This Flowchart Will Tell You What Book to Read Next

Looking for a new summer read? Let us help: From classics to recent bestsellers, fiction to nonfiction, local favorites to international treasures, this flowchart has you covered.

This infographic is courtesy of Brendan Brown of The Expert Editor. Visit them online at

Baihley Grandison Featured 2017Baihley Grandison is the associate editor of Writer’s Digest and a freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter @baihleyg, where she mostly tweets about writing (Team Oxford Comma!), food (HUMMUS FOR PRESIDENT, PEOPLE), and Random Conversations With Her Mother.

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from Writing Editor Blogs –

The Power of Contests: Create Your Own Luck

Shortly before my debut YA novel was published in 2016, I spoke to a local writer’s group about my path to publication. Year by year, I recounted the numerous ups and downs of my lengthy journey. After describing a series of setbacks and close calls with agents and editors, I finally recognized that every face in the audience looked absolutely horrified! From then on, I’ve given a swift summary instead: over ten years, three manuscripts, two agents, far too many rejections, just enough praise, and numerous contest finals and wins that validated my work. Indeed, I ultimately found my agent and publisher through contests.

This guest post is by Kristin Bartley Lenz. Lenz is a writer and social worker from metro-Detroit. She writes for Detroit non-profits and manages the Michigan Chapter blog for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Her debut young adult novel, THE ART OF HOLDING ON AND LETTING GO, was a Junior Library Guild Fall 2016 Selection and was chosen for the Great Lakes Great Books 2017-2018 state-wide literature program. Learn more at

If you are a querying writer, you’re no doubt aware of the many contests on Twitter, including #PitchWars and #PitMad ( These are fabulous opportunities and I’m a 2017 Pitch Wars mentor, but Twitter is an extremely crowded sea. For sure, spend some Twitter time swimming amongst these supportive writing communities, but I’m here to encourage you to consider other contests as well.

[Interested in learning more about Twitter pitch contests and how to make the post of them? Click here.]

Jay Asher is well known for his YA novel Thirteen Reasons Why that was recently made into a Netflix series, but you might not know that Jay had a very long road to publication. Numerous contests over many years gave him the validation he needed to persist, and it was winning a contest—the SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant—that ultimately helped him land a book contract.

In my case, I was feeling discouraged after spending nearly a year revising with an agent who ultimately passed on my manuscript by saying, “it’s not you, it’s me.” I was active in the YA blogging community and stumbled upon a contest on Monika Bustamante Wagner’s Love YA blog. Writers were encouraged to submit their queries, and agent Carrie Pestritto from Prospect Agency would choose her favorites. She picked mine, requested the full manuscript, asked me to revise, and then offered representation.

Yes, I was on my way! But I knew there were still hurdles ahead; just because an agent loves your book, there’s no guarantee it will find an editor. And even though my manuscript went through several revisions with Carrie, we had no luck in selling it.

What to do now? Write another book, which I did. But I also had an older manuscript that was still speaking to me. It had been a finalist in several contests and the young adult winner of the Chicago North Romance Writers of America 2011 Fire & Ice Contest, judged by an agent. That agent ultimately passed, and my current agent Carrie wasn’t so sure either. The manuscript needed to be revised, and we were at a crossroads about which direction to take.

My frustration was at an all-time high (ten years, people!). I knew I had a strong story and that the right editor could help me grow it even stronger. Yet again, I stumbled upon a contest. Elephant Rock Books was accepting submissions for their annual Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize. I knew enough to be wary about contests and small presses, but I remembered ERB from a Publisher’s Weekly article: Small But Mighty Presses Prevail at ALA Awards. ERB’s previous Sheehan Prize winner, Carvial at Bray, went on to be a Printz honor winner and a Kirkus Book of the Year. I had read the novel; it was a coming-of-age story similar in style to mine. I scoured the ERB website and found it professional and full of personality. (Yes, even websites can have “voice.”) I submitted my manuscript right at the deadline.

When I got the call that I won the contest, I was elated, but then I panicked. I had known in advance that winning would mean publication, but now it was a reality. I had spent years aiming for a big New York publisher, and now I was veering off course to a small press in Connecticut. And I had to break the news to my agent. This wasn’t the path she had imagined for me either.

But Carrie was happy for me and supportive. She reviewed the contract and worked as a partner throughout the entire process. She negotiated the audio rights with Audible and helped with promotion. The Art of Holding On and Letting Go was the only novel ERB published in 2016, and I received all of their attentive care. They nurtured my book through every stage from intensive editing and design to marketing and sales. They sent it far and wide, resulting in positive reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, VOYA, and many enthusiastic bloggers. It was a Junior Library Guild Selection, and I was invited to speak on a panel at NCTE/ALAN. This small but mighty press continued to prevail.

Prior to the Sheehan contest, I didn’t even realize this path was a viable option. If I hadn’t made the somewhat impulsive decision to enter the contest, I would have no idea how much a small press could accomplish. My detour was surprising and rewarding. Most importantly, I grew as a writer.

How can you make contests work for you?

1. Contests motivate you to meet a deadline, validate your work, and help you improve your craft.

National, regional, and local writing groups around the country offer ongoing contests to support and encourage writers. Look for free or low entry fees, and contests that provide cash prizes, free conference tuition/scholarships, access to agents or editors, or feedback.

Many literary agents offer query critiques that help you learn exactly what they’re looking for. Find them on blogs such as My agent hosts a monthly query contest on her own blog at

RWA offers national and regional contests, agents and editors are often the final judges, and you receive feedback. Darcy Woods’s debut YA novel, Summer of Supernovas, was published in 2016 after she won a series of RWA contests.

My SCBWI-MI chapter offers an annual Mentorship Competition alternating between novels, picture books, and illustration. My critique partner, Tracy Bilen, won a one-year mentorship with author Shutta Crum. After her year of writing and revising as Shutta’s mentee, Tracy was offered agent representation, and a publishing contract soon followed. Bonus for me: What Tracy learned during her mentorship, I got to learn right alongside her. I never won one of those mentorships myself, but I was a finalist every time I entered—further assurance that I was on the right track.

2. Contests can lead you to agents.

Those contests judged by agents? You’ve now bypassed their slush pile. Agents are also paying attention to major contest results. Heather Smith Meloche placed first in the Children’s/Young Adult Fiction division of the 80th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. Later that same year, she won the Hunger Mountain Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. Several agents contacted her, and she chose the best fit. Her winning short story grew into the young adult novel, Ripple, which was published last fall.

3. Contests can lead to publishing credits and even a book deal.

The same year that Heather won the Katherine Paterson Prize, one of my short stories was a finalist, and Hunger Mountain later published my story in their online journal. I earned a bit of money, gained experience working with an editor, and added an extra credit to my query letters.

The Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize led to my novel’s publication, but how do you find reputable contests? And how do you evaluate the legitimacy of a small press?

Here’s a diverse list of free contests from The Write Life ranging from poetry to picture books to crime fiction.

Did you know St. Martin’s Press has a contest for best first mystery novel?

How about Lee and Low’s New Voices Award for a winning picture book manuscript by a writer of color?

Do you write nonfiction? Check out the Graywolf Press NonFiction Prize.

So you’ve zeroed in on a small press opportunity. Before you enter their contest or agree to a publishing contract, read Jane Friedman’s article: How to Smartly Evaluate a Small Press.

What’s the secret to winning a writing contest?

My writer friend Vicky Lorencen wrote a blog post about creating your own luck. Continue to grow your craft and submit your best work. You know the saying: success happens when opportunity meets preparation.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 2.57.50 PM

The biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.

Freese-HeadshotIf you’re an agent looking to update your information or an author interested in contributing to the GLA blog or the next edition of the book, contact Writer’s Digest Books Managing Editor Cris Freese at

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from Writing Editor Blogs –

IELTS test in Manchester, UK – June 2017 (Academic Module)

Our friend P took the IELTS test in Manchester, UK and here are the Writing and Speaking questions he remembered:

Writing testIELTS test in the UK

Writing task 1 (a report)

We were given two pie charts showing the percentage of employees with certain degrees at an Italian company between 1985 and 2003. We had to summarize the information.

Writing task 2 (an essay)

Nowadays we can watch TV shows of criminal trials. Do the advantages of making such information available to the general public outweigh the disadvantages?

Speaking test


– What is your full name?
– Can I see your ID?
– Where are you from?
– Do you work or study?
– Let’s talk about politeness.
– Do you think it is important?

– Who should teach children to be polite?
– Do you think people are more polite nowadays?
– Why is that?
– Let’s change the subject and talk about your house.
– Do you live in a house or an apartment?
– Do you like it there?
– Would you like to move somewhere else? Why?

Cue Card

Describe a recent important change in your life. Please say

– What is the change?
– When and where did it happen?
– How did you feel about it?


– Are changes important in our lives?
– How did you help your children with this change?
– Do you think old people accept changes easily?
– What do you think about global changes nowadays?
– Can changes be stressful?
– Why is it so?

Related posts:

  1. IELTS test in Botswana – June 2017 (Academic Module) When R took the IELTS test in Botswana, he was…
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  3. IELTS test in India – May 2017 (Academic Module) Below are the Writing and Speaking questions that H remembered…
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from IELTS-Blog

Poetry Slam Inc: Poetry Spotlight

One of the great strengths of poetry is its diversity, but I admit that I don’t give quite enough attention to slam poetry. That changes today as I spotlight Poetry Slam Inc.

As always, I appreciate the poetry spotlight ideas people send my way. Keep them coming at with the subject line: Poetry Spotlight Idea.


Order the New Poet’s Market!

The 2017 Poet’s Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer, includes hundreds of poetry markets, including listings for poetry publications, publishers, contests, and more! With names, contact information, and submission tips, poets can find the right markets for their poetry and achieve more publication success than ever before.

In addition to the listings, there are articles on the craft, business, and promotion of poetry–so that poets can learn the ins and outs of writing poetry and seeking publication. Plus, it includes a one-year subscription to the poetry-related information on All in all, it’s the best resource for poets looking to secure publication.

Click to continue.


Poetry Slam Inc.

Poetry Slam, Inc., says its core mission is to “promote the creation and performance of poetry that engages communities and provides a platform for voices to be heard beyond social, cultural, political, and economic barriers.” They accomplish their goals through a combination of live events and online videos, especially via YouTube.

Click here to check out their YouTube channel.

This year’s National Poetry Slam event will be hosted in Denver, Colorado, August 7-12. At this event, four- and five-person teams from around the country compete against each other for the national team title.

Their site says, “The week-long festival is part championship tournament, part poetry summer camp, and part traveling exhibition. NPS is the largest team performance poetry event in the world. Teams from all over North America, and a few from other places, converge in a different city every summer for five days of poetry, revelry and competition.”

Click here to learn more.


Robert Lee Brewer is the editor of Poet’s Market and author of Solving the World’s Problems. He loves all poetry, including slam and performance poetry. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


Check out these other poetic posts:

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from Writing Editor Blogs –

Preparing for Twitter Pitching Contests, Including #SFFpit This Week!

In recent years, Twitter pitching events have gained enormous popularity as a means to connect authors with literary agents. The idea is simple: on a pre-arranged day, authors seeking representation for a completed manuscript pitch it under a common hashtag. Literary agents read the pitches as they come across the feed, and “like” (favorite) any tweets for which they’d like to see a query.

This guest post is by Dan Koboldt. Koboldt is a science fiction and fantasy author, a bowhunter, and a scientist from the Midwest. For the last decade, he has worked as a research scientist in the field of human genetics and genomics. His debut novel, The Rogue Retrieval, was published by Harper Voyager in March 2016. Its sequel, The Island Deception, was published in February 2017. His nonfiction writing reference, Putting the Science in Fiction, will be released by Writer’s Digest Books in Fall 2018.

Brenda Drake’s #PitMad (short for “pitch madness”) is arguably the best-known Twitter pitch event. It occurs on a quarterly basis and is open to all age categories and genres. Each event draws hundreds of participating authors, resulting in a sheer avalanche of works being pitched on the hashtag. In January 2014, for example, I counted more than 4,300 tweeted pitches from 700+ authors.

The sheer number of participants makes #PitMad a little bit insane. Participating authors get lost in the crowd, and literary agents may feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, #PitMad has inspired a number of more focused Twitter pitch events for certain types of manuscripts, e.g. for adult fiction/nonfiction (#AdPit), picture books (#PBpit), or works by marginalized authors (#DVpit). I happen to be the founder of #SFFpit, a twice-annual pitching event for science fiction and fantasy.

How It Works

Although their guidelines can vary, most Twitter pitching events operate under similar rules.

  • The event happens on a certain date during a specified window (e.g., the next #SFFpit is on June 22 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time).
  • During the window, authors tweet a pitch for their work, taking care to include the event hashtag. The number of tweets allowed per author can vary. For #SFFpit, authors get 10 pitches, or one per hour.
  • Authors should pitch only unpublished, complete manuscripts for full-length novels.
  • Literary agents like (favorite) any pitches for which they’d like to request materials.

Most agents tweet their instructions for responding to requests under the contest hashtag before they enter the fray. Otherwise, authors who get a request should follow the agency’s regular submission guidelines.

Crafting A Pitch

As the founder of #SFFpit, I’m happy to offer some basic advice to authors who hope to pitch their work. First, let’s start with the goals. You want to develop a pitch that:

  1. Concisely describes what the book is about
  2. Conveys the book’s age category and genre
  3. Stands out among hundreds of other pitches
  4. Demonstrates proficiency at writing and pitching

Not all of these are required for success, but if you achieve all four with your pitch, you’ll have a leg up on the competition. Make no mistake: It is a competition. Only a fraction of participating authors (10-20%) end up with a request from Twitter pitching events. The key is to write a compelling pitch that stands out from the crowd.

[Want to land an agent? Here are 4 things to consider when researching literary agents.]

There’s plenty of good advice in the blogosphere about writing effective Twitter pitches. Here are some of the best tips I’ve seen:

  • Start with a compelling character and his or her goal. Good stories are about interestingpeople who want Using the character’s name is fine, but usually not necessary: it’s more important to tell us who the person is in terms of gender, heritage, profession, etc.
  • Be specific.If you’ve ever scanned the Twitter feed for a pitching contest, you’ll see many of the same phrases over and over. “Or her world will never be the same” is a common one. Tell us instead that if a character fails, he’ll be tortured, spend his life alone, or start a war. Specificity will help character descriptions, too. A princess is a common character type, and carries little meaning. But add a word like “reluctant” or “illegitimate” and you’ll make her far more interesting.
  • Get feedback on your pitches.A pitch is a form of writing, and all writers are a bit blind to their own work. Feedback from a friend or critique partner can be invaluable for fine-tuning a pitch and finding any weak points. It’s also not much to ask, since reading and critiquing a 140-character pitch only takes a few minutes.

Good pitches, just like good books, take time to craft and polish. A little advance work can go a long way.

Hashtags for Authors

Most Twitter pitching events have established a set of optional hashtags to help authors convey important details about their work. Both #SFFpit and #PitMad use these hashtags to indicate the age category:

  • #PB – Picture book
  • #MG – Middle grade
  • #YA – Young adult
  • #NA – New adult
  • #A – Adult

There’s also an ever-growing list of genre hashtags for #SFFpit.

Hashtags for Agents

The Twitter feed for #SFFpit and other events can be overwhelming. A little bit of advanced searching can help you narrow it down. Here are some useful techniques:

  • To browse the feed, enter it in the search bar or click on the hashtag. Then select the “Latest” tab to ensure that you browse all pitches as they come in. Twitter’s algorithm for “Top” tweets should never be trusted.
  • You can include age category and/or genre hashtags to narrow your search. For example, ‘#SFFpit #MG #FA’ will return only pitches for middle grade fantasy.
  • You can filter out pitches that contain certain terms or hashtags using a dash (minus) symbol. For example, ‘#SFFpit -#PB -#UF -clowns’ will filter out any pitches tagged as picture books or urban fantasy, or about clowns. Clowns, also, should never be trusted.

See also this guide to filtering out spammers when reading tweets in a pitch contest.

Benefits of Twitter Pitch Events

Importantly, #SFFpit and similar events are not a magical shortcut to literary representation. A request on a Twitter pitch is only that: an invitation to send materials for consideration. However, these events offer key advantages to both sides. For literary agents and editors, they provide a means to browse a wide variety of story concepts to find ones that match their ever-changing desires, and to get a feel for what aspiring authors are writing.

For authors, these events not only provide a venue for pitching their manuscripts, but can also bring querying opportunities an author might not have considered. A number of small presses, for examples, have acquired manuscripts that came to their attention during #SFFpit.

Twitter pitching also lets authors showcase their skill at writing with brevity. The character limit on tweets forces them to encapsulate their entire story in a very small amount of space (140 characters or so), which is a useful exercise on its own. A well-crafted short pitch works equally well on an elevator as it does on Twitter.

For savvy participants, these events also provide some useful market research. Twitter is an open platform, so it’s straightforward to figure out:

  • The popularity of specific genres and age categories
  • Story tropes that are oversubscribed, i.e., everyone’s pitching them
  • Pitches that garner many requests, as a learning opportunity
  • The types of stories your Dream Agent is requesting (browse their Likes)

Perhaps the most important advantage of a Twitter pitching event is the sense of community they engender. Each event brings together authors, agents, editors, and well-wishers who share a common interest. Maybe it’s SF/F literature or children’s books or diverse authors. With so many like-minded individuals in one place, it’s a wonderful opportunity to find new friends and followers.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 2.57.50 PM

The biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.

Freese-HeadshotIf you’re an agent looking to update your information or an author interested in contributing to the GLA blog or the next edition of the book, contact Writer’s Digest Books Managing Editor Cris Freese at



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from Writing Editor Blogs –

Why I Write About My Parents

I tend to take life personally. And nothing is more personal to me than family and friends. That’s why, as a writer, I specialize in personal essays.

Ever since 1978, I’ve written frequently about my parents in particular. My father was born deaf, and my mother, stricken with spinal meningitis, became deaf in infancy.

They are by deafness defined. And so—to a certain extent, even though I have normal hearing—am I.

This guest post is by Bob Brody. Brody is an executive and essayist, and author of the memoir Playing Catch with Strangers: A Family Guy (Reluctantly) Comes of Age. This piece is adapted from a presentation made to The American Society Of Journalists & Authors.In my earliest memories, for example, I’m talking to my mother. She’s reading my lips and asking me to repeat myself and speak more slowly. The process is frustrating for us both. A lot gets lost in translation.

In the years since, I’ve written about how her special school in Manhattan forbade sign language, only for her to use sign language with her friends in class anyway, secretly, under the desk. I’ve recounted how my maternal grandmother, with the best of intentions, insisted my mother take lessons in piano and dance even though she could never hear any music. I’ve chronicled going to the 1964 New York World’s Fair with my parents and marveling with unbound optimism at the futuristic phone TV at the AT&T exhibit that would let deaf people see each other while conversing on the line. Such pieces have appeared in The Los Angeles Times and Newsday.

In the last 10 years, however, I’ve written many more essays about my father than about my mother. In some, I explore how his parents sent him to a special school for the deaf 800 miles from home at the age of 5. In others, I pay tribute to how my father, always talented in tinkering with technology, proved instrumental in establishing a nationwide communications network for the deaf community. Such pieces have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic and Forbes, among other publications.

Why my late-life shift from mother to father? My mother was always around (and still is, at age 88), a stay-at-home mom, and so I knew her well and writing about her came easy. But my father was always working, leaving the house early and coming home late. Even when he was physically present, his mind was elsewhere, focused on the real estate he managed or on devices for the deaf he would someday invent.

In short, I hardly knew him and had almost no luck figuring him out. My whole life, he was more alive as a figure in my imagination than in my everyday reality.

And then, in 1997, at age 70, he died.

[6 Things to Consider After You Write Your First Draft]

Soon enough, I was writing, for example, about how as a boy I had stolen money from his pants pockets just to possess something tangible of his. Writing about someone so quiet and remote and mysterious inevitably came much harder. One day, I scoured the web for clues to his past, and by chance came across a secret he had kept from our family. A story in a deaf newspaper, published after his death, looked at his background as an amateur boxer.

As it turned out, an opponent he had faced in the semifinals of the Golden Gloves in Madison Square Garden in 1948 wound up going to the hospital for injuries suffered at his hands in the ring, and almost died. My father quit boxing then and there, declining to appear in the finals. He would never hurt anyone again, he vowed, and indeed spent his life pulling his punches.

My essays about my father have turned out to be nothing less than a posthumous attempt to connect with him, and to honor his legacy as a communications pioneer. These pieces have brought me closer to him than I ever felt during his life, and have served, in effect, to resurrect him, both for my sake and for the general public.

We write about our parents, I suspect, for the most basic of reasons. If we better know and understand our parents—how they acted, the lives they lived—maybe we can better know and understand ourselves and possibly our children. We look at our parents in order to see ourselves and even our futures.

Writing about your parents is both easy and hard, almost equally so. Easy because you know the subject as well as most anyone alive. Hard because it exposes the private and the intimate and can resurrect pains long dormant. But it’s a dilemma that comes with its own built-in solution. Writing can ease that hurt.

My advice? If you want to write about your parents, you should. Period. You may do it well or you may do it poorly, but you’ll never really know what’s inside you until you try to pull it out and take a long hard look at it.

My own motives for writing about my parents are complicated. For starters, the disability of deafness rendered my upbringing unusual. And so I feel a duty as a journalist to report on it as a kind of public service.

But the reasons I write about my parents are infinitely more personal than professional: to express my outrage over the innate injustice of deafness itself, to ease the anguish over the traumas my entire family faced for decades as a result, and to attempt completing an ongoing process—namely, growing up.

But ultimately, I write about my mother and father, neither of whom has ever heard my voice, to achieve a goal long elusive. It may even be the central reason I write anything at all in the first place, and why other writers may, too.

To be heard. And, better still, to be understood.

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The Brainstorm New Ideas Value Pack is designed to
help you succeed with proven tips on structures, hooks,
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Only available online here at the WritersDigestShop.

This post is edited by Writer’s Digest Managing Editor Tyler Moss. In addition to working with new submissions and a regular stable of freelance contributors to WD, his own freelance credits include Conde Nast Traveler, The Atlantic, Outside and New York magazines.

Follow Tyler on Twitter @tjmoss11.


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from Writing Editor Blogs –

IELTS test in Australia – June 2017 (Academic Module)

Thanks to J who recently took the IELTS test in Australia, we can share the following topics and questions:

Listening testIELTS test in Australia

Section 1. A phone conversation regarding children’s party booking.

Section 2. About assignment officers.

Section 3. Don’t remember.

Section 4. About tanks technical services in India.

Reading test

Passage 1. About different perfumes.

Passage 2. About video and computer games.

Passage 3. About the relationship between society and artists.

Writing test

Writing task 1 (a report)

We were given a line graph showing figures from four countries in which wind is used to generate energy.

Writing task 2 (an essay)

Today’s typical method of teaching involving direct communication between teachers and students will not exist by 2050. To what extent do you agree or disagree? Give your own opinion and examples.

Speaking test


– What is your full name?
– Can I see your ID?
– Where are you from?
– Do you work or study?
– What subject are you studying?

Cue Card

Describe a useful plant in your country. Please say

– What plant is it?
– Where does it grow?
– Why is it so useful?


– How did you hear about this plant?
– Could it be used for other purposes as well?
– Do you know any other plants that are useful?

Related posts:

  1. IELTS test in Australia – January 2017 (Academic Module) Thanks to S who took the IELTS test in Australia…
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  3. IELTS test in Azerbaijan – March 2017 (Academic Module) Our friend K took the IELTS test in Azerbaijan recently…
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from IELTS-Blog

An Agent’s Perspective: Why You Should Be Attending Conferences & Workshops as a Writer

Writing conferences and workshops take on many different forms. There are massive ones, such as the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference, Thrillerfest, or Romance Writers of America; and smaller conferences that might be hosted by your local writing guilds and other outlets. No matter the size, conferences and workshops can be important tools in your arsenal as a writer.

This guest post is by Justin Wells. Wells is an agent apprentice at Corvisiero Literary Agency. He has been with the agency since April 2016, where he started as an intern. Alongside being a full time agent, Justin is also a senior in college working toward the completion of a B.S. in Mass Communication with a focus in public relations and a minor in writing. Justin has long been part of the book world, having been a book blogger nearly seven years (across YouTube and traditional blogging), and also worked in publishing before moving into his current role. Photo by Chelsea Anderson.

Conferences and workshops allow you to connect with fellow writers and gain insight from industry professionals that will help you throughout your writing career, regardless of whether you’re currently a beginner or a veteran of several books. This is important, because it helps to highlight the fact that regardless of where you are in your writing career, there is always something new that you can learn at writing conferences and workshops.

Hundreds of people will be traveling to New York City in August for the 2017 Writer’s Digest Annual Conference, which is one of the largest writing conferences in the United States. There will be more than 50 agents from some of the best agencies in attendance. This is a huge number of agents one place, which makes it a holy grail for writers—it allows writers the opportunity to pitch and meet agents face-to-face.

Being able to pitch agents at conferences is one of the best ways to get noticed. It allows for you to have a conversation with the agent you are pitching. Regardless of the time allotted for your meeting at the conference, meeting an agent face-to-face facilitates the opportunity to forge a connection and create a feel for what that agent might be like to work with. I always hear success stories from in-person pitches, because not only do the agents get to hear about your work and discuss it with you, they also get to see your personality and enthusiasm.

[Understanding Book Contracts: Learn what’s negotiable and what’s not.]

Not everyone is going to be able to attend and pitch agents at conferences like WD’s, and that is fine. There are many smaller conferences and workshops across the country. Check with your local writing guilds, and see if they host any events. For example, in Missouri there are several conferences put on by the writers guild. The MO Writers Guild has their annual conference, and there is also Gateway Con, which is a writers conference planned by the St. Louis branch of the MO Writers Guild. Missouri also has the All Write Now! Conference hosted by the Southeast Missouri chapter of the MO Writers Guild.

Other organizations, such as RWA for romance writers and SCBWI for children books authors, have at least one chapter in almost every state. There are a ton of opportunities out there to attend events, so I strongly encourage you to reach out to your local writing guild chapters and see what they offer as far as conferences and workshops. The larger the state you live in, the greater the likelihood that there will be something for you to attend.

You will also find that some full service literary agencies also offer conferences, retreats, and/or workshops. In August, the Corvisiero Literary Agency will start hosting one-day writer workshops all around the US and Canada. These workshops will include the standard fare—pitching, speakers, and more. Many industry professionals will be in attendance, from Corvisiero agents (and outside agents), editors from major houses, and bestselling authors.

When attending a conference, if cost is a concern, look for opportunities where there might be a contest, special consideration, or scholarships offered. The Corvisiero Literary offers some of these assistance programs and incentive packages. Our agency also hosts a scholarship giveaway to a deserving writer for each workshop hosted by Corvisiero Literary Agency, which will allow free entry—including a free sit down with a literary agent and a query critique—to a workshop that in a local location.

Another great example of an event: the writers cruises offered by The Seymour Agency. Writers can register for a cruise that many industry professionals have been invited to attend. It’s a relaxing way to focus on your writing, see beautiful places, and connect with agents and editors.

It can be overwhelming attending these conferences and workshops. I’ve been on the faculty for several workshops after just a year in the industry and have spoken with many writers who have mentioned how nerve-wracking it can be. My best advice: Just be yourself when you’re talking to an agent. I know that sounds cliché, but you shouldn’t be afraid to talk to an agent. We attend these workshops and conferences because we love meeting writers and enjoy doing what we can to help you improve your skills. We want you to continue to follow your goals as a writer. Just remember that we are human, too. We are there because we want to find good authors to form partnerships with.

[The 7 Rules of Dialogue All Writers Should Know]

When you are attending a workshop or conference, make sure you are prepared. Practice your pitches, make sure you are pitching to the agents you feel will be the best fit for your work. If you come to the events prepared, it will make you a lot less nervous and will allow us to help you more. Being prepared enables you to quickly pitch and leave more time for questions. You also want to make sure to attend as many speaking sessions as you can. Speaking sessions are one of the most beneficial parts of writing conferences and workshops, because they allow you to gain intimate insight from industry professionals in a smaller (most of the time) setting. These sessions often allow you to connect and ask the professionals questions.

No matter where you are in your career, it is important to try to attend as many writing workshops and conferences as you can. The networking is incomparable to anything else, and it will allow you to grow as a writer. If you don’t feel comfortable attending huge conferences right away, you can always start small. Look at local workshops and conferences in your state, and agency-hosted workshops. You can see a list of conferences all over the country that agents at Corvisiero Literary Agency are attending by visiting this link. These conferences cover a wide range of the possibilities that are out there for writers. Try to find something that you feel would be the best fit for you. I guarantee that there will be a conference or workshop out there that will be perfect for you and your needs as a writer.

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IELTS Speaking test in India – June 2017

An IELTS test taker from India (thanks N!) remembered the following Speaking questions from a recent exam:

Speaking testIELTS test in India


– What is your full name?
– Can I see your ID?
– Where are you from?
– Do you work or study?
– What subject are you studying?
– Is it necessary to study hard in your subject?
– Do you have a lot of friends or just a few friends?
– Are you still in touch with your school friends?
– How often do you meet with them?

Cue Card

Describe an occasion when you were not allowed to use a mobile phone. Please say

– When and where was it?
– Why weren’t you able to use it?
– How did you feel about it?


– Do you think people use mobile phones more than other electronic devices?
– Why is that?
– Are there mobile phones that suit younger or older people better?
– Should students have mobile phones? Why?
– Are boys using their phones differently compared to girls? Why?

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from IELTS-Blog

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 398

For today’s prompt, write a bug poem. My first thought was bug in the sense of an insect, but there are other meanings as well. For instance, spies may bug a room with small microphones. Or one person may bug (or annoy) another person by not touching them while just barely not touching them.

I hope this prompt doesn’t cause you to bug out of here.


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Click to continue.


Here’s my attempt at a Bug Poem:

“Bugs and Pop”

Some say they’re insects, but I call them bugs;
some drink from glasses, but I prefer mugs.

You can drink your soda, but I like pop;
some bugs fly, but others prefer to hop.


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He has now gone six months without soda pop, but Georgia is filled with bugs.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


Find more poetic posts here:

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