I’ve been completely caught up in a new-to-me writing website for the past few days:, by Harper Collins. From their “About” page:

Get Read. Get Noticed. Get Published.

authonomyTM is a brand new community site for writers, readers and publishers, conceived and developed by book editors at HarperCollins. We want to flush out the brightest, freshest new literature around – we’re glad you stopped by.

If you’re a writer, authonomy is the place to show your face – and show off your work on the web. Whether you’re unpublished, self-published or just getting started, all you need is a few chapters to start building your profile online, and start connecting with the authonomy community.

And if you’re a reader, blogger, publisher or agent, authonomy is for you too. The book world is kept alive by those who search out, digest and spread the word about the best new books – authonomy invites you to join our community, champion the best new writing and build a personal profile that really reflects your tastes, opinions and talent-spotting skills.

The publishing world is changing. One thing’s for sure: whether you’re a reader, writer, agent or publisher, this is an exciting time for books. In our corner of HarperCollins we’ve been given a chance to do something a little different.

We’d really love your help.

It’s a very cool concept–but is it a good idea to post your work online to such a wide audience? Will that hinder your chances of publication? I asked Editorial Anonymous, who says “Go for it.” See more of her thoughts here…and then come join me! Check out the site, see what you think, and search for “Cherylwriter” to see what I’m up to :).


Great beginnings

Now that the holidays are over, conference season is picking back up again…and with conferences come those fun first-pages sessions where would-be authors read their manuscript openings to editors and agents across the country in return for a two minute mini-critique (in front of other would-be authors). So what makes a good page? Andrea Brown says that the first page shouldn’t have any grownups because, see, kids books need to focus on the kids. Erin Murphy (way back when I began my books with lengthy descriptions of setting or other non-essential info) says that first pages should NOT contain piles of back story.

No doubt about it: that first page is often your one-and-only chance to hook your reader–be he editor, agent, or bookstore browser. I thought I’d take a look at some first pages–some first lines, really–that really grabbed me:

Skin, by Adrienne Maria Vrettos: “These are the things you think when you come home to find that your sister has starved herself to death and you have dropped to your knees to revive her….”
The Wizard Hunters, by Martha Wells: “It was nine o’clock at night and Tremaine was trying to find a way to kill herself that would bring in a verdict of natural causes in court when someone banged on the door.”

Because of Winn-Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo: “My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog.”
How to Train Your Dragon, by Cressida Cowell: “Long ago, on the wild and windy isle of Berk, a smallish Viking with a longish name stood up to his ankles in snow. Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, the Hope and Heir to the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, had been feeling slightly sick ever since he woke up that morning.”

The Boyfriend List, by E. Lockhart: “Before anyone reading this thinks to call me a slut–or even just imagines I’m incredibly popular–let me point out that this list includes absolutely every single boy I have ever had the slightest little any-kind-of-anything with.”
What do they have in common? Some have such an intriguing situation that I want to know what happens next. They ALL have that nebulous quality of a distinct voice. Sometimes I think that my best writing happens when I manage to sound the most like myself. Hmm. Does that mean that Cressida Cowell speaks with Frequent Capitals?

:) Cheryl

Notes to Start a Writer’s Week

1. Despite the fact that sleep seems to interfere with writing, sleep has been clinically proven to be essential. Even for writers.

2. Think of it this way: Sleep begets dreams. Dreams beget stories. Stories beget writing.
3. Writing begets staying up way late to finish dreaming up (and recording) this really important plot twist, oh!, and that essential list of character quirks, and long bouts of inspirational reading.
4. Besides, when you’re sleep-deprived your writing seems much more inspired and genius than later, when you’re actually in full possession of your faculties. Kind of like how drunk people are only funny to other drunk people, except without the alcohol, because alcohol does tend to inhibit good writing.

5. And when you’re sleep-deprived, you have this bad habit of reading to fall asleep. And then, instead of going to sleep, you stay up until you’ve finished the book.

6. This is why you’ve had to swear off grown-up books. They’re too long. You’d never sleep.

7. Bad, Cheryl! Stop salivating and thinking of the book you’re going to begin at 10:45 pm! You promised to go to bed early!!

8. Oh. What’s that book about again? Really? Well, it’s true you’d have a hard time stopping in the middle of a book like that….

9. Ack! What are you saying? Be strong, Cheryl!

10. Nah. Take a book to bed and sleep all day tomorrow. It’s Tuesday, after all, right? Right. Nothing important on Tuesdays. I don’t think.

:) Cheryl