Posts Tagged ‘agents’

There’s a debate going on over at Fear of Writing on avatars and monikers. Of course I instigated. And of course I sang the post. Yes, there’s a sing-along. Never a dull moment. I’d love your comments over there. And here too. You can sing your comments, if you wish.  

Speaking of cats, there is a kitten that I need. NEED, I tell you. My life won’t be complete until I have it. Someone get it for me. http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2011/06/10/mini-kitten-pats-things.aspx

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Someone (Kasie) from my writing group compares her novel to the movie Sliding Doors. I’d never seen this movie until yesterday and only caught the last hour. I loved the movie and can’t wait to watch it someday in its entirety. But here is my favorite part: A guy meets his friend in a pub and declares excitedly, “I finished it!” His friend says, “Your book?” and the guy says, “No. I’m a novelist, it’ll never be finished.” (I’m paraphrasing here since I didn’t know at the time I’d be quoting this wise and true statement). Now I have the perfect comeback for such presumptions and can’t wait for someone to assume I’ve finished my book so I can say that.  

So this person (Kasie) from my group of four members has not only finished her book and can readily admit it, but just sold her book to a publisher. Or rather her agent did. In this day of dismal statistics for debut writers, this news is inspiring. It gives me hope that there are still agents willing to take on newbies and still publishing houses willing to publish them. Check out Kasie\’s blog where she will share the query that landed her the agent who signed her. She is not only an awesome query writer, she is also an awesome writer, writer buddy, critiquer, and all things writing and not writing.

Yay for Kasie.

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April Fool’s day is my book’s 4th birthday.

I is four

My book turning four is not a happy event, just so you know. It’s just one more reminder of unfinished business. That hasn’t stopped me in the past, querying, that is. I made a vow every year to be finished, like in ready to query finished, by April 1st. On birthday number two, I queried two agents. Birthday number three, I thought I was ready and queried three agents. You see a pattern here? But I won’t. I will not query four agents today just because I made a silly vow once. Wait. I won’t promise that. I don’t trust myself. Maybe I’ll send just one.

I have a beta reader I’m handing this to tomorrow, and I’m hanging back to see what edits or changes she suggests. I would kick myself later if I queried and sent a sample chapter that needed work. So no, I will not send out a query today. I won’t. I might.

On other news, I received Golden Visions magazine in the mail yesterday with my story Male Pattern Deadness published in it. It’s a serious piece; a psychological thriller, if you will. Also, forthcoming in Slow Trains, I wrote another serious piece—am I losing my sense of humor?

I don’t have a link to Male Pattern Deadness yet, as it’s only in their print edition, It may end up in my unlinkable page above. But the exciting thing is my story is right in the middle where the magazine staple goes. So the magazine wants to naturally open there. People picking up the magazine will be FORCED to see my story—muhahahaha.

To prove I still have my humor about me, I have a flash piece up at Fear of Writing called Mango Man. Fear of Writing has a list of prompts you can choose from should you want to write for them.

Last and most important is Linda Cassidy Lewis, my friend and member of my in-person writing group, has her debut book, Brevity of Roses, up for sale today. She is the first in my group to publish a book, so this is all very exciting, it’s also very sudden, and I haven’t had a chance to post reviews of it on Amazon or Goodreads yet, but will shortly. For now, just trust me that this is beautifully written work and I encourage you to read it. I command it.

Though none of the above is an April Fool’s joke—nor is the mention that I just forgot how to spell “above” and tried five different spellings before I gave up and asked the computer how to spell it—do any of you participate in this silly tradition? Did someone pull any tricks on you today? I’m alone right now. The day is still young. For me, it’s pending. When my eleven year old gets home, I’ll be in for it.

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The memoir that grew into a novel that shrunk into a short story collection. Almost. I still haven’t decided on that last part: the short story collection. And I wouldn’t say the memoir “grew” into a novel exactly. More like I changed lanes. The word out there is memoirs won’t sell, unless you’re famous. Unfortunately, I had already written it at this point.

I started out with the idea of humorous Family Stories told in short stories like that of David Sedaris. But word out there is short stories won’t sell, either, unless you’re famous.

I like my story better as a memoir, because to make it a novel I must actually follow rules, a formula complete with a beginning, middle and end and with plot points, character arcs, resolutions, and, omg, a likeable character.

So rules, I followed. And I rewrote and rewrote and read and read, not for pleasure, but for scene structure and pace and all the while I was impatient to be done … again. So I took bits of my book and reworked some of them into short stories and submitted to lit journals and some actually got published. But I’m not ready to submit the remaining thirty shorts from my book all over kingdom come. My dream is to be read (nice if I was paid too). My dream isn’t for this one big story to be read in bits and pieces. It’s like a series of one-night stands without any true bonding with the standee/characters. For any of you who have read my published excerpts—and admits to it—I want to yell, “But wait, There’s More.”

Then came the idea that I should publish all the stories to lit journals, then compile them all into a short story collection.

My indecisiveness is what keeps me from moving ahead. I need to decide its fate before I read my novel once more for plot holes. Should I choose to move ahead with a short story collection, I’ve got a little dismantling work ahead of me. If I choose to keep it a novel, I’ve got more rewrites—you mean there needs to be a plot? Easier would be to know the direction before taking the journey. 

Do you like reading short story collections or do you prefer a long-term relationship with your character? Come back on Friday to meet a special guest who managed to do both by compiling a short story collection and by linking the stories to create a thread through one character’s life. She will be discussing short stories vs. novels (she’s written both).

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I would like an expanded author page added to inside book jackets. In addition to the usual, I would like the following:

How long did it take, from start to finish, to complete this novel/memoir/true crime/whatever? Plus, a breakdown from first draft to revisions. (me: first draft one year exactly. Revisions going on three years)

How many hours a day did you devote to its completion?  (me: time is becoming extinct for me. I set it aside for now)

Are you a pantser or a plotter? (me: pantser)

If this is your first published novel, how did you break in? (me: [will be] by stalking an agent, breaking into their car and waiting for them to get off work, then pitching my book. If they take a subway, then I’ll hijack the public address system and pitch that way. If they take a cab, I’ll be the driver. If they walk …)

If you queried an agent, please share your winning query with us. Links to your website are okay. (me: perhaps I should ditch stalking and try the dreaded query. Not)

Do you have burning questions you’d want addressed on an author page? Plus, what are your own answers to my questions?

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Today is my book’s third birthday:

Baby's 3rd

born April Fools’ Day 2007—go figure. Each birthday marks a new milestone. Year one I aimed to finish my first draft by April 1st  2008—and I did. Year two I aimed to send my first query—I sent two. But what about year three? If I began the query process on year two then by year three I either should have an agent or be setting some kind of query record. Right?

Wrong. See, I didn’t really begin the query process. I got scared. Then I misinterpreted fear for “not ready”. I told myself fear is my inner voice telling me to revise … again. And again. And that’s how year three progressed. I had moments of intense bravery—that I never interpreted to be anything in my favor the way I interpret things not to be in my favor—where I’d query an agent. But that happened only four more times.  

There was one winning contest entry that got my partial looked at by an agent and a few other high points during the year, but all in all I think I edited too much. I didn’t even submit a single short story. I guess you could say I didn’t write for a year—I revised, every day, every chance I got, and I don’t think it shines any better than year two.

For my book’s birthday, yes, I’m going to query. I’m going to query three agents just for that day (picture three agent heads atop a book, like candles atop a cake). But I’m not going to stop at three the revise again. Because if I polish my ms one more time, I think I’ll have made it dull.

I shall query thereafter, and I shout this so that I can hear it.

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Still on the subject of forces that are out to get me, I failed, in my earlier post, to mention my good luck in my first publication in The Rambler, and my even better luck to be accepted again by The Rambler. But “they” , the forces of evil, woke up from their nap. A week after my acceptance, I got an email stating the magazine will go on hiatus … for one year!!! The last print was to be the one before my essay. They welcomed me to submit it elsewhere and if I don’t they will when they are up and running again. I am sad for more than the obvious. I’m dejected because I feel they are the only literary magazine out there that “gets” me.  In defense of all the other magazines out there, I should mention I’ve only submitted to one other, and I haven’t received a rejection from them yet.

So this will force me to venture into the scary world of magazine dating again, finding the right chemistry, accepting when it just doesn’t click, and waiting by the phone/computer for that call or email that will either make my day or send me to the dark corner of dread.

I invite you all to share your stories of woe. Is there a “they” in your life? Did something happen that set you back?  If so, do tell. Misery loves company.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for tomorrow’s post titled How I almost died today.

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My April Fools gift to myself was to send out my first query. April 1st is special to me in that I began my novel 2 years ago on that day, and then finished the first draft on that same day one year later. So it seemed fitting to do something significant on the day of my 2nd year anniversary. What  better way to celebrate than to actually offer it for publication.

I worked on this query for months, so much so, I forgot what the book was about. I read every piece of query advice out there on the agent blogs. I read bravely posted queries on critique sites, which are quite helpful if you are writing a plot-driven novel as most of them were. But I have yet to see a sample query of a character-driven novel, so I had to go at it blindly.

Then came the agent research. I didn’t want to go crazy on this special day; one agent was all I needed to fulfil my ceremonial neurotic desire to feed my symbolic nature. The other queries can follow at different times. So after careful selection, I pre-prepared my query and saved it on my draft. I was having house guests and knew I wouldn’t have time on that day.

D-day: Houseguest arrived. My daughter declares she must move out of her apartment that day. My husband in Minnesota visiting his ailing father, calls to tell me his father passed away unexpectedly. Despite the events and drama, I remembered to hit the send button, but decided to read the first chapter as it looked on the email only to discover it went font crazy. I couldn’t fix it and had to rush and find an agent who didn’t want any pages of the book–query only. After pouring over my list of prospectives, I selected two query-only agents and shot it off to both, felt the world lift off my shoulders, and went to bed with grief about my father-in-law, but a semi clear head.

Lo and behold, I awoke with an email message from Jessica Faust at Bookends that she was not interested (no word on the other agent yet). And weirdly enough, it didn’t bother me. BTW-besides research conclusions, I chose Ms. Faust because she has a sweet and honest face.

Well, Jessica, all I can say is that you ruined my chances of holding seminars on “How to pick an agent based on their face.” Ruined it, I say.

Oh, and one more thing. Jessica at Bookends launched Agentfail on her Bookends site on the very same day. She rejected me at 2:52 am the next day. This is after reading 250 mean remarks about agents from writers. Could it be she was tired and angry? Yes! That’s what it is. If I queried her on any other day she would have called me personally to say how excited she was to represent me and where have I been all her life. Maybe I’ll give her another chance … and another … and another. Ha Ha. Just kidding. Not really.

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