Writing for the 21st Century

This is spot on!

Glass Cases

I represent Adult fiction and YA & MG fiction, but I talk more about the latter. I know I do this, and it’s not because I don’t have a lot to say about Adult fiction. It’s that YA, and especially MG, are still new. They are still evolving. Adult genres get redefined every once in a while, and audiences grow, but mostly, adults are adults and their writers know who they’re writing for.

I talk more about YA because the category itself is known for jumping from trend to trend, being super enthusiastic and supportive, yet misunderstood (and often disrespected) by mainstream literary culture. Its target audience can relate, and they aren’t known for standing still either. Adults age at a much slower pace. The difference between a 32 year old and a 36 year old is barely a blip compared to that of a 13 year old and a…

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Social Media for Writers & Artists

This is an article I wrote for the SCBWI Los Angeles regional newsletter Kite Tales. I love social media, as most of you know and I’m quite good with it. Hope you like the article.

Kite Tales

socialmedia1At conferences, one of the things I hear many writers and artists talk about is that their biggest fear/worry/stumbling block/insecurity (besides their craft – because hey, we all know how that is), is how to use social media. I’m writing this quick article with some tips because while I’m not officially a paid social media person, I’m really good at it. Really.

First of all, breathe. Don’t be scared. It’s okay. We were all beginners and didn’t know how to do any of it until we did. Please don’t feel insecure about the things you haven’t done yet. It seems daunting, but it’s not. Really. Please trust me.

7910370882_39d180fb66_zHere are my tips:

  1. Don’t be nervous about it.
  2. Treat social media like any other social interaction (meaning, be kind and respectful).
  3. Start with the one or ones you are comfortable with. It’s okay not to be on all of them, and…

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Revise! Revise! Revise! Then? Revise Again

From last year on revisions!! #amrevising

Steph Olivieri Writer's Blog

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Hello, writers!

Today I wanted to write a quick blog about revising, something that all writers should be very acquainted with but many aren’t. Revision is part of the process. It doesn’t matter if you are Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, or someone brand new; if you write novels, you must plan on revising.

I personally love revisions. They are where the heart of the story really comes to life. It’s exciting for me to dig deeper and get to know my characters better and help them tell their story even better than I had originally planned it. I know that may sound a bit crazy, but trust me, it’s not. My characters always have the final say in how their story is told.

You may have heard the term “pantser”? Yup, that’s me, on the first draft. I am the writer who just sits down sometimes with not much more…

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SCBWI Community Corner with Stephanie Olivieri

My article about why and how much I love being part of the Scbwi

Kite Tales

11846797_10153538797467079_5070761802491006292_n SCBWI Summer Conference 2015

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is a dynamic community of professionals and aspirings. Read on for a member’s story about how SCBWI has influenced their work and connected them to publishing professionals, life-long friends, and the tools they need to share their stories with children of all ages.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has changed my life for the better in many ways. It’s hard to explain how a group of book writers and illustrators can do that, but they have. I’m not sure where to start, so I’ll start at the beginning: I’m a writer, who also draws. I worked in animation for many years and have recently worked in children’s books both as a writer and an illustrator.

In the summer of 2012 I joined the SCBWI and then, boom, my father died. I was broke and I couldn’t…

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No Posturing, Just Posting

Keeping it real for a minute. No posturing, just posting. 🙂
People always assume that everything is great for everyone on social media-it’s not. It’s just that it’s better to present a positive spin on life, than a negative one.
I’m keeping it real here today just because why not? Maybe someone out there is struggling and needs to know that we all have it hard at some point. Especially those of us who have a creative career.
I was explaining to someone at Highlights last week that for me there is no backup plan, this is what I do for a living, and this person didn’t seem to get it. It’s funny to me.
I feel like I’ve been drowning my entire life, but I’m doing what I love and trying to continue to do that.
My writing is not where I wanted it to be at this age. I have been paid to write, I have sold stuff, but I wanted to be further, I’m not, but that’s okay. I get up every day and I write, or I think about writing, or I don’t do anything and then tomorrow is a new day.
Money?? Ha, I look around and see everyone with savings accounts, owning houses not living like they are in college still, and again, I thought that would be me, it’s not. But I’m okay with it.
Marriage, kids? Same.. but it’s okay.
The point is, that no one is perfect and no matter what it seems like on social media, life is hard a lot of the time.
We are all in this together!!!
Don’t give up. Keep reaching for your goals and don’t compare yourself to others-it will make you crazy.
edison-quote

Stephanie Olivieri: Illustrator’s Gallery

My day job!!

Kite Tales

10Illustrator and animation artist, Stephanie Olivieri, takes us on her journey from pencil to pixel in this quarter’s “Illustrator’s Gallery.” Read on for tools, tips, and encouragement if you’re looking to switch from hand drawing to digital, are deciding if you should, or would just like to compare digital notes with another fantastic illustrator!

I made the transition from hand drawing to drawing on the computer officially in 2012. It was something that I fought against for years, saying that people still needed and loved traditional art, but now that I’m digital, I have found that it’s invaluable. I sometimes will do a mixed media piece, but the freedom that an artist has once on the computer is amazing. I find that with enough practice, an artist can mimic traditional illustration and painting, with the biggest difference being drying time and the ability to make changes easily.

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Sorry I’ve Been Writing

I have so much to say to you all, but it’s been a crazy few months. I can’t believe March is almost over! How did that happen?

WOW. I’m working on two YAs and hoping to sign with a new writing agent later this spring or summer.

Meanwhile, I will start posting more often starting in April. THANKS for understanding!

11/19 Webinar: How to Be a Writer Without Losing Your Mind

This is awesome! Thank you John for being so generous with your time.

John M. Cusick


Hi all! If you’ve enjoyed some of the craft-focused and inspirational posts I’ve done on this blog, you should check out my November 19th webinar with Writers Digest, HOW TO BE A WRITER WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND: Balancing Work, Life, and CraftThere will be a Q and A as well as query critiques for all attendees. You should check it out!

ABOUT THE WEBINAR

Being a writer can make you crazy. The writer’s life is at once invigorating and exhausting, it can be isolating and wonderfully social, inspiring as well as demeaning. As writers we bring our deepest, most sensitive selves to the page, and often the world can feel like a hyper-critical and uncaring receiver, where competition, criticism, and even the success of others can make writing feel like a chore, or worse-utterly terrifying. And yet, we’re driven to return to the page and express ourselves despite…

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Revise! Revise! Revise! Then? Revise Again

6a010536b33b69970b0192ac9e9d7b970d

Hello, writers!

Today I wanted to write a quick blog about revising, something that all writers should be very acquainted with but many aren’t. Revision is part of the process. It doesn’t matter if you are Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, or someone brand new; if you write novels, you must plan on revising.

I personally love revisions. They are where the heart of the story really comes to life. It’s exciting for me to dig deeper and get to know my characters better and help them tell their story even better than I had originally planned it. I know that may sound a bit crazy, but trust me, it’s not. My characters always have the final say in how their story is told.

You may have heard the term “pantser”? Yup, that’s me, on the first draft. I am the writer who just sits down sometimes with not much more than a name of a character or an idea, and I pound the keys until 70,000-90,000 words later I have a novel. Then, the work begins, and I revise and revise and revise and then when I think it’s done, I start taking it to workshops, and I revise again.

Let’s talk about the process after you do all that, and I really hope that you will, you will then give the book to your agent, or you will get an agent or a new agent, and most likely you will face another revision there. Don’t feel bad, it’s just what happens.

When the book is sold, guess what? Yup, more revisions. Expect it, it’s part of it. Your editor will know how to sell your book. He/she will know what is working and what isn’t. Remember they do this for a living, they know the market, they know what their houses already have in the pipeline, and they know how to tell your story, listen to them. Remember that Katie Holmes commercial for Garnier hair coloring? The tag line was “Trust them, they’re experts.” This is the same thing.

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You must trust the people who know better than you. I know it’s hard to do sometimes, but usually the editor, at least the good ones, have reasons for what they are saying in your editorial letter. Be thankful they didn’t just say, “this is brilliant, here’s your pub date.” I had that happen with one of my adult (chick lit) novels, I went with a small publishing house that wasn’t right for me, and I was new, and all excited to have a deal, so when they said that I was happy. I thought that it meant I was so good that I didn’t need to change anything. Well, then it went to copy editing, and I think it was run through Word or something because it was published with lots of mistakes. The book didn’t sell well, and I learned a valuable lesson.

Sometimes you may not agree with your editor, and that’s okay, but talk to her. You are a team working together; it’s important to understand this step and why she is asking for these changes.

Before you even get to this step, with the editor, make sure that someone better than you reads your entire manuscript and gives you thoughtful notes on the story, plot, character, voice, structure, and what isn’t working. You need that. We all do. You can have a mentor do it, or you can go to a week long whole novel retreat, do a class online, but you must not skip this step.

True story, my current WIP is a young adult coming of age story about a spoiled teen who thinks that his whole world is falling apart even though it’s not until it does. I wrote the first draft of this in NaNoWriMo last year (after writing it as an adult novel a while back, so I knew the story, but was just telling it differently). Then I workshopped it at an SCBWI retreat with an editor. Then I went to an SCBWI conference and did a one on one critique with an editor at one of my favorite houses; then I worked on it until June revising with their comments and also my crit groups, and what I know of revisions myself.

I thought it was done, and I sent it off to the Highlights Foundation for the upcoming Whole Novel Workshop thinking that I would only be polishing. Well, I have since taken our 36,000 words that were in a second character’s POV, that I was struggling with the whole year. I changed the setting, I changed my MC’s intentions, I changed so many things that I can’t tell you and guess what? It’s so much stronger. I’m working on it now with a teacher/mentor from Highlights, who is doing an online class, and it’s getting stronger with every pass. I am now at the word level. I call this stage the shining stage. I polished the story, plot, scenes, and now I’m making word choices, it’s HARD work, but worth it.

I’m not saying hold onto your work forever. You do need to say, “it’s done” and let it go. But all these revisions I have done have still been less than a year. I’m planning to send it out in the early spring, only because the holidays are here. Some writers never think their work is ready, but that’s a horse of another color. There is a difference to being Goerge McFly “I don’t let anyone read my work. What if they don’t like it? What if they tell me I’m no good. I don’t think I could take that kind of rejection.” and jumping the shark too soon.

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My advice is to revise. Pay attention to your story, dig deep and don’t be in a hurry to sell it. If you send it out too soon, it won’t sell, and or if it does get picked up, it won’t sell on the shelves. You need it to be great.

Study, work hard, work with people who are above you. Listen to what people are saying. Trust yourself.

When you do get an agent, or when your agent sends to editors, accept that you aren’t done yet, and do the revisions. If you feel strongly about a story, still listen, you may find that changing that thing you think you can’t change, can change. Talk to your editor about it, and trust yourself. I’m not saying to just do whatever anyone says, but honestly most of the editors I know at the big publishing houses are right.

Okay, happy writing!! Go forth and be brilliant.

I have a list of resources on my website RESOURCES

and if you have specific questions, post or email me.

If you are doing NaNoWriMo-which I recommend for a first draft, I’m stephnewyork so add me as a buddy. 🙂