Want to Spend 10 Minutes With An Agent? Now You Can.

MSWLdayEver wish you could sit down with an agent? Now you can! The Manuscript Academy 10 Minutes With An Expert event exists to give non-members once-monthly access to our agents and editors.

Each ten-minute meeting is $49. You can book as many as you like, until they fill up. 

This month’s meetings are February 15. Yes, that’s right–they’re all in one day so you can cheer each other on in the private Facebook group. Can’t make it this month? Join our list to hear about future dates–and which agents and editors are participating.

You can use this time to:

  • Pitch your project
  • Get instant feedback on your query or first page
  • Ask about your unique publishing situation

Get FREE access to browse this month’s agents and editors, book a meeting, and enter to win free appointments. You’ll be able to submit up to one page to discuss during the meeting–so you’ll receive instant feedback on the all-important query or first page, PLUS have the opportunity to ask any publishing questions you may have.

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PubLaw + The Art of Negotiation with Lawyer-turned-agent Melissa Edwards

design (3)Let’s talk the art of negotiation!  On Manuscript Academy Podcast-Episode Eleven, Melissa Edwards of Stonesong Literary dives into how she uses her background as a lawyer to get the best deals for her clients, all the while navigating the cumbersome rules of publishing law.  She’ll discuss her journey launching author Leslie Mosier’s New York Time’s bestseller: Doug the Pug, The King of Pop Culture.  Then listen carefully for a pep talk about the querying process.

Writers, it’s not as bad as you think!  Melissa even answers questions about her favorite pastime, which gives a clear roadmap to the types of stories that she loves. So after all this, if you are interested in how Melissa works within the industry day-by-day, then you don’t want to miss this podcast.  Plus, she’s looking for clients, and it just might be you. Go enjoy.

The Manuscript Academy Podcast is free and available in iTunes or on Soundcloud. You can find us in the iTunes Store (search for “Manuscript Academy” or click this link) and on Soundcloud.  Then explore past podcasts with top industry professionals all ready to go in the iTunes store. You can also learn more about The Manuscript Academy.

The Manuscript Academy Podcast  is FREE and published weekly with the aim to help you find you best path to publication.

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An Interview with Harlequin Editor Carly Silver

IMG_1303Pour a cup of tea and download The Manuscript Academy Podcast, “An Interview with Carly Silver.”  In this episode, Carly, assistant editor at Harlequin Books, discusses what inspires her within the romance genre.

No big surprise, it’s about falling in love with a manuscript.

Carly also dives into her editing process, being an editor in New York, plus some of her other passions—history and dogs!  This one is a don’t miss.  Download today!

The Manuscript Academy Podcast is free and available in iTunes or on Soundcloud. You can find us in the iTunes Store (search for “Manuscript Academy” or click this link) and on Soundcloud.  Then explore past podcasts with top industry professionals all ready to go in the iTunes store. You can also learn more about The Manuscript Academy.

The Manuscript Academy Podcast  is FREE and published weekly with the aim to help you find you best path to publication.

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How To Be a Writer During The Holidays

julieheadshotrcby Julie Kingsley

Put down the eggnog, save the work in progress, and grab yourself another candy cane because it’s time for Manuscript Academy’s Holiday Pep Talk.  Download immediately to hear cofounders Julie Kingsley and Jessica Sinsheimer dive deep into being a writer during the holiday season–all the while giving you insight into navigating holiday happiness as a creative.

Then listen on for a revival of #PubTalkTV’s 2015 Holiday Edition where people from around the country give insight into their best holiday season ever as a writer.

Visit Manuscript Academy’s podcast page to learn more–or click the link below to access in iTunes or Soundcloud.

The podcast is FREE for everyone.

Happy holidays!

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All Bi Myself: Why We Need to See Ourselves in Fiction

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by Kat Enright, Skyhorse Publishing

It took me a long while to realize that I was bisexual.

Perhaps it’s where I grew up, a picture perfect example of small-time Pennsylvania. Perhaps it was the influence of conservative, Catholic parents. Perhaps it was just something that I needed time to discover.

But mostly, it was because I didn’t know that it was something a person could be. Let’s face it, despite the diversity of the world we live in, many of our stories are still very white and very straight. This is slowly but surely changing, but the vast majority of our stories still fit into neat little boxes. And growing up, I believed that one had to fit into one of these categories – a person was either gay or straight. What else was there?

It wasn’t until college that I started to see that I started to see that were other options. Until I began to question what I had unconsciously internalized and faced that part of me that I feared was wrong. I started reading more broadly, watching different movies and TV. I started to find the characters that reflected me, but I had to search for them. And to some extent, I still do. The amount of gay and lesbian characters are in YA fiction rising, but bisexual characters are still fairly rare. And when they do exist, I found they often come with their own special kind of baggage.

I’m sure you’ve seen it somewhere. The confusion that rises when a  bisexual character is outed, the boyfriend or girlfriend who’s insecure that their significant other is going to go “straight”, the idea that it is just a phase, the bisexual who cannot help but cheat, the bisexual who, because they like two or more genders, obviously wants to be with everyone.  The bisexual who ends up with an opposite sex partner and suddenly has no claim on the queer identity. The bisexual who has not yet had an opportunity to be with a same-gender partner, and because of that, has also their identity called into question.

There is a lot of confusion, really, about bisexuality, and a fair amount of biphobia in the world as well. And it bleeds into the stories that we tell, which only helps in reinforcing the cultural narrative of the world we live in. And most hurtfully, this sometimes even comes from our queer brothers and sisters.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m thrilled to see stories that embrace the stories our gay and lesbian youth, from #OWNVOICES authors, and I do believe that all of those stories are incredibly important. But there should also be room on our shelves for stories about bisexual characters, pansexual characters, asexual characters – for each and every identity and orientation. And there should be an effort to understand each other and the richness of our individual experiences.

So my I find myself searching for a certain type of character, one who is able to proudly and confidently embrace their bisexual identity, who is not questioned or threatened by those around them. Who can love whomever they choose freely and not pinned down by the stereotypes we expect in such tales. Like the stories that reach out to our gay and lesbian youth, these stories are needed out there in the hands of young readers. Not just so that bisexual/pansexual youth can see themselves reflected and valued in stories, but so that everyone can know that we do exist, and we are just as real and varied and wonderfully human as everyone else.

So if you find these stories, please send them my way.

***

Kat Enright was born in Middle-of-Nowhere Pennsylvania, and earned her BA in Philosophy (with a minor in Writing) from Gettysburg College. After college, she served for two years as an AmeriCorps VISTA Service Member in Boston, MA, before she moved to New York to start her career in Publishing. Kat always has at least one book on her (and sometimes upwards of ten, if you count all the e-books on her phone), and a notebook to jot down all the creative ideas that pop into her head.

#MSWL Launches The Manuscript Academy

podcastlogoWelcome to the newest arm of Manuscript Wish List®: The Manuscript Academy. The Academy exists for writers who want the best aspects of a conference–the classes, the direct access to experts, the networking, and the personalized critiques–delivered right to you, without paying for flights, hotels, or travel.

Our model is different: You can learn on your own schedule, after the kids have gone to bed, the workday is over, and you’ve changed into your PJs. You don’t need to pay for travel, meals out, or even a new blazer. We believe that writing conferences should be affordable, accessible, and awesome. We offer personalized, creative access to the top minds in the industry–all without leaving home. 

With professional-grade recordings of classes, webcam workshops and pitch meetings, and critiques by our faculty of top agents and editors, everything you need is right here.

Registration is $199 and includes 30 days of access to our full menu of classes, plus access to critiques, pitches, workshops, and live events.

 

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How to Spend Ten Minutes With An Agent

by Julie Kingsley

Have you ever floundered during a pitch session? Panicked at the idea of running into an agent at the snack table? (Quick! What’s the book about? Uhhhhh…) Does the whole idea of talking about your work make you so nervous that your insides quiver and your hands shake? This is normal.  You’ve invested so much in your book—and when you go into a meeting with an agent or editor, it feels like a lot at stake.

The Manuscript Academy is Manuscript Wish List®’s educational sister company. The Manuscript Academy Podcast is free to everyone, and features interviews with agents and editors, how-to tips, and behind-the-scenes looks at the creation of the Academy—plus sneak peeks at classes from our amazing faculty.

The most recent how-to episode, How to Spend Ten Minutes With An Agent, breaks down tips and strategies to help demystify the process, and perhaps even make it a fun and easy experience.  Want to learn more?  Download Episode Six: How to Spend Ten Minutes With An Agent to hear Jessica Sinsheimer fullsizerender-8speak from the agent perspective, while I give tips from the writer’s side of the desk.

A meeting with an agent can launch a career and also lend key insight that you need for building a solid future in the writing industry. Get ready for that moment. You can find us in the iTunes Store (search for “Manuscript Academy” or click this link) and on Soundcloud.  Then explore past podcasts with top industry professionals all ready to go in the iTunes store.  The Manuscript Academy Podcast  is published weekly with the aim to help you find you best path to publication.

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PS: We’re throwing a party, and you’re invited.  It’s a huge online get-together with writers, agents, and editors from around the world participating in a cheerful holiday conversation about writing.  Want a critique partner? This would be a great, fun way to meet one. There are themed Google Hangout rooms to bring you our favorite kinds of holiday parties. Have we spiked your eggnog’s curiosity? Want to learn more?  Then go to http://ManuscriptAcademy.com/RSVP to add your name to the list!

Want to know what to bring? (Yes! Props will help you have even more fun!) Check out the Manuscript Academy Podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud–and look for Episode 007: Party. Holiday Party!

This event is free, and all are welcome.

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Julie True Kingsley is the co-founder of The Manuscript Academy.  She has over twenty years of experience in education teaching everything from preschool to grad school.  She currently  teaches New Media & Writing for Media at a small local college. She is the co-founder of SCBWI’s Writing Retreat on Squam, and a past facilitator of SCBWI’s fabulous Whispering Pines Retreat. She lives in Maine with her husband, two children, and a moody rescue dog. You can find her on Twitter @juliekingsley.

Julie is teaching Seven Days of Dialogue for The Manuscript Academy. She is also taking ten-minute meetings and critiques. Academy members can schedule one with her here.

Why iZombie Would Make the Perfect Book

by Kylie Brien, editor at Skyhorse Publishing

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Sure, it started as a graphic novel, and is sort of . . . maybe . . . technically a book already—but the show has taken on a life of its own. The television series, created by Rob Thomas, has a completely different feel than the graphic novel series it was based on. Because of this, I tend to look at it as a separate entity. I think there are elements of the show that would translate to a young adult novel.

Here are a few stand-out elements of the show that I think would translate well into a book:

  • A new twist on a tired subject.
    • Zombies are the new vampires. They’re everywhere. You can find them stumbling around all kinds of literature, television, and film in search of brains to consume. Though in my experience, it’s rare to find a zombie as the protagonist. Olivia Moore, aka Liv Moore, aka a wonderfully punny name (I always appreciate a good pun) is the focus of the show that takes Zombieism to a new level. Liv was scratched by one and woke up lacking all pigment in her skin and hair and with a sudden desire to eat brains. While she shares that common trait with traditional zombies, there are things that set her apart. Though she gave up her career as a doctor and transitioned to the morgue as the medical examiner to improve her access to brains, Liv can live like a normal human being with all of her sensibilities as long as she regularly eats brains. However, without springing for the spray tan or hair dye, Liv is as pale as a ghost and hair so blonde, it’s basically white. There are some gives and takes with this lifestyle. When Liv does eat brains, she takes on the personality traits of the person’s brain she eats and gets visions of their life. This conveniently helps her help Detective Clive Babineaux solve the murders of the owners of the brains she eats.

 

  • Excellent supporting characters:
    • What makes a show featuring a snarky doctor-turned-medical examiner with a newfound desire for brains and a whole lot of sass even more captivating? A well-rounded group of friends, coworkers, and enemies to contribute something new and different. As I mentioned before, Liv works closely with a detective to help him solve murders using her unique zombie abilities. Clive is a reserved Seattle Police Detective who keeps his personal life to himself—though that doesn’t stop Liv from trying to uncover details about his life (like his obsession with Game of Thrones). Clive also has a dark past though his relationship with Liv gives him an opportunity to let loose from time to time. They’re complete opposites but somehow make a comical and oddly compatible pair. Liv’s boss, Ravi is to Liv what Giles was to Buffy. . . sort of. Like I said before, iZombie is a new take on things. Ravi is a version of Giles with a whole lot more sass and a love of all things nerdy. He makes an excellent person for Liv to confide in and remind her that she still has friends. When it comes to villains, I love complicated ones with intricate plans that keep them at least two steps ahead of the protagonist. Blaine is that villain for iZombie. Full of snark and street-smarts, Blaine is a villain determined to profit from this zombie outbreak and Liv has resolved to stop him. The pair get in each other’s way constantly and it’s always hilarious when they do.

 

 

  • Mystery with unconventional outcomes:
    • Each episode features a new mystery. Liv uses her zombie abilities to get into the heads of the victims. By eating their brains, she’s able to understand who they were and has visions triggered by sound, scent, or even touch that help her solve the case. This combined with Clive’s interrogation skills and logic lead to a solved case at the end of almost every episode. The murder is almost always someone you wouldn’t expect. Yet, when the truth finally comes out, you’re amazed at how all of the evidence points to that person even though you never saw it coming. I love that each case solved takes me by surprise and makes me think. While each episode features a murder that Liv helps solve BUT each season also features an overarching mystery. Even if the episodic case isn’t related to the bigger picture, each episode unravels some detail that helps solve the grand mystery. Despite all of the clues, you never see it coming!

 

  • Honorable mention: the culinary masterpieces Liv makes to make eating brains more appealing.
    • It would be hard to directly translate this to a book since it’s such a visual part of the show, but I appreciate the effort that goes into this small detail of Liv’s lifestyle. It’s gotten more artistic as we’ve gotten into the second season, but whenever Liv has to consume a brain, she doesn’t just pick it up, apple-style and take a bite. She puts some effort into making a gourmet masterpiece out of the brain. Brain tacos, brain parmesan, brain shakes, and spaghetti and brains. It’s such a well-done show quirk and I’d love to see something that unique in a book!

Kylie Brien never leaves the house without at least two books on her and a notebook to jot down any creative ideas she may have. She received a BFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College in 2014 and joined the SkyPony Press team in June 2015. Kylie has great aspirations to travel to Wonderland, Oz, and Hogwarts before settling down in Neverland (most likely she’ll be a pirate).

On How Being Stubborn as all Get-Out Got Me an Agent

authorpic03by K. Kazul Wolf

I’m gonna get real for a second here. I hate insta-success stories. It’s not because of jealousy or hate (though writer jealousy is so much fun), but there’s nothing to learn. They’re the exceptions, the flukes we have little control over. So while there’s some success to my story, it’s already been a hell of a long journey to get to where I am. And maybe there’s something to take away from the climb to get to my tiny peak of success.

Back in 2014 I had been working on this whole writing business for a few years, and I’d written a few manuscripts. Then I got my first little achievement to put on my small shelf: I got into a writing contest. Little did I know at the time that writing contests are awesome not because of the agent or publisher opportunities, but because of the amazing community they help you develop. Those writers took me in and helped me grow up and understand this insanity I’d gotten myself into. The fact that I got an agent from the contest didn’t hurt, either.

Until said agent wrote me a few months in and said they weren’t “enthused” enough about the project to represent it anymore. A form rejection to end an agent-author relationship. (They’re no longer an agent, so querying writers who are reading: you don’t have to worry about querying this one.) As an author, of course I didn’t take that at face value. What did I really do wrong? Still, my group of writer friends scrapped me back up, set me on my feet, and I queried. I got into that contest the next year with a different novel.

Crickets.

Then worse than crickets. I had a few rejections stating my bad writing and cliché ideas were the reasons for passing. People who are normally no-responders seemed to go out of their way to reject me. Honestly, I thought for sure that agents must have some blacklist of writers never to sign, and my ex-agent put me on that list for whatever real reason he dumped me. So when I got in contact with an indie pub that wanted one of my books, and indie publishing was a path that might have been the right fit for the book, I grabbed at it. Until I saw their predatory contract.

At this point my emotions about writing were the equivalent to a black hole of depression. I tried to remember why I wrote, but it didn’t matter when the universe seemed to be pointing and laughing at me and my silly, stupid dreams. My feeds were filled with good news and opportunities and friends trying to cheer me up, but it became static. Sometimes I mustered up enough hope to send something out, enter a contest, even write down a couple of words. It never came to anything. I even sat down and prayed for any sign I should keep writing, something small. Within the hour I had a rejection in my inbox. Not the sign I expected or wanted.

The week following that rejection, I was stalking my Twitter feed and grumbling about how unfair everything was when I saw a MSWL post from an agent at my dream agency. I took advantage of that tiny, teeny little spark that kept me checking the hashtag and sent off a query. Which then turned into a full request. Hope bubbled up, but I punched it back down into the black hole and kept slogging, placing the achievement on temporary display on my tiny shelf of victories. About a month later she wrote back. After a few probably unhealthy heart palpitations, I opened it. And… it wasn’t a rejection. It was a revise and resubmit.

By then my brain was trained to expect the worst and proceeded to bring up every case of every friend I knew who was devastated by rejection after doing an R&R, but what did I have to lose? And I loved the changes she suggested anyway, so I went to town and had fun writing for the first time in at least a year. After running it through readers and praying it was good enough, I sent it back. Insert much pacing and internal screaming. Then after what felt like an eternity (but in reality was extremely quick), she wrote back. It wasn’t a rejection. She wanted to schedule a call.

I tried not to get excited. Maybe it was another R&R. Maybe it was one of those fabled horror stories I’d heard about agents rejecting potential clients on the phone. No matter what, she wanted a call with me (again I glance into the shelf and look at my accomplishment of getting a full request from the dream agency), and I just had to try and hold onto that, because I’m slowly learning that it’s those small victories that have to be your fuel in writing. Because “success” is always going to come hand in hand with failure.

Phone call day came. My stomach was beyond a mess. But she was just as nice and awesome as she seemed in her e-mails, and we seemed to have the same perspective on where we wanted to go. And, as the title gives away, she offered.

It still feels a little surreal to be able to tell people I’m represented by Samantha Wekstein of Writers House. And the worry that one day she’ll decide she’s not enthused about my writing anymore haunts me, but she’s awesome and signing with her totally deserves to be up on that shelf of accomplishments. I have to keep reminding myself every time those thoughts creep in that no matter how much writerly brains like to obsess over it, I can’t change what’s coming.

I was having a rough time with my work-in-progress a few days ago, and whined to a friend asking her why any of us even write. She jokingly said that it was a compulsion, but honestly, I think that’s the truth. I think we need it to be the truth. Let your curiosity and need to know drive you to find resources, join groups, send that one last query to that person you saw on the MSWL hashtag. Because sometimes you’re not going to have the hope or the motivation to do diddly squat about your words. Sometimes your small shelf of success is going to feel nonexistent, but that stupid annoying inner storyteller will probably never stop asking questions.

So. Answer them.

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K. Kazul Wolf (aka Bacon) is a fantasy author, leegndrary typoer, chef of all trades, and a dragon that prefers capturing cats and dogs as opposed to princesses. You can find her at her website, .

I Never Liked to Read Until Freak Came Along

kw_headshotby Kira Watson, Emma Sweeney Agency

I hated reading, because, as my youngest brother so eloquently asked our mother, “Why do we have to read. It’s just words on paper?”

Back then thirty minutes with a book was a punishment–cruel and unusual. To make the time pass–and not spend any of it reading–I would count the words on the page, stare at the ceiling, try to communicate with my dog telepathically (which by the way never worked!), and make faces at my two younger brothers who, like me, were forced to read.

At school, reading was just as torturous. I disliked all of the books my teacher picked to be part of our curriculum. They were old, dusty, and dull. Why would I care about some kid trying to survive in the wilderness with only a hatchet to help him?

Besides, it was a boy book.

When my teacher handed all of us a copy of The Adventures of Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick all I could think was, Great. Another stupid thing for me to read. But when my teacher read the first sentence—I never had a brain until Freak came along and let me borrow his for a while, and that’s the truth, the whole truth,—I couldn’t help but listen and be interested. It was as if the narrator was speaking to me, not at me. That day we read only the first chapter, but I remember racing home after class and devouring the book in one sitting. As you can imagine, it was all downhill from there: I had my grandmother drive me to the library so I could get a library card, and from then on I was at the library almost every other day looking for a new book to read.

By the time I was in High School reading had become my even more important to me. As with many of us, it was my way to escape from school, grades, friend drama, and the pressure of college. For a few hours, I didn’t have to deal with any of it. But my reading choices garnered comments from adults around me: “Why are you reading that? Isn’t it a book for children?” “You really should be reading something more mature so you can be intellectually challenged.” “Don’t fill your mind with all of the fantasy. Read something more realistic.”

I tried to read the “more mature” books I kept hearing about. I was able to appreciate the writing, but adult fiction did not have the same impact on me as YA and Children’s Lit. I was back to reading words on paper, instead of being taken on a journey and caring for the characters that lived between those pages.

I didn’t want to lose my love for reading, and so I went back to reading YA. The comments from adults, who I’m sure meant well, kept on coming but each time I heard them, the comments meant less and less. I was going to read YA if I wanted to and it didn’t matter if I was eighteen or eighty-one.  And so, my reading habit eventually led to a blog, which I started in college so I would have an excuse to read while I earned an undergrad degree and worked my way up to Law School. That, however, did not go as planned.

A week into my Sophomore year I decided I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than sit through another Political Science Class. I hated everything about being a PoliSci major, but most of all I hated that it got in the way of reading (even if I did read non-class related books on my Kindle during lectures). That same week, after announcing to my parents that I was going to be an English major (you can imagine how well that was received), I filed the required paperwork for a change of major and started to search for an internship in publishing.  After a few weeks of interviews, I had landed an internship at ESA. I was supposed to stay for ten weeks, but here I am almost three years later building my list.

Over the short time that I’ve been with ESA, I learned more than I could have imagined back when I was trying to set foot into the publishing world. Some of the things are quite obvious: contracts, foreign rights, writing editorial letters, editing manuscripts, etc. I also learned the importance of trusting my instinct when it comes to manuscripts because if I don’t have the confidence in myself and my abilities, then why should my clients. If something in the manuscript doesn’t sit right, trust your instincts and use your abilities to guide your author. As cliché as this may be, you have to have confidence in yourself first before you can expect others to believe in you.

Freak the Mighty was the first story I cared about, and in retrospect, is the first book that set me on the path to becoming a Children’s Lit agent.

 

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Kira Watson graduated from Hunter College where she earned a BA in English (with a focus on Creative Writing) and a BA in Russian Language & Culture. Kira is particularly interested in young adult and middle grade books with a strong narrative voice, well-crafted storylines, and memorable characters. Within YA and MG, Kira is actively seeking realistic fiction, speculative fiction, magic realism, thriller/mystery, horror, fantasy, and historical fiction. Stories with folklore elements, complex villains, morally enigmatic (and very flawed) protagonists, medieval literature influences, and taboo subjects are bound to catch Kira’s attention.