Seriously, every author has answered these questions a thousand times.
1. Where do you get your ideas?
I get a lot of ideas from other art, especially when I dislike it and want to write my own version. People get ideas from lots of places. What you really need to be asking is—where do I get my ideas. And no one can answer that question but you.
2. Do you do your own illustrations/cover art?
The general answer here is no. If you publish traditionally, this isn’t something you either worry about or get much input on. If you publish yourself, then yes. But I advise finding a professional.
3. How do you get an agent?
You go to Literary Marketplace at your local library and look at the long listings of agents and write down their addresses and send them a query letter or whatever it is they ask for. Or you can go on-line to Writers Market and pay a monthly fee to get a list of agents interested in your genre there. But as a warning, it may take you a long time to find the right agent, and you will probably not find the right one with your first book.
4. How do you find a publisher?
Go to the local library and look at Writers Market. It takes a long time to look through all the listings. There’s no good shortcut in my opinion. Many publishers are closed to unsolicited submissions. You will either need to get an agent to get around this or go to conferences where editors give you a special code to get around it. Truth.
5. How long is a MG or YA novel?
Really, the length can vary widely, but I would see a MG is about 50-60,000 words and a YA is 60-80,000 words, but genre fiction can be about 20% longer. Also, if you use bestsellers as a guide (which I don’t recommend), then you will think your books should be a lot longer than a debut author can usually get away with.
6. Do you have to know someone to get published?
No. Most authors I know get found either by the slush pile or by meeting editors at conferences and wowing them with a first chapter.
7. What is the new trend in YA/MG/adult right now?
It doesn’t matter what the new trend is now, because it will already be over by the time you’ve written something good enough to be published. So write what YOU want to see published, and hopefully you will find someone who is in sync with you, and you will convince other people that you’re brilliant. And write another book, and another one, until you find the right match.
8. Should I send my son’s manuscript in for him?
No, please don’t do this. I strongly believe teenagers’ manuscripts shouldn’t be published and that parents shouldn’t push this. When your kid is ready to submit, they’ll figure it out on their own. I’m not saying kids shouldn’t write or try to be published.Only that they should do the driving themselves, and that they should be judged the same way anyone else is, and not as cute kids who are prodigies.
9. Why are terrible books like Twilight published?
If you want to get into a rumble with me, start saying misogynistic things about Stephenie Meyer or her fans. If you want to have a genuine conversation about problems with Twilight and you’ve actually read the book (preferably the whole series), I’ll happily sit down and talk about it. However, please remember that different people like different things in their books and that any author who has found so many readers is doing something right that you probably need to learn from.
10. Do you have to have romance in your books to get published?
No. But there’s nothing wrong with romance, either. I personally love romance, especially when done well. I love that publishing has realized that there is a significant teen girl market out there and that they love romance. I was a teenager who read a lot of adult romance because there wasn’t anything else. I would have adored teen romance.
11. Why aren’t there any good books for boys being published today?
Ha! There are lots of good books for boys being published today. Just because every book isn’t for boys doesn’t mean there’s a problem here.
12. How much do you get paid for a first book?
To be honest, I would say $5,000-$10,000 is a decent advance on a first book. I don’t recommend going with a publisher who pays no advance at all. I think at least a token is nice. But on the other hand, I also think that it’s not very polite to ask about how much money someone makes in public. Maybe the simpler answer is to say—don’t quit your day job when you sell your first book.
|Encourage good citizenship in your kids, and a sense of pride in your lunch staff on May 2nd!|
Talking to a depressed person as if you are talking to a mentally whole person is only going to end with you being frustrated that the depressed person “takes everything the wrong way.” Of course they do. That is the symptom of their problem. It isn’t that they are doing this willfully, however. Don’t imagine that they *want* to remain depressed, though it may seem that no matter how stubbornly you present the “real” facts to them, they won’t listen.
You can talk all day long about how grateful they should be about the good things in their life. And none of those good things will matter to them. They can’t weigh the good and the bad. They can’t feel happy just by thinking about good things. They can’t because they’re depressed and that’s what depression is. It means they can’t just turn a switch like a normal person can who feels a little blue—but isn’t clinically depressed.
When I look back at my experiences as a depressed person and think of the people who said things that hurt me, I am aware at the same time that it is entirely possible I am remembering every single one of those conversations incorrectly. It may be that if there were some objective view of the universe that we could go to, rewind the tape, and see it again, I would be astonished to discover that not only do I have the intent wrong, but all of the words wrong, too. I could have made things up that other people didn’t say simply to fit with my depressed mood.
I don’t think that’s what happened, but that’s another one of the effects of depression, that you end up unable to tell what’s real and what’s not. It’s another reason why people who are depressed tend to stay away from other people, which in some ways deepens the depression because all humans have a basic need for social interaction. We aren’t sure that we are being rational and we don’t want to think that we are causing other people hurt. Even if our brains aren’t working, that doesn’t mean that we’re mean (not usually). We can’t trust ourselves, and so we do this self-protective thing to keep from doing crazy stuff.
You can’t just fix this with a book on how to be happier. You can’t fix it with love (though love certainly doesn’t hurt).
Right now, Robison Wells, a good friend and someone who suffers with multiple mental illnesses needs help right now. We can’t help in many ways, but we can do this one little thing. Please, donate!
"With a Machete, My Father"
Cut him down, severed the tie
That pulls a man away from himself.
So that he might be seen as
Strong, my father ended my brother’s life.
Ikemefuna’s voice called out.
For help he called, confused, bewildered.
Sunlight filtered through the leaves
of our forest, like an ancestral spirit, witnessing.
It glinted off his blade. Metal moved
quick as lightning, loud as thunder, wet as rain.
I did not see Ikemefuna in death, but I
Felt his shadow walking quietly behind my father.
When he entered his obi, my father
Did not speak, but sat down to drink palm wine.
I know why Okonkwo mourns.
It must be hard, to lose two sons in one day.
—Guadalupe Garcia McCall, February 2014
"On the Grass"
by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Two eager grackles walk on stilts.
Raven heads held high. Their golden
Eyes astute, foraging for generous
Seeds to feast upon.
Then, a grub worm, fat and slippery,
Clutched in a black bird’s claw, ripped apart,
Torn open, devoured by one who knows
Its creamy, yellow guts are more substantial.
"Across the Road"
by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Cows migrate in unison, slowly, quietly,
Plowing against the forceful rains. Heads
Hung low, shoulders determined,
Eyes to the ground, as if in prayer.
They do not wait for the waters to rise,
The lip of the creek to curl up cynically,
Swallow them up, drag them downstream,
They walk steadily, calmly, don’t look back.
YOU DON'T KNOW JACK And maybe I don't either. Today is Jack Nicholson's 77th birthday. Happy Birthday, Jack! What I don't seem to know about Jack—or more specifically this illustration of Jack—is when it came about. Oh, it's stamped with a 2007 watermark, so at least I should know where to start as I sift through the blog archives. But in last night's search, I was unable to come up with an answer.
It appears it was rendered in colored pencil, then "electrified" in Photoshop.
Then Jack became "Jack the Ripper" in this digital collage of a few selected lines from Bob Dylan's "Tombstone Blues."
The sweet pretty things are in bed now of course
The city fathers they're trying to endorse
The reincarnation of Paul Revere's horse
But the town has no need to be nervous.
The ghost of Belle Star she hands down her wits
To Jezebel the nun she violently knits
A bald wig for Jack the Ripper who sits
At the head of the chamber of commerce.
But I don't know when. Oh well, there's "no need to be nervous."
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JACK!
Just a quick note to say that this Friday I’ll speak in Huntsville, Alabama, at the 2014 Annual Convention of the Alabama Library Association.
The following week, I’ll also speak at the Tennessee Library Association Annual Conference 2014, but I won’t have to travel far for that one. It’ll be in my own back yard, so to speak (Murfreesboro, Tennessee).
If any of my blog readers will be at either conference, by chance, please come say hi!
Until Thursday …