WD Poetic Form Challenge: Hir a Thoddaid

Now that we’ve shot through November, let’s tackle our next WD Poetic Form Challenge: Hir a Thoddaid!

Find the rules for writing hir a thoddaids here. It’s a Welsh 6-liner with an A and B rhyme, though mostly an A.

So start writing them and sharing here on the blog (this specific post) for a chance to be published in Writer’s Digest magazine–as part of the Poetic Asides column. (Note: You have to log in to the site to post comments/poems; creating an account is free.)

Here’s how the challenge works:

  • Challenge is free. No entry fee.
  • The winner (and sometimes a runner-up or two) will be featured in a future edition of Writer’s Digest magazine as part of the Poetic Asides column.
  • Deadline 11:59 p.m. (Atlanta, GA time) on December 31, 2018.
  • Poets can enter as many hir a thoddaids as they wish. The more “work” you make for me the better, but remember: I’m judging on quality, not quantity.
  • All poems should be previously unpublished. If you have a specific question about your specific situation, just send me an e-mail at robert.brewer@fwmedia.com. Or just write a new hir a thoddaid. They’re fun to write; I promise.
  • I will only consider hir a thoddaids shared in the comments below. It gets too confusing for me to check other posts, go to other blogs, etc.
  • Speaking of posting, if this is your first time, your comment may not appear immediately. However, it should appear within a day (or 3–if shared on the weekend). So just hang tight, and it should appear eventually. If not, send me an e-mail at the address above.
  • Please include your name as you would like it to appear in print. If you don’t, I’ll be forced to use your user/screen name, which might be something like HaikuPrincess007 or MrLineBreaker. WD has a healthy circulation, so make it easy for me to get your byline correct.
  • Finally–and most importantly–be sure to have fun!


Master Poetic Forms!

Learn how to write sestina, shadorma, haiku, monotetra, golden shovel, and more with The Writer’s Digest Guide to Poetic Forms, by Robert Lee Brewer.

This e-book covers more than 40 poetic forms and shares examples to illustrate how each form works. Discover a new universe of poetic possibilities and apply it to your poetry today!

Click to continue.


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community, which means he maintains this blog, edits a couple Market Books (Poet’s Market and Writer’s Market), writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, leads online education, speaks around the country on publishing and poetry, and a lot of other fun writing-related stuff. He’s also the author of the poetry collection Solving the World’s Problems.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

The post WD Poetic Form Challenge: Hir a Thoddaid appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com https://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wd-poetic-form-challenge-hir-a-thoddaid


2018 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Next Steps

Okay, here are the next steps for this year’s challenge. Before you dive into them, click here to read the original guidelines for the challenge.

Step One: Write the Poems

We accomplished this step during the month of November. We have 30 prompts to prove it (34 if we’re being technical with the two-for-Tuesday prompts).

Step Two: Revise the Poems

This step is optional, though I highly encourage taking a look over your first drafts and playing around with them in December.


Master Poetic Forms!

Learn how to write sestina, shadorma, haiku, monotetra, golden shovel, and more with The Writer’s Digest Guide to Poetic Forms, by Robert Lee Brewer.

This e-book covers more than 40 poetic forms and shares examples to illustrate how each form works.

Discover a new universe of poetic possibilities and apply it to your poetry today!

Click to continue.


Step Three: Collect the Poems

I’m looking for 10-20 pages of poems. Not more than one poem per page, though it’s okay to have more than one page per poem. If you wrote every day in the challenge, this means you’re going to have to make tough decisions about which poems to include.

A couple recommendations:

  • Look for quality first. That’s what I’ll be looking for first.
  • Search for a theme. It might be a storyline, common subjects, a voice, a mood, etc. Not necessary, but this can make a collection stronger.

Step Four: Format the Manuscript

I’m really not too picky here, but I do want all the poems in the same file. There are few things that irk me more than receiving 20 individual files.

Here are a few guidelines:

  • 10- to 12-point font like Arial or Times New Roman (or something simple like that) is preferred. In other words, nothing too fancy.
  • 1″ margins–give or take.
  • .doc, .docx, .txt files are my favorites. But if you’re unable to do those, .pdf can work too.
  • Please include your name and contact information.
  • Please include a title for the manuscript.
  • Table of Contents is not mandatory, but it’s a nice touch.
  • Feel free to include a bio–but I’ve never used a bio to guide my judging.
  • Please no images/art work.

Also, I won’t accept/consider manuscripts that include more than 20 poems with instructions that I pick my favorites. That’s not how this challenge works. You’re the poet; you need to make the artistic decisions.

Step Five: Submit the Manuscript

Submit manuscripts to robert.brewer@fwmedia.com with the subject line: 2018 November PAD Chapbook Challenge. I have a very busy inbox–so the e-mail subject line is very, very important. Very. Deadline: January 15, 2019.

Step Six: Wait for Judging

My goal is to make a decision by spring. March 20, 2019. If I hit that goal, we should be ready to jump into the 2019 April PAD Challenge with some excitement. That said, I’m often juggling way too many things at once (some expected, some not so)–so please be patient with me if I find myself overwhelmed with unexpected projects between now and then.


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market and Writer’s Market, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He really can’t wait to read this year’s chapbook submissions.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

The post 2018 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Next Steps appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com https://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2018-november-pad-chapbook-challenge-next-steps

The Pros and Cons of Binge Writing

Lynn Dickinson explores the positives and not-so-positives of being a binge writer.

Click to tweet this article to your friends and followers!

Are you a Binge Writer? Or a Drip Writer?

You know the metaphor. Binge writers tackle projects sporadically, when the mood or inspiration strikes or a deadline looms. They write in large chunks of time, cranking out a finished product as a condition of sitting down to write in the first place. Drip writers on the other hand, measure their work in pages or paragraphs or even word count. They write more often, more regularly, and generally more calmly, with less emotional zeal per session.

It’s no secret that the most prolific writers set a daily (or near daily) writing schedule and stick to it. But as simple as that sounds, it’s far from easy. Drip writing takes a cooperative life schedule, supportive (or at least non-intrusive) friends and family, a well-established habit pattern, and a mind free of both unconscious and subconscious issues that manifest as excuses not to write.

Jump-Start Your Writing: 3 Myths That Hinder Creativity—and How to Conquer Them

Let’s explore the pros and cons of binge writing, and the times when it might be a more suitable alternative than its more productive cousin, the drip. Then you can try each one on for size as the occasion (or mood) demands.


The Pros:

Buy Now!

Binge writing is exciting! Binge writers are the adrenaline-junkies of the keyboarding set. One of my early writing teachers used to refer to it as the “white heat” of writing. We’ve all been there; gripped by a fantastic idea, we just have to sit down and write before our head explodes. Or maybe it’s a looming professional or academic deadline that gets us typing. It may even be a social event, such as an approaching writer’s accountability group meeting, or any day in the month of November, (if you’re a Nanowrimo pantser). Regardless of the reason, there’s a rush associated with binge writing, and for those of us drawn to a bit of excitement in our lives, a good writing binge can be intoxicating.

Binge writing is flexible. If your life or work schedule requires unpredictably long hours, frequent travel, or small-child-style interruptions, binge writing might be the best you can do. Maybe you can only write on long flights or during Saturday morning soccer practice. So be it. Find that elusive time window and fill it with an unapologetic writing binge.

Binge writing is better than no writing at all! Often, that’s a very real choice. If it comes down to only writing when you’re on vacation or not writing at all, binging is a no-brainer. Binge away, Writer, binge away!

The Cons:

Binge writing is unpredictable. You may have an urge to write something exciting every week, but brilliant, creative ideas are far more likely to be few and far between for the diehard binge writer. You grab them when they’re there and pounce on your keyboard, but you don’t write much of anything in between when the ideas aren’t flowing. And for some writers, it can be years between those flashes of brilliance.

Binge writing is exhausting. It’s not sustainable. When the words are on the page, the thrill of completion, or of a deadline met is nearly always followed by a feeling described as “hitting the wall.” Binge writers write, then they burn out, or stumble around mumbling for a few days. No, really. It’s a thing.

Exclusively binge writing makes it hard to grow as a writer. Tight timelines, or sporadic practice tends to keep writers locked into their current level of writing quality. Once a binge is finished, the work is often submitted without the ideal degree of editing, or is never fully revisited again, because the next “binge” time is focused upon a new project. So, writers who exclusively binge may struggle to improve in their craft.

The Conclusion:

Binge writing isn’t as productive as drip writing, but it is way better than nothing. Even for the most diehard drip writer, an occasional writing binge may be necessary or even desirable. Binges are better suited to certain—sometimes temporary—life situations, and they are often accompanied by a lot more emotional drama (for better or for worse).

So, what about you? Do you consider yourself a binge writer or a drip writer—or something in between? Got any other pros and/or cons of binge writing I haven’t mentioned here? Please let me know in the comments below.

And if you’re not writing as much or as often as you’d like to be, my current Work In Progress is designed to help you. Come take my 5-minute writers research survey. I’d like to know more about your writing practice. Thanks!

More articles by Lynn Dickinson

Writer’s Digest is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and affiliated websites.

The post The Pros and Cons of Binge Writing appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com https://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/writers-perspective/writing-technique/the-pros-and-cons-of-binge-writing

IELTS Speaking test in Tanzania – November 2018

Our friend V took the IELTS test in Tanzania and below are the Speaking questions she remembered:

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?
– Why did you choose it?
– Where do you live now?
– Do you live in an apartment or a house?
– What is your favourite room at home? Why?
– Do you think you will be moving to a new place in the future?

Cue Card

Talk about a website you regularly visit. Please say

– What website is it?
– What content does it have?
– How you did know about this website?


– What do people use the Internet for mostly?
– How does the Internet affect our life?
– What websites are the most visited by young people in your country? Why?
– Why are some websites visited more frequently than others?
– What do you use in your leisure time, TV or the Internet? Why?

from IELTS-Blog https://www.ielts-blog.com/recent-ielts-exams/ielts-speaking-test-in-tanzania-november-2018/

This is NOT Research Advice

Kerri Maher, author of WD Books’ This is Not a Writing Manual and the new historical novel The Kennedy Debutante, offers research advice—or rather, NOT research advice—explaining how diaries, letters and books she read made their way into her fiction.

I like learning. I like to watch documentary shows on TV, I like to find out the best new way to make iced coffee, and I like to read nonfiction books about interesting subjects I don’t know anything about, like a certain men’s crew team from Washington state that got all the way to the 1936 Olympics. Following my interests has had some pretty excellent pay-offs, too—for instance, I got the idea for my debut novel, The Kennedy Debutante, from watching a show on PBS about great English manor houses. While watching the hour-long episode about Chatsworth, the seat of the Dukes of Devonshire, I learned that for a brief moment in the 1940’s, Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy—an American and a Catholic—stood to inherit this most English and Protestant of estates.

And I thought: There’s a story there.

It turned out to be a really good story, too, one that could be best told with historical fiction—a genre I’d only dabbled in before.

No one told me how to research and write a historical novel. I let myself be led entirely by instinct and interest—and writers should always trust those twin voices inside ourselves, because they will always lead us to the most unique and textured book that’s in us. In my case, instinct and interest led me to learn a lot more about Kick and the amazingly eventful time in which the major events of her life occurred, 1938-1944. Much of this reading and research happened before I started writing the book itself, though I took copious notes in a Word file and on my phone, which would eventually become my outline.

I pulled a few threads and let them lead me from one book, article and archive to the next. Sometimes footnotes were my guides, other times a particularly juicy quote or summary of an event made me want to know more—then I’d have to go in search of another source. Very often, it was the little details I would find most interesting, and even distracting. For instance, I had to go on something of a hunt for a needle in a haystack to verify that Kick’s love Billy Hartington had indeed attended Trinity College at Cambridge. In the process of sniffing out this detail, I learned some very cool details about the way English titles like Duke and Marquess are inherited (so I had to include it in some dialogue—check out Chapter 4!).

Writing with Wonder: Weaving Time and Place with Story in Historical Fiction

The nuts and bolts of this research was pretty much exactly what I’d done for papers in college, but because this process was directed by a project that was entirely mine, nothing ever felt like a requirement. One of my favorite “tasks” was going to the JFK Library in Boston to paw through boxes of original clipping, cards, letters, and diaries that Kick herself had organized. I was entranced by the life she had pieced together with scissors and glue and short, handwritten entries in a decidedly un-fancy lined notebook. The way she had put things together, and the details she’d left out that I uncovered elsewhere, said as much about her as what she actually had written down.

Research also fundamentally changed my writing process. Before this novel, I was a devoted pantser, always writing scene to scene by the seat of my well-worn britches. But amassing all those notes about Kick and the time period and the setting meant I desperately needed bring some order to the chaos before I started actually writing scenes. I wound up creating a loose outline, a list of major events that I need to maneuver Kick through. And thus, I was a pantser no more. Now I was a plotter. And I loved it.

When I did finally start crafting the scenes that would become the book, I found I needed to do yet another kind of research. I’d be writing a scene that takes place at a party, and I’d want to mention the music they’d be dancing to, so I’d have to Google “songs 1943,” and I’d look at the list, listen to some tunes, then go back into the scene much more in the swing of things. It was like refresher research, and these little glimpses into historical moments and popular culture never failed to enliven me. Wow, I’d realize, 1939 was an amazing year for movies! (Goodbye Mr. Chips, Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, to name just three.) Was there a way I could fit that in? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no, but I always relished the challenge and my newfound knowledge.

I never would have predicted this six years ago, before I started writing this book, but it turns out my brain likes having facts wrap fiction around. Instead of making everything entirely up, as in the other novels I’d written (which shall remain nameless, in the attic), research made me grapple with real life in a new way—and isn’t real life what fiction is ultimately about, anyway?

Kerri Maher is also the author of This Is Not A Writing Manual: Notes for the Young Writer in the Real World under the name Kerri Majors. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and founded YARN, an award-winning literary journal of short-form YA writing. For many years a professor of writing, she now writes full time and lives with her daughter in Massachusetts where apple picking and long walks in the woods are especially fine.

Writersdigest.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and affiliated websites. 

The post This is NOT Research Advice appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com https://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/questions-and-quandaries/research/this-is-not-research-advice

Inside the Agent-Author Relationship

When you sign with an agent, you’re choosing a partner for your career—which means it’s important to choose carefully. We asked authors to share the best parts of their agent relationships, showing both what’s important and what’s possible. Let their stories be a guide as you seek the right match.

Compiled by Jessica Strawser


We’ve all had them—those fateful moments when you click Send and immediately regret it. Mine came when I sent a full to agent Susanna Einstein (Einstein Literary Management). I’d done all the right things—the manuscript had been requested; I sent it in the required format; I had a captivating query.

But the moment I sent her The Bookseller—at 2:30 p.m. Mountain time on a Tuesday—I knew I’d made a mistake. Because that’s 4:30 in New York. Quittin’ time, right?

Ugh, I thought. She’s probably about to leave the office. She’ll see it, close her email and go home. Tomorrow morning other things will require her attention. She’ll forget all about my manuscript. I sighed, knowing a terminal mistake had been made and there was nothing I could do about it.

Two days later, Susanna called me. “I love this book,” she said. “I have to tell you, I received your manuscript the other afternoon and started reading it right away.” She laughed. “I had a dinner date with my husband at 7 [p.m.] I actually didn’t want to leave the office. I was kind of ticked off that I had to keep a date with my husband instead of staying at my desk and reading your book. That’s how much this novel drew me in.”

I signed with her that week and spent a month making the minor edits she requested. Ten days later we had a pre-emptive offer from HarperCollins.

That was almost four years ago. Susanna tasked her associate Sandy Hodgman with acquiring foreign deals, securing publication in 11 countries outside the U.S. And thanks to Susanna’s connection with the Creative Artists Agency, The Bookseller will be made into a movie produced by and starring Julia Roberts.

[After my editor left HarperCollins,] Susanna saw me through early drafts of my second novel, The Glass Forest—and, when she and I had both run out of ideas on what the book needed in order to sell, she suggested an excellent developmental editor. Again, Susanna pitched a polished manuscript to a select group of editors, and found it a home at Simon & Schuster.

Why do I love my agent? Because she’s smart, articulate and diplomatic. She’s particular about the projects she takes on—which makes her passionate about her clients’ books. Susanna is well-respected and well-liked. She showed me some of the responses she received when The Glass Forest went out on submission. So many [of those] editors mentioned how much they want to do a book with Susanna. What a testament to the person representing me!

—Cynthia Swanson, author of The Bookseller (HarperCollins) and The Glass Forest (forthcoming in 2018 from Touchstone)


I found my agent, April Eberhardt (April Eberhardt Literary), at a conference in 2010. The same week, both she and a Big Name agent offered me representation for my debut novel, Faint Promise of Rain, set amid Hindu temple dancers in 16th-century India. I felt at a momentous crossroads: They offered me two completely different paths, and by choosing one over the other, I’d be launching myself in one direction and never know what might have happened on the road not taken.

Big Name agent complimented my work, but said it would be a hard sell. She was friendly but cool, and made it clear she would take me on for just this one book. But her comment that she could get my book in front of any editor was tempting.

April was newer to agenting at the time, with fewer connections, but she had a fresh and enthusiastic perspective, and an openness to possibility that matched mine. Her vision for navigating changes in the publishing industry won me over.

Now that my book has been out for a couple of years, I’m delighted to say that what some industry gatekeepers termed “too literary,” “too niche,” and too unlike anything they’d published before has been greatly received by readers—and shortlisted for both the 2016 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing and a 2015 Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction.

It’s been teamwork at its best, and I look forward to sending April my next manuscript in a few months because she has made it clear she’s in this with me for the long haul. The publishing landscape has changed, but I know she’ll help me find the best path forward.

Anjali Mitter Duva, author of Faint Promise of Rain (She Writes Press)



I sent almost 100 queries before signing with Carrie Pestritto (Prospect Agency). During our initial phone chat, we ended up talking for longer than planned. She understood my story in a way that made me feel excited about the upcoming revisions, and we also bonded over a shared love of tea, cake and Pride and Prejudice.

Carrie’s enthusiasm and determination helped me get through the submission process. I’d assumed getting an agent was the hardest part, but I discovered that submitting to publishers also means a lot of waiting, as well as more rejections. This time I had an agent who was just as invested as I was, and that made a huge difference.

We didn’t sell my first book, but Carrie still believed in my writing and that kept me from being discouraged. Together, we discussed my other book ideas and strategized which one could be a strong debut novel. Since we were both fascinated by the doomed glamour of Marie Antoinette, I started outlining a book that, as my research continued, shifted to one of Antoinette’s wardrobe women.

Celebrating the sale felt like a double victory, both for our persistence and for our teamwork.
My agent doesn’t just talk to editors and negotiate contracts on my behalf—she also gives me feedback, provides encouragement, plans for the long term and sends cute pictures of her cats. Our partnership isn’t just about the book I queried her with; it’s about both of our careers. She’s my friend as well as a professional champion for my work, and I can’t imagine a better agent for me.

Meghan Masterson, The Wardrobe Mistress (St. Martin’s Griffin)


It took me four years to find an agent. The feedback I had from nearly every agent who read Feast of Sorrow was the same: It was too long (145,000 words) for a debut, yet they wanted me to flesh out a variety of things in the story. It was a conundrum because I couldn’t do both.
After many dozens of rejections, I met Amaryah Orenstein (GO Literary) at Grub Street’s The Muse & the Marketplace conference. From the moment I gave her my pitch, she was hooked, requesting my full manuscript right away. She got back to me within two weeks and our partnership was formed. Feast of Sorrow wasn’t too long for her, and it wasn’t too long for Touchstone Books, who signed me five months later.

She has been there with me through edits, helping me brainstorm promotional ideas, scoring me seats at literary festivals and picking me up when I’m frustrated with the process or by a review. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for her. Amaryah believed in me and in my story, and she—quite literally—changed the trajectory of my life.

Crystal King, author of Feast of Sorrow (Touchstone Books)


What I appreciate most about Danielle Egan-Miller (Browne & Miller Literary Associates LLC) is that we’re a team. She’s very editorial and collaborative; I can ask her anything and she’ll be honest with me. We can also have a good laugh or cry—so that helps in remembering that at our core, we are both people who love stories. I know publishing is a business, but it’s a business built on the work of our hearts, and Danielle understands that.

Amy Sue Nathan, author of The Glass Wives, The Good Neighbor and Left to Chance (all St. Martin’s Griffin)


I have a nickname for my agent: Steely-Eyed Missile Woman. She laughs when I say it, and shrugs it off with a mixture of humility and grace. But if I could write it in the sky above her head every day, I would.

I stole the term from The Martian and changed the gender. My daughter thinks it’s weird. (She’s a teenager—everything is weird.) But if you Google it, here’s what you get: Astronaut or engineer who quickly devises an ingenious solution to a tough problem while under extreme pressure.

Cross out astronaut or engineer, replace with agent, and you have Danielle Burby (Nelson Literary Agency LLC, as featured on Page 24). We found each other through the slush pile. I queried her because she was a women’s studies major (so was I), she likes Anne Tyler (so do I), and in her picture she looked smart and honest and kind (she is).

When I got the email that she wanted to represent me, I cried. Not because it had been a long year of querying. And not because I was losing hope that my agent was out there. Well, maybe some of those things. I cried because she wrote this about my book: I’ve finished reading and, I have to say, I fell in love with it in a way that I haven’t fallen in love with a novel in a long time.

Two years have passed since I signed with her, and The Salt House hit shelves this summer. The journey has been a long one, filled with unexpected turns and our fair share of setbacks. Through it all, Danielle remains steadfast. Unwavering. An expert guide for whom failure is not an option.

She called me not too long ago to tell me she was leaving her present agency and going to another. “You’ll come with me, right?” she asked, and we both laughed, because of course I would.

But I answered anyway.

“I’d follow you to Mars,” I told her.

And I would.

Lisa Duffy, author of The Salt House (Touchstone)


I didn’t tell my new agent about my self-imposed ultimatum. When I connected with Fiona Kenshole (now with Transatlantic Agency) in 2013, I was at rock bottom. I’d sold a picture book unagented in 2007 and had written a few titles for an educational publisher. I’d been with another agent for a couple of years, but none of my trade projects had sold, and we parted ways in 2012.

I’d accumulated an impressive stack of manuscripts, but I didn’t want manuscripts—I wanted a book. I gave myself an ultimatum: one more year. Sell something or get out.

But that meant I was giving Fiona a deadline as well, a secret one she didn’t know about. As soon as our contract was inked, I buried her in manuscripts and book proposals, and she got to work. During one conversation, she said, “I think maybe we should slow down on submissions. I’m worried about your time.”

I blew her off, saying, “Send everything. Nothing I write ever sells.”

Within the year, Fiona had sold my debut novel, The Way Back From Broken, in a two-book deal, and The V-Word, a nonfiction anthology. Soon after that she sold three more nonfiction titles, as well as a four-book middle-grade series co-authored with Kiersi Burkhart.

My new Super Agent had come in like [Marvel’s] Black Widow and kicked my ultimatum to the curb. Her warnings about time proved prescient. For 18 months, we were juggling deadlines and negotiating schedules for overlapping projects. I was drowning in work—not a bad problem to have, but it definitely pushed me to the limits of what I could handle. In one conversation, I suggested that maybe we should put a hold on future submissions. Lucky for me, in addition to being a savvy agent, Fiona is too classy and too kind to say, “I told you so.”

Fiona is a strategic thinker and is especially strong at taking midlist writers and reinvigorating their careers. Fiona understands what I need to be my best self on the page, and thus she urges editors to offer me soft deadlines rather than hard ones and reminds me that I can push back on things that really matter.

The best agent-author relationships are good partnerships, a give-and-take of ideas and strategy and creative inspiration. Thanks to Fiona, that pile of neglected manuscripts is now a pile of books. My debut novel was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and my brand-new novel, Pointe, Claw, released with multiple starred reviews. The last two titles from Fiona’s flurry of sales will be out in 2018. As she and I move into the next series of projects together, I’ve given myself a new ultimatum: Always listen to Fiona!

Amber J. Keyser, author of Pointe, Claw (Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner Publishing Group)


My agent, Amy Cloughley (Kimberley Cameron & Associates), is the perfect yin to my yang. (Or is it the other way around?) Nothing gets past her—not plot and editing issues, nor contract details. I tend to exist in this kind of creative la-la land of ideas and wispy, disconnected thoughts, and she is consistently a grounding influence, encouraging me to see the big picture of my work and my career. I always feel like she’s got my back.
Once, when I was trying to figure out how quickly I could turn some edits around and was probably pushing myself harder than I had to, she told me, “Emily, this is your career. You are the one who has to be happy with what you write and how you write it.” It was like a big breath of fresh air, to know she was in my corner, no matter what.

Emily Carpenter, author of Burying the Honeysuckle Girls and The Weight of Lies (both Lake
Union Publishing)

The post Inside the Agent-Author Relationship appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com https://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/inside-the-agent-author-relationship

Grand Finale: Two Strategies for Writing Great Story Endings

It’s the last day of NaNoWriMo and nearing the end of the year, which means many stories—both literal and figurative—are drawing to a close. Powerful, unexpected story endings will leave readers hungry for your next novel. Consider the following techniques to help your story resonate long past the last page.

The most gratifying story endings leave readers more than satisfied—they leave them awed.

Which is to say, you need to plan your conclusion just as carefully as every other part of your story. In fact, Joyce Carol Oates once said, “The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.” Whether her process works for you or you prefer a more organic method, by the end of the story your primary and secondary plotlines have to reach their proper conclusions—with no loose ends dangling. All character and thematic questions must be addressed, all conflicts resolved and any moral quandaries settled.

Most stories end when the subplots twine around the primary plot to form a seamlessly unified conclusion. Ideally, your ending should be, as Margaret Atwood put it, “completely unexpected and inevitable.” This kind of ending leaves readers enthralled and breathless and clamoring for more. The two approaches discussed in this article can help you achieve this lofty goal: “Unreliable Narrator, Revealed” explains how to optimize the complexity of an unreliable narrator to form a finale bothexciting and thought provoking, while “A Wider Lens” intrigues readers by opening up their perspective from a narrow view to a broader one, as the context shift s and expands. Now, let’s dig deeper into each individual strategy.


Unreliable narrators allow authors great flexibility in determining how to relay information—what to withhold and when to reveal it. Such a device keeps readers guessing, unsure of what’s really going on. If the groundwork is laid properly, readers will be staggered by the shift in perception when the true nature of the unreliable narrator is finally disclosed.

There are five viable types of unreliable narrators. Understanding how the narration in each of these categories works will help you develop a fitting final twist. These types are:


This category includes children, developmentally disabled adults or anyone who comes from one culture and is plunked down in the middle of another.

A child, based simply on their limited experience, lacks the knowledge to fully grasp some of what they see and hear. So, too, might someone with lower-thanaverage intelligence or someone unfamiliar with the environment in which they find themselves. A character might not know some of the vocabulary or cultural references, or they might miss the meaning in nuanced repartee. Another character may understand a word’s denotation but not its connotation, or might report the words but not the intonation, missing cues that identify sarcasm or irony.

Let’s say you’re writing a heist story. You have a character, Daisy, who pays for a cup of coffee with a $100 bill. The cashier asks if she has anything smaller. Daisy pulls out a $5 bill and lays it on top of the $100 bill. “No,” she says in a serious tone. “They’re all the same size.” Daisy’s literal interpretation of the cashier’s question suggests that Daisy misunderstands the question. Won’t readers be surprised when they learn at the end that her apparent mistake is actually a ruse designed to trick a mark into relaxing his vigilance?


In this category, we have people who feel at fault and people who are at fault. The narrator may be lying to save face, their marriage, their career, or otherwise protect and preserve whatever they have or think they have. Or the narrator may be an actual criminal.

Sometimes, as in Avi’s 1991 middle-grade novel, Nothing But the Truth: A Documentary Novel, the narrator lies to cover up a weakness or failure. After a teacher gives Philip, the protagonist, a D in one of his classes, he’s not allowed to try out for the track team. Instead of telling his parents the truth, he says he’s not interested in track anymore. The tension between Philip and his teacher escalates when the teacher catches him humming the national anthem instead of singing the words aloud—and she takes it as a personal affront. The ensuing confl ict between freedom of expression and patriotism garners national attention. From the start, readers ask themselves if they can trust Philip’s version of the story, since they know he’s lied to his parents. When the truth is finally revealed—that Philip hummed because he didn’t know the words—we are left with a real Oh, wow moment, and a reminder to never overlook the obvious.


Not all mental illness is equal. Some people suffer mild symptoms; others exist in an alternate universe. Your narrator might be a schizophrenic who believes their hallucinations are real, a new mother suffering from postpartum depression, a war veteran diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or a teen experiencing a hormone-fueled meltdown.

In Dennis Lehane’s 2003 novel, Shutter Island, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels visits the Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane on Shutter Island to find an escaped prisoner. By the end of the novel, we discover that Teddy’s reporting is inaccurate. His observations up until this point seem so credible that we’re astonished to learn his version of events have been a confused combination of past occurrences and hallucinations—Teddy is himself a patient at the hospital.


A narrator who is an alcoholic on a bender, or a drug addict who drifts in and out of lucidity, is likely to give a skewed account of what they see and do.

The 2015 Paula Hawkins novel, The Girl on the Train, for instance, is told from three points of view: Rachel, Anna and Megan. The story focuses on their experiences with one man, Tom. Since Rachel is an alcoholic who has frequent blackouts, and the other women have reasons to delude themselves or openly lie, all three narrators are suspect. The final twist reveals that the narrator who seemed most unreliable was, in fact, the most accurate.

How to Review Your Plot: Using Your Notes and Outline at Revision


Perhaps your narrator is a ghost, the devil, or an extraterrestrial being.

In Clive Barker’s 2007 metafiction novel, Mister B. Gone, narrator Jakabok Botch is a demon trying to exorcise his hate for his abusive father by writing horrific, sadistic short stories. Botch repeatedly tries to get us, the readers, to burn the book in our hands, ultimately revealing that if we’d done so, he would have been freed to kill us. It ends with Botch recommending that the reader give the book to someone they despise. This conclusion, in which we discover Botch’s true motivation, is a fitting and satisfying final reveal.



Employing a wider lens means that the story’s denouement plays out from an unexpected, but logical, alternate view—the kind of dramatic shift in perception that occurs when you leave a tunnel and look back. While deep in a dark tunnel, you only see a pinprick of light far ahead, but once you emerge and look back you realize that the tunnel is only a narrow tube in the wider landscape. Neither perspective is wrong, but opening up that different viewpoint throws the story into broader context.

Take Chuck Hogan’s 2004 thriller, Prince of Thieves. The protagonist, Doug, is a young man who’s certain he’ll end up in prison or die young, as do so many of the men in his life. Then he meets Claire, and for the first time he perceives the possibility of salvation. The story focuses on Doug’s struggle to become worthy of Claire, while resisting his outlaw friends’ efforts to pull him back into a life of crime. Readers think the story ends when Doug is gunned down … but it doesn’t. Just as there are countless inspiring and effective ways to tell a story, there are countless inspiring and effective ways to end it.

Doug manages to drag himself to Claire’s house. He wants to know why she never asked him to stop robbing banks, explaining he would’ve done anything for her. Claire looks at him like he’s crazy. Hogan writes: “And there in her bewilderment, he recognized his grave mistake. … When you give someone the power to save you, you give them the power to destroy you as well.” Until that moment, Doug thought they were a couple, not understanding that to Claire he was just a guy she’d dated a few times. Doug also grasps the deeper meaning —Claire hadn’t failed him; he’d failed himself.

This shift in perspective makes for a gripping, characterbased epiphany. Note that by introducing broader themes, the wider lens approach encourages reflection.

Consider, for example, Rebecca Stead’s 2009 Newbery Medal–winning novel, When You Reach Me. Set in New York City in the 1970s, the story revolves around sixthgrader Miranda and her best friend, Sal. There’s also a subplot about a homeless man in the neighborhood.

Near the end of the book, one of Miranda’s classmates, Marcus, tries to apologize to Sal for beating him up earlier in the week. But Sal, terrified that Marcus is going to attack him again, flees straight into the path of an oncoming truck. The homeless man kicks Sal out of the way, sacrificing his own life to save Sal’s. This heroic act is both horrifying and poignant. The final twist occurs when Miranda learns the homeless man is really an older incarnation of Marcus, who has traveled from the future to save Sal’s life. As Mary Quattlebaum wrote in her Washington Post review: “The story’s structure—an expert interweaving of past, present and future—brilliantly contradicts Miranda’s commonsensical belief that the end can’t happen before the middle.”

By widening the lens with this final twist, we see that the homeless man present throughout the rest of the book not only plays a vital role in saving Sal, but has intended to do so all along, making his subplot tie neatly together with the primary storyline.


Whichever approach you take in crafting story endings, take into account these important considerations that will help frame your final pages.


Every story requires a point of view and a perspective—and they’re not necessarily the same. POV refers to voice (first person, third person, etc.), while perspective asks whose story is being told.

If you’re using an unreliable narrator, the first-person POV is most effective. If you write from a third-person POV, it’s you, the author, who will be seen as unreliable—not the character.

A good approach to making POV and perspective determinations is to think carefully about whose story you’re telling, then decide who would best narrate that story. In some cases, the narrator may be different from the protagonist. For example, Agatha Christie’s classic Hercule Poirot mystery, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, is considered a stellar example of an unreliable narrator. Though it’s Poirot’s story, it is Dr. Sheppard who tells us the tale. Nick Carraway is the biased, unreliable narrator of The Great Gatsby, but Gatsby himself is the story’s protagonist.


No matter how the tale ends, you need to plant the seeds in advance. Specifically, you need to weave in clues that, when the time comes, will make an ultimate twist or grand reveal seem natural. One effective technique is to place a telling clue in the middle of a list of like items.

For instance, take Marianne, who’s getting ready to attend her father’s military promotion ceremony. She puts on just a touch of mascara, since he doesn’t like it when she wears too much makeup, replaces her watch with a simple gold bangle, pins back her hair with a matching gold barrette, and smiles into the mirror—determined to be the happy, peppy girl he loves. Ten pages later, we learn Marianne almost missed the ceremony. Ten pages after that, when challenged by her father, Marianne is tearful and apologetic. She explains she lost her watch, feels an inch tall, and begs forgiveness.

Did you catch the clue? Marianne took off her watch—she didn’t lose it. Most readers won’t notice the fib, coming as it does several chapters after the event (and if they do, they might empathize, assuming Marianne lied to protect her father’s feelings). But wait! Why was Marianne late? You didn’t even think about that, did you? That’s the power of foreshadowing— you’ve played fair, and when the truth is ultimately revealed, your readers are surprised and delighted.

Both “Unreliable Narrator, Revealed” and “A Wider Lens” are useful tools to finish off your fiction with a wallop. Just as there are countless inspiring and effective ways to tell a story, there are countless inspiring and effective ways to end it. These are two such techniques that, if done well, will allow your themes and character revelations to linger in readers’ minds—and that is the best ending of all.

This article originally appeared in Writer’s Digest magazine. Subscribe today to get WD all year long.


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IELTS test in Pakistan – November 2018 (General Training)

S took the IELTS test in Pakistan and below are the Writing and Speaking questions she remembered:

Writing testIELTS test in Pakistan

Writing task 1 (a letter)

Write a letter to your manager about a party that you want to organize at the office. In your letter say

– Why do you want to do it?
– When and where will it take place?
– What arrangements will you have to make?

Writing Task 2 (an essay)

Nowadays the amounts of rubbish are constantly increasing in many countries of the world. Why is it happening? How can it be controlled and eventually reduced?

Speaking test


– What is your full name?
– Can I see your ID?
– Where are you from?
– Do you work or study?
– What do you do?
– What made you choose this profession?
– Let’s talk about food.
– Do you like international cuisines?
– What international food do you like?
– Are there many international food restaurants in your country?
– Are there more such restaurants now than in the past? Why?
– What international food did you enjoy recently?
– Do you think there will be more international cuisines available in the near future?

Cue Card

Talk about an item of clothing you wore that was different from your normal clothes. Please say

– What was it?
– When and where did you wear it?
– What was so special about it?


– What was the occasion?
– What did others say about it?
– Do you have a picture of you wearing those clothes?
– Why do you think people like to dress formally?
– Do people dress more formally now than in the past in your country?
– Is it good to dress formally?
– There are so many clothing brands nowadays, why is it so?
– Can you guess a person’s profession by their clothing?

from IELTS-Blog https://www.ielts-blog.com/recent-ielts-exams/ielts-test-in-pakistan-november-2018-general-training-2/

2018 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 30

Okay, here we are: The end of another November challenge. Except, well, this challenge isn’t really over yet, is it? I’ll share some next steps on Monday, but you can always jump back to the guidelines for guidance as well.

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “One More (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “One More Time,” “One More Night,” or “One More Piece of Chocolate.” I hope you have one more poem in you.


Master Poetic Forms!

Learn how to write sestina, shadorma, haiku, monotetra, golden shovel, and more with The Writer’s Digest Guide to Poetic Forms, by Robert Lee Brewer.

This e-book covers more than 40 poetic forms and shares examples to illustrate how each form works.

Discover a new universe of poetic possibilities and apply it to your poetry today!

Click to continue.


Here’s my attempt at a One More Blank Poem:

“One More Poem”

one more poem for me today
for soon it will be yesterday
& not long after you will hear
the passing of another year
so one more poem if you please
i hope to write one more of these


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market and Writer’s Market, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine. He is always glad to have one more poem to write. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

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The Key to Getting Published: Perseverance

As anyone who’s wrapping up National Novel Writing Month knows, perseverance is the key to conquering any writing challenge. Here, author Lisa Preston shares her experience leaning into perseverance and succeeding with a dash of luck.

This is for anyone who ever wanted to write, wanted to get published, wanted to be read. Yes, be read. As Garth Stein told me, art is a dialogue. We want our story, our painting, our composition to be read, observed, heard. Without an audience, there is no dialogue, no opportunity for the creation to be appreciated by someone other than the author. Writers need their work to be read, and for that to happen, they need to get published, preferably well-published.

While different writers might suggest different levels of achievement that would satisfy their description of well-published, two factors are often included in the aspiring well-published writer’s goals: gaining a large readership (people the writer does not know, as opposed to a readership primarily composed of family and friends); and, earning decent pay.

How hard is it to get well-published? The kind of published that has you signing a contract for a nice advance in a multi-book deal represented by a stellar agent? The kind of published that has your publisher assigning you a publicist, handing out plenty of Advanced Reading Copies, getting your novel promptly to the trade reviews, and scheduling appearances? It’s bloody, sweaty, teary hard.

And it’s totally do-able.

The key ingredient you must bring to the table is perseverance. Gold standard perseverance. Perseverance Plus.

Understand that perseverance isn’t just try, try again on submissions. Perseverance is try, try again in learning your craft. Try, try again in rewriting your manuscript. Make that plural—manuscripts. Then repeat that process: get better, work harder, rewrite more, learn more, read more, write more, query more. Then, do it all again. And again.

My mystery novel The Clincher comes out in November from Skyhorse Publishing. I wrote the first draft fifteen years ago.

Yes, fifteen years ago.

After many dozens of queries, I had accepted literary representation from an agent who enjoyed my second novel, a contemporary/women’s fiction. I wrote two more novels that fit that bill while I was represented by Agent Number One, then—because she didn’t make a sale on those novels—turned to writing something different. I world-built a new mystery series, wrote the first book, wrote the second, started on the third.

My first and third agents loved that first mystery and tried to sell it, but we never got a deal.

Readers who pay attention are now wondering what happened with Agent Number Two. Okay, side-trip on the road to becoming a well-published novelist: when fiction wasn’t selling, I wrote a niche nonfiction book that had been stirring in the back of my brain. In ways, nonfiction is easier. You see a hole in the market, you fill the hole. Submit your hole-filler to the right press, get an offer, then get an agent with the email subject line: OFFER ON THE TABLE.

When push time came, Agent Number Two was not sufficiently interested in my fiction to try selling it. Many dozens of queries later—all the while writing, rewriting, and studying the craft—I signed with stellar Agent Number Three. Back on the road.

But there’s one crucial factor not under the control of you or your agent: luck.

That’s right, we had no luck. Agent Number Three tried hard—around thirty submissions to a variety of good and great publishing houses—but didn’t get an offer, and eventually stepped aside. I was back in the land of the un-agented, with a shopped novel. The only way to keep going was to write something new, study the craft, and rewrite.

With the same spirit that led me to turn to a mystery series after the contemporaries didn’t sell, I crafted a book club-ish, domestic thriller (Orchids and Stone) which, after dozens of queries, got me Agent Number Four.

These were my Groundhog Years: the agent wasn’t trying very hard to sell the novel, the novel didn’t sell, I parted with the agent, and went back to submitting dozens of queries which eventually netted Agent Number Five. That agent didn’t try very hard to sell the novel. The novel didn’t sell. I parted with the agent and went back to sending out dozens of queries to get Agent Number Six. Throughout all of this, I rewrote my novels (rewriting is the main area where aspiring writers don’t work hard enough), wrote new novels, studied the craft, got published in anthologies, and filled a few more holes in the nonfiction book market.

Within a couple of weeks of my cold query, Agent Number Six offered representation. I accepted. In a few more weeks, he came to me with a multi-book, five-digit deal. I accepted.

Orchids and Stone came out in trade paperback, audio, and e-book in 2016. Booklist called it riveting, and it was downloaded over 125,000 times in its first month. On Amazon, it hit #3 and garnered over 1,400 reader reviews.

Sophomore novels are usually tougher asks, but I’ve built ultramarathon-level perseverance. I’d never done better work than what I offered in my second published novel, The Measure of the Moon, which earned new readers and a nice review (“gripping”) from Publisher’s Weekly.

Contract fulfilled, my agent doubled-down and brought me another offer for a new multi-book, five-digit deal, this time for a fresh mystery series.

The Clincher comes out in November, earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, and there is nothing I enjoy more than thanking the readers who have encouraged me to persevere.

Lisa Preston began writing after careers as a police sergeant and  paramedic. The Clincher is her third published novel. Her debut, Orchids and Stone, reached bestseller status; her second novel, The Measure of the Moon, earned critical acclaim. She lives with her husband on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula.

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