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Lit Service

A show giving dodgy writing advice and first chapter critiques for aspiring writers.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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1.5 Yes, You Really Do Need A Writing Group

Caitlin, Kristen, Cameron, and Dan discuss why writing groups are so helpful, and ways you can avoid having a toxic experience. They then critique a submission about a young man who runs away from home to develop his illegal Lakewalking talent. You can find today's submission or find out how to submit your own work to be critiqued by the Literary Work In Progress Team on our website: https://literarywip.wixsite.com/podcast


16 Oct 2017

Rank #1

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1.4 Show, Don't Tell with Emily R. King

Caitlin, Kristen, Cameron, Dan and special guest author Emily R. King chat about how to show instead of tell. They then critique a submission in which a young lady stows away on a train only to find out it's a circus train, and the circus knife-thrower needs a new assistant.


9 Oct 2017

Rank #2

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2.6 Plot Twists with Ben Grange

Literary Agent Ben Grange joins the podcast to tell us why plot twists will make or break your book...but not for every genre. We discuss how to go about setting up plot twists and some ideas as to why the do or don't work for readers. In this episode we discuss 10 Cloverfield Lane (AGAIN. Anyone see number three?) The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling The Chaos Walking Series by Patrick Ness One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty ALL THE M. NIGHT SHAMALAN And briefly mention A Quiet Place and Arrival. If you want to submit your first chapter for a critique, come check out our website: litservicepodcast.wixsite.com/litnation If you'd like to see the video feed from this episode, you can find it here:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOAwCuuXgxfAfIlSFCSNyOA?view_as=subscriber?&ab_channel=LitService


28 Apr 2018

Rank #3

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3.6 Surviving your First Novel

Have you started a novel you've never finished? Wanted to write a novel and never started? Award winning authors Charlie Holmberg and Brian Lee Durfee join us to talk about their first novels and share tips and strategies for actually finishing.  Charlie N. Holmberg is a Wall Street Journal and Amazon bestselling author, whose debut series, The Paper Magician, has been optioned by the Walt Disney Company. Her stand-alone novel, Followed by Frost, was nominated for a 2016 RITA Award for Best Young Adult Romance, and her novel The Fifth Doll won the 2018 Whitney award for Speculative Fiction. She is a board member for Deep Magic Ezine. Visit her at www.charlienholmberg.com. Brian Lee Durfee is an artist and writer raised in Fairbanks Alaska and Monroe Utah. He has done illustrations for Wizards of the Coast, Tolkien Enterprises, Dungeons & Dragons, Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust (Denali National Park) and many more.His art has been featured in SPECTRUM: Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art #3 and Writers of the Future Vol 9. He won the Arts for the Parks Grand Canyon Award and has a painting in the permanent collection of the Grand Canyon Visitors Center-Kolb Gallery.Brian is the author of the fantasy series Five Warrior Angels. He lives in Salt Lake City.  Books and media we talk about: The Paper Magician by Charlie Holmberg The Forgetting Moon by Brian Lee Durfee A Night of Blacker Darkness by Dan Wells How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card Save the Cat by Blake Snyder Safehold by David Weber


23 Apr 2019

Rank #4

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3.20 Character is Setting with Tony Daniel

The Lit Service Crew chats with Tony Daniel about how to approach building a character and how that interacts with setting. Tony Daniel is a senior editor at Baen Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. He is also an award-winning author (a few of his titles: Guardian of Night, Metaplanetary, Superluminal, Earthling, Warpath, and the two Star Trek Original Series novels, Devil’s Bargain and Savage Trade), a co-writer of screenplays for monster movies that appear on the SyFy and Chiller Channels, and the founder, writer, and director of theatrical and audio drama group Automatic Vaudeville, with many appearances on WBAI radio in New York City.


27 Nov 2019

Rank #5

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2.9 Romantic and Sexual Tension with Caitlyn McFarland

Guest Caitlyn McFarland shares her tips and tricks to making the romance in your writing crackle. There are several methods she uses that help authors to avoid romances that start too quickly, escalate too quicly, and allow things to flow naturally. Check out the submission we critique here: https://litservicepodcast.wixsite.com/litnation If you'd like a first chapter critique, you can find out submission info on the same website.


27 Jun 2018

Rank #6

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3.18 The Emperor King's Assassin with Ben Grange

Ben Grange, agent at the L. Perkins agency, joins the Lit Service crew to talk about what "high concept" means, why everyone talks about high concept books, and why it's important to be able to put together a high concept-ish pitch for your book even if it isn't a high concept story.


23 Oct 2019

Rank #7

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2.16 YA Thrillers with Karen M. McManus

The Lit Service Crew chats with Karen M. McManus, author of NYT Bestselling One of Us is Lying, about the rise of the YA thriller and the elements that go into writing a good thriller (and thriller elements that you can apply to any other genre you write.) Some of the books and other media we mention:  There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus Sadie by Courtney Summers The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas Little Monsters by Kara Thomas We Were Liars by E. Lockhart I mentioned Serial the podcast (which, if you haven't listened to, go do it!) It's YA true crime, if that's a thing. If you want to look at the submission we critique along with our notes, you can check it out on our website: https://litservicepodcast.wixsite.com/litnation If you'd like to submit a first chapter for critique, you can find submission guidelines on the same website. Thanks for listening, please don't forget to like, subscribe, leave comments and reviews!


10 Oct 2018

Rank #8

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3.7 The Query Monster

Caitlin and Cameron chat with Ben Grange from the L. Perkins agency and Amy Jameson from A+B Works about how to craft the perfect query.


15 May 2019

Rank #9

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4.3 Characters Are Like Onions with Rebecca Ross

Rebecca Ross joins the Lit Service crew to chat about layering characters (like onions! Imagine the Scottish accent) and how that relates to plot. Rebecca is the author of The Queen's Rising, The Queen's Resistance, and the forthcoming Sisters of Sword and Song.


5 Feb 2020

Rank #10

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1.10 Tropes with Karen M. McManus and Emily R. King

Caitlin and Cameron talk tropes with Emily R. King, author of THE HUNDREDTH QUEEN and Karen M. McManus, author of ONE OF US IS LYING. This is our first submission which has officially SURVIVED THE QUERY PROCESS. If you'd like to follow the author's journey now that she's agented, you can follow her on Twitter here: @CassaCassaCassa or check out her website: https://ginger-and-sage.org/ If you'd like to submit your first chapter for some advice on how to attract agent attention, you can check out our submission guidelines here: literarywip.wixsite.com/podcast


26 Nov 2017

Rank #11

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3.19 How to Not Discover Witches

Cameron, Kristen, Aliah, and Caitlin chat about POV usage and how to best make your choices fit the kind of story you want to tell.


13 Nov 2019

Rank #12

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3.5 Pacing your Backstory

You have your fabulous main character, their deliciously dark past, their wealth of relationships, habits, memories, and everything else that makes them who they are-- and then you have to write the first chapter. What can you put in, what should you leave out, and how do you make it interesting? Listen in as we discuss how to best drop your back story in a way that is natural and interesting. Some books and media we talk about: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls The Last Jedi (movie) Animorphs (series) by H. A. Applegate Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness Cinder by Marissa Meyer The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley Isabel: Taking Wing by Annie Dalton


5 Apr 2019

Rank #13

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2.20 Horror Elements with Dan Wells

For our final episode of the season we chat with Dan Wells about how to incorporate horror elements into our work. Because Dan is really smart, we let this one go a little long. Some of the things we mention: Zero G by Dan Wells (available for free on audible for the month of December!! https://www.audible.com/pd/Zero-G-Audiobook/B07K4VYQ5X) Holly Black's collective work The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins Sand Kings by George RR Martin Steven Spielberg's Jaws If you'd like to look at the chapter critiqued during this episode, the text with our notes is available on our website: https://litservicepodcast.wixsite.com/litnation If you'd like a first chapter critique, our submissions will open again in January! Keep an eye out for guest announcements!


19 Dec 2018

Rank #14

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2.13 Improving Your Craft with Rosalyn Eves

This week we chat with Rosalyn Eves about rhetorical devices and how to go about learning and using them (and maybe when not to use them). Some of the things we mention in the podcast worth checking out: Soundbite from Ira Glass on "The Gap" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbC4gqZGPSY&ab_channel=Getoutthebox1 Slyva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric, provided by Dr. Gideon Burton. A list of rhetorical devices with examples: http://rhetoric.byu.edu/ We also mentioned Austenland by Shannon Hale The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor Thank You For Arguing by Jay Heinrichs If you'd like a first chapter critique from the crew, you can find submission guidelines on our website: https://litservicepodcast.wixsite.com/litnation You can find the text of the first chapter we critique during the episode here: https://litservicepodcast.wixsite.com/litnation/2-13 Please remember to give us ratings and reviews! It helps others to find the show. Thanks for listening!!


22 Aug 2018

Rank #15

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3.21 Getting Those Hobbits Out the Door

Caitlin, Cameron, and Kristen talk in depth about how inciting incidents relate to character and how people accidentally mess them up.


11 Dec 2019

Rank #16

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2.17 The Fantastic First Chapter with Ben Grange

The Lit Service Crew chats with Literary Agent Ben Grange about what goes into a fabulous first chapter and how to approach getting yours into that fabulous category, red flags and things that make Ben pass over people in his query slushpile, and some of our own favorite first chapters. Some of the things we mention in this episode: 5 Writing Tips: Barbara Kingsolver  https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/tip-sheet/article/78305-5-writing-tips-barbara-kingsolver.html Author Mentor Match http://authormentormatch.com/ Holes by Louis Sachar Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor Howl's Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson If you'd like to see the submission we critique in this episode along with all of our notes, you can find it here: https://litservicepodcast.wixsite.com/litnation Please subscribe so you can automatically get dodgy writing advice every two weeks and keep up on who our guests will be so you can submit your work! We love comments and reviews, they help others find the show! Thanks for listening!


27 Oct 2018

Rank #17

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3.2 The Art of Misunderstanding with Kelly Barnhill

Kelly Barnhill received the Newbery Medal in 2017, won the World Fantasy Award, the Parents Choice Gold Award as well as many other honors. She is a New York Times bestseller, and the author of THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON, THE WITCHES BOY, IRON HEARTED VIOLET, and THE MOSTLY TRUE STORY OF JACK as well as the novella, “The Unlicensed Magician”. In this episode, we chat about using misunderstandings between characters as a plot point that rings true rather than frustrating readers. Check out the text of the submission we critique on our website: https://litservicepodcast.wixsite.com/litnation 


17 Feb 2019

Rank #18

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2.12 Hanging Lanterns with Ben Grange

Ben Grange and the Lit Service Crew chat about what it means to "hang lanterns" in your writing, and how to go about doing it. Some books we mention: The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater The Office (the TV show) Avatar: The Last Airbender The Belles by Dhionelle Clayton Moby Dick by Herman Mellville Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman Our first chapter critique is about a boy named Cole who is a guardian angel. The text for this submission (including in-line notes by Caitlin and Ben, as well as general notes at the end) can be found here: https://litservicepodcast.wixsite.com/litnation/2-12 If you would like a first chapter critique, please refer to our submission guidelines. Please remember to like, subscribe, comment, and share the podcast so others can find the show!


8 Aug 2018

Rank #19

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1.14 Inciting Incidents

Inciting incidents: what they are and how to effectively choose one. Kristen, Cameron, and Caitlin discuss their own writerly inciting incidents (how they started writing) and then talk about they ways inciting incidents affect the rest of the story, specifically using examples from RED RISING by Pierce Brown, THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas, ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr, ILLUMINAE by Amie Kaufman and Jay Krisoff, LAST STAR BURNING by Caitlin Sangster, and JURASSIC PARK the old and fabulous movie that Cameron has been fixated on for a few episodes now :) If you'd like to submit your work to be critiqued by the Literary WIP team . . . hold your horses. This is the last episode of the season, and we're going to be changing some things next year. Please stay tuned for announcments about how and when to submit. We're really excited about next season and can't wait to share! The submission featured in today's podcast (as well as tons of other writing tips and writing advice to help polish your first chapter so it's beautiful and sparkly enough to catch agent attention) can be found on our website: literarywip.wixsite.com/podcast Peace out, happy holidays, and good luck in the trenches!


18 Dec 2017

Rank #20