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Books to Help You Master Your Craft (Day 28)

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Whew. October is finally coming to a close. I’m ready to put this series to bed and hop into November where turkey & dressing and Black Friday live together in harmony. I’m not gonna lie, it’s tough writing for 31 straight days without a break. If you’ve been writing your own 31 day series, give yourself a pat on the back, or better yet, go have a cupcake…or two.

I’ve had several of you ask about some resources that will help you master your craft. I’m so glad you asked. There are numerous great books on writing and ways to improve your craft out there. These are only a handful of resources that you could start with. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, you need to read craft books. You also need to read other authors, particularly other authors in your genre. You can never learn too much when it comes to learning the art of storytelling. I believe these books are a great place to start. And when you buy any of these from my site,  you help me out—since I’m an Amazon affiliate.

WriteYourNovelfromtheMiddleWrite Your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell

BirdbyBird

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

 

SnowflakeMethodHow to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson

 

BreakoutNovelWriting the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maas

SavetheCatSave the Cat by Blake Snyder

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This series is part of the #Write31Days challenge. To read all the posts in this series click here.

 

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Search #MSWL on Twitter (Day 27)

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We get all excited around here when the commercial for the Farmers Only matchmaking company comes on. My kids start singing the theme song in their already appropriate Texas twang and we all giggle a little.

“You don’t have to be lonely, at FarmersOnly.com” (everybody join in)…

I love match-making. I always said that if agenting didn’t work out, I’d go ask Patty Sanger for a job. Don’t Hate. I don’t know what it is about connecting two people romantically that is so fun, but it is extremely rewarding to me. I have two marriages under my belt to date, working on my game-plan for match # 3 as we speak. 🙂

If you and your manuscript are eating TV dinners and staying home ALONE on Friday nights, then you are in luck. Since I love to match-make so much, I’ve even found you a writerly way to connect with the agent of your dreams. It’s a hashtag you are never going to forget:

#MSWL and it stands for Manuscript Wish List.

Genius whoever started it. Now, you can spend your Friday night’s scouring the wish list and match-making your writing project with prospective editors and agents. So, how would you go about pitching yourself once you’ve found yourself a match? I would say something like this:

“Hello @jessiefromTexas, sent you a query on my non-fiction project based on #MSWL preference for #foodbloggers. Thx 4 reviewing!”

That way you A) show them that you still know the proper way to send them your material B) connect with them on social media so they can shadow you. C) show them that you have done your research in even knowing about #MSWL in the first place. Once you’ve found some agents that you pair well with, feel free to keep going and write down a list of editors that might be currently looking for what you have written. You can turn that list right over to your new agent and I promise they will appreciate your research. Finding your perfect match is as much about timing as it is talent. So, quit living the single life, and go find yourself a match— the fabulous #MSWL awaits you.

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Follow the Submission Guidelines (Day 26)

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Thanks for all the social media love over the weekend! Y’all have effectively filled my agent cup. And thank you for all the messages of concern about the flooding in Texas.

1st—It’s raining cats and dogs down here.

2nd—My town is more or less on high ground.

3rd—My neighborhood is literally at the top of a hill, so we are completely safe from flooding.

The only bad thing going down at my place beneath the pines is this guy right here.

IMG_3699Romo has effectively stolen both a ribeye and a few sausage balls straight off my kitchen counter—twice—in one weekend. I have been laying down the law for him, but he doesn’t seem to care. Not only did he swipe some of the food I cooked out of the kitchen, but I went outside for a second and the wind swung the door open behind me, and surprise, surprise, bad Romo bolted out of the house like it was some sort of prison break.

He is so awkward, y’all I just can’t even explain the level of his pre-teen awkwardness. He frolicked like a lamb over to the neighbor’s house, turned circles on their front lawn, used their yard as his personal toilet, and then barked for 30 minutes at their dogs. He is as unruly as he is awkward. Then, he bolted down the street after a squirrel like some sort of wind-up toy. It was ridiculous.

Romo needs obedience training, or I’m gonna need counseling. 

Sigh. So with that said, let’s talk about agency rules. I hope you’ve learned that all agents function uniquely. Generally, we want to work with professional people, but our specific wants/needs can look very different. What I want you to know today is that it’s not just about “what” we want, it’s also about “how” we want to review your material. The best piece of advice I can give you is to spend some time reading the submission guidelines on each agency website. If an agency tells you “no attachments” for instance, this means they want you to copy/paste your query and sample chapters right into the body of an email. If you violate this specific submission rule, then the agent on the receiving end will trash what you’ve sent. Simple submission rules like this are common, and vary from agency to agency. If you can’t follow the rules from the beginning, an agent might doubt that you will listen down the road. And more importantly, attachments make our computers prone to viruses. And nobody’s getting reviewed if our computers crash.

Just follow, follow, follow, the specific guidelines that each agency sets. Whether you agree or disagree, it’s their choice as to how they want to review your material. And I promise, those rules are in place for a reason. So, please don’t pull a Romo, and simply follow the rules. When you follow specific submission rules, you can rest assured that your manuscript will receive a fair review from the agent you hope to snag.

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This series is part of the #Write31Days challenge. To read all the posts in this series click here.

 

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