How to get a literary agent

Advice, Books, Writing

I haven’t written about this much on this blog, but you may have read on my bio that I am a writer. I write novels for young adults, and it has always been my dream to be traditionally published. This means getting my books published by an established publishing house, rather than self-publishing. (Oh boy, let’s see how many times can I use the word publish in this post!)

In most cases if you want to be traditionally published, first you need a literary agent. There are some exceptions — maybe you’re working with a very small press or you feel comfortable representing yourself. In general, getting an agent is the way to go. Even literary agents who are writers themselves often get an agent to help them get their books published.

That said, it’s hard to get an agent. Many a writer tries, fails, and gives up. There are rumors that you have to have an “in” in the publishing industry and you’ll never make it if you don’t schmooze and network and meet some people.

I am here to tell you it’s possible to get an agent the old-fashioned way, because I did it. No personal favors, no industry contacts, no help from anyone.

Period Problems

Advice, Awkward Girl, Feminism

_82001965_period

(Click picture for link to article)

With this BBC article, I was inspired to write about the period.  Don’t run away yet!  I promise this will not be a gorey post.  Menstruation and the taboos surrounding it have been common topics recently among my friends and I.  The subject was most recently broached when discussing having our period at work, and the embarrassing feeling that comes along with having to walk to the bathroom with a tampon in our hand.  God forbid people might know we are on our period!  How did this generation of women become this way?

In a broader sense, women’s menstruation in India is stigmatized heavily.  So much so that they do not have access to proper sanitation.  Women’s rights in India are altogether a huge issue, however just this one basic need is not met partly due to the taboos surrounding it and a lack of education.  If we expect to be able to make a change on the other side of the world, it is important that those who are able around the world leads by example.

I’m glad to see women like Rupi Kaur, starting a conversation about the topic.  Women have had a period since the beginning of time, you’d think it would be a comfortable topic at this point.  I think a lack of education and communication, both in and outside of school, has lead societies around the world to create this awkward bubble around periods.  So I say to girlfriends, talk to your boyfriends about your period, to mothers, talk to your sons about periods, sisters, talk to your brothers.  Open communication is key.  On my part, I refuse to hide my tampon in my sleeve on my way to the bathroom.

-S

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old

Advice, Friendship, Gender, Quick Read

After spending the weekend with some old friends, it got me thinking about the fluctuation of friendships.  I grew up singing this folk song at Girl Scout camp and it has always stuck with me.

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old
One is Silver and the Other is Gold

With my quarter life crisis in full swing, my friendships old and new carry a lot of weight these days because we lean on each other for support.  Having just moved to the city, I’ve been spending time with lots of new people and old friends I didn’t see as often when I lived across the water.  It got me thinking how friendships, bonds and connections with people are constantly changing throughout a lifetime.  When we’re young we think friendship is a concrete, forever thing.

I love the portrayal of female friendship on the HBO show Girls.  My friends and I are most definitely their target audience, and they hit the nail on the head with the weird quirks that come with female friendships in their 20’s.  The BBC article below reflects on the importance of female friendships and how they’ve been portrayed in TV and movies of the recent century.

Girls - 2014
(click on picture to read article)

For women, being social is part of our make up.  We feed off of the people around us and are changed and affected by those relationships.

My point being, people come and go, cherish them all the same for what they contribute to your life!

-S

Anxiety

Advice, Fitness/Health

Sharing time: I used to think I was a very calm person because my emotions were pretty even-keeled. I thought I didn’t even know what anxiety was. But in the last year it has been brought to my attention (by a mental health professional) that anxiety is my baseline. I am pretty much always anxious, and have been my entire life. So my emotions might be even-keeled, but not necessarily in a good way.

Most of us struggle with anxiety — if not all the time, at least once in a while. Life can be stressful, and that’s why it is important to know how to take care of yourself.

Here are some easy ways to show your anxiety who’s boss.

Watch TV. Work out.
Both of these activities take your mind off your worries and force you to pay attention to something else. Whether it’s Mary’s gorgeous wardrobe on REIGN or feeling the burn while trying not to drop free weights on your toes, giving your brain a break for an hour or two will make you feel like a new person.

Take a hot bubble bath.
A hot bath relaxes your muscles, which in turn relaxes you. If you have trouble sleeping at night, soak in the tub before bed to calm down. Epsom salts and scented bubbles are always a good idea, but if you don’t have any the hot water will do you good on its own.

Clean your apartment and light scented candles.
I’m not suggesting a deep clean of every nook and cranny (unless you’re in the mood for that), but never underestimate the power of a quick tidy-up. Take five or ten minutes to put things away, wipe down tables and counters, maybe sweep or vacuum. Then light some candles. This is a great thing to do for your mental health because you are actively taking control of your environment and creating a positive change that you can enjoy immediately. It’s so much easier to relax when your place looks and smells pleasant.

Say what’s on your mind.
Literally, state your worry out loud to yourself. It helps you focus instead of freaking out, and puts your fear in perspective. Sometimes I find it hard to pinpoint exactly what I’m anxious about, so just the act of trying to form it into a sentence helps me realize I’m anxious about… well, nothing.

Now say the worst that could happen if your fear comes true.
For example, “if I don’t accomplish ___ then ___ might happen.” Often your next thought will be, “in which case I would…” and it helps you see that even if things get really bad it won’t be the end of the world.

Breathe.
It sounds cheesy, but it helps. I find that when I am anxious or stressed I tend to hold my breath. Taking some long deep breaths can help you relax instantly. Next time you’re anxious, take a deep breath for 10 seconds and then let it out slowly.

~

Do you have any tips on dealing with anxiety? How do you relax?

-L

Dad Advice: Blizzard Edition

Advice

If your father is anything like mine, he loves to give advice. Everything can be more efficient and he makes sure I know how to do it. The other day Lauren pointed me towards the twitter of Mallory Ortberg who gives the Twitterverse a prompt and retweets the best responses. Due to the arrival of the Noreaster Blizzard this week, she had the Twitterverse ask their dads (or next best option) for advice for the storm. Here are some of the responses she received.

I decided to join in on the fun (verbally, my dad doesn’t respond to texts) and this was the result:

Me: “What advice would you give to me if there was a blizzard?”

Dad: “Make sure you have an appetite and you are ready to eat it.”

Next time I should remember that my dad associates the word “Blizzard” with Dairy Queen and I should always be more specific. — J