Sunday, December 27, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
So that's why I'm joining in on the No Kiss Blogfest! Inspired by yesterday's Kissing Day Blogfest, Ms. Mallis over at Frankie Writes decided to go almost all the way with scenes that show not kissing, but the famous (or perhaps infamous?) "almost kiss."
Oooooh, can you feel the tension? I've got a good one planned, oh yes indeed. In fact, I got so excited about it, I actually have it set up already. It's just on automatic schedule thanks to Blogger, so once the date rolls around, at about 10:30ish am, it's going up!
So January 2, 2010, post your almost kiss and join in on the fun!
Monday, December 21, 2009
Remember kids, WIP. It ain't perfect.
And for the record, he's not a serial killer. It was just a massive misunderstanding, so don't worry.
“I am not going anywhere with you!” I jerked out of his grasp. “You are crazy! This isn’t normal! Any of it!”
“Look, I am the only one that can find that girl and if you want to find her too, then you’ll have to stick with me, do you understand that?”
“Oy! Who are you talking to out there?”
We froze. A few of the giants climbed to their feet while the others leaned over to look outside the cave.
“No one!” Wolf called. “Just, ah, my mate! We were both looking for the morsel, but we’re going now!”
“I think not. She sounds an awful lot like that scrap we caught earlier. Let’s see her.”
I stared at Wolf, petrified.
“No, no!” he yelled back, his hands on my shoulders. “She’s got this silly fear of giants, says they’re too big for her taste.”
The command was low, dangerous. Wolf gave me a tiny nod and gently pulled me forward so the giants could see me. The one with the club grunted.
“Thought so. Why didn’t you tell us you was a she-wolf?”
I opened my mouth but nothing came out. Wolf pinched me in my side.
“Oh!” I half-shouted. “I, um, was too scared.” I laughed weakly. “Concerned about my…food. At the time. Sorry.”
Their stony faces remained unconvinced.
“Show us your side then,” said one of the standing giants.
I gaped again. My side? What did that mean? My wolf side?
“You can’t,” Wolf said, his voice barely audible. “Run.”
They’ll just follow us. I racked my brain for an idea. I had no idea what they were looking for, but so far it didn’t sound much like humans were fond of wolves. Maybe…
“Well,” I spoke haltingly, “would a human woman do this?”
I looked up at Wolf and braced myself. Oh Caroline, you’ve gone off the deep end.
I grabbed his face and brought his mouth down on mine. He was surprised, but quickly recovered and put his arms around me, kissing me back and milking it for all it was worth.
This is so crazy. I’m kissing a possible serial killer. Ew. God where did I go wrong? This is so beyond screwed up...he tastes like berries and mint...
Finally I pulled away, collecting my bearings again. I’d just kissed a psycho who’d held a knife on me not so many hours earlier in order to stay away from giants. I wanted to move farther away, much farther away, but Wolf held me where I was, his forehead resting against mine looking for all the world like he’d just had the best day of his life.
Whoo hoo! Go mistletoe and kissing!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I don't get mad about it. Instead, I just chuckle to myself and shake my head. I mean, really, could they confuse us poor authors any more?
For those starting out trying to create the "perfect" query letter, it can take them a bit of time before they realize that it doesn't exist. Or...perhaps it does. You just have to craft it to suit each and every agent's individual needs. And just as agents often talk about how they have so little time to read the hundreds of query letters they get each day (and they do), so can most of us writers talk about how we have so little time to specially tailor a query letter to every agent.
Now that's not to belittle agents. Likewise, that's not to say that most of us don't often tweak a letter here and there to make it more suitable. No, what I'm talking about are broader ideas.
I found a great example today while searching for agents to query.
One agency states, right on it's front page in their tips for queries, "Don't try and sell your work; that's our job!" True enough, it is their job, and yet every single person I have ever talked about with on the subject of query letters is that you need to sell your novel. That's the whole point of the query letter, is it not? Make your work so irresistible that the agent has to bite?
Indeed, not long after visiting them, I found another agent with an entire 3-page file devoted to crafting a great query letter (or at least a better one) and on the second page in big, bold font it says, "How to use selling points in your query letter" and by that they mean "all the book's major selling points."
Ha. Now this is NOT to alienate any agents out there, and I am NOT trying to be rude or snarky or anything but, gosh guys.
Could you confuse us any more? ;)
You know, I don't think agents even know what makes up the ideal query letter...
Saturday, November 21, 2009
In 2007 when I was at Seton Hill University getting my Masters in popular fiction, Donald Maass, who owns the Donald Maass Literary Agency, graced us with his presence and discussed tension. Adding tension to the story in different ways. Constant tension. Tension in every line, if possible. Making scenes full of it. Now, this isn't the Michael Bay approach, that is to say, blow everything up with guns and car chases and big f-ing robots (though big f-ing robots are always cool), but just make it more....reader-hanging-on-your-every-word-ish.
I recently had a stroke of ridiculous inspiration (as most of my inspiration tends to be in some way ridiculous and I'm not sure why) and sat down at my computer to crank out about 100 pages in 4 (give or take) days. Now, as much as I'd like to press on, I'm going back to edit scenes that I've decided don't work and would be better off changing them now while the new ideas are fresh in my mind rather than later.
One of these scenes had to be entirely replaced. Why? No tension. A painful lack of tension, in fact. I wasn't happy writing it the first time, and that was just first draft, blow through it nonsense. So I sat back and considered how I wanted it to change. I had all the elements in my head, and after rearranging things a bit, I came up with a new scene, much more exciting, and fits better in the story.
Here's the original idea:
Hero and heroine need to find Character A, who has been caught by slave traders. The protagonists find the tent, go in after slight little hassle, only to find Character A has already been sold. Very little drama between protagonists and slave traders. Heroine is eventually convinced by Hero to purchase a slave, whom they free, and who I had no idea what to do with later in the story since it seemed completely stupid to have that moment and not use the freed slave later. I did have an idea, but it was so inconsequential and weak, I wasn't happy with it.
The new idea:
Heroine only goes into the tent after a slight hassle, as Character A has major issues with the Hero (believes he intends to kill her). Character A has not been sold off, and Heroine manages to buy her. Then Hero runs in to inform Heroine that Something Bad is on the way, causing Character A to freak out. In turn, slave traders freak out, and a less-than-organized fight ensues, which does not bode well for Heroine as she has no fighting skills at all. Character A runs from the tent and amidst confusion, Heroine frees bunches of slaves and Hero gets injured and a few people don't make it. Outside, Character A gets kidnapped by Something Bad, much to the dismay of Heroine and Hero. This also works better because Something Bad needed to pop up sooner, and this is the ideal place.
Much better. Ok, so I did go the Michael Bay way a bit, but there aren't any explosions or giant robots, so I'm kind of in the clear. Either way, it's a hell of a lot better than just having them go in there with no problems at all. It's actually less common to go the "no problem ensues" route, but that's basically because it's boring. Haha.
This is just one spot where things are improving. What I've added is also about the same size, if not slightly larger than the original section, so I haven't lost any pages in the process. In fact, after adding snipping and redoing this and other parts, the page number has become 110. Granted, there's still a lot of work to be done, but that's still around a 1/4 of a book. Awesome.
Oh, and here's the current count for any wondering:
Partial Requests: 3
Thanks for coming to Seton Hill, Mr. Maass!
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
I'm broke. And yet I'm still sending materials to potential publishers. When I say I'm broke, I mean it, though I sort of mean it in a technical sense that my checking account really wouldn't have anything in it if I didn't keep removing money from my savings account, which is now 50% of what it used to be, much to my utter dismay. But what can I do? I'm trying to work on as many projects as possible. Luckily I have a big payday coming up due to all those projects. That'll help immensely.
So what is the price of everything?
#10 envelopes: $0.98
9x12 manilla envelopes: $1.97
Pack of 20 Forever stamps: $8.80
Printer paper: $3.88
Getting an agent to take on your manuscript: Priceless
Of course, that last part hasn't happened yet, so I'm still just burning cash. Whoohoo! But there's really no way around it. I still email agents if I can, unless it looks like snail mail would get a better response, though there isn't really a better response when it comes to rejection. Rejections are what they are no matter how you query. But if an agent will take pages through snail mail and just a query in email, then I'll opt to send them pages instead, just so they can at least see the work I'm presenting instead of having to guess whether or not they'd even want to look at it through the query letter.
Don't get me wrong - that makes it sound like my query letter isn't up to par, but considering I've had one agent comment on it as of late, and was asked to send a partial during my first round of querying, I must have done something right in it. Still, I'll opt for pages any day of the week.
So what's the current count you may wonder? I'm not sure if I ought to post this or not, but I doubt any agent is going to bother looking at my little bloggy and rejections don't necessarily mean anything (every author has rejections under his or her belt - even big names like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and a whole mess of others), so I will.
My current numbers are:
Partial Requests: 1
Acceptances: 0 (obviously)
Still combing through agents to decide who to send to and who might enjoy my work, etc. etc. It's a long road ahead though I'm sure. Keeping my fingers crossed!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
In which case, don't expect to see a blog update every time someone asks for pages. The next time you'll see me stupidly excited is when someone asks for the full manuscript, and even then I might not say anything for fear of bringing up potentially false hope. Nothing is truly final until they say, "Yeah, we want to represent your stuff."
In the meantime, I'm working on something new that I've probably mentioned before. Stuck under the 'paranormal romance' genre, Illusion's Trick is a nice changeup from the SF I've been battling with for the past two years-ish. I've got my little critique group all set up so I can get some good feedback. It's going to be a good time and here's hoping I can crank this baby out and start sending it to agents as well while the paranormal romance niche is still hot, hot, hot (because it is - no matter what you think of Romance, the truth is that it's pretty much the top-selling genre out there and they're not all bodice-ripping sex-taculars. Whatever you think about Romance, in fact, you're probably wrong.)
Yeah, I don't know.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
And by the way, before I continue, you've probably heard me mention Dr. Arnzen before, so let me clarify. Dr. Arnzen is just one of these professors that you would kill to have. *snicker* And if you did in fact kill someone to get a spot in his class, he'd probably ask you about it and then possibly tell you how you could have done it better. Hah.
Ok, back on topic.
So the pitch was the most nerve-wracking part of the entire residency (at least for me). Doing my oral defense (basically reading parts of my novel and then answering questions about it) was just fine and dandy. I was excited and got into it, as I'm sure anyone who attended could tell you. Hehe. Then there was the teaching component. Also not worried. In fact, I quite enjoyed that. I had a great time and could easily stretch one part of my little 50 minute lecture into a 3-hour module and have a great time doing it. (so Dr. Wendland and Dr. McClain, if you ever read this - the second I'm published, I'm all for joining the team). Anywho, my pitch was less than stellar (and I screwed up a second possible hit later on, but have learned from it and don't really plan on going into that here today), but ultimately it didn't matter too much because:
A.) Del Rey doesn't take unsolicited manuscripts. Basically, you need an agent before you can even think of submitting to them.
B.) Due to A. I can think of it more as practice as anything else. More like a "what not to do" when pitching to someone important.
C.) Having an agent is handy anyway because even though they get a little cut of your book's sales, they handle all the business goodies to get you the best deal and keep you from getting screwed over royally.
If she wanted a manuscript, as the editor-in-chief she probably could have made an exception and taken one, but I don't think any of us had an awesome pitch so doubtless nothing really struck her fancy. They're likely swamped with manuscripts as it is. 99.9% of editors are these days.
So, The Pitch: Fail.
Secondary spontaneous pitch to agent later on that day: Fail.
When I got home, almost immediately (that is to say, a few days later once I'd managed to save my dog from almost certain death, but that's a whole other story) I started to send out query letters to agents. I started with three and eventually branched out to five.
I got my first rejection after 24 minutes. *lol* Now, unlike a lot of writers, rejection doesn't bother me. I've been dealing with rejections since I was in high school. Solid writers know that rejection is pretty much inescapable. It might as well be "Death, taxes, and rejection" for us. Anywho, in some ways I was impressed. It meant my email was promptly examined and responded to. That's more than what you can expect from a lot of places. Who knows, maybe I hit the send button at just the right time.
But that's not the news I've been talking about in my other blogs.
The news is that one agency I queried emailed back and asked to see some pages. *squeal*
Now, for those of you who don't know, when you send a one-page query letter, you have to make it kick as much ass as possible in order to show the agent that you have a book worthy of their time and ultimately publication. You have to do that in one page. Trust me, that stuff is hard. I think I revised my query letter three or more times. Some agencies will ask to see pages along with a query letter - it all depends. But generally, it goes like this:
- You send a query letter made of awesome.
- If they like what they see, they ask for pages (anywhere from 10-50).
- You have a small party by yourself and oblige.
- If they like the pages, they ask for the entire manuscript.
- You have a bigger party by yourself and skip around town and cross your fingers and send them the manuscript.
- If they like the whole thing, then they call you and you basically have landed yourself an agent.
- Now you can throw a party and include people (note: you can't throw a really big party until you're actually published, haha)
Yes. This is an actual picture of my printed manuscript.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku. Read it, loved it, and now own it. It was Dr. Who's box on the cover jumping through wormholes that caught my eye (yes, I kind of judge books by their covers, despite what we're all told). Kaku breaks it down into how "impossible" science fiction goodies really are, from ray guns to time travel. It's fascinating - even if you don't completely understand everything he's talking about all the time. Still, it's worth the read if you write SF in order to get a tighter grasp on some of your potential physics (depending upon what you're writing about and how hard you want the science to be). Read the full review here.
Weapon by DK Publishing. Anything made by DK automatically rocks my socks. Ever since I was a kid, I was always checking out DK Eyewitness books from the library. Dogs and Rocks and Minerals were my favorites. Imagine my joy when I discovered an adult version dealing with weapons. Naturally, they don't have everything, but they get close enough, complete with pictures and interesting tidbits, factoids, all in the spirit that is DK awesomeness. I don't have this one, and really wish I had the money for it, that way I could quit slogging through the Internet every time I want the name of a sword that I can't remember. It's a big book (not thick so much as just coffee table sized), and if weapons aren't your thing, there's also Warrior, Battle, and Battle at Sea. I just haven't had the proper time to examine them.
The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures by John & Caitlin Matthews. I did a lot of research for this one. I'd been trying to find a good, solid list of mythological creatures and as usual, found myself disappointed with the Internet. I compared this book to a few others, narrowed it to two, painstakingly compared those, and ended up with this one. It's an alphabetical listing of as many mythical creatures as you're going to find throughout the world and its legends. I needed new ideas for potential creatures and use this for inspiration. They say that good writers borrow, great writers steal. Well, I'm stealing animals and modifying them to my tastes and worlds, so there you go. The best part about this book? It's cheap. Jackpot.
That's all I have at this time. It wouldn't surprise me in the future if I found more.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Interesting comments from Nick Stone (Mr. Clarinet, King of Swords):
"For some reason certain (though by no means all) publishers seem to think that quantity is the new quality. You know, get a new book on the shelves every year on the dot, regular as clockwork and Christmas. I understand the commercial reasoning behind it – up to a point (JK Rowling and Thomas Harris don't write a book a year - Thomas Harris never did that at all) – but, said publishers tend to forget the most important part of the equation – THE READER. You have to keep the readers happy. At all costs.
"The thing is, when you’re a writer on that book a year treadmill, you have six months to produce a book. For some writers that's just fine and they write according to those constraints and produce great work. But, for other writers, who'd maybe like to spend longer on their books, the process is hell. And it usually results in a quality “crack curve” – a quick, sharp peak (say the first two or three books), followed by a long ruinous descent (the rest). The books tend to read increasingly like tired contractual obligations, poor photocopies of a poor photocopy of a poor photocopy. The plots blur into one, the characters are empty vessels and the prose is a delivery mechanism for thrills and spills by rote. You can't fool your readers. They know when you're phoning it in. And they are ultimately your judges. They condemn you with their closed wallets and bad word of mouth.
"Publishers should remember the following maxim: if you feed your golden goose laxative you’ll just get shit."
See the full interview.
Careful what you wish for...
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Crossover is finished, but still in the tweaking stage. Old news.
To keep my brain from melting into mush, I've taken on a new project. I probably shouldn't, seeing as I have 4 old manuscripts hanging out under my bed (not literally), needing major surgery. But hey.....what can I say? Besides, if I don't get this out of my brain, I might go crazy. I really, really wish pensieves were real. But it's a fun idea and I've decided to send that to my critique group rather than my thesis because I've had just about enough with that. Besides, I'd be sending the exact same thing to one out of my critique group and it doesn't do me any good to see the same things pointed out or different things that weren't pointed out earlier (which I find annoying as hell). Besides, I really wanted feedback on this new idea. I've been asking for all sorts of ideas everywhere, and for anyone who reads this blog still, here's one of the things I threw out there to the creative minds and if you want a whack at it too, go for it:
A person is in a room. The room has a swimming pool-sized depression in the center filled with puzzle pieces. The only way to leave the room is to find the one piece that matches the shape in the door. How do you find the right piece?
(NOTE: Use any method you like. Distort this scenario any way you please - do not focus on what genre this might be or what I might be looking for. The only limitation is that puzzle pieces must stay puzzle pieces, but you can change their substance - gold, glass, whatever. Use your imagination.)
Aside from all that, I think I may be slightly cursed. So far throughout this program, I've had a grand total of 2 mentors and 4 critique members. And so far I'm 50/50 on them not having something bad happen to them - mentors included. 1 person left the program, another person was hit with a nasty illness, and another person has had a few issues and now a car wreck. I'm beginning to worry for the remaining people associated with me. Besides, weird things apparently happen when I'm at residency (the power of invisiblity, developing new identities, and so forth), maybe it's sinking in around others and affecting them badly. *cue creepy music* I've wondered whether or not to warn my remaining two critique members. I think my other mentor is safe for now, being beyond the boundary lines of my evil influence.
Ah well. As always. I guess I'll go write. Never mind that it's 12:54 in the morning. Or, it being daylight savings time, technically 1:54 AM.
What to do, what to do?