Friday, December 4, 2009

The Top Ten Reasons Why I Would Be an Excellent Client for Any Agent

This post isn't really intended to be serious...unless you want it to be...

1. My book is awesome - the kind of read that you can't put down and you want to go out and buy the second one when you reach the end.
2. My book could always be more awesome (awesome-er?) So I will kindly respect your expertise and make any edits you suggest.
3. I have more than one book in me, at least five or six ideas at the moment, so I won't be a one hit wonder.
4. I am generally well-mannered and polite. I have a Southern mother who raised me to mind my P's and Q's, so you will likely receive many 'Thank You' notes for your hard work.
5. My background is in marketing, so I will do anything short of breaking the law or offending aforementioned Southern mother to sell my book.
6. I am a Connector (from Malcom Gladwell's, The Tipping Point) so I know a lot of people who know a lot of people, and most of them owe me a favor or two.
7. I am an excellent baker so you can expect homemade fudge and delightful craisin chocolate toffee for the holidays.
8. I am fun to hang out with after hours. I have quite a few karaoke songs rehearsed with choreographed dance moves and I offer witty yet insightful conversation.
9. I think the general consensus of my acquaintances is that I am sane. You don't have to worry about me flipping out if something doesn't go my way or calling you at all hours of the night. I know how to carry myself professionally.
10. I am a snazzy dresser. I'm not sure how important this one is, but that is why it is number 10. But I'll never show up to a meeting in sweatpants and that is a promise.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Holiday Cheer

I've scrapped two previous versions of my next book, and I'm hard at work on the third. I'm trying not to think of it as a wasted 150,000 words, countless hours of time and agony, but hope...nay pray that after all this time when the book is finally completed it will be that much better because of its long and arduous journey.

This is pefect timing for the next card, because I'm feeling down about the whole thing, but nothing cheers me up more than cats in clothing, and this card features our beastly little felines, Sid & Nancy.

*Note to animal-lovers, no cats were harmed in the making of this card. Maybe just tormented for a few minutes.

Inside: Maybe after a few beers, we'll forget we're wearing these stupid hats.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy (Almost) Thanksgiving!

As promised, the second card in my series is below. This one was after I met my husband, and I talked him into participating in crazy Christmas cards. The sad part about this one is that we did not have to do too much set-up to the room. This was pretty much how the 'ol bachelor pad looked most times.

So enjoy and think of all the things you have in life to be thankful for. Me? I'm thankful that I have a wonderful husband who will wear a mullet wig for my holiday enjoyment.

Inside: Have a White-Trashy Christmas!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I know. It's not even Thanksgiving yet, but certain radio stations that will remain unnamed are already playing 24-hour carols, and as I mentioned before, my day job is at a Christmas ornament company, so I'm forced to recognize the holiday year-round. But I'll be the first to admit it - I love Christmas!

Back in 2004 that I got the brilliant idea to start making my own Christmas cards, and not the wearing matching sweaters in the snow Christmas cards, but cards that reflect my twisted sense of humor. So as a special treat, I will post all of my previous card images up here on my blog, a new one each week until we build to the (insert drum roll) brand new 2009 card that is yet to be released!

*Please keep in mind that all cards have been staged, photoshopped, tweaked and distorted and could be considered offensive.

Inside: Man those elves throw one helluva party!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Possibility Thinking

My husband bought this book How Successful People Think by John C. Maxwell, and one day in a state of boredom, I opened it up directly to the chapter I desperately needed to hear.
Possibility thinking.
(most of the content below is blatantly plagiarized but this is only a tiny fragment of the excellence in this book so I urge you to go buy it)

Possibility Thinking Gives you Energy
Who gets energized by the possibility of losing? Are you going to put two hundred percent into something you believe will fail?

Stay Away from the "Experts"
Experts do more to shoot down people's dreams than just about anybody else. John Andrew Holmes said, "Never tell a young man something cannot be done. God may have been waiting centuries for somebody ignorant of the impossible to do that thing."

Dream One Size Bigger
Have Stephenie Meyer dreams and J.K. Rowling fantasies? You're thinking too small. If you set your goals high, you have more room to grow and you will believe in greater possibilities.
Henry Curtis advises, "Make your plans as fantastic as you like, because twenty-five years from now, they will seem mediocre. Make your plans ten times as great as you first planned, and twenty-five years from now you will wonder why you did not make them fifty times as great."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

To Outline or not to Outline

I'm working on my second book (or probably third or fourth, I have a few unfinished manuscripts lying around) and I've written 50,000 words (not for NaNoWriMo because I started it in October), but now I'm debating totally re-writing it.

My normal writing style is to think about an idea, and plan it out in my head. I get the main characters' basic temperment and behavior decided and then let them take shape on the pages. However, when writing this one, one character evolved into a person I like so much, I want to change the plot to include him more.

Since I've already written a hefty amount, I don't want to write another 50,000 words and then scrap that too so I'm thinking of doing an outline (even though I'm not a fan).

My question to you writer friends is how do you begin crafting a new work? Do you create an outline first? Do you make lists of personality traits for your characters? Or are you like me and you just write and see where the story takes you?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Honorable Mention

I'm totally psyched to have received an honorable mention in the Rejectionist's Form Letter contest! Especially since all of the entries were amazingly hysterical. (If you haven't read every single laugh-inducing one, you simply must.)

My entry (click below to read) was selected as:
Best Zombie/Best Insinuation That Reading Young Adult Literature Is More Fun Than Our Actual Job, Which is Definitely True



Rob Zombie is the best Zombie.


I have to thank the Rejectionist for offering such an extremely awesome contest and send my overflowing praise to everyone who posted a letter because we all need something fun to read when we're working (or not working actually). Your combined creativity wasted at least ten hours of my normally monotonous work week, and I could not be more grateful.

Now I have to decide if I will ask the overworked support staff of "Steve" to review my query or first 5 while I daydream about the delicious treat that will soon grace my mailbox.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Messy Desk, Clear Head

I just thought I'd share what a mess my desk is. Someone once told me, "A messy desk means a clear head." I suppose whoever said that never spent fifteen minutes searching for their mailing labels.

Thoughts on Consumer Products

My day job is at a Christmas ornament company, so obviously this our season. The day after Halloween (or several days before in some cases) our product hit the shelves, and almost immediately thereafter the emails started rolling in.

What does this have to do with publishing? Probably nothing, but it's my blog so I can write about what I want. But I do work in consumer sales and marketing, and what's true for one consumer product is often true for another.

So as our sales reports begin to come through, we make a note of the top sellers, and the 'dogs' as we call them, and then try to determine the ornament trends for the following year. Are angels going to be hot? Or will it be snowmen? (I bet you never thought this much work went into Christmas ornaments did you?)

Without fail though, every year there are one or two surprises. Perhaps an ornament we didn't feel very strongly about is blowing out of stores, or one that we loved is collecting dust on the shelves. But we designed that ornament a year ago. Right now we're working on 2010. How can you predict the future of consumer wants a year in advance?

Ah hah, and therein lies the problem, and the same one that publishers have. You can't predict it, you can only make an educated guess based on the current happenings and how the trends have evolved in the past. And I guarantee you that publishers get some surprises as well, perhaps spending a fortune on marketing for a book that bombs, or one of their mid-range books gets rave reviews. And their only thought is, "How can we recoup all those lost marketing dollars?" Making them cautious to invest in a project that might be questionable when they have a sure-thing sitting on their desk.

This posting is going on way too long, but I have one more thing to add. You notice how I said we're working on 2010 now? That's right. It takes a year for a design to move from concept to production, and these are ornaments we're talking about, not 300 page novels that need to be reviewed, edited, covers designed....blah blah blah. The fastest we can turn around a design is in several months and that means dropping everything and putting all our resources into that one item. Something we would only do by retailer request and it would have to be a BIG retailer. (Like publisher would only do that for J.K. Rowling) So just keep that in mind when you sign your publisher contract and they say your book will be out in a year, because in retail world, that is a pretty quick turn around.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Bad Attitude?

I just read Rachelle Gardener's latest post on how NOT to get an agent. She addresses first and foremost a bad attitude towards the publishing industry, and of course, I panicked. Do some of my own blog entries sound too snarky? I read through them all and found only one that might be a little harsh, and I'm toying with the idea of deleting another, but I think I'll leave it for now.

I am always very careful not to mention any specific names in my rantings, and honestly, I don't harbor any ill will towards the agent acquiring process. In fact, it astounds me that people do. If an aspiring writer has done his research than he would know that this is a tough time to break into the market, that query letters should sound professional and that most writers don't get picked up until their third book. It is what it is. You can't do anything to change it, and your best shot at success is to follow the guidelines.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rollercoaster Ride

I had my first manuscript request and drank a few beers to celebrate, now I've received my first manuscript rejection and I plan on drinking a few beers to drown out my sorrows. The Coors brewing company must love me (this may be considered an insider tip if you are planning on buying stock)

However, the rejection was an extremely thoughtful rejection, so I'm trying not to take it too hard. Loved the plot, loved the title, but not in love with the voice. OK, I can understand that. I still have two partials out and about eight queries in the slush pile.

After receiving the kind rejection, I thought a lot about the agent practices I have encountered, and liked, which I would like to list below so we can improve the process for everyone.

1. Timely feedback - I know this isn't always a possibility due to the number of queries you receive, but it does keep us writers from going insane waiting...and waiting...and waiting...
2. Using our name and/or title of our book in the rejection - Even if the rest of the response is a form letter, this leads us to believe that you did in fact read our submission.
3. A reason for rejection - "I'm not completely in love with this project", "I don't have the time to commit to your project", "This isn't the right project for me". Even if it is vague, it's still something.
4. Constructive feedback - I know this is also difficult to do because of time constraints, however, pointing out things that you love or hate may help us when writing our next book, and that book may be one you'd like to rep.
5. Clear and consise submission guidelines on your website - I make a new query packet for each agent. Some pieces are copied and pasted from others, yes, but if an agent clearly outlines what they are looking for, I will include it. And hey, if you give us great guidelines and someone fails to follow them, then BAM, quick form-letter rejection. If a writer can't read, how do you expect them to write?

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Price Wars

I'm sure you've heard about the Battle of the Books that is going on between several mass market retailers. (And if you haven't, you can read about it in the Wall Street Journal here.) Most of my favorite bloggers have expressed their concerns on the situation, and these are the two things worry me most:

1. People are going to expect hardcover books to always be $10.
But they aren't. Walmart.com, Amazon.com, Target, Sears and everyone else jumping on the bandwagon are only discounting the top 10 or so books. As a potentially new author, my book would still be priced at $20, which could deter buyers.

2. Independent book stores cannot meet these prices.
This really bothers me because I am a big supporter of local business, and I would hate to see small business disappear. However, we as a group of consumers can stop this by not shopping at mass market retailers and trying to purchase things from local retailers when we can.

However, on the bright side...
1. I remember when gas stations were having a price war in the late 90's and gas dropped below a dollar. I would drive a block and then fill-up again because sadly, I knew it would end soon and the prices would shoot right back up. And they did. There is only so long a retailer can sell things at a loss.

2. Since books are currently on sale, perhaps the lower prices will get people buying and reading and they will remember how nice it is to curl up on the couch with a good book. More people reading is always a good thing for the publishing industry.

So in closing, I'm not going to panic just yet. I'm going to wait and see how this all plays out. One thing I am sure of is that printed books will never go away completely.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sensitive Writer Types

I just read Nathan Bransford's blog that suggests that us writers do not take criticism well, and unfortunately, criticism is part of the biz. Everytime I've written something that has been circulated among the public I have received some sort of hate mail, so I am well-prepared for what is to come.

Case in Point I
I won an essay contest in college that was published in the most prestigious campus newspaper, the State Press. After publication of aforementioned essay, one of the students who worked at the front desk of our dorm took it upon herself to slip me a hate letter explaining to me why my essay was total crap and I was just a spoiled rich white kid who didn't know anything about diversity.

What did I do? Nothing. I won a gift card at the campus bookstore so I didn't have to pay for my books for the rest of the year which left me with enough extra cash to drink away the memory of her hate mail.

Case in Point II
I published my own punk zine in College called Chelsea and actually had advertisers and readers who submitted stories and artwork that I included in my printings. Of course, there are always some sore apples in the bunch so I received copius amounts of hate mail and one death threat.
My response was always , "If you hate it so much, don't read it."

And of course I tallyed the hate mail responses into my readership rates and used it to get more advertisers.

I know that if I get my book published, I am likely to receive a much larger hate mail response rate, and I really don't care. As long as they bought their hated copy and didn't borrow it from someone else.

Monday, October 19, 2009

My First Pitch Session

I questioned what to entitle this post because in all honesty, my day in New York City at the conference was not at all what I expected. Was it interesting? Yes. Was it informative? Yes. Will my attendance be beneficial to my writing career? We'll see.

Part 1- Meet the Authors
The day began with short speeches from a panel of authors involved with the IWWG. Of course, my friend and I arrived late due to the weather and traffic on the way from RI to NYC. (However I did score a free parking space right across from the venue) The venue was cold and the metal folding chairs that were crammed into the space did little to promote my comfort.

Of the 8 or so authors who spoke, only 2 had gone the traditional publishing route. The rest had self-published. The founder of the organization said, "Self-publishing does not have the same stigma it did years ago." However, when the agents heard this, they all rolled their eyes. I'm not against self-publishing, but clearly, it does carry less weight in the industry.

Of the authors who spoke, the ones who were helpful and interesting spoke the least, and the ones who shouldn't have spoken at all, talked the longest. Some took the opportunity to sell us their books, and others actually gave us helpful advice on how to further our writing careers. Needless to say, when we broke for lunch, I high-tailed it somewhere warm with comfortable chairs and alcohol.

Part II - Meet the Agents
More writers arrived for this segment, and surprisingly, many of the attendees were wearing jeans, sweats and sneakers. (As a side note, if you are looking to sell ANYTHING, it is better to overdress than underdress and I felt quite pleased that I had dressed professionally)

The agents were very informative, however, only one was actively seeking YA, so after the entire trip, I only had one agent to speak with. I hadn't felt nervous all day, but as soon as I started talking to her, I felt the heat rise. I managed to get out part of what I wanted to say, but she cut me short and said "Sounds great, send it to me." I'm not sure if that is a good or a bad thing, but of course, I'll send it along and hope for the best like always.

Would I attend another conference? Of course.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Where are these girls?

Yes, they are YA fantasy novels, so I suppose the authors are entitled to some liberties but really? Teenage girls who behave like middle-aged women and cook dinner every night? Please. I feel it is more likely that I will come across a vampire or a werewolf in my travels. Not to say that I don't love these novels, because they have great stories and are well-written, but I am concerned about the impression these heroines are going to leave on the youth of today.

When I was sixteen, I was surly, rude, obnoxious and way more concerned with clothes and boys than making sure my parents ate a hot meal. Goodness. I couldn't even cook anything without disabling the smoke alarm first. Secondly, my parents were parenting, and yes, I did have some friends with negligent parents, but of those friends, not a one of them ever cleaned the house or cooked a meal for them. In fact, we took full advantage of those kinds of parents and always threw the parties at their houses.

The other thing that bothers me is how fast these girls ditch their friends for some boy. To coin the old phrase, probably dating myself, "Bros before hos". Boys come and go but good girlfriends are hard to find.

This is why I really hope my book gets published one day, because my teen protagonists behave like teenagers, keep their friends, eat junk food and go to college. And that is what I would like the new YA trend to be.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why are you the best person to write this book?

That is often one of the pieces of information agents ask you to include in your query letters - for fiction. But how does one answer that question? What makes someone qualified to write about zombies or magic amulets? Have you ever been in contact with the living dead or found an other-worldly piece of jewelry in your Grandmother's attic? Chances are - no.

So what exactly are they looking for? (and it's not writing credits because that is in itself an additional question) Am I qualified to write about teen romance? Yes. Why? Because the number of boyfriends I had exceeds the double digits and we don't even want to talk about the number of boys I dated that never evolved into actual boyfriends. But somehow I get the impression that is not a piece of information I should put in my query letter.

So dear agents, please explain, what exactly are you looking for when you ask this question? And if I'm writing about zombies should I just ignore it?

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Average Work Week of a Struggling First Time Novelist

Monday through Friday
7:30 a.m.
Crawl out of bed thirty minutes late and curse and swear at myself for sleeping through the alarm before I get up to hit the snooze button and then fall back asleep for nine more minutes and repeat process.
8:30 a.m.
Run out of the door fifteen minutes late with one shoe in my hand and my fly unzipped.
8:40 a.m.
Arrive ten minutes late at day job and pray that the bosses are running late as well.
8:45 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Check work email, then personal email, and read snarky agent blogs causing me to question the quality of my work and if I should just face the facts...I'll be a nine to fiver until the day I die.
10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Take care of the important day job tasks while I daydream about ways to improve my book.
1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Eat a dry sandwich from Subway, run to the bank, go to the grocery store, the pet store, etc. and then try to speed read ten pages of a novel while I smoke a cigarette.
2:00 p.m. - 2:05 p.m.
Check personal email again to see if I have any manuscript requests and then sigh heavily with dissapointment when I discover I have none.
2:05 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Finalize all of my day job tasks while planning out my book tour having forgotten all of the advice from the snarky agent blogs.
5:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Kiss the husband, pat the dog, drink a beer and smoke a cigarette before settling into the home office.
5:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Eat a nutricious dinner of Triscuits and cheese log while reviewing submission requirements for several agents.
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Prepare new query letters, plot synopsis, biography, resume and whatever else agents are looking for. Possibly complete one or two agent submissions, and then drink another beer because regardless of what I have prepared and sent, I get the feeling that they will end in the same result...nothing.
8:00 p.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Work on new novel because I have convinced myself without a doubt that the first one is going nowhere. Yell at my husband in the room next door because his cursing at CSS is disrupting my train of thought. Since my concentration is broken, I get up and drink another beer and then swear at the cats for having thrown up on the kitchen table again. Clean up vomit, check facebook and then return to writing. (Repeat several times)
12:00 p.m.
Go to sleep slightly drunk and try to end the day on a positive note by telling myself, "it only takes one"

Friday, September 25, 2009

Words they are a'changin'

I was reading this article in the Washington Post about how new authors have to market their own books now. (I'm not surprised, and I'd planned on doing that anyways. I already have the local launch party planned in my head.) Anyways, as a marketer, it got me thinking about all the new terms we have in the English language today, mostly due to the explosion of the Internet and all of the new digital sales tools we have available.

I'm not that old, but old enough to remember a time when the Internet didn't exist. How I survived - that I can't recall, but it got me thinking. What would some of those computer terms meant to us then? And I made up some definitions of my own.

Website - noun - The center of a spider web.
Blog - noun - A piece of wood, cut into a rectangular shape.
Cell Phone - noun - A telephone that is stored in a small compartment.
Javascript - noun - A cursive font used for coffee packaging.
Facebook - noun - A photo album similar to a scrap book except the pictures included are only of people's faces.

That's all I came up with, but it's Friday so if you have any more, post them in the comments. Creativity is welcome and thoroughly enjoyed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Music and Words

What am I doing right now? Arguing with my band about the set-list for our show on Sunday. Minor details. At least we have a show, and it's our first fundraiser, and we'll be playing for the mayor of Warwick. (http://www.buckeyebrook.org/ -We would be Live Music) To be honest, we were not the first choice for the band. The scheduled band cancelled so we were a last minute replacement, but I don't think it matters how you get your foot in the door, as long as you can cram it in there.

I'm bringing this up, because the journey our band has traveled is so very similar to path I'm embarking on for my writing career. We've been playing together, oh I don't know, two maybe three years, and we've just started getting some gigs this summer. After several years of playing together, we sound pretty darn good, but you can't get a gig unless you have a following, and you can't get a following unless you get gigs. It's a catch 22.

Like querying agents, we've gone from bar to bar, dropped off demos, and get positive feedback from the owners, but then never an email or a phone call. But I think the important thing is here, is that we've never given up. Playing music is fun for us, and I think we'd play even if we never got a gig. The same goes for my writing. I'm not gonna stop just because no one is reading it, and who knows, maybe two years from now, I'll be able to finally cram my foot in that door and shove it wide open.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Y cant anyoone spel?

This is somewhat related to my previous post; however, as I continue to read tweets, blog entries and other various Internet chats from aspiring writers, I am horrified at the lack of spelling ability. If you want to become a writer folks, you need to learn how to spell.

As the third place contender of the Laguna Elementary School Spelling Bee, proper spelling has always been a passion for me, so when I see a word that is blatantly misspelled, I cringe. Especially when the word is from a wannabe writer and they misspell something like "writeing" or as I saw today, "rediculously".

Of course, we're all human and we all make mistakes and with the invention of text messages, instant messages, Twitter, and spell check...we've all gotten a little lazy.

My rules of thumb:

  • Personal email, texts, instant messages, etc. - Don't worry about it.

  • Internal Corporate Email - Worry about it, but if you make a mistake don't cry about it.

  • External Corporate Email - Check it, check it again and just for fun check it a third time.

  • Query Letters - Please see "External Corporate Email"

  • Emails, texts, instant messages, etc, when you are talking about your dreams of writing - Please see "External Corporate Email" or re-think your career dreams.


I am probably going to be massacred for this post because usually when you are pointing out other people's follies, you tend to make one of your own. As I said before, everyone makes mistakes.

I recently started reading Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by self-pronounced Grammar Girl, Mignon Fogarty. My purpose in reading this is to improve my grammar skills and hopefully my writing as well. Surprisingly, much of what she covers in her book, I already knew, but I did have one issue, and I want to see if you feel the same way.


According to Grammar Girl...
Correct: I felt nauseated.
Incorrect: I felt nauseous.

However, I feel that more people in the general public use "nauseous" versus "nauseated". When does something become correct due to popular opinion? I'm sticking with nauseous, because I'm not writing Nobel Prize literature, I'm trying to write books that people will understand and enjoy, and if the people want "nauseous", I'm gonna give it to them.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Little Sympathy

I may have a little more sympathy for the hard-working agents. I wonder how many queries they receive each day from people like this...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Round 2

I've sent out a new group of queries and one is still pending from my first round. Hopefully the second round proves to be more successful...as in yielding a contract. I just purchased the 2010 Guide to Literary Agents, and this book has been a Godsend. I discovered many additional agents that I can query that I did not find in my Internet searching. It also includes a list of writer's conferences held around the country.

I am pondering going to the one hosted by the International Women's Writing Guild in NYC on October 18. The Sunday session includes time to pitch your novel to available agents. Many agents take on new projects from writers they meet at conferences. You'd think it would be easy to get from Rhode Island to NY, but it is proving more difficult and expensive than I would hope. It's hard to spend the money when I'm not collecting a paycheck.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Reader's Comments

Last night after yoga, my friend who reviewed the book for me, and I sat down for our frozen yogurt and discussed. Her initial thoughts:

"The book is GREAT! You either need to write the second one or tell me what's gonna happen."

To the agents currently reviewing my first 40, please note above. If we can get the first one going, we have a shot at a sequel!

She also gave me some contructive feedback on certain areas and caught more minor typos. I made the changes last last night, and I have to say, it's in excellent shape.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dare to Dream?

I was reading Design Sponge the other day (view link to the right) and they had a post about the Penguin recovered classic series of books featuring adorable cloth covers. Can I dare to dream that I may have a book in print one day and it will have a cover as adorable as these?



I'm pondering re-purchasing some of my favorites in these covers just to sit on a shelf in my office and look fabulous.

Initial Impressions

I just released my novel to friends and family to read. I'm ashamed to say the reason I didn't do it sooner was because I was afraid of what they would have to say. However, I can't improve it if I don't get constructive feedback and to everyone who has a copy, I instructed them to be honest. So far...

Husband says, "Ok, now I need to read the second one."
(but he is obviously biased, and not really my audience, besides, he doesn't read)

Friend says, "The book is great!"

She's still in the process of reading it, so I'll have to wait until she is finished to get her overall take, but she would be my audience and does read. Of course, I almost forgot to tell her that I used her name in the book. Her namesake's role is a very small one in the story, but I still hope she doesn't mind.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Feeling Active

I received one more rejection, but it was not a standard rejection, they actually used my name. This leads me to believe that the agent actually did read, review and ponder my novel. I'm going to take this as a positive sign.

My husband and I printed a copy of the book, which he is currently reading. We had to load the printer with paper twice and I think I killed the black ink cartridge. Although he is not my intended audience, he says he likes it, and is getting involved in the story. He may be a bit biased though. After he's done, I plan to pass it around to a few of my girlfriends.

I picked up the printed copy myself the other day and read through a few pages and noticed several changes I need to make. At this point, I only have two more agents to hear from and they've received the first 40 pages. What they have definitely needs some work...is that going to ruin me? Perhaps I should have waited a bit longer before I started sending out queries. I'm just impatient.

Today's task - going through the book once again to turn as many passive verbs into active ones.

I'm torn between wanting the sun to come out and wanting the clouds to stay. If the clouds stay, I can stay inside all day and work, but if the sun comes out, Lucy and I have to go out and train for our charity walk. I'll leave today's fate in the hands of the weather.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Hope is Still Alive

I'm on stay-cation this week which is a dangerous thing. I created a list of all the things I wanted to get done and I've only crossed about two off the list. I tend to actually do less, when I have less to do. I always say "You can take care of it tomorrow." and then I end up spending an entire day watching CSI. Not that it is a bad thing, until I go to sleep that night and dream about the many possible ways there are to die.

Anyways, today, I actually had a productive day. I sent out 5 queries, 3 by email and 2 by snail post. By the end of the day, I received 1 rejection and 1 who wants to read more! I'm pretty psyched. Although my success rate is low at this point, I'm well aware that many great authors have sent out hundreds of query letters before they received a response. 1 for 6 is not too shabby.

Little tip: I sent each agency a different query and stored what I sent them in separate folders so I can review what received a positive response and what doesn't. However, this cannot be considered a truly accurate scientific experiment because as I have been told in my rejection letters, the business is quite subjective.

Now I am debating if I should curl up with my sea dog blueberry ale and watch the rest of the CSI season 7 or start gathering the materials that I need to send out to the request. There is always tomorrow right?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Business Side of Things

I'm at the stage of preparing my presentation to submit to additional agents. I worked for hours last night and felt like I got NOTHING done. I have to say that creating Chapter Summaries and Marketing Plans and Cover Letters is not nearly as much fun as just writing. I also keep going back to the book and re-editing parts. I'm not sure if that is a good idea or not, because I feel I'm second guessing myself. My goal is to have them sent by next week. Wish me luck.

I've also started plotting the sequeal...I haven't written anything yet, but I'm working it out in my head. Barry says I shouldn't work on it until I get the first one going, but you really can't stop inspiration when it starts.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Chapter Outline

I feel pretty good about the latest version of the book. The tenses are pretty clean and my punctuation has been corrected...to the best of my knowledge. This morning, I divided the book up into chapters and I'm working on creating a brief chapter outline.

I'm trying not to be discouraged about my first rejection. I'm taking a deep breath before I head back into the ring with reinforcements. I'm working on a stellar proposal with a marketing plan and additional support materials. I'm going to make it impossible for the next agent to say "no".

The ladies, Lucy and Nancy, my dog and cat respectively, are sleeping in my office under patches of sunshine. I'm going to have to leave them soon though because it's almost 3 and I have to shower and get ready for the show tonight. So much to do, so little time.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Rejected

I sent in my first query and received my first rejection. Ouch. I'm trying not to let it get me down, and I have a long list of other agents to approach. As I was told in my rejection letter, it just takes one "yes" to find the right match. Now I just have to hope that I can get one.

Internal Monologue

I found some useful information online for properly punctuating internal thoughts. Of the three options:

1. "How could she do that?" I thought.
2. I wondered how she could do that to me.
3. How could she do that?

I decided to go with italicizing the text so as not to disrupt the flow of my story. I made the corrections on the first 20 pages last night before we headed off to band practice, which by the way, went very well.

I think we have about 30 people coming to the show tomorrow, so we'll have a pretty good turnout. Now I just have to pray that I don't choke and forget my lyrics...although I can usually cover it up. Most of the cover songs we play are pretty obscure, so if I mess up a few words, no one knows. The originals obviously don't matter either, but one time I sang the same verse twice for Angel from Montgomery. Oops.

They key to performing, is to just keep it going. Spout gibberish if you have to, but whatever you do, DON'T STOP THE SONG! You'll wreck someone's jam and that is something they will notice. I'm trying to take that approach with my writing - to just keep it going, stumble over the pitfalls and hope that eventually someone will listen.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Waiting at the Sidelines

I sent in my first query yesterday. I don't expect to get a book deal, but I am hoping to get some constructive criticism. Now, I just have to wait and see if she requests some pages for review. I'm trying to tell myself that won't happen, but I have a little inkling of hope that she will. Just in case, I started editing last night.

However, in correcting my grammar and adjusting the tenses, I feel like I might be sacrificing some of the original tone. I saved the edited version as a new version just in case I need to go back and pull some pieces from the original. I'm still not exactly sure how to properly annotate internal thoughts. I also changed the name of one of the main characters so they don't rhyme anymore.

I won't have time to work on it tonight though, the boys and I have band practice for our gig on Saturday!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Name Game

I stayed up again working on the book, so I slept through my alarm and ended up arriving 20 minutes late for work without a shower. Why is it that whenever you oversleep it's never just by a few minutes? You always have about 4 minutes to get dressed and out the door.

I'm feeling pretty positive about the book overall. I got most of the loose ends tied together last night, so my next challenge is to striaghten out the timeline and make grammar and punctuation corrections. However, I realized for the first time last night that the first names of my two main character RHYME! I can't believe I didn't notice it before, but does it matter? I kind of like their names, but perhaps I should replace one. Thank goodness, I can do a "find and replace function" in Word.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Scarlett's name from Gone with the Wind was originally Pansy?

I learned that on my tour of the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta. I don't think the book would have been the same if she had been called Pansy O'Hara, so maybe there is more to a name.

My questions at this point:
How much do I need to edit my book before I start sending out queries?
What should I include in the cover letter that accompanies my query?

I plan on going to the library this weekend to do some research, but if anyone has some advice, I'd gladly take it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Bio

When I submit a query, I'm going to have to include a bio. This makes me a little nervous because I don't have a lot of documented writings, especially in creative writing. I'm in Marketing Design and PR so most of my writing has been for business. I have stacks of press releases, letters, ad copy and some creative product copy, but I am not sure how relevant that is. Would it help that my product copy is distributed to retailers nationwide?

I can only think of two notable writing achievements that I have:
1. I had a letter published in Vogue Magazine.
2. I won an essay contest in college and had my story printed in the school newspaper.

I'n not even sure how impressive the second one is, but I might be able to spin it with some creative marketing copy like...
Was awarded creative writing commendation in University newspaper

Hmm. Not bad. Oh and I also self-published a music zine in college. I actually had advertisers too, but no time to produce more than two issues because of school and work. Time is always against me. I think my husband is getting sick of eating ramen for dinner and my dog misses the long walks we used to take together.

My husband did offer to help and take some headshots though. I am not very photogenic, but on the inside cover of most books is a ridiculously cheezy photo of the author. I need some shots posed on an arm chair, or out in the garden with my chin on my knee, and most definitely one with the dog. I will be sure to post them here when we take them....for a good laugh.

Getting Published

Since I'm in the home stretch of completion, I've started doing some online research on what to do next. I mean, writing is great. I really enjoy it, but it would be nice to get my stuff out there -and get paid for it. However, as I'm learning more about publishing, I'm discovering that it is pretty difficult to get your foot in the door. In the back of my mind, I always knew that, but when you're daydreaming about your fabulous life as a best-selling novelist, you don't want to clutter it up with harsh reality. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to start facing it soon.

I've decided that I am definitely going to pursue an agent. Since this will be my first book, I think that would be the best route for me. I've found a few online resources as well that offer advice on writing, selecting an agent, and maneuvering the publishing world.

Association of Authors Representatives
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
Literary Marketplace

The First Step on the Path to Success

My 30th birthday was about 6 weeks ago. I don't know if that's what prompted me to get off my ass and start writing or if it was just something that was a long time coming. I've had a lot of ideas for different novels over the years, some of which I started, some of which I didn't, but this one feels like it's getting close.

One of the hardest parts is finding time to write. I work full time, so I've put this book together in pieces. I'm starting to read through it in its entirety, and I'm finding a lot of little plotholes that I need to go back and fix. I'm also usually pretty good at correcting grammar, but for the life of me, I can't remember how to properly use quotation marks. I know that if someone is speaking and I interrupt it with narration, I'm supposed to close one end and open the other one, but I have no idea which end to open and which end to close. Right now, there are quotation marks everywhere, so I need to go the library and take a refresher course on writing conversation.