Tag Archives: R.L. Saunders

2015: It’s a Wrap!

end title 590.jpgLooking back on 2015 to see what I’ve done on this blog, trying to take stock, assess and reassess…

  • I did a lovely series of interviews with some of the top children’s book editors in the business called Quick Questions, where we heard from Stacey Barney of Penguin/Putnam; Lisa Yoskowitz at Little, Brown; Nancy Mercado at Scholastic; Joy Peskin at Farrar, Straus and Giroux; and Rotem Moscovich at Disney Hyperion. Thank you for your generosity, ladies!
  • When the beautiful, new JDLit website launched, you all were some of the first to see it, because I highlighted it here.
  • I posted a beautiful nugget on writing, by one of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
  • We did a couple of book giveaways and gave lots of writing and publishing advice, on topics ranging from breaking through writer’s block, to how to write an effective query letter, to the benefit of going to writing conferences.
  • My former intern (hi Kimberly!) wrote a terrific monthly series, Inside Scoop: Dish from a Literary Agent Intern, sharing her experience of interning.
  • Some of my clients stepped up and blogged for me over the summer, giving me a break. Thank you, Jodi McKay, M-E Girard, Jessica Rinker (Cooper), Joe McGee, R.L. Saunders, Katherine Sparrow, Elaine Kiely Kearns, and Natasha Sinel! And then when I was at a loss for words at the end of the year, Jodi, Jessica, Joe and Elaine stepped up again.
  • By far, my most-viewed blog post though, was by the inimitable Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest. If you’re one of the very few people left on the planet who didn’t read Chuck’s post, check it out here.

What will 2016 hold in store for me? Who knows?! Here are some things I do know though…

  • I’m very much looking forward to seeing the publication of a couple of client books, announcing a few deals that are done but not fully executed, finalizing deals for some other clients, selling a bunch more client manuscripts, and finding and welcoming new clients.
  • I’m starting off the year doing something I love, going to the Miami SCBWI conference. Then in the spring I’ll be at the Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference. I so enjoy meeting authors and trying to make a bit of a difference for them.
  • I’m making a commitment to finish the first draft of a middle grade manuscript I’ve been writing (by July 1st). I’m outing my writing self here. Hold me to it, friends!

What are you looking forward to in 2016? What are you committed to?

(Scroll down to the comments section. I really want to know!)




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Guest Blogger R.L. Saunders: Things That Happen to Writers (and how to deal)

free adviceDo you love writing? More than almost anything? Possibly more than Doritos and wine for dinner?
     Did you recently decide to start calling yourself a writer (out loud) after years of contemplation and writing lots and reading lots and teaching (English, maybe) and/or working in a library or book store and/or writing for newspapers and magazines and/or getting an MFA or some such writer-type behavior?
     Have you spent the last several months or years reading publishing news and writing advice?
     In the name of industry research, do you regularly cyberstalk authors, agents, and editors?
     Do you fully understand what a long shot traditional publication is, but secretly believe you’re an exception, because who knows, maybe you are?
     If so, I don’t have any specific writing advice for you. Sorry about the buildup.
     But I do want to tell you to stick it out for as long as you love it. If you love it, deeply and genuinely, keep at it even when ugly but normal things happen that nobody likes to talk about–things that make you feel like the ousted mayor of Schmucklandia because you’re too big a loser even for the town where all manner of frauds and talentless hacks go to die.
     Normal things that happen to most writers:
  •  You’ll sometimes feel like a joke nobody gets, and not because it’s a smart joke.
  •  You’ll sometimes feel embarrassed about the stupid shit you say and write while you’re learning how this publishing thing works (see: this). There’s a lot to know and it’s always changing. Forgive yourself and keep learning.
  •  You’ll feel (and be) perpetually ignored, especially at first while you’re trying to build yourself into a circle of writers you’re sure are your people. Some people you admire and were positive you’d like will turn out to be dicks. But some will turn out to be your greatest allies and writer friends. Adjust accordingly. Do not turn into a dick.
  • You’ll experience several dozen fucktons of rejection at every level.
  • There will always be people–even friends and family you love and respect–who just don’t get what you’re doing. And some won’t understand what the big deal is, even if you get an agent or a book deal or twenty book deals. Oh well. You’re not doing it for them.
Reminders for writers:
  • If you choose, over and over, to make it about the journey–about the writing–instead of about “making it” (which is a moving target anyway) you’ll be okay. You’ll be happy, even.
  • Stay humble. Keep growing.
  • So much is outside your control. Try to laugh about that at least as much as you cry. A 60:40 laugh to cry ratio seems healthy.

And remember that there’ll always, always be evil assgadgets who get something from malicious criticism of those who have the audacity to go after seemingly impossible dreams. If you die trying, you’re a thousand times braver than they are, which is probably why they hate you so much. Unless they’re paying your bills, fuckem. Do what you love.

Headshot RhondaR.L. Saunders writes young adult and middle grade fiction. She lives in Key West, where her well-received column in Key West, the Newspaper ran for five years. Saunders was Assistant Professor of English and Humanities at Northwood University, and developed and directed their writing center. You can find her online at rlsaundersauthor.com and @rl_saunders.


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Come Play in My Sandbox Writing Retreat 2014

Come Play in My Sandbox Retreat 2014

Come Play in My Sandbox Retreat 2014

You know that phrase from the movie Field of Dreams, “Build it and they will come”? Well, that’s what happened this past weekend. I sent out an email to my clients a few months ago, vetting interest in a client retreat. There was a resounding “Yes!” Although everyone couldn’t make it, this past weekend I hosted a 3 day party for some of my very talented, very smart, very funny clients. I haven’t laughed so much in quite a long time. I also haven’t sat around talking writing for 3 days with such talented writers. Maybe ever.

And I learned so much this weekend! First of all, I confirmed something that I kind of already knew: I’m a very lucky agent. I also learned that Manhattans are to be stirred 100 times, not shaken; and that it’s really ok to call gin & olive juice shaken with ice & garnished with olives a “Martini,” even if there’s no vermouth to be found. I learned some 18th century Caribbean history. I learned that in Alabama it is still a criminal offense to sell sex toys. I learned that keeping a flip chart  and some markers in the same room as 9 sassy writers is asking for trouble (and is a sure-fire way to laugh until I cry). I learned the most effective way to lure my wavy/curly hair to the curly side. And I learned a lot about how different people’s writing process goes.

One of my clients has to write, even just a little, every day. It feels like a need, like breathing or eating, and unfathomable that it could be any other way for anyone. One of my clients saves it all up for times when there’s uninterrupted, childless, day-job-less time, taking a week here and there, or a whole month in the summer, to do nothing, nothing, nothing but write… until the offspring return. Another client writes from 9-5, Monday – Friday. After all, it’s a job. Yet another client has worked out a day-job work week of just 4 days, and does nothing but write on that 5th day. And then there are variations of all of these ways, and sneaking writing in to busy lives full of other commitments. Is there a right way? Does one way indicate more commitment and drive? Is one person more of a writer than the others? I think not.

We discussed storyboarding picture books. We discussed manuscripts that spawn manuscripts that spawn manuscripts. We discussed whether you need to know the end of your story when you start. We discussed how to be on Facebook yet hide from your relatives and high school classmates. We discussed what it means to be called a Pirate, whether it can be just a mindset or needs to include the act of piracy (i.e. stealing things). We workshopped works in progress, giving and getting criticism. We showed and telled. And we shared  finished work, just for the fuck of it. We played with a new way of goal setting, working backwards from the future. We ate a lot. We drank some. We took an already funny “plot device,” made it into a joke, and then beat it like a dead horse the whole weekend. We barely stopped laughing.

My clients thanked me over and over for hosting this retreat, but I can’t stop feeling like I’m the lucky one. Besides having a great weekend, besides laughing my ass off, besides feeling their admiration, I feel so honored to be entrusted with the task of getting their work published. They all know how committed I am to achieving that goal, and how I’m busting my butt to get the job done. But it sure was nice to take a weekend off and just hang out with these fine folk.





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