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24 Things I’ve Learned in 2016

24 Things I’ve Learned in 2016

Last week, I shared my mid-year report on my SMART Goals. As I reflected on what I thought this year would look like and what it has become, I started mentally compiling the things I’ve been learning. I know a lot of people (especially my age) are struggling with the darkness of this year. To us younglings, in many ways 2016 feels like the wider-scale darkest time in our lives.

Hopefully these 24 confessions will bring hope, or at least an honest voice to the craziness.

24 Things I’ve Learned in 2016

  1. There’s always something you can do. Last year, I started obsessing with the refugee crisis. If I had not landed my job with Christopher Newport University, I…Continue Reading
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In Standard

10 Agent Resources Vital for Your Query-Quest

10 Agent Resources Vital for Your Query-Quest

If you’re on a quest for an agent or publisher, there are a few sites you’ll need to get well acquainted with. Whether directories of trustworthy agents/publishers or places to scope out tips, these stops will help you fully prepare for the plunge into capital-q Querying.

For your convenience, I’ve also included a file at the end you can download to track your research. I called it my Stalker List of Agents during my hunting, and found it a great resource for the complicated mess agent-research becomes. (I was highly influenced by Susan Dennard, I think, and her advice on querying.)

Free Services to find an Agent

1. WritersNet Agent and Publisher Directory

WritersNet Agent and…Continue Reading

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In Gallery

A Novel Idea: Excerpts

A little bit ago, I participated in A Novel Idea’s prompt for story blurbs. It was a lot of fun and I got some great responses (shout out to my Tumblr folk and brambleberrycottage for chiming in!), so I’m doing it again: this time, with excerpts!

Here’s the Novel Idea prompt for this week:

This week, share a favorite quote from your novel: whether it’s one sentence long, a paragraph, or even a whole chapter. It can be from your current novel or one that you’re finished with. Writing can be filled with self-doubt, but this week, take the time to show off your hard work.

Like last time, I’ve included four responses to the prompt from my four most-active works-in-progress. And I made them graphics again because why not! Enjoy!

a novel idea: excerpts
My fingers tremble, but for once it’s not the hunger or the sadness that’s gnawing my insides. It’s a painful warmth. Hope. – The Eleventh Trade
a novel idea: excerpts
Melle’s father fell silent. Beyond the palace walls, the clatter of carts and shouts of vendors grew louder as the city woke. Everything was unreal, the scenes of a life that would go on whether or not her father lived, whether or not this was the last time he would tell her the story. Unbearable was not the word for the hollowness in Melle’s chest. She could bear it. She could feel it and still she breathed, still her heart beat. And that was worse.
a novel idea: excerpts
While he began to pour [the tea], she studied him on the sly. If she ever made a pigment for his eye color, she would mix black made from vine twigs with a touch of gold powder. That way his eyes on the page would flash, as they did now—dark and then, when he looked up and the light caught in them, bright and shining. Illuminated. – Illuminate
a novel idea: excerpts
The birds round me fall silent and air sharpens with evergreen scent. I drop the fletching, my hand already to my quiver when I turn. But it’s not another stranger come to shoot at me. It’s the child. The child from the tree. “Wheest!” I blurt, startled. No one sneaks up on me like this. Even the assassins gave themselves away by creaking in the tree boughs. “What are you doing here, little one?” She smiles, mouth full of sharp teeth, and steps from the tree shade onto the trail. Pointed ears stick out of wild black hair, and her skin gleams in the light—like gold brushed over with soil. “I smelled the blood,” she says, “and I came.” – Popinjay

I’m curious – which blurb intrigues you most?

Want to join in? Check out Sky’s original post.

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In Standard

My SMART Goals: Mid-Year Assessment

My SMART Goals: Mid-Year Assessment

Back in January, I shared my SMART goals for 2016. These are basically poorly-disguised New Year’s resolutions. I wanted to take a moment mid-year to look back at what I said then, and see how I’m doing. And because Accountability, I’m sharing it with you!

A refresher: SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

How I’m Doing with My SMART Goals:

Writing:

Hand Crafted

Illuminate

I wanted to finish two rounds of Illuminate revisions and have everything set to go by Fall 2016 at the very latest. Mid-year, I’m just about done with my “final” edits, and the book is scheduled to go…Continue Reading

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In Image

Let’s Talk Research: Illuminated Manuscripts

Let’s Talk Research: Illuminated Manuscripts

When I first began writing my YA fantasy novel, Illuminate, all I knew about the story was that it needed to include illuminated manuscripts. The problem: I only had a scattering of knowledge about illumination.

In this entry, the first of a series about my research adventures, I’m going to talk about the places I went, the books I read, and some of the weird things I learned. Hopefully this will be entertaining and educational–and perhaps help another young writer on their way!

iceland ms

Research Trips: The Places I Went

Living in England during my master’s opened a lot of opportunities…Continue Reading

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80 Questions for Worldbuilding (A New Subscription Perk!)

80 Questions for Worldbuilding (A New Subscription Perk!)

It will probably surprise no one that worldbuilding is my favorite part of writing fantasy. I love sitting down and asking questions about the cultures I’ve studied, places I’ve been, and stories I’ve heard. It’s always exciting to feel the new place take shape, and to discover my protagonist’s role in it.

So I’m thrilled to reveal that now when you subscribe to this blog, I’m able to offer you a cool perk: Creating Stunning Worlds. This is a short PDF that includes my worldbuilding tips, a questionnaire to help you brainstorm, prompts to help you focus your brainstorming, and recommendations to avoid infodumping.

Below, I’ve included a sampling of questions:

20 Questions for Worldbuilding

  1. What environment is the main story…Continue Reading
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In Image

15 Inspirational Quotes About Writing

15 Inspirational Quotes About Writing

The world needs more pretty things. So I made 15 hipster pretty graphics with inspirational quotes. All the lovely photography was by my crazy talented brother, Jason Koons.

From quotes about writing craft to writing in general, these calm my spirit and make me smile.

15 Inspirational Quotes About Writing
“Writing fiction is the act of weaving a series of lies to arrive at a greater truth.” – Khaled Hosseini

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In Standard

Diagnosis: After the Doctor’s Door Closes

Diagnosis: After the Doctor’s Door Closes

“I’ll send someone in to schedule the test,” the specialist says to me. “Wait here a moment.”

I nod and watch her leave. As the door clicks shut, a sinking, sick, hollow gap grows and groans in my chest. I shrink against the uncomfortable chair, stare at my hands or count the number of tiles on the floor. I don’t look at the posters of disease on the walls. I already read them earlier.

It never gets better, this moment after the door shuts and there is only you and the white white room. It never changes.

The me who waits for someone to schedule a test is 21-year-old me cradling a broken finger and fearing surgery.…Continue Reading

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In Standard

Writing for Young People Q&A: International Student Concerns

Writing for Young People Q&A: International Student Concerns

It’s the fifth and final round of my Q&A session about Bath Spa University’s Master of Arts in Writing for Young People. This section is all about the international student angle. Though I’m approaching it as an American, it should be basically applicable to my Aussie and Indian and Canadian and [insert origin of choice] friends looking into the course.

You can see the rest of the series under the Q&A tag!

As always, feel free to reach out with more questions by contacting me at: alyssamhollingsworth [at] gmail [dot] com

A thousand disclaimers: I only have my experience of the Writing for Young People course to draw from (class of 2014). I’m not a member of staff…Continue Reading

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In Standard

Writing for Young People Q&A: Personal Development

Writing for Young People Q&A: Personal Development

It’s round four of my Q&A session about Bath Spa University’s Master of Arts in Writing for Young People. This section is about the professional and personal development I underwent during the course.

You can see more posts in the series under the Q&A tag!

As always, feel free to reach out with more questions by contacting me at: alyssamhollingsworth [at] gmail [dot] com

A thousand disclaimers: I only have my experience of the Writing for Young People course to draw from (class of 2014). I’m not a member of staff and can never hope to be as informed as the infallible Julia Green. Everything is my own opinion and may or may not be influenced by…Continue Reading

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