Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Thursday's Children 12/27/12 New Year, New Nest

Alright, so this is that awkward moment when you arrive at a friend's house for a visit and discover that nobody's home. And they won't be coming back.

I hope you will click on the link below and come visit me at...

My actual Thursday's Children Post is there.

"Everyone" has told me that WordPress is better for writers than Blogger. We'll see.
If you were following me before, I hope you'll follow me again. And of course, if you weren't following me, please consider doing so. I have some VERY exciting news to share in a week or two.

My new blog is being difficult about Linky Tools so while I figure all that out with Kristina's techy help you can grab the linky code below and jump onto the Thursday's Children Blog Hop here.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thursday's Children 12/21/12

CPs & Betas

...in the words of Woody from Toy Story "If you don't have one-get one."

Ideally, get more than one. 
Just like agents, editors, and your eventual "audience", no two CPs/betas will have exactly the same reaction to your work. 
CPs and Betas help you be the best writer you can be.
How do they do this?

1. Honesty- Seriously, who doesn't LOVE to be told their book is fabulous, unputdownable, etc., but that's what your family and friends are for. To make your book as good as possible, you have to know what needs tweaking, or even a major overhaul. Objective readers and other writers can provide feedback that is worth their weight in gold.

2. Thoughtful Suggestions- As valuable as it is to know what isn't working, sometimes you have no idea how to fix it. This is where a CP's suggestions come in. Even if you don't take the suggestion literally, it can lead to a brainstorm of your very own.

3. Positive comments- Just as you must know what fell flat, you also should know what made your CP cry, in a good way, of course, or laugh, also in a good way, or say "wow", or keep on reading despite the long list of other things she should be doing.

4. Attention to detail (For CPs, not betas)-  This means actually paying close attention to what she's reading. For instance, I won a first chapter critique during a contest this fall. The person doing the crit complained that she didn't know by the end of the chapter whether the MC was "nine or nineteen". 
Yet, on page 2 I'd very specifically written, "Worse than the day sixteen years ago when my mother died. I was a baby at the time and don’t remember it." Boom.

5. Sharing the joys and tears- of both writing and trying to become agented/published, or whatever your writing goal happens to be. Writing is, for the most part, a solitary pursuit. 

Generally we're not able to do the prairie dog thing, pop up from our cubicle and fist-bump, or hand each other a tissue. So we do that via email, Facebook, Twitter... Cheering for contest wins, requests from agents, etc. And consoling each other when we don't even come close to winning the contest, or the agent rejects said request.

In some cases I've only read my CP's work, or they've only read mine, or we've just started an exchange...

But they are all people who inspire me to keep writing, to keep working at getting better, and whose own work and indomitable spirits inspire me. 
Thank you!
I wish you, and all of Thursday's Children, the very best of holidays and a successful writing year ahead. 
We're All In This Together. Alright, the acting might not have been brilliant, but there were some damn catchy tunes in this movie.

My CPs/Betas

Kristina Perez whose critique partnership also led to Thursday's Children

And here's Mr. Bean to remind you to focus on the important things this holiday season. Children, chocolate, and getting a good night's sleep.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Thursday's Children 12/13/12

This week's Inspiration came from eavesdropping on Twitter.
Two Writer-Tweeps were talking, and one of them mentioned the TV Show WipeOut.

WipeOut - a metaphor for a writer's journey to publication.

Round One

You've finished your manuscript, your betas and CPs have had at it, you've polished and tweaked and can't think of anything to do to it that would make it better - you're ready to enter the competition. 

First Challenge: Querying, or The Big Balls.

There are at least 3 parts to a successful query:
Researching Agents, Writing a Kickass Query, Having an Opening Bit that Rocks

Along the way something often goes wrong...

And your doomed query languishes in the slushpile.

I've heard that 95-99% of Queries Never Escape the Slushpile

But IF you take your time, and study how others have effectively navigated 
The Big Balls, well, then maybe this will happen.

You've Beaten the Big Balls, aka Received a Request for a Full or Partial!
This is ENORMOUSLY validating.
Keep those requests. Read them often. Even if ultimately this is what happens.

It feels just like that.
Reading something like the letter 
I received from an agent a couple of years ago regarding my first book.
From my archived "File of Pain" as one of my CPs calls it...

Dear Rhiann, 

Thanks for letting me look at your partial manuscript.  

I love your voice.  It's subtle and very natural.  But I'm afraid the plot felt slow.  The idea driving this story, which you laid out in the letter, is terrific.  I found myself wishing this world were developed more right from the start in a more page-turning fashion.  

With this in mind, it's with regrets that I'm going to pass.  Sorry this didn't work out but I wish you the best of luck finding the right agent for this project.  Thanks again for thinking of me.

Clearly my MS didn't live up to the query letter. 

Words of Friendly Advice: When a letter from an agent starts off with a compliment and quickly segues into a "but", go get yourself a drink. And some chocolate. 
Maybe even a shoulder to cry on.

Here's another rejection for the same book. The "pass" was so vague that I asked for some clarification. Here's what she wrote.

Dear Rhiann,

We appreciate and respect that as a new writer, critical feedback is
key to honing your craft. We actually found your writing and pacing to
be quite engaging. Rather, it was the character development and use of
what have unfortunately become over-mined and archetypal aspects of
this genre that kept us from being fully won over. I hope this is helpful.

Alright, so this agent thought the pacing was fine, but didn't like the characters. 
I'm still working on revising that manuscript. 

IF you survive the query and the request, and maybe even a revise and resubmit, THEN you will have

Round 2!

I've heard that Round 2 is a lot like Round 1, only now you have a team-mate. 
You and your agent are strategizing.
He or she is contacting editors. 
You might be working on a synopsis for a sequel, or your social media platform, or a WIP. 
Or your wardrobe, in case Oprah wants you for her Book of the Month Club. 

Again, things can go wrong... 
I saw an agent tweet that she estimated 60-90% of agented authors get a deal. 
Which means 10-40% won't. I prefer not to think about that. 
But it probably feels something like this.

But let's say you get a Book Deal- Go, You!!
As you can see, everything is all fancy and dramatic now. 

Round 3 - The Big Leagues.

Think of the obstacles as Publicity/Marketing, Reviews, Competing Books, Foreign Rights, Film/TV etc.
At the end you might feel like this...

Except of course, you'll be holding your book.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thursday's Children 12/6/12

Agents Are People Too

As you may recall, last week I shared a bit about a phone call I had with an Agent-Person. 
Things didn't go exactly as I expected.
Having unintentionally misled her about my inspiration for TENDRIL gave me  this kind of feeling...

So, I emailed her and told her that I'd actually been inspired by my love of old cemeteries. 
Here's a photo of Hope Cemetery in the town next to mine. I walk here a lot.

Well, guess what? 
She adores old graveyards, lives near a fairly famous one, AND one of the things that initially appealed to her most about my book was the whole cemetery aspect. 
She even promised to take me to that well-known graveyard if I'm ever visiting. 
I would LOVE that. Here's a photo of it below.

Now because my week wouldn't be complete without an awkward moment, here's my second story. 
Agent-Person #2 had asked for a full a couple of weeks earlier. 
After Agent-Person #1 and I had our chat, I thought perhaps it was time to "nudge" a little.
It's always a good idea to have as many options as possible, just in case things don't go according to plan. My experience is certainly that they RARELY go according to plan.

So I dashed off an email saying that while I didn't have an offer, 
I definitely had an indication of strong interest... 
and when might TENDRIL reach the top of Agent-Person #2's To-Be-Read Pile? 

Then about an hour later, while I was doing this on Twitter... 

I saw that Agent-Person #2's child was having surgery.
Which led to this kind of feeling.

Until I discovered I'd gotten an auto-response. 
Her query email was turned off because she's closed to queries until next year.
 (That email was the one I'd used because it was the only one I could find). 
So then, I was like...

A couple of hours later she emailed me (because she had read my email after all). 
She asked how long she had. I emailed back to let her know-while at the same time apologizing for my crappy timing, and sending wishes for her child's speedy recovery. 
She wrote back and told me not to worry,
 if she hadn't wanted to look at email, she wouldn't have.

Remember that agents get inspired too, and having shared inspirations might even be what brings you and your eventual agent together. 
Oh, and remembert that they are real people with their own problems. 

And of course-remember to join the Thursday's Children Blog Hop! 

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