Monday, January 16, 2017

Incorporating More Imagery

Hi! My name is Chris Bedell. I’m a YA writer and am thankful for the opportunity to be a blog contributor for YAtopia.

Thinking about new beginnings is inevitable because it’s January. The concept ultimately applies to my writing. I’ve been using a new approach when writing by trying to include the sensory details I want in a chapter in my outline. Doing so has proved beneficial since sensory details are easy to overlook in writing.

But that’s because a misconception can sometimes exist since they might seem impossible to include. Sensory details don’t have to be some super complicated thing, though. For instance, writing, “the wind whistled in the background,” “an owl hooted,” “streaks of sunlight snuck into the house, waking me up,” “the cold air nipped my face,” “steam seeped out of the teakettle after it started howling,” and “the waxiness of the full moon glowed in the night sky, providing a little extra light” are all examples of varying degrees of sensory details. And I’m sure I could come up with more sensory details if I gave the point further consideration.

However, my point remains clear. Writers shouldn’t fear evocative writing because it shouldn’t be synonymous with boring. It’s possible for something to be both well-written and entertaining. Incorporating imagery/description and showing the five senses enriches writing by making it come alive on the page.

The real problem is the writing cliché, “show, don’t tell.” Writers are too often bombarded with the expression. It’s an unfair generalization despite having merit. The problem is the mantra doesn’t go deep enough (in addition to how absolutes can sometimes be troubling) because some people might not understand what it means. All people have to do is think about what their characters see, taste, smell, hear, touch in each scene. That’s it. There’s no elaborate secret to descriptive writing-even if it feels like there is. Because trust me. I used to think there was some sort of secret to having evocative writing. But nope. That isn’t the case.

Giving imagery prior thought also makes it less daunting, which is a good thing. Don’t get me wrong. Outlining isn’t for everyone, but it helps my writing by grounding it. Because I’ve been a fan of general plot outlines even before I started attempting to add the sensory detail notes in my outlines.

So, to all my fellow writers out there, don’t be afraid about trying to add more imagery to your writing. Because it really isn’t as scary as it seems.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Creativity and Resolutions

Hi everyone! My name is Jennifer Galasso. I'm a YA writer and fantasy artist/illustrator who pens mostly Gothic and horror fiction with a touch of magic and the supernatural. I live in Rhode Island with my husband, Richard, and fourteen-year-old daughter, Samantha, and am SO excited to be a new blog contributor in 2017. What a way to start the year!

Most of us will agree, 2016 was a difficult year for many reasons. Despite the horrors of the previous twelve months, most try to stay optimistic and set goals to make improvements personally and professionally. Some common resolutions: eat healthier, write two novels, get more sleep, start a workout routine, sell a million books and leave the crappy day job, etc.

One of my resolutions this year was to become more involved in a writing community. As most writers know, art in any formespecially writingcan be very isolating. I tend to shut myself away just to get work done. But it’s also important to interact, especially with other writers. Rejection is a big part of the craft and it helps to have support and people who understand your pain who are more than happy to applaud your victories, and who you can cheer on through career highs and lows, as well.

Within a couple days of making my resolution, I saw Sharon’s post about becoming a YAtopia blog contributor on my Twitter feed. Oddly enough, I had just been thinking about Sharon and how I hadn’t seen many Twitter posts from her lately. Seeing her post that day seemed like divine intervention, fate, destiny … in a nutshell, meant to be.

Ironically, a few years ago I made a similar promise to break out of my hermit tendencies and get more active on Twitter. The first step was entering pitch contests, and Sharon was the host of one of the first ones I entered! She taught me that putting myself, and my work, out into the world wasn’t so scary and that there are MANY supportive people in the writing community. She was right and I have never forgotten her for that.

Even more than fate, the key, I think, is opening up to possibility, and in doing so many amazing opportunities arise. The same goes for creativity. A lot of people ask artists and writers where they get their inspiration and we all know what a hard question that is to answer. I don’t think it matters where we get inspiration, just that we open our minds to the possibility of becoming inspired. It’s like shutting off your cell phone—people may try to reach you, but you won’t get any of the calls! The same goes for creativity. Sometimes you have to shout at your muse to wake the heck up and then take whatever small idea you get and cultivate it into something … anything! (Even if it sucks.)

So again, thanks to Sharon who, like my first pitch contest, gave me this amazing opportunity, and thank you to all who helped build YAtopia into a fantastic blog and awesome writer’s communityI’m so excited to be here! Here’s to 2017 being a year to inspire and grow and cheers to resolutions—hoping you achieve ALL your dreams and goals! 


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

What is a New Beginning?

There are many ways people can describe a New Beginning. Some think of it as shrugging off the past and starting completely afresh. Some think of it as totting up their information from the year before and finding a new point to build off it. Others look at new ways to tackle writing and life problems - they experiment and try new things. For me, New Beginnings are all of those things.

As writers, I believe we can sometimes fall into the trap of getting to a New Beginning with a promise of writing more, harder, querying until our fingers bleed, getting our blood pumping. And while those are all great things, I think that some things are sadly left behind. One of those is reading. We can forget to read for the pure pleasure of the written word, so focused on the achievements we want in our own writing. Forgetting to sit down and read something that's not for editing and not for studying can actually make our New Beginning not so new after all.

I also believe that many of use forget about our writer's life. I'm not just talking about our new goals or our shiny new desk space. These are certainly awesome parts of our writer's life, and I wouldn't give them up for the work (well, I could negotiate on the desk page if I really needed to). What I'm talking about is diving into the rest of our life. Have we put into our New Beginnings something to try outside of writing our book? What about a new class? Pottery? Dancing? Wine tasting? Something totally unrelated to your book. Ah, but Fiona, it's not that easy. I don't have the time for that. Agreed, time can be hard to find. But how about all that time you waste on the internet, chatting on social media. How about that time when your kids are doing their homework without you for once? How about that commute to work - audio book if you need to on a new hobby or interest. At the moment, mine is learning more Greek. For me, to those who can, putting life into your writer's life is just as important as putting in the writer.

So there you have it. Those are my thoughts on New Beginnings, and I have many more that are my passions. Books I want to read just for fun this month - The Peculiar & The What Not, Cress & Winter, How to Hang a Witch - all of which sit on my bookshelf waiting for me. And there are a whole lot of books waiting on Amazon for me to order. And then there's the life I want to include into my writer's life - learning more Greek (an eternal process!), improving my horse riding, swimming in the summer in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, planning my wedding, travelling to Rome, trying another creative art...will I achieve all of these? Maybe, maybe not, but I'm going to try my damn best to!

What are you going to read? What are you going to live? What will be your New Beginning in your writer's life?

Friday, January 6, 2017

A New Year for Agentopia

I’m very excited to be taking up the role of Agentopia Coordinator and to bring your questions to some fantastic agents.

So you know a little about the person behind the interviews, let me introduce myself. I’m in my final year of university and currently run and edit the pro-feminist magazine ARTEMIS. Despite my passion for running the magazine, YA books have always been my first love and I can’t imagine that’s going to change no matter what age I am. I was convinced I would be an author growing up but recently realised my passion lies in the other side of publishing and am now pursuing a career as a literary agent.

For me, stories have always been about the characters and their relationships with those around them. Whether fantasy or contemporary, books with strong heroines and believable romances never fail to make me squeal and I’ve been known have to take a five minute break from books that were just too good. Some of my all-time favourite books are Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black and anything by Cassandra Clare.

To get us started I’d love to know what questions you’d most like answered by literary agents, so please do answer the poll and feel free to add your own questions in the comments section.

I hope you enjoy the first interview of the year which will be posted in February!

What questions would you like answered by agents?

What is currently on your wish list?
What's a personal turn-off in a query which is guaranteed to get the author rejected?
What's the most important element of a story which makes you want to represent it?
Do you have a ‘maybe’ pile, or is it a quick decision between requesting or passing on a manuscript
If a writer can see they have been skipped on Querytracker, does this mean they are on your 'maybe pile'?
Are there any trends which you feel will soon be very popular in YA fiction?
Are there any current popular trends in YA fiction which you feel are becoming less popular?
Do you google authors and if yes, what are you looking for?
How long does it take to respond to queries?
Please Specify:

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Finding Focus

Happy New Year everyone!
I can still say that, right?
I mean, we’re just four days in.

2017 has me joining YAtopia and I couldn’t be more excited about it! But first? An introduction! Hailing from the great state of Texas (Go Cowboys), my name is Destiny Cole and I truly love chips and queso more than I love most humans.

I’m a YA writer who focuses on thrillers and mysteries, but everything I write tends to have a dark slant. I am without a doubt one of those writers who writes the questions I’m trying to understand. And sometimes those questions make people (myself included) a little uncomfortable. But I think that’s important. We need to come face to face with our own bias/ideologies sometimes to know what they truly are.

My writing is represented by my incredible literary agent, Kirsten Carleton of Prospect Agency. She is a tireless advocate and one of the best editors I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. I hope to be able to share some good news with you soon about books being published, but for now, I’m still on the journey!

When I’m not on my laptop writing fiction, I’m still on my laptop writing. I work in digital marketing and social media so there are very few days that I don’t spend staring at a computer screen, coming up with catchy phrases, writing the same copy 9 different ways, or creating marketing plans… and yes I have carpal tunnel and it SUCKS. 

So, that’s me! Hi everyone! *waves*

But since this is indeed the new year, I thought it might be good to share something that I’ve been learning over the last few months. It can be summed up in one word: focus.

Or rather, what I’ve realized is my LACK of focus.

I spent the last 6 months of the year getting pulled in a hundred different directions and I said yes to all of them. It’s true that some of them were helpful to my day job, some were helpful to my writing career, some were great for my family… but many of them just took up my time and spread me too thin.

So, this year, as we stare at a fresh new calendar, I hope you’ll join me in listing out your priorities and then being brave enough to say no if you’re given an opportunity that doesn’t line up.

We can’t get to where we’re going if we’re constantly stopping.

Here’s to a focused 2017.

Want to connect?
or follow me on Twitter or Instagram: @destinywrites