, they are not just any people, they are readers. So guess what — the thing that makes you pick up a book is what makes an agent pick up a book. So therefore
3. Really, your query letter should read like the back of a book. Or the inside jacket flap or whatever. The bit that has the tantalizing description of the plot. A really effectively written jacket copy will tell you the tone of novel, the general premise, and probably a bit about the main players, and all in two paragraphs or less. What does this sound like – oh SNAP a query. But this is all good news for the aspiring query writer, because it means that there are lots of places to
4. Read good query letters. Where do you find these things, you ask? (cry, beg, plead) Which blogs? Which websites! which books! Well, now that you know that queries are really just awesome jacket copy, so the place to look is where there is good jacket copy. In case you do not know where to find novels, they are at these places called bookstores. Also, your shelves. Also, libraries. Also, Amazon. While you are there you will
5. Look at how succinctly successful book blurbs get across the main relevant points of the book. Each sentence does double duty, containing in its potent words setting and plot, or plot and character, or character and mood – just like in your novel. Oh, how hard your prose works for you! Even harder in this little blurb. A little game I like to play is called “sum up my novel in one sentence.” The idea is to pack in mood, hook, and characters into one sentence. (SHIVER’s was: ”a bittersweet love story about a girl who has always loved the wolves behind her house and a boy who must become a wolf each winter.”) If you can get it down to one sentence, a query is easy. Especially if you
6. Only include the relevant stuff. Relevant, I realize, is so subjective, but let’s pretend we have two seconds in a grocery store line to a) sum up our book and b) sum up our qualifications to write said book. So side characters go bye-bye. Hook is king. Then voice. Then the finer details of the plot. If you’re writing something more character-driven, voice is most important. Then hook. Get in, get out. Nobody gets hurt. And then, once you’re done with the book (please remember to include word count, title, and genre), include
7. Only relevant stuff about you. Believe it or not, most everything about you is irrelevant. Oh psh, I know you’re a speshul snowflake. So am I. But the point is, the reader is not going to care/ know about most everything about you, and so the agent/ editor doesn’t care. If it’s something the reader might know about, then it’s useful. So if you are, for instance, Orlando Bloom writing your first YA, you can mention your acting career. If you are, as I was, a big art blogger, you can mention your blog statistics (but they really need to be impressive to be worth mentioning). If you have won some writing award that more than twenty people care about, you can include that. If you have short stories published in a pro market, go for it. There are lots of things that you don’t include, however, because
8. No one cares if you’re a rocket scientist, unless your book is about rocket science. If you save baby kittens in your spare time, jump burning buildings in a single bound, invented the concept of Mozart, made the first jar of mayo in the world — it doesn’t matter. Neither does the number of kids you have, where you live, what you do for a living, how long it took you to write this book, etc. Relevant. Err on the safe side. Because really
9. The only thing that matters is the book. If they don’t care about your hook and voice, nothing about you will change their mind, even if you are the world’s biggest pinball champion. Just: Sell. the. Book. Also
10. Follow the rules. Target the editors and agents that read your genre (www.agentquery.com will help with this). Keep it to one page. Don’t use funky fonts, colors, animated smileys, pictures of kittens waving at the agent. Remember, it’s about the book. The only reason why rules are in there are to keep from distracting the important part: your hook. Your voice. Everything else is just underwire in the literary bra of your query. Make it invisible and don’t let it poke people. Okay?
I’d say I have three that I actively think about every day. The first and foremost is the one some of you are reading, Lilies of the Bowery. That universe is so intriguing and at times frightening; thematically it’s the darkest thing I’ve written, and takes place during a scary time. Industrial Revolution-era NYC was not kind to anyone but the giants who owned the industries. But the signature Lily message of hope and resilience shines through the poverty and illness and misfortune wherever it can.
The second story I think about every day is my “gay fairy tale princess” story, which is tentatively titled The Good Contessa’s Promise. I have about 50k of that written and I’ve gotten some initial feedback on it from Kelly. I anticipate focusing on that story as LotB is wrapping up. Unlike my other stories, it will not be published in serial format, rather made available for purchase all at once. Also unlike my other stories, it will be my first novel intended for YA audiences, though of course not exclusively.
The third story I think about in a very abstract way every day is something for which I have no words written down at all. It’s a Gold Rush/Western Expansion story about queer women who have families and husbands to tend to, but somehow still find ways to love each other. That will probably be my next big undertaking once I finish LotB and TGCP.
I also have a vague idea for a novella that chronicles Ruby Torres-Reid’s adult life. She’s a powerful woman and I’d love to give her more of a voice.
Something else I’ve been contemplating in an abstract way is the need for diverse YA stories. I follow Harmony Ink Press here on Tumblr, and just a quick browse through their available titles reveals an abundance of gay male fiction, but very little lesbian/bi/pan/trans/poly/ace/etc fiction. Someday I would love to be published by them, something short and sweet and exciting — think First Bite without the fanfic/TV show setting — that could bring my signature message of hope and resilience to younger audiences.
We are actively campaigning to increase the diversity of our submissions (because about 70% of our stories are cis gay boys), but we can only publish what’s submitted to us. (And only about 40% of that, actually.) So, please, if you write LGBTQ+/MOGAI YA stories, we’d love to consider them.
Short Fiction Contest
Contest: Boulevard Magazine’s Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers
Criteria: 8,000 words or less | previously unpublished
Prizes: $1,500 and publication in Boulevard
Entry Fees: $15/story
Entrance: online and snail mail
Deadline: December 31, 2014
The Georgia Review (est. 1947) has opened its annual reading period for literary submissions. The award-winning letter and arts journal is published quarterly by the students and faculty of The University of Georgia. Each issue is packed with 200 pages of nonfiction essays, creative fiction, poetry, book reviews, and artwork. Topics and writing styles blend the social and artistic interests of the humanities, history, theory, folklore, politics, pop culture, and the visual arts.
Mad Scientist Journal, a quarterly ezine and online website for “mad scientist” stories with elements of speculative fiction, has reopened for submissions (the reading period had closed in June).
Currently, the editor needs submissions for both the website and magazine. Genres can include fantasy, sci-fi, horror, adventure, and paranormal romance, supernatural, and pulp fiction.