megwrites: Shakespeared! Don't be afraid to talk Elizabethan, or Kimberlian, or Meredithian! (shakespeared!)
I've made some good progress on writing the first draft of my new project which I will entitle, cryptically, Invisible!Book. Clocked in a respectable 2500 words yesterday and still plugging away for today.

I shelved what I was working on during NaNoWriMo and the Vampire Book O' Doom has been given it's walking papers for the moment.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Awesome 80-year-old grandma psychics who have to rescue their vampire fathers and do-gooding werewolves and mad scientists and silly Vampire Huntresses who's leather clothing makes fart sounds not withstanding, the vampire market is kind of tired right now.

If 2012 rolls around and we're not running from earthquakes in limos (ala John Cusack), I'll see what I can do about it.

As far as querying the Tower!Guy novel goes, round two has timed out except for a full and a partial that are floating in the ether with the respective agents who requested them. I figure that they'll probably not get back to me until after the New Year because I imagine they're inundated right now with post-Nano slush, and hey, agents gotta have lives, too, right?

Buuuuut, I did research a bit and I found five more agents to query to, so I'm restarting the Query Score Card for Round Three! I'm counting the two requests from Round Two on the card because a) I can, b) it makes me feel better and c) every other query from that round is either timed out or rejected and so that round is essentially over

Query Score Card - Round Three!

Request - 2 (1 full, 1 partial)

Rejections - 0 (expect this number to rise rapidly)

Timed Out - 0

Still Pending -5
megwrites: Shakespeared! Don't be afraid to talk Elizabethan, or Kimberlian, or Meredithian! (shakespeared!)
Got a super nice rejection in the inbox last night on one of the two fulls that's still circulating around. The agent said she loved a lot of things about it, but just couldn't put her full passion behind it.

This brings the score card to:

Requests - 2 (1 full, 1 partial)

Rejections - 8

Timed Out - 6

Still Pending - 0

Which means that round two is hanging by a thread. I don't intend to do another round of querying for this novel if it bats zero again, because I feel that I've revised and edited and reworked the story as much as I can. I look back on it and I still am not sure what I could change that significantly that would make the novel different enough to deserve re-querying it.

I've gotten a lot of "I loved so much about it, but..." which tells me that there's something good in the novel, and maybe some of that "I just can't give it enough passion" is more of a "I have no idea how I'd sell this sucker."

Of course, I could be telling myself that to feel better, but hey. Until someone tells me different, I may as well preserve what's left of my self esteem, right?

Plus, the pool of agents who even want to deal with fantasy is quite limited and I do think in this market there may not be anyone willing to take the chance on an unpublished author with no record.

So should it bat zero, I will start really researching and considering plans to podcast/post the novel. Because I want the story out there and I pretty much knew I wouldn't make any money on it to begin with. Thoughts anyone?
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
After looking at the current query score card, I've made a few decisions regarding the fate of the Tower!Guy novel.

If there's no result by the end of the year, I'm going to either trash the Tower!Guy novel and forget it exists or podcast it in 2010 - but I'm not going to spend the next five years of my life grinding my teeth out of nervousness and checking my email obsessively every hour for a novel that, so far, nobody wants.

Maybe it's a good novel and the market sucks. Maybe it's not that good a novel. Either way, the result is the same.

If I seem a little angry about that, I am. Not at the agents for not recognizing my genius, because if the novel were any good, they wouldn't turn it down. Agents are not the problem.

I'm angry at myself and the story. I feel cheated. I poured my heart and soul into it. I really believed in it. I thought it was a damn good book. Apparently, it wasn't. I think I'm angry at myself for getting my hopes up, for being naive, for not realizing the story apparently sucked. I'm angry at myself for wasting precious time on a story that I can't convince anyone to read.

Frustrated Meg is frustrated, if you can't tell. And I knew this was going to be part of the process. So don't think I'm complaining or blaming anyone else. It's all on me.

Fortunately, I have other stories to tell. This was by no means my only shot. And I love writing. Even if I knew I wouldn't ever get published in my life time, I would still write. I love it. I need it. It's who I am. It's who I've always been. As sure as I'm a woman, I'm a writer.

But if I knew for certain that I'd never be professionally published in my lifetime, I'd just stick my stories up on a webpage, put out a paypal button, and have done with it. But it's the hope (delusion?) that I might be able to make a career out of it that keeps me from doing just that.

Hope is not always the warm fuzzy thing people think it is. Sometimes it's a ball and chain that keeps you tethered to something because you just can't let go. There's reason it was the monster in Pandora's Box.

But eternal hope is just eternal foolishness, so come the end of the year either I'll have some kind of result or I'll start fresh with new stories. Maybe I'll get luckier, maybe I'll be better, and maybe the market will be better.

But I can't keep hoping (as far as this novel goes) and I can't keep being angry at myself.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
As you can guess from the icon and subject line, this isn't gonna be the happy post where I announce something good. One day, I'll make that post. One day. Just not this day.

Today I found a few more agents to query to and fired off emails to them, which resulted in me getting a rejection letter back thirty minutes later.

And it was a very snarky rejection and kind of unprofessional. Guess I caught somebody on a bad day. Sheesh. I mean, they couldn't even stick with the standard "Sorry, I'm not the right agent for this project" or a form letter and be done with it. Nope, they had to go for the personal touch.

So, the query score card stands at:

Rejections - 2

Requests - 0

Still Pending - 15

Query stuff

Sep. 2nd, 2009 05:34 pm
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (sex goddess)
I've found three more agents to submit to, so I fired off queries to them. I refuse to fail this time without having exhausted every option. Unfortunately, that means sending of queries and playing the Waiting Game - which may be the worst part of this entire writing thing.

Actually, I amend that. Rejections are the worst part. Of course, saying that is like saying having a hot poker jabbed into your eye is worse than being stung by 100,000 angry bees. It's all exceedingly unpleasant, but at least it's worth it whether I succeed or fail.

If I succeed, yay for me. I've climbed one insurmountable mountain and can now begin to contemplate how in the sweet lovely hell I'm going to surmount (mount?) the next one.

If I fail, well, I've learned something about either the market, the agents, my query letters, or the story itself and maybe all of the above. Which will serve me well next time.

On a side note, can I just say thank goodness my current project is urban fantasy? I swear there's a 20:1 ratio of agents for urban fantasy to agents for straight-up fantasy. It's really frustrating, let me tell you, internets. I'm wondering if that's a sign that the adult fantasy market is failing or if agents don't think it's the cool new thing anymore or what.

Right now I'm bracing for rejections and deciding what my next move should be. I don't think I can do any more with this novel as it is, and maybe it's served its purpose. Maybe it was just supposed to be a teaching tool for me. I can say I learned an amazing amount about editing and querying from it, so there's that.

I guess right now I'm asking myself if I can let this story go and move on to the next one, if I still have confidence in it. And honestly? I don't know the answer.

So, the revised Query Score Card stands at:

Rejections - 1

Requests - 0

Still Pending - 10

ETA: My math is severely borked. This is why I'm a writer, not an accountant.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
So, I think I've done what needs to be done before I fire off the query canon and hope something comes back to me that isn't a rejection. The list is mostly for my own use, but if anyone sees any steps I've left out, please let me know.

- Researched agent names? Check.

- Researched agent guidelines? Check.

- Gone over manuscript with fine tooth comb? Check.

- Revised query? Check.

- Revised query again? Check.

- Revised query a third time? Check.

- Asked for and received excellent query help from f-list? Check.

- Learned that my f-list is full of awesome people? Double check.

- Done a last check to make sure that the agent names and salutations are correct in the letters? Check.

- Prepared samples asked for by agents in their guidelines in requested formats? Check.

- Sent letters? Still pending.

I'm going to give myself until Thursday to go through the checklist yet again (you can't ever be too careful) and then I'm going to send them out and get back to work on my current project.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
1. Over at Romancing the Blog, the always spectacular [ profile] fashionista_35 has some great words about the late John Hughes and his wonderful movies. I can't believe he's gone. I loved Breakfast Club so, so much.

2. I think my query letter may need tweaking, so I've hesitated in sending out the second round of them for the Tower!Guy novel. I've been filling my head with sample queries from other sources and trying to analyze and glean what I can from them. I'm afraid that it's either too stripped down or that I'm not highlighting the best stuff from the novel.

I mean yeah, I got a couple of people interested in the full manuscript last time, but both those ended in rejection. Maybe it's the manuscript that sucks?

I wish there was a market-o-meter that would tell you whether it's you or whether it's just that it's slow going, nobody's buying, and agents are all looking for something else.

Nobody seems to want fantasy anymore. Plenty of people want the vampires and werewolves, but it seems like less and less agents are even bothering with fantasy. Also, I can't tell. Does my novel count as epic fantasy? I mean, there's no map and it's only 79,000 words.

But it has dragons, magic, a princess, a tower, and an empire in peril. No swords, elves, or farmboys though. Maybe it is epic fantasy? I don't know.

Anxiety is not fun, in case you're wondering. And I need to stop grinding my teeth. It's giving me very bad headaches and I'm running out of Aleve. Seriously, this is the second bottle I've had to buy in a month. This is getting ridiculous.

3. Work on the UF!2girls (damn I need better working titles) novel is halted while I deal with the submissions process. I'm worried that it sucks and that vampires are also passe now. On the other hand, I'm not sure how the endgame goes anyway, so maybe it's good to take time and let my brain ruminate on that. I've written 82,000 words in a month and a half. I think it's okay to take a break. I'm not slacking, I'm working on other things.

4. I think I may pick up the novel I wrote but didn't finish for NaNoWriMo 2008 and see if it's worth finishing and revising. I liked the setting, characters, and basic structure. But I'm also hearing that demons and angels are now cliche and people are tired of seeing them. This is why I need a market-o-meter.

5. I discovered the hyrax while doing research last night. It's so cute and I never knew it existed. I definitely have to use it somewhere in a novel sometime. Did you know it's closest relatives are elephants and manatees?

Evolutionary family trees in the animal kingdom are weird. Just sayin'.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
The queries to the agents have been written, but not sent. They're sitting in the drafts folder of my email. I'm going to take a break for lunch and come back to give them one last looking over before I send them out.

I think moon walking is a pretty apt metaphor for the process of querying, at least for me. Walking on the moon is a big moment. It's glorious, perilous, and strangely tedious. It's also the culmination of a lot of work over many years. From the barest outlines to the training to the revising to the last minute details. And that's just what it takes to get in the damn rocket.

More than that, the moonwalk is not the end of the process, rather it's just the middle. Because the point isn't to get to the moon, the point is to get to the moon and come back alive. So you can't just shoot a monkey into space, you have to retrieve the monkey. And that's the tricky part.

The point isn't just to write a novel and query an agent. The point is to write a novel, query an agent, and get the agent to say "Yes, I love it!" and then to get the agent to get an editor to say, "Do Want! Here have this big pile of cash and a three book deal!" Or something like that.

So this is only half the trip. Here's to not burning up horribly in the atmosphere or skipping off into space never to be heard from again!
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I'm still gathering research, and building my spreadsheet o' doom for this time around on the Merry-Go-Agent.

I think I might be ready to go, after another run through of my query letter, synopsis, and the manuscript by the end of this week. I'm trying to build up my confidence so I can do this without devolving into a nervous wreck.

I got a lot of progress done on the UF!2girls novel, but I realize that editing this thing is going to be hell on wheels, because there's so much stuff that I need to cut out, other stuff I know now I need to add, and yet other things that just need to be plain old rewritten.

The wordcount is getting heavy because I'm at 80k and little more than halfway through, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be able to cut out at least 40k. After all, I took a 123k draft down to 82k with the Tower!Guy novel, and I'm sure I can do at least that much for this novel.

Lately, I've been metaphorizing my writing by thinking of clay sculptures we used to do in art class at school. My teacher told us that the first stages were about sticking everything on, and then you shave things down and smooth them out, but first you have to get the basic form. That seems reasonable right now. I'm letting myself stick lumps of text here and there, knowing I'll go back with the refining tools to make it all come together attractively and it'll be an editing problem later on.

Also, it helps to make editing notes and stick them somewhere for later use.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I spent the better part of today doing intensive research on agents, and I managed to find a handful that I somehow missed on the first go.

I also found some pretty good stuff, so I figured I'd share the wealth.

Agents who rep SF/F thread at - You'll have to fast forward to the bottom of the thread to see the most recent entries, but I gleaned a few very good names from there. As always, do your research. Some of the info on the forum may not be accurate, but it's nice to know actually does SF/F, not just who lists it at AgentQuery or LitMatch.

Colleen Lindsay is opening to submissions again. Colleen is a superb agent and a great person. Read the guidelines very carefully, though. She's only opening to certain things, but if you fit the things she's looking for, I would definitely submit.

10 Literary Agents Who Represent SF/F. Most of these are the really biggest and best agents working the field, but it's probably a good starting point for anyone looking for agents. And hey, it was nice to know that I was thorough the first time around (I queried way more than ten, though).

A list of agents who represent at least three living SF/F writers. It's a good list, though there are a few sticking points. Some of the agents are no longer with the agencies listed, some are moving away from SF/F, one or two of agents and/or agency is defunct, if I remember correctly. But it's not a bad starting point if you just need some names and a direction to go in.
megwrites: Shakespeared! Don't be afraid to talk Elizabethan, or Kimberlian, or Meredithian! (shakespeared!)
Thanks to [ profile] scififanatic's encouragement, I've decided I'm going to give the Tower!Guy novel another spin on the Agent-Go-Round. So I screwed my courage to the sticking point and have begun gathering a few more names and doing yet more research.

My biggest frustrations this morning (I've been up since six researching this stuff) are as follows:

1. Urban fantasy is still classified as "fantasy" under the categories at LitMatch and AgentQuery. This is ridiculous. This means agents who accept vampire novels but don't want anything with dragons are classified exactly the same as agents who are interested in your dragons and wish to subscribe to their newsletter. Since I am querying about a straight up fantasy, this is a Big Problem. If I have to see a "OMG Give me Vampires!!111" classified as accepting fantasy one more time, I will scream. Actually, I've already screamed.

Urban fantasy/paranormal romance is big enough to merit it's own tickybox. It would be a lot easier to do this if I didn't have to keep weeding through agents who want the next Anita Blake but wouldn't touch my novel with a twenty foot pole while wearing a hazmat suit.

Everyone wants paranormal, nobody wants fantasy.

On the upside, this means when it comes time to query around for the UF!2girls novel, I'll be spoiled for choice. Or, with my luck, everyone will hate vampires by then and there will be lots of agents saying "No more vampires!" and they'll all want something else I don't have on me at the moment.

2. AgentQuery does *not* keep their stuff up to date. I've found seven different agents who have closed to submissions, aren't with that agency they're listed with, or don't appear to even be in the business anymore, yet are listed as active agents.

3. Nobody is making the distinction between YA and adult commercial genres. There are a lot of agents who will accept fantasy, paranormal, or sci-fi YA but won't touch the adult stuff. Fair enough, but it's a waste of my time and resources to have an agent listed on those search engines as accepting "fantasy" when they actually just accept all genres of YA.

4. Some agents make me wonder how hip they are to the Information Age. They have exactly no web presence, making getting information about them (and more importantly, their submission guidelines) impossible. You couldn't even throw up a blog with post about your guidelines? Twitter? LJ? Nothing?

5. Some agents have impossibly vague submission guidelines. "I want anything with a unique voice" or "I want a great book I can't put down". Geez louise, people. And you wonder why you get thousands of idiotic submissions per day. EVERY WRITER thinks they have a book with a unique voice that can't be put down. So tell us, in no uncertain terms what you do and do not want. Use small words. Bullet point lists with bolded, underlined terms is even better. This is how you do it. I deeply appreciate agents who are kind enough to list, specifically, that they do not want science fiction or fantasy. Or what types they do and do not want. I want to hug those agents. A lot.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (sex goddess)
I was taking a look at the Tower!Guy novel today, just to see if it looked any different to me after a few weeks of being put to bed. There are technical and grammar errors I'm better able to see, but characterization and structure are still the same to me. I don't have any major changes to make, only minor touch ups.

I'd still really love this novel to have a home, but it seems it's all dressed up with nowhere to go.

So I was contemplating: what about podcasting it? Or just putting it out there for free with a virtual tip jar? No, it's not publication, but this thing obviously isn't going to get published. Might as well see if I can make a few bucks off of it, heaven knows I could use the money right about now.

I thought I'd bounce the idea of the blogosphere and get opinions. Good idea? Bad? Worst idea ever?

Meanwhile, the writing of the UF!2Girls novel continues apace. I'm on the other side of 80k and about 2/3rds of the way through. I'm planning on having 120,000 words for the first draft, and being able to shave about 20-30k of those off, because I'd like to keep this novel as lean as it needs to be.

I have to say, I still love the thrill of writing a good story. Even if I'm the only one who ever reads it. Maybe I won't ever get published, but I still love doing this. I'm still glad I queried around and gave it the old college try.

I still love this. I think that's the important thing. I still love it deeply.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I just sent out the email queries that I needed to send out, all ten of them. There is one addressed letter sitting beside me on my desk.

I really did it.

I'm slightly dizzy, and about to go out for dinner to celebrate and more than a bit nervous.

I really did it this time. I took it all the way. I went from a little idea, a few vague scenes, a couple of snippets of dialogue to a fully written book that is now sitting on the digital desks (well, the queries and synopses are) of agents. I revised and rewrote until there was nothing more I could do, until it was finished.

Whatever happens, whatever kind of rejections or rejections by time-out I get, I'm glad I did this. This is what I want, and I'm proud of myself.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
The Tower Guy novel is now officially finished. The line editing is done! I have now written, edited, revised, rewritten, corrected, and spellchecked this thing all I can.

The final draft is done. Now all that's left are the queries and synopses and the long waiting and the many rejections and all the things that follow.

But it's done! I'm done! This whole stupid novel that has taken me frelling years to write is now finished and done in it's entirety.

Which means I can finally close the file and begin working on something else. Anything else.
megwrites: Shakespeared! Don't be afraid to talk Elizabethan, or Kimberlian, or Meredithian! (shakespeared!)
It's good to be getting back to work. I didn't manage to get all the way through line editing the Tower!Guy novel before I set out for Florida to make wedding preparations (and honestly, I think I would have preferred working on my novel at some points!) with The Boy.

I did a bit last night, and have discovered that I'm now at a mere 82,000 words from the original 95,000 total, just from eliminating prose level stupidities. I have a bad habit of repeating and re-describing action after it happens. Like so:

Betty got into the car, mad at Joe.

"I hate that man!" she shouted, slamming the door now that she had gotten into her car, furious. Joe had made her so angry with what he said to her.
(38 words)

Which can actually condense down into:

"I hate that man!" Betty shouted, slamming the car door as she got in, unable to believe what Joe said. (20 words).

I just cut 18 words out by not repeating myself, and by making a few choice decisions on small clauses in sentences or sentences themselves and trusting the reader to use logic and make logical assumptions.

The entire last sentence went away, because it's all useless. We already saw (in this example) the conversation that made Betty so furious. There's no need to reiterate little things, like the fact that he was talking and talking to Betty (as opposed to talking to someone else and making Betty mad that way). Unless the reader has the memory of a brain damaged goldfish, the plastic castle will not, in fact, be a surprise.

Also, I deleted the phrase "her car" and replaced it with just "slamming the car door as she got in". Because obviously, she wouldn't be getting into someone else's car.

Well, she might. I've accidentally tried to unlock other people's cars that looked just like mine (well until mine became so uniquely dented that I could spot it from 100 yards off), but that comes later. And if I'm writing something with a lighter tone, I might just have my poor beleaguered Betty accidentally step into someone else's car in a fit of rage. I've done that in fits of stupidity. But until then, I think it's safe to let the reader assume that the car she's getting into belongs to her.

I think it's really a sign of how far I still have left to go as a writer that I'm cutting out in excess of 13,000 words just because of this one bad habit, but I do think it says something for just how streamlined my story is, however, because not one bit of that 13,000 words came from cutting out scenes in their entirety.

Of course, none of this goes towards getting my synopsis in any better shape. I hammered at that thing until it was time to go to the airport, and still nothing.

How is it that writing a one to three page summary of the novel is harder than writing the novel itself?
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I'm still doing the final line editing. I've now eliminated nearly 10,000 useless, unnecessary words. My project is no longer 95,000 words, but somewhere around 85,000.

My hope is to get the line editing done before I depart to Florida to make wedding preparations later this week. That way, when I return, I can focus on the synopsis and the sending out of queries and other such things.

And then I'll start again on something else. I don't know if it'll be the Tower!Guy sequel or another project, but whatever happens, I have to keep working.

Right now, I'm currently debating entering the Book In A Nutshell Contest being held by the Knight Agency, where you send in three sentences about your project, and the top twenty get feedback, and possible representation. I don't know if it's worth it or not, or if my chances are any better than they would be just sending a regular old query. I'll have to sleep on it.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
[ profile] jaylake has an oddly appropriate entry about crutch words and how they can overwhelm the prose of a piece. As always: Jay knows his stuff when it comes to the business of writing.

Given that I'm currently line editing with a vengeance, I'm very aware of how sloppy prose of a piece can get on the first few drafts. I'm not even half way through line editing and I've already managed to cut out ten pages worth of crutch words and unnecessary phrases and other linguistic detritus. I have a love affair with the word "that", apparently. I think at least half of the 5,000 deleted words so far were that's.

Ugh. This is still easier than trying to hammer out a synopsis, and that's just sad.

I still have no idea if I have anything approaching the right kind of synopsis, and I think this is the most aggravating part of the entire thing. Even more aggravating than starting from scratch on a novel that I worked four years already on. At least then I knew what to do.

I have no idea how to handle a synopsis. I've tried writing and re-writing it several times. It always sounds like crap and there's only so much hair on my head that I can pull out before I'm bald.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (sex goddess)
So, having finished the bulk of my task of making the Tower!Guy novel a book that I hold my head up high about even as I wait for the rejection letters, I've turned my hand to query letters.

And you can guess where this is going. I need help, because, well, I'm dumb. And even though I've read a lot, there's probably something stupid I'm doing. I know a lot of you out there on the f-list are smarter/more experienced/better/an agent/a published writer/better at queries/[insert reason you're more qualified than me].

So, beneath the cut are my query letter, which probably needs intense picking apart, and the concerns I have about it. )

The floor is open to anyone, and I mean anyone with an opinion or advice or anything that might be remotely helpful. I am wide open and willing to learn and listen.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I have now officially completed all rewrites and revisions for the Tower!Guy novel. From prologue to epilogue, the thing is now polished as much as it can possibly be polished.

I have only a last line edit, to check for spelling, grammar, and other technical errors left. Then query letters and synopses, and then the part where I send out for my Rejection Letter Starter Kit. Yay!

I'm quite proud. I'm also quite tired.

I shall reward myself with extra sleep.

Good night everybody, and good luck.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Wouldn't you know, that just as I round the corner on my second to last chapter, with victory well in sight, thinking that if I eat my Wheaties and go for the gold, I can finish the last of my revisions today and start on line editing tomorrow - wouldn't you just know that something had to go wrong?

My glasses picked this very occasion to fall all the hell apart and announce that they were going on strike by having one of the lenses very unceremoniously drop onto the floor at my feet. Which is confusing when one half of your vision suddenly does the wacky, and for a moment I wondered if I was having a stroke or something until I realized what happened.

The screw that held the lens inside the frame is gone, and neither God nor man shall ever know where it got to or how.

So I'm now two hours behind where I want to be. But I don't really care anymore. If I have to stay up 'til midnight, I'm getting this damn thing done. By hook or by crook, it's getting done.

Besides I have to start worrying about really getting a good query letter and synopses hammered out. The synopses can be one size fits all, but the queries can't.

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