Whiney Submits

Whiney Writer


By Whiney Writer

Would you editors and agents please make up your minds?

I’ve just read several submission requirements in order to market my new novel about a writer who prevents a murder because she’s looking out the window when the bionic raccoons swarm the hunky UPS guy. Ever since she was bitten by an electrical engineering student my protagonist has had super electronics powers and…well, I’d better keep some secrets. I definitely won’t tell you who sent the bionic raccoons after Mr. Hunk. You’ll have to buy the book.

I’m a realist. I know the first person I try might be having a crazy day and reject me. I mean, might reject my ingenious yet accessible work.

Now I’m having a crazy day. What are curly quotes, and why do some editors not want them? What if my protagonist has a naturally curly speaking style? That’s discrimination!

What about font? Have you read some of the comments on blog posts about font choice? Wow. I’ve seen more politeness in comments on politics. Do not get some of these people started on proportional vs. monospaced fonts.

Sure, I can change the font. So can the editor, unless they won’t take e-subs. Why is anybody still doing that? Do they enjoy prolonging the torture of the submission process by adding in the time it takes snail mail to work? Then again, on paper a lot of these formatting hassles don’t even happen. Hmm.

Some of the ones who do take e-subs have submission forms. They go on for I don’t know how many screens. That’s because I haven’t made it to the end of one yet.

If I self-publish, then I have to do tons of non-writing work and deal with multiple platforms. They have, you guessed it, different formatting requirements.

Aren’t these editors and agents supposed to be judging me on my writing? In that case, I have no problem and will be going on world book tours just as soon as they can print up enough copies of Robot Raccoons and do the files for ebooks.

But no, they have to ask me to reformat my work each time I send it out. That takes time, people, time I could be using to work on my horror novel about an alternate earth where, owing to a recombinant DNA experiment gone tragically wrong, cats have prehensile thumbs.

Who do these editor and agents think they are?

What do you mean, who signs the checks?

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What Is Transmedia Storytelling?

Photo of Cheryl Reifsnyder


By Cheryl Reifsnyder

I’ve been busily preparing for the Rocky Mountain Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Fall Conference where, for the first time in years, I’m a SPEAKER as well as a volunteer. It’s a little daunting, since I don’t give a lot of public presentations. (I almost fell off the stage the first year I was asked to help with announcements…)

I don’t know if I’ll ever really feel comfortable speaking in front of an audience, but I’ve found a way to get past a lot of the nervousness. I talk about something I find exciting—a topic that I’m so passionate about sharing with others that once I get going, I forget about being nervous. I’ve got such a topic for the rapidly approaching conference: transmedia storytelling.

What’s transmedia storytelling? I’m so glad you asked! It’s the art of unspooling a single narrative through the use of multiple media platforms. These platforms can include anything from a print book to a Twitter conversation, web comic, graphic novel, character blog, or even an interactive game—storytelling platforms are limited only by your imagination. Check out the Prezi below for a little more info about what transmedia storytelling is and isn’t. (If you have trouble reading the text, click icon in the lower right corner to expand the window to full screen view.)

However, transmedia storytelling isn’t just a matter of slapping content a couple of places online or creating encyclopedic character bios on your website. The trick is to choose media that arise naturally from your plot and characters.

“Whatever technologies you choose to employ, they should serve your story and make it more immersive.”–Nuno Bernando, in Transmedia 2.0: A How-To Guide for the Would-Be Transmedia Storyteller

Transmedia storytelling isn’t actually a new idea. The movie and television industries have been using this concept to connect with fans for more than a decade—so why don’t we hear much about it in the writing world? My theory is that transmedia storytelling is tricky to do when your “production team” consists of you, the writer, and your “production budget” consists of…well, let’s just say that most of us don’t have access to the millions of dollars we’d have as Hollywood producers!

Transmedia storytelling does have some successful examples in the publishing industry, though. Scholastic’s 39 Clues and Spirit Animals series use online games, clues, and other content to draw readers deeper into the stories. In story-themed online forums, readers can become “characters” in the story world, pool their knowledge to solve plot puzzles, or simply share reactions to the latest book. And if you live on Planet Earth, you probably noticed the the online hullabaloo surrounding the release of the first Hunger Games movie. (This hullabaloo, by the way, resulted in over two MILLION online conversations in the weeks leading up to the movie release!)


Images from Siobhan O’Flynn’s 2012 presentation, Transmedia Engagement: Participatory Culture to Activism

My examples all involve transmedia campaigns put on by the Big Guys–the publishing houses–but that doesn’t mean transmedia storytelling is inaccessible to the rest of us.

The way I see it, these publishers involved have shown that transmedia storytelling can help writers to reach more readers and engage those readers more deeply. They’ve tested the waters…and the approach works for novels as well as movies, for middle grade and young adult readers as well as for adult audiences.

Now it’s up to us–the writers–to embrace some new storytelling techniques and see if we can reap the same benefits. That’s what I’m exploring as a writer…and that’s what I’m talking about in two weeks. I hope you come to hear more!



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My Juggler Hat

Ceil Boyles


By Ceil Boyles

I’ve come to the realization that writers wear many hats:  storyteller, historian, comedian, investigator, to name a few.  In my most recent manuscript, I donned my juggler hat.  That’s what happens when you tackle a contemporary paranormal romance with ties to a historical event, and throw mystery into the mix.  To guarantee I wasn’t making it too easy on myself, I wrote the story from two points of view, something I hadn’t done before.   I quickly learned that I needed to keep close tabs on who was talking, where the scene was leading me, where I’d left off when I switched POV’s, and my historical facts.   Of course, as in any mystery, the clues needed to make sense and the tension needed to build appropriately.   Before I knew it, I could have sworn I’d thrown twenty balls in the air at one time and was about to get clobbered on the head by at least half of them.

I’m generally pretty good at organization, but this story showed me I needed to be better.  My simple chart of timelines, POV, characters and scenes had to be greatly expanded to account for mystery clues, historical events, and mounting tension. It has definitely been a challenging, sometimes hair-pulling project, but I’ve also found it exciting and fun.  I’ve finished the first draft and am partway through the first revision.  I did the easy revisions first because the tougher revisions are going to involve more balls and more juggling, but I have a little more confidence that I can keep those balls in the air…at least, most of them.

The key is organization.  By knowing what it is you’re going to need to keep track of, and developing a strategy to do it, you can avoid mistakes and pitfalls, not to mention quite a bit of hair-pulling.  The Rocky Mountain Chapter’s SCBWI fall conference, LETTERS AND LINES, offers a workshop on Scrivener which is supposed to be an excellent organizational tool for writers.  Definitely sounds more promising than my juggler hat.

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