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Posts Tagged ‘writing tips’

Editing a Manuscript: Inside the Editorial Process

Posted by inkpopbecki on June 8, 2011

So many of you have asked, what goes into the editorial process? Well as inkpop author Leigh Fallon will tell you, Carrier of the Mark went through A LOT of editing. Want to hear more or ask a real live HarperCollins Editor about publishing? Join us for a live chat today at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop forum events.

Until then, check out some of the work that went in to making Carrier of the Mark the fantastic novel that will be published on October 4, 2011

Eric performed two rounds of line  edits on Carrier of the Mark. These were the first line edits, done by hand. Line-Edits

The second line edits were done through  Track_Change.

Want to see more or want to find out more about the editing process? Psst a comment or a question in our  inkpop forum events.

Posted in inktips, Inside the Mind | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Breaking the Genre Code: inktips from Kimberly Derting

Posted by inkpopbecki on April 13, 2011

Most authors will tell you it’s important to write in a genre and stick with it. That’s great, but not all books are that easy. Kimberly Derting’s Body Finder series offers readers a paranormal story with a bit of suspense. So what do you do when your genre is not so clear cut. Join us for a live chat today at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop Forum Events with Kimberly Derting who will answer this and other questions. Can’t wait until tonight? We have some  writing tips from Kimberly Derting to wet your appetite.


Trying to pin down the exact genre of THE BODY FINDER was no small feat.  It was a mystery/thriller with a paranormal spin.  And, on top of that, it was a romance as well. It was a paramystamance.  Yeah…not so much.  But writing THE BODY FINDER was a whole other story.  I never once thought about how I was going to fit it into a neat little box, mostly because the secrets to writing suspense are the same whether you’re writing a fast-paced action-thriller or a toe-curling romance. For whatever genre you write, it’s all about trying to keep your readers on the edge of their seats.


1)  Use the Red Herring approach.  Sounds like some sort of cold, dead fish, right?  Well, it’s not.  The red herring can be your best friend when you’re writing.  Don’t know what a red herring is?  Here, let me help.  Red Herring: something intended to divert attention from the real problem or matter at hand; a misleading clue. Think about it, you have to give your readers clues along the way, hints as to how your story will wrap up, but you don’t want those clues to be too obvious or you might as well just tell them whodunit and get it over with!  One way to make those hints less conspicuous is to use the “red herring” trick.  Just when you’re dangling a particularly juicy bit of information onto the page, divert their attention by giving them something even shinier to look at…something more interesting to focus on.

2)  Cast aspersions and doubt onto your characters.  This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to fall into this trap.  Make sure your “bad guy” isn’t wearing a black hat and your “hero” isn’t always riding a white horse.  Don’t let anyone off the hook.  Give your readers reason to questions everyone.  In romance, a lot of writers create love triangles to build this sense of tension for the protagonist, forcing her (or him) to choose between two romantic opposites.  Making the readers ask who will they pick?  Is he/she the same one we would choose?

3)  Ratchet up the tension.  How many times have you been reading a scene and you’re perched on the edge of your seat practically screaming at the pages—at the character—not to go in the room where danger awaits?  You know what I mean.  We do it with books, TV, at the movies.  But it’s those moments before the protagonist is wandering into dangerous territory that really get your heart racing and make you want to jump out of your skin.  Take the movie JAWS, for example.  The girl is swimming along, minding her own business, and suddenly you hear it…the music.  You know the shark is coming, but she has no idea.  You hold your breath.  You squeeze the hand of the person next to you.  You want to tell her “Swim!  For the love of God, swim!!!”  But once you see the blood gurgling to the surface, and the girl has disappeared beneath the dark waters, you already know she’s toast and you can breathe again.  At least until you hear that familiar soundtrack once more.

Take your time constructing those “moments before”.  Set the scene by describing the atmosphere, what they’re smelling, hearing, and feeling around them.  Think about the emotions the character is going through…is their heart racing?  Is their breathing shallow?  Give the reader some time to really fret over that character’s well-being.

So how does that same principle apply to romance, you ask?  Simple.  What’s really the best part of the love story?  I love a good kiss as much as the next girl, but even better than the kissing scenes are those moments before the first kiss (or kisses).  The close calls and what-ifs and will-he-or-won’t-he moments that have you leaning closer to the page and holding your breath.


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Creating a Paranormal World: inkTips from Author Cynthia Hand

Posted by inkpopbecki on April 6, 2011

Cynthia Hand knows a thing or two about writing compelling paranormal worlds. As a debut author, she was able to intrigue a HaperCollins editor so much, she sold the paranormal trilogy Unearthly on her first round of submissions. That is practically unheard of in the publishing world. How did she do it? Ask her yourself. Join us for a live chat with Cynthia Hand today at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop Event Forums.

In the meantime check out these helpful tips from Cynthia on how to create an engaging paranormal world.


1.Do the research. For most paranormal worlds there is some sort of mythology and history out there. Most of the big best-selling books like The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, etc, that have fantastic, creative and original worlds also have a very strong basis in real history and myth. Don’t be intimidated by it—dive in! Become an expert in the subject, really let yourself get into it and try to look at your topic from all angels—whoops, I mean angles. J The more you know, the fuller and richer the world you create will become. Creating a believable paranormal world is about the details, and doing the research will provide you with all kinds of beautiful details. Make it your business to collect details.

2. Follow your instincts. While you’re doing all this amazing research, let your gut lead you. If there’s a nagging little voice at the back of your brain that says that a piece of information you stumble over could be important, or that maybe you should look into this particular story or subject a little more, listen to it. Be curious. Go after what interests you, not just in a little way, but in a big way, because if something is super interesting to you, chances are that it will be interesting to everybody else, too.

3. Ditch the research. At some point you will have to push out on your own. Don’t let the information you’ve gathered confine you—break away. Take what you want from the research and abandon the rest. What will make your paranormal world successful is ultimately not about the fact-gathering you’ve done, but about your own unique vision. That’s why there can be ten great vampire novels out there or why so many writers can get away with retelling the story of Cinderella; even if the story’s been told before or we’re familiar with the subject, you, as a writer, can make it new. It’s all about your creativity, your twist, your fresh take.

4. Don’t forget the real world. Maybe the biggest, most important tip I can give you in creating a paranormal world is to put as much focus (if not more) on the real world of your story as you put on the supernatural world. When we are immersed in a real world that feels true and visceral and er, real, then it is easier for us to believe the aspects of your story that defy belief. A good story is not just about the flashy special effects—it’s about the people, and you want your people to live in as real an environment as possible. Practice restraint with your crazy supernatural stuff and think instead about what your main character eats for breakfast. (My main character, Clara, is a fan of Cheerios with banana slices.) Again, this is about the details.

5. And finally, have fun with it. Let yourself play! This is the fun part of being a writer!

Want to read more about the Unearthyly series? Check out Unearthly at HarperTeen.

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Interest, Research and Personality: Writing Tips from Ellen Schreiber

Posted by inkpopbecki on March 30, 2011

Ellen Schreiber is the author of the bestselling series Vampire Kisses and the recently released new series Once in a Full Moon. Clearly this is an author who knows writing. Want to hear from bestselling author Ellen Schreiber? Join our live chat today at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop forum events . In the mean time check out these writing tips.

1. Write what you’d like to read. Pick characters that are of interest to you and they will flow much easier when writing about them.

2. Research can help. The internet, library, etc. can give you ideas into folklore and what has been passed down from generations and cultures. You can incorporate these ideas into your story.

3. Make the characters your own. What is special about your paranormal characters and what do they have to say about their situations and circumstances? Use your own take on them to bring originality to your work.

4. Have fun! Whatever you write about, you should always enjoy the process of writing. Sure there might be stumbling blocks, but being creative should be enjoyable and fulfilling. Always follow your passion.

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Writing Poetry: Tip from Poet and Professor Thanhha Lai

Posted by inkpopbecki on March 9, 2011

Poetry is a popular topic on inkpop. Whether it’s how to become a published poet or is alright to alter meter and rhyme to enhance a poem? Today we have poetry professor and published author Thanhha Lai live on inkpop to discuss the art of poetry. Join us in the inkpop Forum Events at 5 p.m. EST to speak directly with Thanhha Lai. In the mean time, check out some of Thanhha Lai’s quick tips on how to write poetry.

Writing Poetry: Writing Tips from Thanhha Lai

1.  Use as few words as possible.  First, write down your line.  Then cut one word at a time while asking yourself, has the meaning changed?

If not, keep cutting.  You want the syrup without any sap.

2.  Conjure up fresh, concise images.  Surprise the readers whenever possible.  For example, instead of: “He killed the chicken.”  Write:  “A red line appeared across the hen’s neck.”

3.  Say it, without actually saying it.  When conveying emotions, instead of outright saying, “She’s sad (or happy),” employ an image or detail that reveals the character.  Instead of: “She’s sad he cut down her biggest papaya.”  Try:  “Black seeds spill/ like clusters of eyes,/ wet and crying.”

Thanhha Lai’s new book, Inside out and Back Again is a  historical novel told in verse, based on the author’s childhood move from Vietnam to Alabama. 

Want to discover more about writing poetry? Join us in the inkpop Forum Events for a live chat with poetry professor and author Thanhha Lai at 5 p.m. EST

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Finding an Agent

Posted by inkpopbecki on March 2, 2011

Agents! They’re a popular topic on inkpop and indeed in most writing communities. What are they? What do they do? Do you need them to get published? And most importantly how do you get one? Well join us today for a live chat in the inkpop forum events to speak with Agent Tina Wexler and the first author discovered on inkpop, Leigh Fallon.  In the mean time, we caught up with Tina and Leigh to hear about how agents find authors and how authors find agents.

How do I find clients?
My clients have come to me by way of conferences, contests, and pitch slams, as referrals from existing clients, and as referrals from editors and other agents. Some of my clients were people I discovered online and approached myself.  And, of course, I find clients by reading through my query letters.
For those writers who don’t have an ‘in,’ a well-written query can still open doors. I read and respond to all of my queries (the ones that aren’t eaten up by ICM’s SPAM filters, that is) and I have found many gems that way.
The queries that are most apt to catch my eye are those that demonstrate a familiarity with what I’m looking to represent—primarily middle grade and YA fiction and adult non-fiction—and that summarize the work in 3-4 concise yet engaging lines.  And if, say, your manuscript has shot up the ranks on inkpop within weeks of being posted, well, that’s always good to include too.

Finding an Agent

The woes of trying to get an agent! You won’t believe it until you start trying.  When I finished The Carrier of the Mark I stumbled blindly into querying.   I bought myself a copy of The Writers Handbook and started looking for agents who would be a match for me.  I reached out to a few in Ireland with no luck.  Then I tried my hand at a select few from the UK and the US, but to no avail.  I’m not surprised.  Neither my book nor I were ready to be on submission, and my query letter totally sucked too!
inkpop changed all of that.  After I uploaded my work and got critique advice, my manuscript seriously improved.  And through reading the forums I learned a lot about submitting to agents.  When HarperCollins first contacted me, I decided to take action once again in securing an agent.  I was very picky this time. I researched in detail and found four agents who I felt were a match for me; I liked their work, style, and ethic.  Tina Wexler’s name kept popping up during my searches.  She’d done many interviews with bloggers and I just felt from the start that she was ‘the one’.
Tina was the first to respond to my query, she was very pleasant and helpful.  She gave me advice and was very upfront and honest.  When I received an offer from HarperCollins, I contacted Tina again.  She requested my full manuscript and said she’d get back to me once she’d read it.  The next day Tina and ICM offered to represent me. Instead of waiting for my manuscript, Tina read what she could on inkpop, and was convinced we’d make a good team.  I withdrew my queries with the other agents and signed on the dotted line with ICM.
In the time honored tradition of clichés… the rest, as they say, is history.

Posted in Inside the Mind, The Carrier of the Mark | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Boys Eye View: Inside the Mind of Gordon Korman

Posted by cat eyes & skinny jeans on December 29, 2010

Author Gordon Korman was born to write, as evident by the more than sixty novels he has penned over the course of his lifetime – including the bestselling No More Dead Dogs, The Juvie Three, Son of the Mob, and, most recently Pop. But while many books on the market nowadays feature male protagonists, Korman’s novels go a little deeper – actually focusing on issues that plague the male species. Join us today – Wednesday, December 29th at 5 p.m. EST – on the inkpop forums to speak with author Gordon Korman about his experience in tackling tough guy issues – and what it takes to write them yourself!

While most topics in young adult literature seem to center on day to day life or a paranormal life, what made you decide to write a book that focuses on football?

I’m a big sports fan, but I’ve always felt there’s something special about football in particular. It just seems larger somehow. Yes, it’s an athletic contest, but it’s also a chess match between coaches, a territory war, and a gladiatorial competition. Also, since football is a once-a-week thing, each game seems rarer and more meaningful.

Football occupies a unique place in the culture of a high school. The team belongs to the larger community as much as to the school itself – especially in smaller towns. Locals with no ties to the student body can still be fans. And the players enjoy a status unmatched by athletes in other sports. A basketball star is just some guy who can put a ball through a hoop. But a varsity quarterback is almost royalty, even off season.

What’s interesting is that I wasn’t an athlete at all in high school, so my personal perspective has always been that of somebody on the outside looking in. I didn’t even grow up in football country – I’m Canadian originally, so hockey was the big thing when I was a kid. That might be why the football culture fascinates me so much.

Sports are an incredibly visual medium. What does it take to translate a sport like football into a narrative?

Because sports fans are not always the most literary people in the world, great sports writing doesn’t usually get the credit it deserves. I think it’s amazing how some writers have the ability to take a game that’s basically identical to tens of thousands that have come before, and frame it in such a way as to create heroes, villains, and drama that often borders on transcendent.

Re: description – this may seem a little cheesy, but I believe it – we’re used to instant replay from TV. So rather than envision sports scenes unfolding in real time, it’s natural to “see” them in slow motion. That makes it easy to break down a split-second burst of play into a detailed sequence of actions and reactions. When I wrote the football scenes in POP, I imagined them all in slo-mo.

Alzheimer’s is also a topic not often addressed in young adult novels. What made you take on this topic? How do you feel teens will relate to this subject?

The football connection was already there. CTE, the condition afflicting athletes who have suffered repeated concussions and head trauma during their playing careers, is identical to Alzheimer’s Disease. It struck a personal chord with me, because, in the nineties, I watched my grandmother’s deterioration from Alzheimer’s.

It affected her oddly at first. She mixed up generations. She thought I was her brother, even though I was 19 and she was over 80. She did this with everybody. She had the relation essentially correct – but it was almost as if she had become unstuck in time. That’s what gave me the idea for POP: What if an NFL veteran, suffering from head-trauma-induced Alzheimer’s, begins to confuse a teenage quarterback with his old high school football buddy?

Will teens relate to this? Just open a newspaper. This current NFL season, the league has been changing the rules governing legal contact practically every week, as the latest research continues to pour in. It’s the hottest topic in sports.

Want to ask Gordon a question yourself? Join us for our live chat with Gordon Korman today – Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 – at 5 p.m. EST on the inkpop forums.

Erika (aka inkpoperika)

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The Award Winner: Inside the Mind of Rita Williams-Garcia

Posted by cat eyes & skinny jeans on December 15, 2010

Author Rita Williams-Garcia didn’t set out to be an Award-Winning Author; she simply wrote what she knew and loved, and the rest fell nicely into place. Join us today – Wednesday, December 15th at 5 p.m. EST – on the inkpop forums to speak with National Book Award Finalist Rita Garcia-Williams about her experience as an award winning author and her new book Jumped.

Jumped tackles the theme of bullying in high school. Obviously this is a very timely topic. What experience inspired you to write story with such a theme? In your mind what are some of the detrimental ramifications that come from high school bullying?

Many years ago I was having a conversation with my daughter Stephanie when she was in the eighth or ninth grade and she was telling me about this fight. I asked her what it was about and she really couldn’t tell me. And I thought about this a lot. That we don’t think about the role that the bystander plays in fights or attacks. If you record it, post it, repeat the play-by-play of it, you’re contributing to this violence. Demonstrating your prowess as an aggressor might gratify the attacker immediately; but when everyone clears the way for them or respects them because of this prowess, then the fearful or admiring community becomes part of the problem. So, we have to stop giving attackers energy to feed on. The peaceful community has to come together to support a person of peace. No one wants to be a snitch, but no one wants to go to a funeral either. But it isn’t simply incumbent upon kids to act; parents and school administrators have to be more than involved. This problem isn’t an easy one. Often we’re talking about kids who have no or little parental support. If school officials or parents can’t communicate with parents of offending students, then the problems compound.

I’d like to see the peaceful outnumber the offenders. If the peaceful came together just to show their numbers, and their like-mindedness, then perhaps they can gain strength and support each other.

Unfortunately, for Trina, she has no community around her. Not one person to at least clue her in. In the end, her illusions are stripped away before her eyes. I am often asked, why did I allow this to happen? Couldn’t I have been more optimistic? Without giving away too much (okay, so maybe I already did), I had to turn everything back to Leticia. It’ll change when she changes.

Jumped was nominated for a National Book Award. Could you walk our members through the experience of such a nomination. When did you hear? What did it feel like? What were some of the other books nominated? Did you see an over arching theme in the books nominated for a National Book Award this year?

I didn’t believe it when I got the phone call. I absolutely didn’t believe it. I conducted interviews of the NBA Finalists in the past and couldn’t understand why the Foundation would be calling me before 9:00am. Getting the “finalist” call wasn’t even on my list of possibilities. It wasn’t. I couldn’t stop smiling. That day I was supposed to come down to Mary Immaculate Hospital to protest the closing of the only neighborhood hospital. A hospital I’d brought my daughters to for emergencies. When I got there I was one big smile. I had to turn around and go home. I wasn’t helping anyone. There I was, walking through the streets of Jamaica, Queens, frightening children with my demonic smile. I got all of these congratulatory posts on Facebook and since I was new to Facebook, I did what many a FB rookie would do: I responded to each one. Over 100 posts, over 100 responses.

The other books nominated were, A Leap of Faith by Debra Heligman, Claudette Colvin by Phillip Hoose, Stitches by David Small, and Lips Touch by Lainie Taylor. I have three sketches drawn by David Small hanging in my hallway. Two are of my daughters when they were 14 and 10. The other is a “lost and found” notice for his missing black jacket. I loved seeing that big shiny medal on my book jacket, but I think I really enjoyed all of the hooplah and sharing in it with the other finalists. Lainie’s hair coloring was this wicked pink and her editor Harold Levine dyed his beard in solidarity. I wonder if I could get Rosemary to wear her hair in twists at our next author and editor gig! We had a ball reading and signing at Books of Wonder on 18th Street, and reading to our public at the NYPL Teen Media Conference. We need to get rid of this stereotype that teens don’t read. Not only do they read, they know how to grill an author. Forget Oprah. These readers know how to ask a question!

Last year the panel selected mainly creative nonfiction, one fantasy title, and, well, me. The selections ranged from the very real to the very magical. This year, there was also great diversity. The dystopian steam punky Ship Breakers, the heart wrenching Mocking Bird, the timely and evocative Dark Water, the soul redemptive Lockdown from the master himself, Walter Dean Myers, and then there was, well, me. Once again, there was great diversity in the selections and some surprises! Did you know that Lockdown and One Crazy Summer have been spotted in The Gap’s Cool Hunting stores? Talk about the perks of being an NBA finalist in 2010!

If you had three words of advice for a first time Young Adult novelist what would it be?

There’s always more. More opportunities to nail it down better if you’re still writing, or if you‘ve just finished draft 1. More opportunities to write more stories. More readers to be won over. There’s always more.

Want to ask Rita a question yourself? Join us for our live chat with Rita Garcia-Williams today – Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 – at 5 p.m. EST on the inkpop forum events.

Erika (aka inkpoperika)

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From Web to Print, How to Promote & Sell Your Work: Tips from the Creators of The Amanda Project

Posted by inkpopbecki on December 1, 2010

Being in the digital age, it takes a lot more to make a bestselling book than just publishing it. Now a book is not just a book, but a website, an app and a brand. So what does it take to sell a book int he digital age? The creators of The Amanda Project are here to tell you. Want to know more? Check out their live chat today at 5 p.m. EST on the inkpop forum event.

1) Start with a fantastic story and compelling characters. These days infinite platform possibilities – apps! games! e-books! websites! – sometimes obscure what is, and always will be, the most important part of creating a transmedia success – a well-written, fantastic story with characters your readers fall in love with. Without that core, it doesn’t matter what media you work in, no one will care enough to engage with your story!

2) Think about possible avenues for collaboration with your readers as you create. Unlike traditional storytelling, transmedia stories tend to be less linear, and invite readers into the narrative. You’re not just telling the story, you’re collaborating with your readers – – you’re building the house, and they’re helping you furnish it. Think about the extent to which you’d like your story to be open-ended – are you creating the main narrative, and inviting readers to imagine side plots and invent ancillary characters? Are you writing serialized installments and inviting readers to determine the course of the narrative Choose Your Own Adventure style? Are you creating a more traditional narrative that has ancillary media based on your characters, but is less interactive? There are infinite possibilities – just be clear on what will work for your story and abilities.

3) Not all platforms are right for every story (and not all stories are right for every platform). The best transmedia stories are told across platforms that dovetail perfectly with the stories themselves. While some major properties may find lives across a variety of media (books, online, games, apps, etc.), many have anchors in one (books, movies), with extensions into a few others (web, app, game). Really think about the story you’re telling, and where it might live best. Don’t try to push it into formats that don’t make sense just to increase the “transmedia” nature of your story.

4) Play around with what’s out there. It’s very difficult to imagine your story as an app, or game, or collaborative community website if you don’t have experience interacting on those platforms. Just as great writers are great readers, great transmedia storytellers are great transmedia consumers. Buy apps, join communities, become addicted to games – they’ll help you understand how these different media work, and will help you shape your own vision.

Want to ask your own questions? Join the  live chat today at 5 p.m. EST on the inkpop forum event to talk to the creators of The Amanda Project. Check out their website at

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Second Annual inkie Awards

Posted by inkpopbecki on November 26, 2010

Hey guys! Can you believe it has almost been a year since inkpop has been around. I can’t! In honor of our one year anniversary we have decided to host the Second Annual inkie Awards. What are the inkie Awards you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. On New Year’s Day last January user XoADreadnought (aka Tim Sibiski)asked himself, “What could cause a stir on

inkpop?” And thus the inkies were born. The inkpop born awards program recognizes and celebrates inkpoppers’ achievements in writing and community leadership.

We’re in the final days of the inkie Awards. Go to this link and vote for your favorite inkies.

Check out some of the stellar nominees you can vote for:

1. Best Horror/Paranormal

2. Best General Fiction

3. Best Historical Fiction

Hearts at War by sakira

4. Best Romance

5. Best Science Fiction/Action

6. Best Fantasy/Adventure

7. Best Short Story

8. Best Poem

9. Best Essay

10. Best Humor/Satire

11. Best Imagery

12. Best Dialogue

13. Best Characters

14. Best Plot

15. Best Writing Style

16. Hardest Worker on inkpop

17. Best Critic

18. Most Influential inkpopper

19. Helpful Person on inkpop

20. Best Writing Challenge

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