2017 Year Update

Hello friends,

I know. I know. I’m a couple months late with an update on my writing for 2017, but I’m doing it now.

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Michelle I. Mason

I posted once before about why titles are important, and agent Suzie Townsend also posted about titles here. What it comes down to is that for most agents, the title is your first impression. You include it in the subject line of your email, so even if it’s at the end of your query, it’s still the first thing an agent sees. I expect this is probably true of editors, too.

The title conveys the tone of your manuscript and–assuming it’s not a one-word title–gives a hint of your writing style. So, how do you come up with a title that makes an agent lean in and say, “I definitely want to see what that query’s about”? I haven’t quite perfected it, but here are some steps I take–not necessarily in this order.

1. List key words, including character names and descriptors. My initial brainstorm consists of throwing…

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Writers know that sometimes there is the writing you are supposed to be doing, and then there’s the writing you want to be doing. Prudence dictates doing the former over the latter. But sometimes, as Alaya Dawn Johnson found in writing The Summer Prince, there might be something to telling prudence to take a hike.


I tend to write my novels the way other people quilt, in a somewhat-ordered patchwork of varied materials that have arrested my interest. Which means that whenever I discuss my inspiration for The Summer Prince I end up babbling about matriarchies and fame and what a non-heteronormative society might look like when projected into the future of African diaspora culture in Brazil, plus music and art and human sacrifice (I thought about including reincarnation, but that seemed like overkill).

But since this series is called “The Big Idea” and not “a…

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Teens Can Write, Too!

From the start, my goal with this blog has always been both to support and inform all writers, but specifically those of us of the teen variety, and when it comes to the latter, the one topic that has always eluded me is publishing with small presses. Being that I don’t have first-hand experience in that process, I’ve always been reluctant to talk about it, and that’s why I’m so thrilled to introduce Danielle Ellison, someone who, as both an author and an editor at a small press, definitely knows a thing or two about the process. Danielle is here to share some honest thoughts about what it’s like to work with small presses, for all of us who are either curious about this route or who have been considering trying it for themselves.

Danielle is Senior Editor at Spencer Hill Press and Spencer Hill Contemporary. She is also a YA author and her debut…

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We writers, we all know the truth. Publishing is a TOUGH business. You can write for years and churn out manuscript after manuscript and never get a bite from an agent or a publisher.  Some will give up on their dream while others will keep pushing forward.


The question is which writer are you? Completely committed or ready to throw in the towel?


If you’re on the fence, let me share with you two great stories that have happened in the last several weeks. Maybe they will inspire you to keep your feet on the path to publication.


My critique partner, Katie French, toiled in the query trenches for a long time. After not getting any agent interest,  she decided to self-publish her amazing Young Adult novel, THE BREEDERS.  She’s sold quite a few copies and has done a great job promoting the book. …

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