Friday, March 29, 2013

Opportunity: Agents Seeking Multicultural Fiction

I picked up several great children's books on a recent trip across the Dominican Republic, from the North Coast to the Capital, Santo Domingo.  Since finding reasonably-priced children's books that aren't text-books is often difficult in the rural areas of the D.R., I was thrilled to find a book store in Santo Domingo that had 2 children's books containing a compilation of great stories written by authors from the D.R.and other Caribbean nations.

I was also thrilled to find a Spanish copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe! Like pretty much every country in the world, the D.R. struggles with Racial conflict. Here's it's between Dominicans and immigrants from the other side of the Island -- Haiti.

I was glad to see how this book, written so many years ago, about a particular and severe racial problem in the U.S. (Slavery), is now available here too.  A single book that tells one group of people stories about the other, and tells us as readers stories also about ourselves, can change the world.

We are often hearing lately from Editors and Publishers, that they are looking for "Multicultural" books.

If you are writing such a book -- a book about African-American Heritage, a book about Latino kids, a book about what it's like to grow up Chinese in New York...

If you are writing such a book for Children, Middle Graders, or Teens, here are some Literary agencies that have agents seeking these types of books:





Remember, when querying agents, it's essential to target your query specifically to the particular agents who you think will be most interested in your book.

Happy Submitting!

Kids and Teens of the Dominican Republic :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

YA Author Beth Revis talks "Character Emotions"

NY Times Best Selling YA author Beth Revis is here to talk with us today about why and how to use character emotions to make our stories stronger.  Beth's debut novel, Across the Universe was published by Razorbill/Penguin in Spring 2011, landing on that NY Times Best Seller list and the Indie Best-seller list too.  The second book, A Million Suns came out in 2012, and the final book in the trilogy, Shades of Earth was just released in January 2013.  Beth's also published stories in several anthologies.  She has a great novella, As They Slip Away, set in the Across the Universe world, that is available free online. Check it out! 
Beth runs a blog on writing ( and is a participant of a group blog by debut dystopian authors (
 Thanks Beth, for being with us today!
 Let's jump in with this first Question:
The first chapter of your first book in this series, Across the Universe, opens with a scene in which your main character and her family are feeling strong emotions –in this case pain and fear. The scene is gripping and it’s keeps us readers reading!  :)  (For those Writermorphosis readers who haven't gotten to read Beth's books yet, I strongly suggest clicking above on "the first chapter" and reading the 1st chapter before reading the rest of this post.  That Chap. is our starting point for today!)

So Beth, I’ve heard you say that as authors we should “Dig as deep as we can go into some sort of emotional or physical intensity (in our novels)”   You’ve said … “you’re trying to make us care about your characters—do that by making us feel.  

In Across the Universe The main idea of my first chapter is pain -- but any intense emotion or feeling would do. If it was a kissing scene, I could have described the kiss in great depth, the emotion of love and longing. If it was a sad scene, I could do more than have a tear fall down the main character's cheek...the reason? We all have feelings... You're trying to make us care about your characters -- do that by making us feel. Really dig into the emotion and you'll keep your readers hanging on."

This is great advice!  Thanks Beth! Let’s talk a bit more about writing emotional scenes for our characters.
Question 1.)

From your perspective, what is it about strong emotional scenes that makes them an effective tool for writers to use?
We cannot connect with every character on every single level. Characters come from all different backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, ages, socioeconomic situations, and more--and chances are, none of them are like me exactly. But I *can* connect with a character on an emotional level. As a young woman, I might not understand what it is to be an old man, but I do know what heartache is. Regret. Joy. Sorrow. Hope. This is where you make the connection with your reader.


That is definitely true, Beth.  I was quite sad the other day identifying with something sad that's going on in a friend's life right now.  We all often identify and hurt, rejoice, laugh, and cry right along with the emotions felt by others who we care about. 
So, can you give us any specific tips or suggestions on how to write or think about writing emotional scenes in our books? Are there specific components to add or not to add?

When you hear the phrase, "write what you know," that doesn't mean that you have to limit to your own background. Write the emotions you know. Tap into that truth, and you'll be able to find the emotional connection you need for your characters.

Great tip! I suspect that even just thinking of the multitude of emotional experiences we all had -- even just during our Middle School and High School years -- can give us a wealth of fodder for the types of emotions to layer onto our characters, and the physical, emotional, and behavioral responses those characters are likely to exhibit as a result of those emotions!

So, here's another specific question related to your use of emotions in your own writing.  Shades of Earth, your 3rd book in the Across the Universe trilogy, was just released in January 2013! Without creating a spoiler situation for those who haven’t gotten to read it yet, can you share with us a particular scene or situation in that book in which you used character emotions to make the scene strong?
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE was really my way of showing a girl who realizes for the first time that her parents can't save her. She wants her parents to be able to tell her everything is going to be okay, but they can't. In SHADES OF EARTH, it's about a girl who has the comfort of her parents back with her, but realizes that maybe they're not right after all. This is something we all go through: that moment when we realize we disagree with our parents on some fundamental level, that our lives have diverged from theirs.

Ah yes... we all certainly remember the emotions that go along with that!

So, it seems like we've a all had plenty of emotional experiences in our lives to make it easy for us to create emotional experiences for our characters.  We've all been refused something we wanted; we've all lost something; We've all won something or beaten someone at something. We've all been sad, afraid, excited, overwhelmed... 

So... looking at the flip side of this theme, in your opinion, how can we writers know if we’re including too much emotion, or too many emotional scenes in a single chapter or story? Or is it not possible to use too much emotion? (Perhaps another way to ask this question would be: How important is it to balance very emotional scenes with less emotionally driven scenes , and do you have any tips on how to maintain this balance?)
Too much emotion is melodrama--look at any cheesy soap opera and you'll see that effect. It's not so much about balancing high emotion with less emotion; it's about being true to your character. Just ask yourself, if you were in that situation, how would you feel? Make your characters feel that. You don't spend every second of every day in a state of high emotion--you'd exhaust yourself. And if your characters are like that, you'll exhaust your readers. Just be true to the situation and truly show the emotion that a real person would have.
Those are great tips, Beth!  We do want to definitely avoid the melodrama!

Before you go, though, we have one final, more personal question. :) Now that you've wrapped up Shades of Earth, do you have a new project that you’re working on, and if so, what about that new project makes you “emotional?”

I am working on something new, although I can't say too much about it! I will say, however, that it totally fills me with fear! I'm desperate for it to be good enough--better than good enough!
Ha ha!  I'm sure it will be great!  No worries!
But that's good for those of us who are newer writers to be reminded that even as we progress in our careers, the pressure and desire to write that "better than good enough" novel that editors will love, and publish, and that readers will want to read and tell their friends all about, comes back to dance around our fingers and our hearts as we type every page of every book. 

Thanks for sharing your your tips and your heart with us!


We look forward to reading your next project, and I'm sure many Writermorphosis readers are now rushing off to finishing up our read of the Across the Universe trilogy, with Shades of Earth!

Good luck to all Writermorphosis readers this week, as we each think about how we can make our characters' emotions ring so true that the readers can't help but be drawn to them!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

TAX TIPS for Writers in the U.S.

If you live in the United States, it's that time of year again!  Tax Time!

If you're a newly published author, or a pre-published novelist, you may wonder -- how does this affect my taxes?

Questions like:
1.) Should I claim my freelance writing as a business, even though I've only sold two magazine articles this year?
2.) Can I count that conference I attended in September as a deduction?  If I can -- should I? Or will that make me likely to be audited 5 years from now?
3.) Can I count my office supplies?  Can I count my new computer -- even though I'm actually only using it 1/2 time for writing and 1/2 of the time my teenage son is using it for school and facebook?
4.) How do I count "royalties" from this first book on my taxes?
5.) And what about all that money I spent promoting the book?  What about the cost of my website? My gas driving over to that book signing or that school presentation I did last month?
6.) Do I need a CPA or tax attorney who knows about this stuff to do my taxes?  Or am I still fine on my own doing it online?

These are just a few of the many questions we have.  And - alas - all the CPAs are super busy right now, so...if you haven't thought to ask these questions before, you may have a hard time finding an  available CPA to sit down with you for several hours so you can ask these questions between now and April 15th.

But do not dispair. There are some great websites written by such CPAs and Tax attorneys, and by other writers, that can give you initial advice on the best strategies for how to file your taxes related to your writing. (*Although - since this is tax info, you should always check with a CPA to make sure the rules are still the same in 2013)!

Check the articles out here:

TAXES AND THE WRITER - written by a CPA (note, this was written in 2006 so a few details may have changed, but the basic info. on deductions is very helpful! ) 


TAXES and WRITERS - Interview published in Jan/Feb 2013 Southern Writers Magazine.

So, these are just a few of the great tips out there on the internet to help U.S. writers as you file your taxes this year.  For the international audience of Writermorphosis -- search online for similar resources in your country when tax time comes around!


UPCOMING AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:  In the next few weeks we'll have amazing YA/MG and PB authors coming to share their tips with us, including NY Times Best Selling YA author BETH REVIS!  See you there!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Author Neil Gaiman: On "Making Good Art"

English Author Neil Gaiman really needs no introduction.  He's written well-known adult books, well-loved comic books and graphic novels, and at least one screenplay. 

His YA novel The Graveyard Book won both the Newbery and Carnegie medals in 2008, the only single book to ever win both. His fantasy book Stardust, and his MG novel Coraline, have both been made into movies that are loved by children and adults alike. His newest picture book, Chu's Day was just released on January 18th, (and interestingly enough was illustrated by fabulous illustrator/author Adam Rex, who was our author interviewee on Writermorphosis just three weeks ago). Amazon calls Chu's Day a "Pre-K-aged sweet, playful tale about a small panda with an extraordinary knack for inadvertently causing trouble."

So, you name it, Neil has written it - every type of book, for every age group -- from a sweet little panda, to sci-fi dramas, to scary ghosts and graveyards, to wolves in the walls.

Today he's here to share tips, and most importantly, INSPIRATION via the video below. I suspect that -- no matter what our age is -- we can all find a nugget or two of wisdom in this speech he gave to the graduating class of the University of the Arts in 2012.


When writing your YA novel, your picture book, your middle grade mystery or fantasy, or whatever type of book you're working on ...  never lose sight of the wonderful and amazing opportunity to


Thank you, Neil.  An excellent speech!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Perfecting your PITCH - Attend Pitch Fest @ WriteOnCon!

Is your book ready to be sent off to agents and editors?  Hooray!  But is your PITCH ready?

A pitch is a short description of your book that goes in your query letter, along with info about you as an author, and the target audience for your book.  But pitches are hard to write!  Luckily for all of us, there is a huge opportunity this month to get help improving our pitches before sending those query letters out!

WriteOnCon is a Free online writer's conference for kidlit writers.

It happens every year in the summer!  But this Winter there is addition to the normal WriteOnCon calendar.

They're hosting a YA/MG Pitch-Fest this Feb and March! 

(And no, this is not a commercial. :) It's a legitimate Writermorphosis professional Link. WriteOnCon can help you perfect your pitch, and it can put you in touch with agents who will read that YA or MG pitch and help you perfect it!)

So, what is a pitch fest?  It's a free online mini-conference where you can:

1) Read advice from agents on how to improve your Pitch: on the Experts Board.  (Agents are posting tips there now, and will continue throughout the 1st 1/2 of March when the voting begins.)

2.) Post your own pitch on the Forums (today) for feedback from other Authors and from Agents on how to make it better.   And you can (and should, if your pitch is up there,) also give feedback to other authors on how to improve their pitches that they also have posted. It's a pitch fest - everyone gives helpful feedback to everyone else. The forums opened in February, but are still open now - join today and get feedback on your pitch!

Click the link above for complete details and rules and join pitch fest today!  Here are 2 paragraphs from Pitch Fest staff to wet your appetite: WriteOnCon!

"The details (as reported by staff at WriteOnCon):

–Pitch-fest runs from March 18-22. Authors, book bloggers, readers, and our fabulous literary agents will be voting on the pitches. The favorites in each category will win prizes, including some great agent feedback or membership in the official WriteOnCon mentorship program!

–There will only be a limited number of pitches accepted. This number will be based on how many agents attend. Pitches will be selected randomly, so it doesn’t matter what time zone you live in.

Make your pitch the best it can be before you submit.

Dates to know:
February 18-March 10 –
Forum peer pitch critiques (Caroline has the forum boards built! Check them out HERE)

March 11-13 –
Submission of final pitches (this will be done through a Google form, NOT in the forum–details to come!)

March 14-17 –
We build the boards in the forum (they will be hidden until March 18)

March 18-22 –
Voting and commenting by literary agents, mentor authors, and book bloggers"

So, happy Pitch-Writing, Critiquing, Revising and Submitting.   Join the Pitch Fest at WriteOnCon today, and may it move your book forward, with a great pitch, toward publication!  - Janelle