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Thursday, July 29, 2010

More Author Insight: Good Advice & Contest Winners

Aspiring writers often hear: "Read what you want to write," "Hone your writing craft." and, above all else, "Be patient." What other advice would you give them?

"Quit listening to advice. Except for a handful of structure and format things, everything else is writers talking about what works for them. What works for me might not work for you. My ideas about writing might infuriate you, or frustrate you, or send you down the wrong path. So my advice is to only listen to mechanical advice, and disregard everything else unless it helps you. Because everything else is personal trivia." - Saundra Mitchell, author of Shadowed Summer.

"Read a lot, write a lot. Another one I’m partial to: 'Slow down when it hurts.'" - Jennifer Hubbard, author of The Secret Year.

"FIND ADVENTURE. In everyday life, and across the world." - Tessa Gratton, author of Blood Magic.

"Treat it like a job, which means putting in the hours and the research as well as behaving professionally at all times." - Lisa Mantchev, author of the Theater Illuminata series.

"Those are all wonderful pieces of advice. I’d add that you must remain persistent. I queried agents for roughly two years before I was offered representation. And the offer that came was for my third novel! You can never give up if you want to make it happen. That is true for anything in life." - Kristina McBride, author of The Tension of Opposites.

"On that, I will leave you with my favorite quote. It never fails to inspire me.

'Nothing in this world will take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common then unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.' --Calvin Coolidge

In other words, never give up." - Julie Kagawa, author of The Iron King.

"Know who you're writing for. First for yourself, then for an agent, then for an editor, and then for someone you will never meet and never get to explain what you really meant by writing that bit. The writing will have to stand on its own while wearing your name on its face. But if you start writing for fame or the faceless masses, you're toast. Write something that's important to *you*. You have to love it first. As far as the business side goes, the best advice is 'be patient.' Of course, I say: 'Patience is a virtue...but I never claimed to be virtuous!' - Dawn Metcalf, author of Skin & Bones.

"Write what you love and read as much as possible. And don't forget to pay attention to the real people in your life. It's fun to hang out in our own fictional worlds, but equally important to have a full life. I think it makes you a much better writer." - Shauri Maurer, author of Change of Heart.

"Play. Experiment. Figure out where your strengths lie and do THAT!" - Lisa Schroeder, author of Chasing Brooklyn.

"Finish something. You will never learn as much from any book, any piece of advice, any conference, as you will from writing a book from start to finish. "- Michelle Zink, author of Prophecy of the Sisters.

"Write because you want to write. A lot of aspiring writers, especially teens, focus too much on the end goal of getting published. Publishing is an admirable goal to have and a great achievement, but if you write for the sole reason of getting published, it will show in your writing. If you write for enjoyment, for the sake of sharing a story, your writing will be drastically better and publication will likely be the pleasant result." - Riley Carney, author of The Fire Stone.

"When you sit down to write a story, make sure it’s because you believe in that story and you love the act of writing itself. If you’re only hammering out the story because you want to be published, your heart isn’t in the right place from the get-go. I can tell you from personal experience that the moment I stopped writing with publication in mind was the same moment I started a story that was publishable. " - Alexandra Bracken, author of Brightly Woven.

"Develop a thick skin and plan the plot lines of your story so you’ll always have an idea of what you can put on the page the next time you face it." - Bonnie Doerr, author of Island Sting.

"Join a critique group, either online or in person. I’ve learned as much from critiquing others’ stories as I did from their comments on my work. Plus, it’s fun to interact with people who care about the same minutia as you do! " - Jessica Leader, author of Nice and Mean.

"Be persistent, but be mindful. Writing takes practice. How do you get to Carnegie Hall?...." - Janet Fox, author of Faithful.

"Write! Everyone will overcomplicate it and tell you about 'the craft' (which sounds like magic to me), but don't worry. If you write a lot, you'll get better. Don't worry about 'rules'. Just write." - Steph Bowe, author of Girl Saves Boy.

"I only give one piece of advice. KEEP WRITING! I've learned about writing from... writing. Each story a person writes will teach them something new, give them a new perspective. So the one thing I always tell people is to keep writing books." - Suzanne Young, author of The Naughty List.

This is the last post for this round of Author Insight, but stay tuned for Round 2! New authors, new questions, and plenty of writerly wisdom.
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Now for the winners...

Congratulations to grand prize winner Morgyn, who will get her choice of the two prize packs, and to Autumn, the runner-up, who for if any reason our grand prize winner cannot perform her duties... Wait, scratch the beauty pageant spiel. She'll get the remaining prize pack.

Thanks to everyone who entered!

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