Query Status: Eternal State of Waiting

Audrey’s Promise (Contemporary Romance)

Queries Sent: 10 (and 2 contest entries) to mostly agencies

Rejections: 5 (all form letters)

Partial Requests: 1 (Synopsis sent to agent, and since rejected)

Full Requests: 2 (both from Publishers, still pending)

I’m doing it the smart way. I send out 3-4 at a time and wait for responses. If I need to tweak my query letter or pitch, I do (with the help of great friends!) and submit to 4 or 5 more. If I don’t get nibbles, then I know I need to revamp the letter again. Querytracker.net is a great place to help me keep track of all this. As well as the ones I want to query, but need to wait or do more research. Meanwhile, I keep entering contests online. We’ll see where this goes!

Query Time and Tax Season

It’s that time in my career again… Queryville.  Which inevitably conjoins with Reject-o-season. Much like tax season. It’s painful. ‘But necessary.’

Thanks to some help from dear friends, I had a query letter and synopsis written up fairly quickly and sent out to an agent whom I’ve followed for years. And after a glorious week of anticipation, tax season showed up.

It hurt. I won’t lie, my hopes were built up on this one. I thought it was a perfect fit for them and this manuscript felt better than any of my others. But I have to be grateful I received a response at all. Many people don’t hear anything back when rejected.

But that means I simply have to query out to the masses as I did before. Semi-slowly. Four or five at a time and wait for a few weeks. Which means I need to bust out querytracker.net again and rifle through all the profiles and submission guidelines.

But at this point, I think I’ll take Queryville and Reject-o-season over the horrible season called Presidential Election campaigns. Publishing is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed school girl compared to the upcoming attacks of the political Olympics.

Burning Bridges Clouds Your Path

The smoke from the fire you create with your words will always cloud your future. One way or another. And who wants to walk through the world blind, choking on smoke?

I recently read a blog post from a literary agent (whom I respect and follow regularly) that disturbed me.

He had attended a few conferences where he’d overheard several writers bash him and/or his agency in one way or another. Combined with a few other factors, he decided to close his agency to new submissions until further notice.

I think this a bit of an overreaction, but at the very least extremely disappointing.

Granted, publishing is subjective and everyone has his/her opinion. Not everyone is bound to agree all the time. It’s just the nature of the business. Heck, that’s human nature.

But even if you have a disagreement with an agent or editor, you at least need to be civil in parting ways and (more importantly) how you carry yourself in the future. This includes the comments you make about someone to others. AKA- gossip. (It’s so high school, and even when I was in high school, I hated gossip. So adults should definitely not partake.)

Remember the phrase:

“Be mindful of the toes you step on today, for they may be attached to the ass you must kiss tomorrow.”

Trust me- this will happen. It may take a week, a year, or ten years. But it will eventually happen. Be honest with yourself: don’t you remember something hateful someone said to you when you were in high school? Middle school? College? Your first internship? And don’t you agree the next time you see them you’d have those comments in the back of your mind?

If you’re in complete denial with the statements above, at the very least you should be mindful of the golden rule you should have learned in kindergarten:

“Treat others the way you would like to be treated.”

I remember the first Author Workshop I attended several years ago where the author spent the first half-hour bashing her former publisher, cover artist, editor, and anyone under the sun having anything to do with her experience. And my take away from that workshop: I won’t be buying any of her books.

Not because she turned me off to the publisher, but her bashing gave me a horrible impression of her. I refused to support someone who was so negative and had no care with the words she chose.

These are just my thoughts on how you create relationships, professional or personal. Granted, ‘keeping silent when you have nothing nice to say’ is easier said than done.  But I always remember that I don’t want to have smoke covering my path going forward.

Let Me Write, Flo!

Wow, life is crazy. I’ve not been on Twitter or Facebook much, I’ve not been following many blogs, and sadly haven’t been posting on my own page. Even more unfortunate, I haven’t been writing or revising much either.

With all of the joyous weather trekking through north Texas over the last few weeks (including more coming tonight. Don’t you just love hail and tornadoes), I’ve been more focused on repairing our car, which looks like a golf ball, and dealing with insurance companies, claims, appointments and bills. Contrary to popular commercial icons, it’s not as easy as the cavemen make it seem.

Or Flo. Progressive spends my hard earned insurance money on her hairspray. And that Mr. Mayhem man is true to his word. Insurance companies are the spawns of Satan. They are efficient at only two things: wasting your time and money.

Despite all of that, I was able to accomplish one thing the past few weeks. I applied for an internship at a literary agency. I’m hoping to obtain one of their coveted unpaid spots to help go through their slush piles via email. I made it past the first round of applicants, and went through a quick exercise that I thoroughly enjoyed. I read 10 test queries and let them know which ones I would have asked for a complete manuscript or passed on. And why. I’m hoping this will give me more insight into the publishing industry, make some really good connections, and learn from some new friends on how to write better.

No word back yet if I made it to the next round. I have no idea how many

A beautiful place in which to wait.

applicants they filtered the test queries to, but I hope I impressed them. Either way, it was a lot of fun. I’d love to keep doing that!

Until I hear back from them, I’ll continue with the craziness of my son’s preschool schedule, therapy sessions, juggling insurance claims/ calls/ appointments, and brainstorming more manuscripts in my head.

Meanwhile, I have two manuscripts I need to edit (one is going to sit there and wait for the Beta Readers Program from my writer’s group starting the end of May). The other needs some major overhaulin’ (yes, that show is awesome. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly suggest you watch just one of them).

I’m on chapter 10 of about 30. Need to change up a lot of the supporting characters, bitch-up the main character a bit, and make the love interest a little dirty (gonna be fun!) If I can only sit down and work on it.

Finished My Rough Draft

Major milestone, people!

After plotting for 2 months and writing for 5 months, my first draft is complete on novel #3.

*Commence happy-dance, ala Steve Carrell*

Happy Dance

Couldn’t be happier! And it’s about 3 weeks ahead of my goal I set earlier this year. That never happens. It’s about 70,000 words and I know I have several scenes I need to add/adjust (I’d like to be closer to 80,000 words), but I’ll take care of those during revisions. But how often do people reach this milestone?? I feel like I need to celebrate with a bottle of wine or something! Coffee isn’t enough of a celebratory drink.

Once I’m done with my hurrah cocktail,  I need to get back to work. I’ll set the first draft aside and work on my second novel’s revisions. That one needs a crap-load of fixing! Which means, I’ll need to pass that through my critique group. I love their ideas, and above all their honesty. I also need to write the query letter and synopsis for the second novel (which I’m sure I’ll also send through my friends). Hopefully I’ll be ready to query that one to agents and editors starting around May.

But weeks like this make me feel so justified. I accomplished something.

Cartwheels over Finished Rough Draft

Cartwheels, electric slide, general happy dance inspired by Steve Carrell, once again.

I finished my rough draft on Friday this week. While my husband and son went to sleep early, I pounded at the keyboard for another 3 hours to finish it. I had to keep up the roll I was on earlier in the week and it paid off. (I wish literally, but for now just figuratively). Don’t ask me how long it took me to complete the first draft. It’s embarrassing. But that doesn’t matter. What counts is that I finished it.

I’m under no illusions that this is ready to submit. Far from it. I have an ungodly amount of revisions to complete that I kept track of during the first crash course, and obviously I have to pass it through my writers group, trusty critique partner Kim, and a few others. Then revise. Then do it all over again. Then revise. And all over again once more. Then maybe… maybe,  I’ll be ready to submit to agencies again in January. That’s my goal, anyway.

And hopefully avoid the pesky slushpile. 

 

 

 

So for now, as the weekend winds down and I gear up for my writers meeting later today, I shall do the happy dance.

Commence Celebrate music…

“Ce-le-brate good times, come on! Duh, nuh-nuh-nuh, nuh, nuh-nuh-nuh, Weehoo!”

Doesn’t that just make you smile?

Happy Dance Milestone in WIP

Writing

I have to share my happy dance moment today. My WIP (work-in-progress) that I’ve been working on for almost a year (ouch, hurts to admit its taken that long) is 65,000 words right now (200 pgs), and is about 3/4 of the way done.

Woo hoo!

It’s a contemporary romance (with a hint of suspense) about a springboard diver who has an accident, ends up in coma for 3 months, and when she wakes up, discovers that her life plans are taken. Stolen, really, by her rival: her NCAA title, her dream job, and the man she’s had a secret crush on for years. As she recovers and tries to pick up the pieces of her drastically altered life, she fights between finding (or settling) on different dreams, or trying to fight for the ones she had before.

I won’t give away the ending (because what kind of writer/aspiring author would I be if I did), but was the injury an accident, or sabotage?

(And by the way, I used to a springboard diver, so I’m qualified to write about that sport. They say, “Write what you know.”)

I shared this piece of accomplishment with my writer’s group buddies (Greater Fort Worth Writers) because I knew they’d understand this accomplishment and how much I’ve struggled with it. I’ve had weeks and weeks of writers block scattered throughout the last year, and had to go back and revamp several aspects of this manuscript as I discovered major flaws. (Which my writers group helped me find.) They’ve supported me, pushed me, motivated me, and *cracked the whip* to get my brain in gear to finish this thing.

I’m still not finished. But I’m much closer. There have been times of utter pain and disappointment with myself. Alas, I’m my harshest critic, but there are plenty of even harsher critics in the publishing industry that would give me a run for my brutal words (incase you newbies weren’t aware). And this is only the first draft. First drafts are always ugly, many times don’t even end up looking anywhere close to the final product. But many authors I read say that their first drafts are always the most difficult, most time-consuming, and most painful. Which I’m extremely glad to hear.

Because if there’s worse pain than this kind of mental agony, I might have to find another passion. (Nah, writing is too much fun, even during the painful parts).

And in case you’re wondering from my previous post about my main character having bi-polar due to battling themes, no I haven’t fixed that yet. I need to finish the first draft before I go back and fix her behavior. That will be part of the first revision.

But I did my happy-dance this morning (looked very much like Evan Baxter’s happy dance in Evan Almighty. Yes, I watched that movie and I love Steve Carrell).

I think everyone could use a little happy-dance in their lives, so I’m spreading the love.

Now, DANCE! *commence “Celebrate” music*

“Ce-le-brate good times, come on! Duh, nuh-nuh-nuh, nuh, nuh-nuh-nuh, Weehoo!”

Now, back to writing.

Keep writing forward, everyone!

Romance Manuscript Woes – Final Swan Song

Another bird portrait. The white swan from Aub...

Image via Wikipedia

I had to sit on this thought for the last week. I didn’t want to make any rash decisions on this, considering that I’ve worked five years (off and on) on my first manuscript. But last weekend I received another rejection on my full manuscript submission to a literary agent. I appreciated her thoughts on my work, and that she actually spent the time to personalize her rejection, inform why it didn’t work for her and gave me specific examples on what didn’t jive.

But it still hurt. A lot. No one likes to hear their first baby (granted, just a piece of literature) is unliked. The unpopular manuscript in class. But as I sit back and reread her rejection email over and over like a deranged mother, I realize it has a lot in common with another personalized rejection letter I received a few months ago from another agent. Both reference issues with voice and style (in one form or another). And any writer, or aspiring writer can tell you that’s not something that can be fixed overnight. Not even over a weekend or month. It can take some writers years to develop their voice. And that thought crushed my motivation.

After spending five years on my first manuscript, and now I’m halfway through my second story, having to spend MORE years trying to develop my style and voice before acquiring an agent is the epitome of frustrating. So I’ve stewed over this for the last week, discussed it with my husband and perused the blog tours for more insight. And I believe I’ve come to a heart-breaking decision.

I need to shove my first baby in a drawer and let it alone. It has sung its final swan song.

Maybe down the road when I’m more experienced and have a more developed voice I can go back and rewrite it *gasping and sobbing at the thought of starting from a blank slate*.  Maybe I’ll have a better chance with this second story I’m writing. I’m not too far into this manuscript that I can’t go back and fix some things relating to my voice.

I’m not being overly dramatic in my decision. Just two rejection notices and I give up on it? Absolutely not. This is after probably 40 rejections on this thing over the years (between publishers and agencies). I’ve given this manuscript a good run. The story is great, the plot is well-developed and I really like the characters. It was all about voice. Probably just sheer lack of experience in putting words onto a page. And that’s what hurts the most. That’s what a writer does. Puts words on a page. And if I’m having the biggest problems with that aspect, then what does that say about me as a writer?

My motto has always been to keep writing forward. And I will. But it’s been a little harder this week. After all, practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. And if I’m practicing bad writing, that’s exactly what I’ll be: a bad writer. And I don’t handle failure well.

So here I go: keep pushing forward, no matter how much muck and sludge I have to plow through. Keep writing forward.

Head in the Clouds

Sunset, High Dynamic Range Image

Image via Wikipedia

Update from the Writers Conference fiasco.  The last posting discussed the silver lining of the literary agent willing to hear my pitch via phone, which I had on Saturday this past weekend.

I wasn’t quite on pins and needles like I’m sure I would have been for our in-person pitch session.  Over the phone seems a little less nervous.  But I was still a little anxious.  I knew my pitch, I know the manuscript backwards and forwards, know every little in-and-out of every character and setting.  But I’d never ‘pitched’ to an agent before. So when the call came around 1pm, my son was still napping, which I’m eternally grateful for.  To have a 2-year-old screaming in the background would have been a little mortifying (even if I had to huddle in my closet with my laptop in front of me). Funny picture? Yeah, that would have been me.

The call was fabulous! She had such great questions about my story, about my writing goals, and I loved the feel of the ‘conversation’ during the pitch.  It wasn’t me just talking about the story or myself.  It was a brief pitch of the story, and actual back-and-forth questions about it. Questions about what market I was targeting, other authors I thought it compared to, what her preferences were for the genre, etc. A nice discussion.

And now my head is in the clouds.  She requested the full manuscript. SWEET!!!! My first full MS request.

But, I know I can’t stay in the clouds for too long.  Because I don’t want to be dropped at 20,000ft.  I’d rather be dropped from 100ft. (Or not dropped at all, but always be prepared for every scenario, right?)  But I will say, the clouds are pretty up here!

*Sweet sigh* Back to writing I go!

First Writers Conference Fiasco

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Image by Krista76 via Flickr

My excitement for my first writers conference this past weekend (as I wore my proverbial red slippers) was dashed and I ended up missing the parties, the second half of workshops, and regretfully my pitch appointment.  The catalyst that made me miss the most anticipated event in my writing career for the last 6 months: an evil bottle of antibiotic pills with side effects from purgatory.  Yes, my yellow-brick road to glory, or at least to enlightenment, fell out from underneath me because of PILLS.

I won’t get into any specifics of what the pills were for or the details of the side effects, but they made me a useless human being who could barely stand.  Out of respect for everyone at the conference, I left on Saturday afternoon to wallow in my painful misery.  I hoped the symptoms would subside overnight and I could go back to the DFW Writers Conference and my pitch appointment on Sunday, but I was not so lucky.

However, an unexpected and gracious silver lining emerged from my fiasco.  My critique partner was also at the conference and she passed along the message to the conference organizers that I was sick and had to cancel my appointment.  And from the inner workings of the great Wizard of Oz, the agent whom I waited for months to meet contacted me via Twitter and conveyed her wishes that I feel better soon and hoped to hear from me.  In addition, she’s offered to still hear my pitch via phone, a week after the conference has ended.

This particular agent is now my favorite.  As much as I respected her before and hoped to become one of her precious clients, that’s only increased ten fold.  Whether she likes my pitch or not, she will still be my favorite and I will always hold her in high esteem.  The epitome of a class act if I’ve ever seen one.

The brief amount of time I spent at the conference on Saturday was wonderful! I heard Sandra Brown’s keynote address (she is hilarious by the way- if you ever get to hear her speak, GO!), attended 4 workshops that opened my eyes even wider than they already were, and braved the anticipated, yet dreaded, GONG SHOW!  This was so cool. A panel of 5-6 judges (all agents or editors) sat up front with their own personal oriental gong. The announcer started to read various query letters that attendees submitted.  The judges would ‘gong’ out whenever they would have stopped reading.  When 3 or more judges had ‘gonged’, they would explain why they didn’t care for it, and they’d move on to the next query.

This whole process was freakin’ brutal.  Anyone who submitted a query subjected themselves to a tremendous risk of humiliation.  Thankfully, the queries were kept anonymous, so if you were gonged in the first sentence, no one would have known it was yours.  And these agents were hilariously relentless.  This became next to a standup comedy routine on several.  But one of the great aspects of the Gong Show was how many partials and full manuscript requests came from it.  That part was incredible!

I missed when my query was read. But my critique partner said I was gonged after the third sentence.  Not terrible.  But not great.  I clearly have some work to do on my query.

So, *sigh* I have to wait another year to attend the next writers conference in my area. Medication chucked in the trash, I know better for next year. But it’s hard to handle the frustration I feel of how I missed my first beloved writers conference.  Have you ever missed a writers conference for something as ridiculous as medication side effects?