Saturday, July 30, 2016

Finish line

There are few things in life that give a greater sense of accomplishment than finally finishing your novel. There is the problem that a novel may never truly be "done" but that aside, it's an overwhelming feeling of having done something great when you have a 70,000+ word document that has been summoned from thin air onto page.

My manuscript Double Trouble I have been working on since 2013. The first half of this manuscript was like chewing nails.  My son came into my life in 2014, so he's part of he reason for the slowed progress. The second half, started end of last year, came quick. Although I think you can always make time to write, a new baby is a special sort of change to daily life that questions commitment to any hobby.

There is critiquing to be done, then queries to be sent, and rejection to be had. Just taking a brief moment to pause and enjoy the accomplishment.

Then - onto the next.

Friday, August 16, 2013

How happy am I? Happier than this happycat inexplicably decorated with three cherry tomatoes.

I'm done whining about rejection (errrr... for now, give it a few weeks). Since Sunday, I've sent out three partials and two fulls! Oh happy, happy day.

Hrm, the only thing I'm regretting now is... how long it's been since I last looked at my manuscript. My first fifty pages are clean, sparkling, fresh. The next 2/3 of my manuscript is amaze-o as well (yes, I'm biased). HOWEVER, the last oh, 50-60 pages are...

I love the ending. It's a great resolution. But the battle at the end? It could use a little work. It very neatly, very quickly sweeps everything under the rug and leaves you wondering what the chicken just happened. It's kind of a tricky thing because I've read books with five chapters of showdown with the big baddie at the end and been like, woh-kay we know the protagonist is gonna get 'em, let's get this over with. But it's a fine line. There are those endings that wrap up so suddenly that they leave you pissed off that you wasted four hours reading for that kinda conclusion. Like a really good, long date followed by bad, really brief...erm. Anyway...

So hopefully... aforementioned agents like it anyway. In the meantime, before I send off any more queries, I'm going to beef up the last three or four chapters, which will probably  add maybe 5k to my manuscript. I don't want to get too heavy - it is young adult and it's good to keep things moving in the storyline - but I also don't want to piss off the reader, or leave them hanging.

Obviously... this is something I should have figured out before I sent out the fulls. Before I even queried (much less gave up on querying). But that's the problem with manuscripts - sometimes you look at them so long that it's hard to see the trees for the forest. Hopefully someone falls in love with it anyway. And if Agent Awesome says, gee I really love this, but the last few chapters leave a little something to be desired... I can tell her, you know what, I thought the same. I started a re-write of that very thing.  Otherwise, fix up time before I send the next batch of queries.

Have a wonderful Friday!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Licks to get to the center of the querypop?

Don't mind me. An entire day of querying Gargoyle Moon has made me go a little nutters. I'm pretty sure I don't have a story, if I do it doesn't have a plot, the characters deserve to die, and the query doesn't even look like words anymore.

Thing is, I'm done with Gargoyle Moon. It's done, it's edited, it has a shrine on my computer made up of tens of folders and hundreds of word documents. GM's had several full and partial requests, a couple near-misses of representation, some small-time blog fame, and one interested big-time agent who loved the name, but did not, unfortunately, love the story. It's done, and I still love it, but I need to move on.

I've been working really hard on two works-in-progress. One of them, Double Trouble, is moving along at record speeds. (Erm, record speeds for me, not for like, Stephen King). And still... and yet... breaking up is hard to do. I'm having trouble burying Gargoyle Moon when it's not even dead yet.

So I devoted today to querying every poor agent who hasn't had the chance yet to reject Gargoyle Moon from their inbox. I want to say in my queries,

"I know the markets flooded with vamps and werewolves and what not, but you don't understand! I've been reading YA fantasy before Twilight, before it was cool! When I was a kid, no one even knew the books I read existed--and now all of 'em are being made into movies, WTH? Every sixteen-year-old girl wants to read this book because it's the YA fantasy I couldn't find on the shelf when I was sixteen. SIGN ME, darnit! 


Crazed Writer"

But I don't. I just send out my little queries and sample chapters, waiting for the instant rejection because it's just another YA creature feature. (That's not entirely fair--I did have an agent who loved it, but was having a tough time selling YA fantasy. Even if she was just being nice, that R made my day.) And sending out these queries is satisfying. It's like, the closure I need. And who knows, maybe one of those responses won't be a rejection.

Anyway, I think there's a good chance I'll be writing Witch's Moon, Gargoyle Moon's sequel this fall or winter. Because you write books that you want to sell, but even more, you write the books you want to read. The ones you read when you were a kid. The one you wish you would have found at the library book sale when you were sixteen.


Crazed Writer =)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Querying: May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

On Absolute Write, I posted the following rant about the odds of getting an agent and getting published. FYI: they’re not very good. 0.2% is an optimistic estimation of getting picked up out of the slushpile by a given agent, and 2% is an optimistic estimation of your full or partial request turning into an offer of representation.


I've been the lucky recipient of several partial and two full requests. Looking at querytracker, one of the agents requests fulls and partials from 5% of queries. I read one agency's website that said they receive 6000 queries per year--but they do picture books, so that's probably higher than a YA only agent who said she receives 160-200 queries per month. So using shoddy math, say an agent gets 2000 queries a year. Of those, s/he requests 5%, or 100 partials/fulls. So she is reading around 8 manuscripts a month. Oh, plus the ones requested at conferences-let's call it 15/month.

So aside from all the other important agent things she has to do, the agent reads these and signs... what 4 clients a year? Completely guessing here; it's a number I've seen and could be much less or greater depending on client list, genres repped, etc.

4 clients out of 2000 queries... that's a .2 percent chance of getting picked from the slush pile (odds obviously greatly varying depending on writing quality/crazy factor of query). 4 clients out of 180 MS requests... ooh, a little over 2%, now you're looking at a slightly better chance of representation (odds GREATLY varying depending on things like originality, genre, market, quality of writing (!), web presence/marketing)

I guess I've been doing a lot of thinking about how I and others get the idea that a certain agent is "the one." Odds are, she isn't. She requested your partial/full? Still a pretty good chance she isn't the one. It's not worth getting hung up on one request-keep querying, writing, and revising.

And I don't even want to know the percent of clients who are actually published. (Odds greatly varying, etc.)

The polite response is the true one: keep writing, keep editing, keep submitting and your odds improve. They’re not odds really; these numbers vary so much from agent to agent. And, the whole subjective factor of concept and craft and what makes your spine tingle doesn’t even enter into the mix. So my misuse of the calculator may not be very accurate, but it’s strangely encouraging. At least—not to view one rejection from one agent as the end all.

The numbers also made me think of Hunger Games. There are all these great manuscripts, battling to the death to catch the agent’s attention. Only one will survive (okay, maybe two).

Alright, time to hide the calculator and get some writing done.

Query on… and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Querying

In the words of Garfield, look on the bright side -- Mondays only happen once a week. Really, I shouldn't complain. Overall it's been a good Monday. I sent out a full that was requested over a year ago. March 2011, way before my manuscript was ready. I apologized for the delay, explained that I had trunked it and done quite a bit of editing. Kind agent replied immediately not to worry about the wait, and she was looking forward to reading it. This reiterates what I heard many agents say at the conference I went to recently; THE 'YES' DOESN'T EXPIRE. Good news for people who query too soon, and important to remember before sending something out that isn't ready.

Now the tortorous waiting begins. The advice I see all the time is: start a new writing project and forget about it. Difficult to do, especially in an age that makes it possible to stalk literary agents via twitter. I've got vacation coming in 3 days and I can't wait--the only place I would be able to ignore my deathly quiet inbox would be somewhere without internet service.

I also sent out four other requests (3 chapters x 3, 10 pages) and have sent material to every agent who requested it at the conference. Oh happy day! They say in this business, which involves so much waiting, it's important to celebrate the small sucesses. So today I'm celebrating five more requests in the hands of agents.

Take that, Monday.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Riding the Query Go-round

So much has happened at lightning speed in my writing career in the months of July and August. In July, I went to the conference put on by Pacific Northwest Writers Association. I felt like, at last, I came out of the closet as a writer. And not only did I make a new tight knit group of writer friends, I also got eight (count them, eight!) requests for Gargoyle Moon.

I have sent out one ten page request (that garnished a very kind "I see potential but not for me, query these two other agents at my house" response) one twenty-five page request, and two fifty page requests. Now I play the waiting game. In the meantime, I'm doing some final editing with a fine-tooth comb, reading, and planning to start my next novel in November. September I am dubbing "Septnoreadmo" (errr something like that) because I plan on doing mass quantities of reading in preperation for starting my new novel. For me, nothing sparks a desire to write like reading good books.

Goals have always been very important to me in achieving most of my successes. And there's nothing so satisfying as achieving something that you set out to do, a long time ago.

1. Send out three more partial requests and one full. Next week, send to two other suggested agents
2. Mass reading in September. New Orson Scott Card, Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty Books, 50 Shades (yeah, yeah), rest of the mortal instruments series
3. New Novel begun in November, first draft complete by February (Oooh, it'll be like a Valentine's Day present for moiself!)

Things I've accomplished lately:

1. Sent out four requests
2. Started using Twitter (@_octoberly)
3. Wrote a synopsis and agent bio
4. Gave life

(I'm resuscitating this blog. If you're a writer, you can say you kill people for a living. Or that you're telling lies for fun and profit, Lawrence Block style. Now I'm giving life to this blog too... :) )

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Novel Completion Schedule Part Deux

Crazy G.M. editing schedule:

Chapter 11 – Thursday, January 14
Chapter 12 – Friday, January 15
Chapter 13 – Saturday, January 16

Chapter 14 – Monday/ Tuesday, January 18
Chapter 15 – Tuesday/ Wednesday, January 20
Chapter 16 – Wednesday/Thursday, January 21
Chapter 17 – Friday, January 22

Chapters 18, 19 – By Tuesday, January 26

January 27-January 31 – Edit, revise, fix, cut, update word count of my query letter. Make sure all loose ends are tied up in 18 and 19. See if I can find better, more fun phrasing for “I smiled” and boring, repetitive tidbits. See if I can repeat the magic of other lines that I love. Get all chapters as clean as 1-4.

Does Chapter 13 make you cry? How bout 19? No? They should, dammit. Revise until they do.
February 1 – Send out chapters 1-3 to interested agent. Send out query to others. Cross fingers. Repeat.