FYI: Where in the World Is…

I’m happy to share the addition of a new page on the site, one dedicated to keeping track of my travel schedule in terms of conferences and other events I plan to attend/participate in. Conferences and Other Travel can be found as  a drop-down link in the top navigation bar, beneath About.

The idea is not just to let you know what I’m up to, but to give you a chance to connect with me if I’m in your neck of the woods. While some events are obviously the sort that require registration, others will be more me-in-the-neighborhood, such as the LA Times Book Festival (free to attend), book signings, etc. Hope to see you around!

Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis: Webinar for Writers

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Long-time readers of this blog know I occasionally teach a course on synopsis writing through the Writer’s Digest webinar series. The course focuses on how to organize your thoughts in order to distill a full-length manuscript or the plot of a work-in-progress into a brief synopsis — either very short, to be used in query letters, or several pages that can be sent to agents or editors who request it or used to sell a project on partial. The live online format means attendees sign into the course and go through it in real time, but they also receive a file of the completed webinar later by email, including both audio and the slide presentation, to review at their leisure. Anyone who registers to take the live course may also submit a single completed synopsis for critique after applying what they learned in class.

Interested in whipping your synopsis into shape? Feel overwhelmed by the task, with no idea where to start? Join me for Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis: Construct Your Ultimate Sales Tool on Thursday, March 17, 2016, at 1pm ET. Please keep in mind that, even if you can’t attend live, you will receive the complete course and audio by email, and only those who register ahead will be eligible for the critique.

Check out the course description for complete details, including information on system requirements, etc. I hope to see you in class!

Welcome to the Writing and Rambling Relaunch!

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Welcome to the new home of Writing and Rambling! I’ve been talking about making the move to a self-hosted site for a long time but just never seemed to get around to it. Although I write about topics related to work, this site has always been a labor of love, somewhere I can chat about books and writing and agent life. It lets me reach out in a small way to all the aspiring writers and die-hard readers and the folks who are simply curious about the world of publishing. Moving Writing and Rambling to this new space will allow me a little more flexibility in terms of changing the appearance of the site and adding more features, and I’m excited to have finally taken the leap. So please update your bookmarks and join me!

Those of you coming over from the previous location will note the shiny new look, but rest assured that all the posts have migrated and the links all seem to be working. I’ll be adding new pages and other features to the blog as we go — you might notice a few new social media links to the right — as well as updating existing features, but for now the content remains pretty much as it always was. If you’re looking for a specific post, all you need to do is update the root of the URL to http://nepheletempest.com/ and leave everything after the .com on your old link the same. That should take you to any page you wish to find.

Anyone who previously subscribed to the site at the old location in order to receive an email when I update, please hang tight as I’ve put in a request to the good WordPress people to migrate my subscription list over to this site. As soon as that takes place, notifications shall resume. If you don’t wish to wait, there’s a subscription opt-in at the top right of the navigation section, but you may end up with duplicate notifications if you received them before.

Business as usual will resume here in a day or two, and the old site will begin to redirect to this location. Thanks to all of you have been reading and commenting for the last few years, and welcome, everyone, to this new, relaunched version of Writing and Rambling. Have a wonderful day, and don’t forget to get some writing done.

The Art of Writing the Other: Online Class

I mentioned this course — The Art of Writing the Other — the last time it was offered, and it’s coming up again. It will be a shorter, more intensive version, and therefore cost less than the last course did. However it takes place over the New Year’s holiday weekend: January 1-3. Registration opens tomorrow, December 5th. Head over and check out the details ASAP if you’re at all interested. It should be a really great course.

With Conference Comes Plague…

For those of you wondering where I am, I did not decide to stay back east and indulge in bookish revelry or extended vacation time. In truth, I succumbed to the age old tradition of the conference plague. By the second day of RWA, I had laryngitis, and by the time I left the city Friday afternoon it was turning into an actual cold. I spent last week at my parents’ house, gargling and drinking tea with honey and blowing my nose, and thanks to a much-delayed flight back to LA that had me sitting on a plane for eleven hours, I spent the weekend on my couch doing many of the same things.

I have been assured that what I have is viral, which means not strep, but also means I don’t get any of the good drugs. It’s more annoying than anything at this point, because it is holding on tight, but all I can do is wait for it to decide it’s finished having its wicked way with me. In the meantime, I’ll be back to posting as soon as I have more than a few meagre hours of brain power to allocate to the day. Go read something good while I’m gone…

Referrals, or The Art of Giving Yourself Away

I never thought this was something I would need to explain to people, but recent trends in my inbox suggest otherwise. So I am taking a moment here to discuss how referrals work in terms of sending me a query for your project.

If you begin your query letter by stating that so-and-so referred you to me, then I need to actually know that person. And by know, I mean they are my client or an editor I work with or a friend with whom I chat at conferences/online/by phone/in person on a fairly regular basis. Just because I spoke with someone once at a conference eight years ago, does not make them a valid connection. It needs to be a person with whom I’m comfortable confirming that referral, as in, “Hi, did you send such-and-such author my way?” Because I will do that. I will check up on you. So do not name drop if it won’t stand up to my verification.

Also, please understand what a referral actually is. It is when someone who knows both of us specifically suggests that you drop me a line. It is not a referral if someone you know read my name in a round up of agents who represent a specific genre. It is not a referral if your critique partner (who does not know me personally) suggested you add my name to your submissions list. Nor is it a referral if we know someone in common, but they never actually suggest you query me. Referrals are based on real-world connections, and involve a suggestion that we might work well together.

Now, I realize writers talk among themselves and brainstorm and share information, and it’s wonderful if your fellow writers or industry friends give you lists of agents to check out because they represent your kind of book, or represent some author you love. This is how the business works, how you come across people to query. But suggestions and recommendations are not the same as referrals, and it’s important to keep them separated in your mind, and in your query language.

Every writer hopes to find that foot in the door, the trick that will help get them to the next level, and referrals, when genuine, certainly qualify. As an agent, I’m always looking for ways to weed through the material coming my way for a clue as to quality, so if a writer or editor I know and admire suggests that I take a look at something, I trust their judgment and give that writer’s work a chance. That doesn’t mean I’ll sign someone just on someone else’s say so; I still need to love the writing and feel I can sell it. But a true referral definitely serves as a short-cut to my desk.

And that’s the key. It has to be real. Because no agent wants to work with a writer who lies to get a foot in the door, and there’s no quicker way to find yourself with a rejection letter than to pretend a connection that does not exist. I’ve seen a sharp increase in name-dropping in my inbox the last few months, and maybe it’s something I should simply ignore — shake my head and send the rejections and let the writers in question struggle on. But I suspect some of these are honest mistakes, a misunderstanding regarding the terminology that results in some writers giving an incorrect impression, so I’m putting this out there in hopes of setting them straight.

On Holiday

I’m visiting my parents in Connecticut for Christmas, so I’ll be taking a few days off from posting. Expect the next update before the new year. Thank you so much for sharing your time with me here on the blog. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season, and the very best of everything for 2015!

Christmas-Tree

Learn to Write a Synopsis: This Week!

I posted about this a few weeks ago, but I wanted to repost for anyone who might have missed it or who might be on the fence about whether they want to sign up.

Last year I taught a webinar through Writer’s Digest on how to break down the sometimes daunting task of writing a synopsis, whether you need a short one to serve as a blurb for your query letter or something more substantial to send to an agent or editor on request. It went very well and I still have people query me or come up to me at conferences, mentioning that they took the course and found it helpful. So, I’m happy to say I’ll be teaching the class again, Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis: Construct Your Ultimate Sales Tool, on Thursday, August 21, 2014, at 1pm ET. Even if you can’t make it live, please keep reading to learn why you might still wish to register.

The class airs live online via a PowerPoint presentation, with me calling in to teach, and everyone attending able to type in questions as we go, which I then answer at the end of the session. The class gets recorded, so attendees receive the presentation with my narration and all the Q&A material afterwards. In addition, the course includes a synopsis critique. Attendees have a couple of weeks following the class to take everything they’ve learned and apply it to writing or revising their own synopsis, which they can then send to me for feedback.

Please note that while you can purchase the course materials after the fact, only writers who register for the live class on August 21st will be eligible for the critique. You don’t need to actually attend live if your schedule conflicts, but you should register ahead anyway if you want a chance to submit your synopsis for some comments. I’m looking forward to helping more people tackle the synopsis hurdle, and I hope a few of you will join me!

Assorted and Miscellaneous

Just popping in with a few brief announcements today, of the “hear ye, hear ye,” variety.

First off: If you have purchased an electronic copy of Nalini Singh’s novella Declaration of Courtship, the original file posted to the e-tailers accidentally included the epilogue from Texture of Intimacy. This wasn’t instead of anything — the full text of Declaration was in the file. The publisher is uploading a revised version so going forward the file should be correct. However, because Nalini feels bad that readers briefly thought there was more to the story than there ended up being, she’s going to write an all-new epilogue for Declaration of Courtship. Further information is available on Nalini’s Facebook page.

Next up, though the observant among you may have already noticed this, I’ve added a Wish List page to this site. The link is up above, next to the About Me link. This new page lists a few of the types of books I’m really hoping to find in my submissions box. This is different from my list of genres I represent; it’s a little more specific, going into the sorts of stories I’d really like to read at the moment. I’ll be updating periodically, removing and adding as my interests change or I find some of the projects I’m seeking.