Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Still not all that much to report. I've plugged through to Chapter 24 and I'm expecting to get at least two more done this afternoon. Though, the next few chapters are a sort of long, so I can't promise anything. I'm giving myself at least an hour every day this week to work on editing, but I'm not sure how many pages that translates to. I have to go to a wedding this weekend so I'm not sure how much I'll get done, but I will try my best. I'm expecting Book 2 to come back with corrections any day now, so I need to get my butt in gear and finish Book 1.

Other fun stuff: I have to say, I like Curve. I've also started reading another book (well it's a collection of books, actually) Chronicles of The Black Company by Glen Cook.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

short stuff

Today's blog is short. You can all breathe a sigh of relief. Little update: TWoNR edits are now up to chapter 18...that's out of 81 chapters...so, yeah a lot more to go, but I'm enthusiastic that I'll get it done by the end of June...hopefully. Other than that, I finished reading Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot. It was about vampires. Kinda funny in a way, I didn't read the back, so I didn't know it was going to be. Nothing else to talk about. Happy Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

lists, forums, and other things to keep me from editing

Ever have one of those days where you really did do a lot, but you didn't do what you were supposed to, and now you feel like you didn't do anything productive? Today was like that for me. Granted, the day is not yet done, but I know it's going to close out with me having not gotten any further on my edits on TWoNR. I did do some editing, I got six chapters done, which in the grand scheme of things isn't all that bad, but my goal was 50.

What else did I do? You know; did the edits, went and ran some errands, talked to Mom on the phone, then came home with every intent of doing more editing, and totally spent the rest of the day bumming on the internet.

It wasn't all waste though. I went through Amazon and made a wish list of about thirty books (most the beginning of series so you should triple that number, at least) that I think I should read in order to gain the experience I need to float in my genre. Top of the list is Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. This is a book that a number of the readership thought the mythology in TWoNR was similar to. Then there is the Dark series by Christine Feehan. Her Carpathians intrigue me because they are also another take on vampires (like the Holy Children in TWoNR). Then Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter novels; just cause I want to read Acheron (the rogue God thing intrigues me) and hate reading books out of order. Then there are others that were mentioned at Cons and I wrote down because they sounded interesting or I felt foolish for not having read them.

I'm slowly getting through my list of people to read. I read Ombria in Shadow by Patricia McKillip last week and this week I started working on 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King. I have Dean Koontz, Glen Cook, K.J. Parker, and Frank Herbert sitting on my shelf waiting for love.

I also joined the Absolute Writer Water Cooler which is a huge forum for people in the publishing industry and those aspiring to be that lucky. http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/ I put up a couple questions and they were answered promptly and intelligently. Two things that I can't love enough. Then I read some blogs, and found this interesting site called: Flogging the Quill. http://www.floggingthequill.com/ I want to submit to it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Reflections on CAPAU

I went to CAPAU on Saturday. I'm breaking up the blog so that you can see the highlights of each event!

Opening speaker: Gina Barreka. She is a professor at UCONN and super sassy. I suggest everyone hear her speak at least once in your life, she's awesome. Her books (think feminist humor) have been added to my ever growing list of things to eventually read. She talked about what actually makes a writer. The most memorable attribute being EXPERIENCE. A dreaded word to a green writer like myself, but yeah. There is a reason why they say you have to write a million words before you can consider yourself a good writer. Practice makes perfect. There is a reason why my publishing professor told me to read more in my genre before attempting to publish. You need to be able to draw parallels between you and other writers. There is a reason why I have a list of things to read. I know I haven't got the experience I need, but I'm trying to publish anyway.

Agent Panel: Most of the 9 agents that were there handled non-fiction...that made me sad. The interesting stuff they had to say was mostly for people who were publishing in non-fiction and the other stuff they had to say I already knew.

Panel 1: Three professional editors (Beth Bruno, Rita Reali, Roberta Buland) talking about the editing process, the different kinds of editing (did you know there are three kinds of editing?), and why you should edit. It was interesting to learn about the different kind of editing:
1. Structural/Directional editing (which is basically someone reading your work to tell you what does and doesn't function well and where the big story gaps are),
2. Copy editing (someone going through and fixing grammar and sentence structure),
3. Proofing (going through with a fine toothed comb and fixing places where you didn't space things properly. Then someone asked the dreaded question: "What if your attempting to get published through a publishing house? Don't they provide you with an editor? In that case, I don't need to hire a professional editor before I submit to an agent, right?" Of course, the answer was: "Of course you need to hire a professional editor before submitting to an agent! It's so competitive these days that if you aren't perfect they won't even look at you!" Well, something to that effect. That just made me feel awful cause I know I need an editor and I certainly don't have the money (upwards around 50$ an hour) for one.

Panel 2: A self published fantasy novelist (M.J. Allaire) shared her thoughts on fantasy writing. It seemed like she basically pulled a bunch of research off of the internet, fed it to us for the first ten minutes and then talked about being self published for the rest of it. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but it was pretty interesting to learn how the self publishing process works and how she'd been marketing her series. It was obviously her element, so I don't blame her for being all over it like white on rice. It definitely opened my eyes and made me decide never to self publish. Why? You have to pay for it all up front, then do your own marketing and hope that you eventually break even. Though, the good side is that you are in charge of everything, from book contents to cover to where it gets sold.

Panel 3: This was a panel put on by Shel Horowitz who is like the promotional marketing whiz. I didn't get a lot out of this, mainly because my agent pitch was right in the middle of it and I got lost in translation. What I did hear was obvious marketing stuff Such as: Look for unlikely allies to sell your books. Basically that means: If you've written a book about troubled teens, try approaching youth hospitals and guidance counselors. He also put a big emphasis on the internet and social networking sites. I knew this already, that's why my blog is here.

Agent pitch: This was the thing I was most nervous about. Let me explain something to you first. When I applied to CAPAU, I was an early bird sign up. When you sign up, you go through a list of agents attending and pick the top three you'd like to meet with. Then CAPAU matches you up with one of your choices. The list, as mentioned earlier, was sadly lacking in distinct fantasy/sci-fi agents. There were a couple, they went on my list. Then the coordinator emailed me and told me my first choice (Susannah Taylor) wasn't coming, so he'd certainly put me with my second choice (Gina Panettieri). I had to mail in my query letter so that the agent could look at it before hand...the query clearly states that I have a FANTASY NOVEL. When I get to CAPAU I'm told that the agent I'm supposed to meet with isn't going to be there. So, I look at who they sign me up to meet with, Jessica Regel. Jessica Regel clearly states in her agent bio that she DOES NOT handle fantasy/sci-fi. That gets me a little upset. Not only did I not get my third choice (the only other agent who handles fantasy), but I end up with one who handles mostly non-fiction and clearly wants nothing to do with fantasy.

The story has a happy ending though. Jessica Regel was super nice and critiqued my query letter for me. Other than one or two little tiny things, she said that the query letter was very good. She also gave me the contact information for Jennifer Weltz, someone in her agency who DOES handle fantasy/sci-fi. So, special thanks to Jessica Regel for being awesome and not-so-special thanks to CAPAU for not putting me with someone who handled my genre when they obviously had my FANTASY NOVEL query and I should have had spot preference because I was an early registrant anyway! Okay, I'm done being bitter.

Final notes: Anyway, I had a fairly good time. I made some new friends and I'm considering joining CAPA. I felt like CAPAU was more for self published authors and small time publishers, but it doesn't hurt to know any of those people in the business.

EXTRA: I picked up the physical mark-up of Book 1 from my friend. I'm able to divide my friends by their editing abilities (now that I know the different kinds of editing). So far, most of the readership has only been able to give structural/developmental support. My friend who did the physical mark-up is the only reader I'd consider a copy-editor sort of reader. She made a lot of corrections, all very good ones. So, I feel a little better about not being able to afford an editor before I submit to an agent. It will take me a while to do the corrections, and she still has to do Book 2, but with a newly polished query and the types of updates I'll be giving to my manuscript, I'm feeling very confident about my book. I'm aiming for a final edit completion around mid-June and queries will be going out shortly after that.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A little constructive advice

Here is the deal, I've been reading tons of agent blogs lately. The common thread: all of them blog about angry authors at least once a week.

A little note on the publishing process: Write your book, write a query letter, send the query letter to an agent, wait for the agent to respond.

If the agent likes the query: You will get a request for a partial or full manuscript. If they like the partial, they request a full. If they like a full, they'll proposition you with representation. Then the agent has to sell your book to a publisher. Then you get an editor who will probably rip you a new one and tell you to re-write half your book. Oh, and in most cases, the publisher will choose the layout and cover for your book, not you. And they probably won't be the ones selling your book, you will.

If the agent doesn't like the query: You'll get a form rejection letter. Form letters are generic, unspecific letters that basically say: thanks but no thanks. Agents send form letters because they get hundreds of queries a week, sometimes thousands, and they just don't have the time to write you a 'Dear John' letter with perfume spattered all over it.

That's a simplified version of the agent process, but that's basically how it goes. It doesn't apply to all agents or publishers.

What the agents don't like are the writers who send queries, get a form rejection, and then throw a sh*t fit because they can't take the insincerity of a form letter. Or, in the very rare and auspicious case when an agent will write a personalized letter that offers constructive criticism, the author can't take the criticism and throws said sh*t fit. I sit and read these blogs and want to laugh at these authors. I understand where the authors are coming from. I've written a book myself, I've written two actually...they are just stuck together under one title. I've written all my life, my stories are my babies. I'm trying to get published just like everyone else. I can't believe these people would allow themselves to miff to the point where they bite back at an agent. Has America really come to that? Have we indulged in the honking horns so much that people think they are entitled to take up an agent's time with this kind of crud?

I try to tell myself not. I just think that people are not properly preparing themselves for the process before they jump into it.

My suggestions:

1. If you haven't submitted to small literary publications, journals, or magazines then do it. People suggest you submit to these in order to get your name out there and have something to put on your query letter. While publication in one of these magazines or journals might help, it's not necessary. There are a lot of nobodies who get their novels published. I'm telling you to submit because I think you need to learn how to get rejected. Yes, you need to learn how to be a looser before you can even hope to be a winner.

Write a short story or a poem or send a chapter of your novel. Send it to the hardest to get into magazine. If you go to www.pw.org (poets and writers) you can find a very comprehensive list of literary magazines and journals that take submissions of all types of work. Even better, you can find the ones that are hardest to get into by doing an advanced search. I say try for the hardest because the publishing industry will be about as hard as getting into one of these magazines (probably harder). The likelihood of rejection is also just as high. Plus, these magazines send out form letters (just like most agents). If you get yourself accustomed to your work getting rejected on the micro level then it wont hurt too bad to get form rejection on the macro level.

2. Let knowledgeable people read your work before you submit it. This is an all encompassing statement. If you write a query or novel let at least ten people read and critique it. Not just anyone. You want smart people to critique your work. The last thing you need is someone who doesn't know a thing about grammar telling you to make all these changes. I've found that the smarter the person is about grammar, the more well read they are, the more comfortable they are with being honest with you, the better feedback you'll get. I guarantee it won't be all good and if it is, then you aren't getting the right kind of feedback. Everything has room for improvement and you're kidding yourself if you think you or your work is perfect. I wanted to cry when I got my first really harsh critique, but I sucked it up and told myself how much better I could be if I could get that person to tell me I did a good job in re-writing my work. Yes, writing is a form of art, but it's so much more. It's entertainment and history in the making, you have to practice, make is accessible, and get it just right if you want other people to appreciate it as much as you do. Sometimes complete strangers are the best. If you have a writers group in your area, join it and let them critique your work.

Also, I highly suggest going to a writers conference and having an agent critique your query. I thought mine was peachy keen, but one of the agents at Lunacon thought otherwise and gave me some really good advice. If you can get yourself used to getting this kind of constructive feedback on your work, then you are less likely to get upset when an agent does you the favor of writing a personalized response to your query or manuscript. Also, learning on this level how to take criticism and turn it into something that makes you a better writer will be what continues to put you on the bestseller list and not constantly butting heads with your editor (who will tell you the same exact things your critics told you from day one).

3. Lastly, please re-read and continue to improve your work. Like I said, nothing is perfect. I guarantee that if you've re-read your work so much that you can't find something to fix then you need to take a break and come back to it a couple of weeks later or someone else needs to read it. Do yourself the favor of finding out what the agents want in a query letter or manuscript and save yourself from an embarrassing disappointment. You shouldn't send a query to an agent more than once, so if you blow it the first time, that's it. Don't jump the gun, have patience and you will be rewarded.

I admit I haven't actually been published yet, but I think my suggestions are pretty practical and I am reciting a number of them verbatim from agents and editors who have talked about these topics on blogs and at conventions


As the world turns

I've admittedly not been doing any work on my writing. I'm enjoying it. I've been getting together with friends and family, going out to eat, and engaging in all sorts of small entertainments that bring me great enjoyment. All for the sake of my sanity!

Sunday I went to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Brooklyn. It was both a satisfaction and a disappointment. The performances were awesome. I especially liked the Koto demonstration. The koto is a haunting instrument and I encourage everyone to see an ensemble at some point in their life. The garden was beautiful. The sakura (cherry blossoms) didn't disappoint, even in the rain, they let their petals loose like they were in a light spring breeze, making the effect of dozens of umbrellas even more dramatic. I've never been to the BBG and it truly is a diamond in the rough. I've been to a lot of botanical gardens, but this one was particularly well laid out.

The rain sucked and I thought there would be more booths selling traditional Japanese food and more shopping opportunities. Oh well, I suppose I'll have to find my red bean buns and kimonos somewhere else.

If it makes you feel better, I should be getting the first hundred pages of the physical mark-up of The Will of Night Rain within the next few days. This will be my grand over-haul before I actually begin o send out query letters. Also, CAPAU is this coming weekend. I'll be going to a number of helpful workshops as well as meeting with an agent who (hopefully) will give me a kick butt critique of my query before I send it out.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

It's all because of Twilight

I've decided that Swine Flu is an attempt by a group of vampire worshipers to get a sexy immortal guy to say: "You're dying? Here, drink my blood."