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I hope everyone had an amazing summer! Now it’s back to school, work, and, hopefully, working on your manuscripts! May the second half of 2014 bring you many creative breakthroughs and challenges. If there’s ever anything I can do in an editorial capacity, please check out my freelance editing and consulting website. Now get out there and wear some white! Or whatever it is that people do on Labor Day…

Thanks to the fabulous Eric Fox of BSD Systems, who has been helping me out with IT over the years and does a great job for small businesses (this praise is unsolicited!), this website has been cleared of spam that snuck in through an outdated version of WordPress. I’ll be back in the second half of March with some fun new posts!

I’ve had some issues with the blog over the years but nothing quite as serious as what I’m dealing with now, a pharmaceutical hack. In Google results, this site shows up with a flag that suggests it’s been compromised. I know all about it and am working hard to cleanse the site with the help of my IT guy. I apologize for any anxiety this may cause. Please feel free to refrain from visiting until I post the “all clear,” as I’m not quite sure, myself, how the hack works.

In other news, I’m going to NYC and Europe for a few weeks and will resume posting the week of March 24th. When it rains, it pours, right? Thanks for your patience and understanding.

 

A wise man once said that the only constant is change. I didn’t know WHICH wise man said that, actually, so I Googled it. Turns out it’s a guy named Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher. Man, those guys got all the wisdom. Well, I could use some of that wisdom now as I spring yet another big Mary Kole move on my unsuspecting blog readers. (It’s not true that all of you are unsuspecting, I’ve been getting emails from some of you because I recently got listed as “Whereabouts Unknown” on QueryTracker.com. That’s a bit funny to hear about yourself from your couch in Brooklyn, where you definitely know you’re sitting at the moment. But I digress…)

From my silence here and in Publisher’s Marketplace, you probably have guessed that something is up. It is. After a great year with Movable Type, I have decided to get out of the literary agenting game. It has been a great six years since I first set out into the sparkly and dizzying world of the literary agent, from my first internship as a reader to my position as a Senior Literary Manager with a list of over twenty clients. In the last year or so, I have been finding increasing satisfaction in being a freelance editor. Working with writers one-on-one was and always has been my first love. All of my various roles in publishing, from conference presenter to negotiator, have fallen flat compared to that creative and satisfying calling of digging into a manuscript. Don’t get me wrong. Seeing a book on a store shelf that you have shepherded from its first draft is an indescribable feeling. But that work of honing the manuscript, that relationship I developed with its creator, those have almost always been more precious to me behind the scenes.

I want more time to do that. To roll up my sleeves and get into the nitty gritty with individual writers. I also want a sense of security and calm that a commission-based agenting job just can’t provide. I want to open a manuscript and focus on how to make it better instead of focusing on “Will this sell? And for how much? And what about my rent?” That probably takes some of the mystique out of literary agents for you, and for that I apologize, but it’s not the easiest way to make a living. And that’s especially unfortunate, since you are leading a portfolio of talented artists who count on you for their living, also. Freelance editing has allowed me to free myself up to once again function purely for the love of working with their manuscripts. What a wonderful feeling!

There are also some other big changes afoot. If any of you have been following the murky (I was aiming more for “mysterious” but so it goes!) details of my personal life, I’ve been rather taken with a certain man for a while. He’s a handsome and talented chef, and he’s pretty taken with me, too. It has always been his dream to move to his hometown and open a restaurant. Since I’m in the process of fixing up my own life to make my literary dreams come true, it’s only fair that we make his dream come true, too. In a few short weeks, in the dog days of August, my fiancé and I are relocating to Minneapolis. I’ve been studying wine on the sly for a year and a half and recently passed my Certified Sommelier exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers. When I’m not editing, we’ll be working together on bringing his vision to life. I couldn’t be prouder or more honored to be a part of that.

As for you, my faithful followers, I just want to express my undying gratitude. This doesn’t mean I’ll be shilling my editorial services every five minutes. Or talking about my book more than I have been. I’m looking forward to the pleasure of getting back into strict craft discussion here once a week going forward. After this move, I’ll have all of the pieces of my new life finally in place. Then the real work of serving the worldwide kidlit community–and the hungry local community–begins. Whew! I’ve never chosen the easy road but it’s the only thing I know. Thanks for sticking with me.

In the meantime, though, moving is expensive so…didya know that I now offer freelance editing services? :)

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Is there anyone out there who knows how to make an RSS feed…RSS? I have been told by many people that my RSS feed does not do what it should. Now, I will admit ignorance and say that I have no idea how to make it work. Is there anyone out there that can explain it to me like I’m five or go under the hood of my WordPress self-hosted blog for a quick minute?

In other news, there are still people popping up on Critique Connection, so if you are searching for a partner still, check out the most recent entries in the comments here. Several writers have already emailed me to thank me for successful matches. Yay!

As promised, this is Critique Connection. If you are looking for a critique partner, briefly describe your manuscript in progress in the comments and leave a way to contact you. With enough people, the comments section will likely turn into a bit of an online dating site for people writing children’s books who want another set of eyes. Many critique groups and partners have come about as a result of this system and so I’m happy to keep doing it.

It’s up to you to decide what you need from a potential critique partner. Do you want them to look at your query? Your first 10 pages? Your entire manuscript? Be as clear as you can (and as realistic as you can about what you’re willing to do for others) for best results.

To boost your chances for a successful match, include the following information in your comment:

  1. Your audience and genre (ie: YA thriller). Most people are going to be writing PB, MG or YA because this blog is specific to children’s books. I don’t know how many have tried to connect with other types of projects, but I’d imagine children’s books do best here.
  2. A short description of your story. There’s no length limit but please be kind. :)
  3. A way to contact you. If you’re worried about spammers attacking a link to your email, format it like this: mary (at) kidlit (dot) com and trust potential critique partners to translate it to mary@kidlit.com.

Finally, be PROACTIVE! If a book looks good or even if it looks similar to what you’re doing (a situation that usually gives writers the fits until they realize that idea is just part of the puzzle and execution of that idea is where the differences are), reach out to that writer. Introduce yourself. See if there’s a connection. Writing is a solitary pursuit but there’s actually a tight-knit, awesome community out there. You never know who you can meet!

 

 

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I have been a terrible blogger for the past two months. With some life obligations taking my attention, more freelance clients, and starting a round of professional development classes for the hell of it, I have heaped much more on my plate than I can chew. Lesson learned. (Or is it? I’m still one of those optimistic people who keeps waiting for life to get less busy. “Maybe it will slow down come summer? Christmas vacation? This weekend? Never? Okay, never sounds about right.” Ha!)

Like the broken human robot that I am, taking on too many things at once has tanked my resolve to update the blog. (For a comedic explanation of what happens when I overload myself with too much, click here.) This is not good. This blog has known me longer than most boyfriends I’ve ever had, and it’s a source of great joy and satisfaction for me. It’s also, from what I hear, helpful to writers and a trusted source of valuable information.

So to ease back into posting, I’m giving myself this one as a freebie to reintroduce myself and, I suppose, confirm to my loyal readers and visitors that I’m not dead under a pile of manuscripts somewhere in Brooklyn. I’m also announcing (read: this is for me, not you) that I will now reduce my frequency of posts to once a week, probably on Mondays. That’s a little crappier than my lofty twice-weekly goals but I’d rather have one post once a week than no posts for months and then an apology.

Next week, I will do another Critique Connection to freshen up the pool of available manuscripts and critique partners. Then it will be back to business as usual! Feel free to email me (see sidebar) with your questions in the meantime!

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I’m adding a thing to the already long list of stuff I do, and I’ll tell you all about it on Wednesday, January 2nd. In the meantime, here’s a sweet review of WRITING IRRESISTIBLE KIDLIT from superstar MG author Danette Haworth, whose book VIOLET RAINES ALMOST GOT STRUCK BY LIGHTNING is excerpted (though she swears her praise isn’t biased!).

In other news, I don’t know if you’ve unfriended me on Facebook yet, but you should. Why? Because my feed is about to turn into one big infomercial about Gertrude, our 10-week-old pug puppy. Loyal blog readers know of my love for animals, and probably remember my two furry loves Smokey and Sushi, who passed in 2009 and 2011. It is so wonderful to have a pet again. I’ve never had a dog before, either, so this pup is a dream come true. I feel so blessed and grateful. (And I should really buy stock in pet deodorizer spray…)

Now for the vital stats: She’s a rare silver gray color and–maybe I’m biased but–I don’t personally think that she could get any freaking cuter. Her favorite activity is chewing on everything. Her favorite food is treats. Her favorite way to sleep is upside down. Her favorite place to go to the bathroom is everywhere but her puppy pad. (Hence, her nickname is “Dirty Gertie.”) Her murder weapon is lots and lots of kisses until her victims succumb. It’s disgusting how smitten we are with her. Here’s a glamor shot:

silver gray silver black pug puppy

Happy Holidays to you and yours, and an energizing New Year that sees you many steps closer to your dreams!

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Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow to everyone! I have a whole lot to be grateful for this year–my book, my blog readers, and the amazing love of my boyfriend, friends, and family. I also have a big ol’ break coming up that I’m excited about. On Wednesday, I leave for California and on Friday morning I leave for Cambodia and Laos and my friend Colleen and I will be tooling around there until early December. I’ll be back on the blog December 5th. For the first time in a while, I am traveling without my laptop. Any emails you have for me will not get answered until at least the 10th, so please be patient. Happy holidays to everyone!

In the meantime, read a book-related interview with me on First Five Frenzy (some tips on nailing those very difficult first pages) and bid to win a signed copy of WRITING IRRESISTIBLE KIDLIT over at the Kidlit Cares auction, dedicated to helping rebuild after Hurricane Sandy. (The auction is live until November 28th!)

If you’re looking to order my book from the Writer’s Digest Shop, you can take an extra 10% off from Wednesday the 21st to Sunday the 25th by entering the following promo code at checkout:

WDFriday12

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My book has arrived at the Writer’s Digest warehouses and I got to see and buy a copy of it at the Writer’s Digest West conference this past weekend in Los Angeles. Hooray! Now it is only a matter of time before it gets out to bookstores and online retailers. Crazy, right? If you have pre-ordered it (thank you!), I have no idea when it will ship, but I’m guessing sometime in the next two weeks rather than on December 4th (as is stated on Amazon). If, in the meantime, anybody sees the book in the wild at a bookstore or receives their copy, take a picture and send it my way–I would be thrilled to see it!

I started the proposal in July of last year, sold the book on September 9th, 2011 and now it’s more than a year later and it’s a real thing rather than a Word doc on my computer. A lot of books have come into the world as a result of my efforts on behalf of clients, but none have yet been my own. It’s a trip.

For those who don’t know, I took a WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by Don Maass approach to the guide and excerpted thirty-four middle grade and young adult novels to make various points about character, voice, setting, etc. I find that it’s a lot easier to teach with examples rather than simply sprout off on a topic. I recently contacted most of the authors whose books I talked about and offered them a review copy of my guide.

The legendary author Karen Cushman, whose book ALCHEMY AND MEGGY SWANN is excerpted, was kind enough to read and write a quick review of my guide:

On quiet afternoons, I love to sit curled up in a chair and read books about writing (really!). I’m a writing book nerd. Mary Kole, literary manager at Movable Type Management who blogs at kidlit.com, just sent me a copy of her new book, Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers. And ultimate is right. I can’t think of a topic Mary doesn’t cover. The book is lively and helpful—my only quibble is the term kidlit in the title. It’s my pet peeve, but a pretty minor quibble for what is a terrific book. If you want to write for children or are a writing book nerd like me, take a look at Writing Irresistible Kidlit. I recommend it.

The original review is here. I am flattered and grateful for her kind words! I’ll cross-post more reviews as I receive them. You can see what I have to say about Karen Cushman’s work and the writing craft in general by pre-ordering my book today!

Speaking of more, well, uh, speaking on the writing craft, I’m teaching my Middle Grade and Young Adult Craft Intensive webinar with Writer’s Digest on Thursday, October 25th at 1 p.m. Eastern. As with all of my webinars, you don’t actually have to be available and logged in at that exact time and date to participate, but you should still register. All registered students, regardless of whether they attend the live event or not, get a recording of the session after the fact (audio and video of the PowerPoint), the opportunity to get all of their questions answered in a class-wide PDF, and a critique of the first 500 words of your MG or YA manuscript.

It’s important to note that this might be my last time teaching on this topic for a while, so get in there while you can. Find out more and register here.

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