Friday, January 28, 2011

A bubble of joy... what I kinda feel like I'm floating around in right now. Insert insane amount of smiley faces here.

Let me back up. So, remember I mentioned that website the other day, Well I went back to it a few days ago to start researching more agents for my list. Instead of beginning my search right away, I looked around on the home page for a couple minutes and saw a little blurb that said "Join AQ Connect! Agent Query's social networking site!" Being that I'm self-admittedly addicted to Facebook, my curiosity was peaked. A social network for aspiring writers?? Heck yea I'll sign up!

So I did. Once signed up, I spent a while just going through all the forums. Holy moly, you guys. This site is kinda like a form of heaven for my non-published ass. They have forums all about the query process, where they show you guidelines for writing a good query & examples of good ones, there's a section here for posting any questions you have about writing a query or synopsis (I'll be viewing the synopsis one soon), and you can post your own query for critiquing. They also have forums about agents, publishing & networking, general writing questions, book clubs, etc, etc, etc. I've really only just begun to discover everything the site has to offer.

So. Yesterday I hemmed and hawed all morning, trying to decide if I should just bite the bullet and post my query. I'd polished it up to the best of my ability, but I knew it still needed work. I was totally at a loss as far as what else I could possibly add/remove/change. I figured I'd spend some more time just reading through other's queries and offering my weak suggestions wherever I could before I posted mine.

Finally I just said F it. I decided there was no time like the present, might as well go ahead and get it posted. I figure, hey, maybe some of the questions people have might open my eyes a bit about the story in general. Maybe there are some holes in it that I'm not seeing because I'm waaaay too close to it.

So I posted it. And I waited for a response. One came quickly- she said there were "intriguing elements" but she wanted more. She needed some further explanations on a few things and suggested I change a couple things, so, great. I thanked her for her input and promised I'd take her suggestions into consideration, which I totally am. The next responses took a while to come (I don't know, probably because people were like, at their jobs and actually working when I originally posted it at lunchtime yesterday). But they were worth the wait.

You turns out my story might have some real potential! I mean, I didn't get a huge slew of comments, but the few that did offer their critiques said things like "Loving this story", "definitely interested in this story", "intrigued by this story", etc. OMG OMG! You don't even know how good that makes me feel. I mean, my readers have told me they like it and stuff, but they're all my friends and family. And as much as I do believe they've been honest with me, and they've been totally helpful with the revision process, hearing things like this from complete strangers is different. I guess it sorta, I don't know, validates it for me a bit more. Or something.

You can read my query, and all the comments/suggestions I've gotten so far, at here. I'll be revising and posting a new version sometime today based on the feedback I received. I'd love to hear your comments, too. This kind of stuff is what keeps me going and makes me believe maybe I'm not so crazy to think I might actually have a shot at this.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Grammar 101

One of my biggest pet peeves is bad grammar. Well, bad grammar along with bad spelling. I might not be one to talk, considering my issue with commas (oh, the hours I've spent removing them and putting them back in, only to remove them yet again...and then agonize over whether I really should've removed it), but at least I can form a sentence. And I know the differences between there, their & they're and your & you're.

A co-worker was questioning why "kids these days" (heh) are adding extra consonants to words, like texxt, workkk, yayyyy, etc. This is the sort of crap that makes me INSANE. Why is it cool to look like you don't know how to spell? The nerd in me clearly doesn't get it either. Of course, we grew up in a world before email & cell phones & texting. There were no shortcuts to writing (ex. LOL, BTW, BRB, etc), so maybe this weird fad of misspelling on purpose stems from that?

People's grammar is deplorable, too. I'm talking grown adults here. I never realized how many people on this earth don't have the ability to form a grammatically correct sentence. Read any of the comments on Facebook for like, Fox 8 News or your favorite bands' status updates. 99% of the comments either have misspelled words, are complete run-on sentences, or just in general make no sense. Here's an example from a Fox 8 News update regarding MTV's new show "Skins"(which I have not seen nor do I have any inclination to watch, by the way):

"Mtv is kepn it real! This s wat happing now adays, just hard for all yall parents to accept it b/c yall dont want to belive yall kids are doinng it. So dont blame the show"

And that's not even really a bad one.

Another example- I'm also a fan of The Vampire Diaries on Facebook (duh). Whenever they post an update all the teens go bananas, which is fine. I have to admit I get excited for sneak peeks to new episodes or new pictures from the upcoming show, etc. I'm just a dork like that. The comments on these updates though...oh man. These kids don't even know how to spell the character's freaking names! Damon becomes Damien, Damin, Damen; Stefan is Steven, Stephan, Steffan (maybe they're just using the extra letters to be cool in this case?). It is simply amazing.

And now, I will get off my high horse and try to figure out if another comma is needed in this sentence.

Friday, January 21, 2011

blah. meh. sigh.

I spent more time researching agents this week and adding to my ever-growing list. It's still only at 15, but at least I've about doubled what I first had. Holy hell is that a job in and of itself. Thank god for the website, which lets you search literary agencies by genre. However, it's really not 100% accurate. Some of the agencies that show up for young adult don't actually represent any young adult authors at all. So I spend at least a half an hour on each agency's website, searching through all the current authors, the agents & what they each represent, choosing an agent I feel would fit me, and then researching all the submission guidelines. Which, of course, are pretty much different for each and every agent/agency. But it'll definitely help when I start sending out my manuscript. And that, my friends, will be a whole new job in itself as well.

And I'm not gonna lie, more and more I start to doubt that this book is even going to go anywhere. I really, really want to stay positive, it's just difficult. Sometimes I feel like...I don't know, like I have absolutely no idea what I'm getting myself into. That I'm fooling myself into believing someday, albeit probably someday far off, I could actually write novels full time. I am so far less talented than so many of the authors out there.

But then again, I won't know til I try. I just have to make sure I'm ready to dust myself off from all the rejection, pick myself up and continue working on my new manuscript instead. And start hoping all over again.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Writer's Conference

The other weekend I was at my parents' house talking books with one of my mom's good friends. We got on the subject of the awesomeness of young adult books, and I happened to mention to her that I just finished writing one myself. She seemed pretty impressed (which made me feel pretty good, I have to admit) and wished me the best of luck in my writing endeavors.

Then last week she sent me a brochure about a writer's conference at Lakeland Community College this spring. I read the flyer over completely and I'm pretty intrigued. I'm just kinda going back and forth over whether or not it's really, truly worth the $75 admission fee. Some of the courses wouldn't apply to me, but the chance to sit down with a real editor and go over some of my manuscript could be really beneficial (no offense to those reading it and offering notes right now, of course- I appreciate you guys soooo much!). However, it's not until the end of March and I really hoped to already be well into the query process by then.

Has anyone ever been to something like this before? If so, was it helpful? What do you guys think I should do??

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Ramblings

A week in between posts again...sigh. It's been a busy week at work, and I've had an ongoing headache since last Saturday that's been completely distracting me. I'm finally going to the doctor today to find out what's up. I'm pretty sure it's sinus-related, because all the pain is in my cheekbones, eyes & eyebrows. The only thing that's really helped at all has been Mucinex-D, but it made me sooooo loopy. Thank god I took it at home and not while at work. I kept telling Dan I felt like "a pat of butter melting on a big ol' stack of flapjacks" (thank you Pineapple Express). I've never been one to get migraines either, so we'll see what the doctor says.

Anywho, then this morning I might have broken my little toe on my right foot while stepping out of the shower. I can feel it all swollen & throbbing away in my shoe right now, but I can at least put weight on it. Meh. What a way to start the weekend!

Let's see, what else? Yesterday I finished Jen Lancaster's fourth book, Pretty in Plaid. It was hilarious, as per yoosh. Jen's first book, Bitter is the New Black, is actually what somewhat inspired me to start writing again. She writes hilarious memoirs, so they're absolutely nothing like the books I want to write. However, she wrote Bitter after getting laid off from a very powerful, high-paying job. I believe she just started writing to pass time in between temp jobs because she realized she was good at it. And it worked out for her. She's now been on the New York Times bestseller list and fully supports herself by writing. How fantastic that things worked out that way.

In my writing world, right now I'm still waiting for feedback from my readers to see if any further revisions should be made (and I'm sure there will be). I started researching literary agents last week and so far I have a list of 8. I need to at least triple that, so more research needs to be done. I also found out that some agents require both your query letter AND a synopsis of your story. Sonofa. So now I have to try to sum up 80,000 words in about 500 or so. OY. I've been procrastinating doing that, but hopefully I'll start it this weekend.

Whenever I get nervous to start querying, I think of something I read on the fabulous Eileen Cook's blog (she's the author of What Would Emma Do? and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood- which I'm reading now- and her newest book, The Education of Hailey Kendrick, just came out this month and I can't wait to pick it up). Before she was published, she was in a writing class and told her teacher she was afraid to send her writing out. She was terrified of rejection. Her teacher basically told her (and I'm paraphrasing) well, you're already not published, so the worst thing that could happen is that you STILL won't be published. That kinda stuck with me.

I have to try. What's the worst that could happen? So this book doesn't get published. Then I write another one. And another one. Determination can mean everything, right?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Not a Night Owl

FACT: I write the best stuff late at night. Usually while I'm lying in bed, sans lap top or even paper and a pen. It's like words and stories just come to me while I'm lying there attempting to drift off to sleep. I try to take a photocopy in my mind to remember everything I was just thinking of so I can get it written down the next day. Have I mentioned I have a terrible memory? So yea, this doesn't tend to work out so great.

Last night was no exception. Yesterday I came up with what I think could be a very interesting, different type of story (read: no fangs, howling, wings or halos). I was dwelling on it most of the afternoon; playing with different scenarios of how I could make it work. And I'm still not 100% sure it WILL work, but I have the opening chapter already partly written. Well, in my head, anyway- if I can remember what I was mentally writing last night. I also have a title for it, which is I know is totally jumping the gun, but whatevs.

Tonight the husband is headed out with a buddy, so I'll have some alone time to try to get this new idea more fully formed. Also on the agenda this evening: beginning my research and my (nerd alert!) spreadsheet on literary agencies and agents I think might be a good fit for me. The second big revision of In My Mind's Eye is with all my "editors", so while I'm waiting for their feedback I might as well be productive. And from what I've been reading, it's a good idea to start on your next novel while you're in the querying process. If the first one doesn't end up going anywhere, at least you've already got something else in the works. Something hopefully better than your first go at it...

Happy Friday, kids. I've been looking forward to the end of this long week!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

If I Had $876,000

So I had a dream last night that I won $876,000. I can't remember exactly how I won it; I just remember that the prizes were $1000, a day at the spa, or $876,000. Random, eh? But yea, I won the big prize. I was SO HAPPY, you guys. Considering all my debts- my home, my car, my credit cards, everything I have was going to be paid for with some leftover to keep in the bank...sigh. What a dream. I kind of wanted to cry when my alarm went off, even though I'm pretty sure subconsciously I still knew it was a dream. I never win anything.

I'm truly trying to be positive about 2011. This WILL be my year to win, dammit. I mean, I'm totally realistic here. I know that even if my book does end up getting published, it's not a get rich quick-type of thing. People don't generally write to become millionaires. I mean, of course I wouldn't turn down a huge advance or anything, but money is definitely not the whole reason why I'm trying to make writing novels my career. I'm writing because I want to; because I have stories to tell. Because I like rereading the words I just put down and feeling proud of what I've written. And it's an amazing feeling when people read what I wrote and tell me something stuck with them.

The winning part for me would be getting representation from an awesome agent and ulitmately getting my book published. That will mean more to me than $876,000.

Now if you excuse me, I have to go get that Barenaked Ladies song about having a million dollars out of my head.