Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ye Olde Query letter...arg.

Feeling a little pirate today, so you must read at least the title in your pirate accent.

I have a strange confession--I actually enjoy writing query letters. I know, I've probably lost some marbles to say that, but they can be fun. And of course necessary. So I'm looking on the bright side. I've written....gaw, hundreds of them it seems. Mostly rewritten, I should say. Usually, I like working out a summary, then chopping everything out that isn't absolutely essential. I've got one query letter that I've never gotten right, but maybe that says something about the book. Hmmm...might be time to pull it out for another rewrite?

Unfortunately, that's the book I decided to shop first, way back when I had no idea how to write a query letter (or even what a query letter was). I banged out a query and thought it was all easy-peasy and wow. When I read it now, it's so bad I laugh. But I've stuck with it and all its revisions, and there have been lots. I don't want to start querying a new book when I haven't finished querying my last one. Big no-no. So I'm rewritting (again) my query and sending it out a few more times.

THEN if I don't have any bites, I may have to start polishing my other stuff and figuring out if any of them are good enough to shop. At least my query letters are decent (I think!) and useful, and give a sense of the character and voice along with plot.

Monday, February 21, 2011

That's a first.

In honor of the first draft I just finished, here's a blog.

This book was great fun to write, but interesting and challenging, too. I tried some new things this time around, and it turns out, I'm pretty pleased with the result. Here are some of the new and unique experiences I had while writing this book.

1. I wrote an outline. I know, I'm supposed to do that for all my books, right? Wellllllll....I'm more of a "pantser" as it's called. I've never made an outline before. I'm not even sure how it's done. But I saw an organizational chart a published writer had made after writing a book, and I thought, I could do that. I was so sucked in to the book I was writing that I didnt want to go do a chart for a book I'd already finished. So I did one for the chapters I'd written in this book. Then I went ahead and did it for the chapters I hadn't written. Scary, but pretty handy. I already knew what would happen, but it helped to have it all laid out in chronological order (that's how my brain works). Of course I had to tweak things, add and subtract characters, combine and expand scenes and chapters. But overall, it was a good experience. Will I do it on my next book? I'll get back to you on that. I don't really have anything waiting in the brainwaves begging to be written.

2. I wrote a young adult book that's actually appropriate for young adults. I think. I've written young adult books before, but they usually morph into adult books, as I just don't have a pure and innocent mind, haha. Usually between the sex, swearing, and violence that works its way in there, no one would ever let a young adult read my books (myself included). So I end up changing them to adult books. This one...pretty PG13.

3. I wrote an entire book where not one person smirked. Not once. I even did a "Find & Replace" search to make sure, after I read the first draft and noticed that my usual smirky, annoying guy was strangely absent. I did it. Really, really I did. Not one smirk to be found in a single character. Yes, the sky may be falling. Now if I could only write that book without a love story....

4. I had something else for right here, but I'm burned out from writing my first draft, so reason number four is cruelly forgotten in the wasteland of my post-drafting brain. Right now, not much is going on up there except visions of cupcakes dancing. It's true. After I crank out a first draft, I'm completely devoid of brainwaves for at least three days. I'm pretty sure a writer coined the term 'airhead.' 

Happy Monday, all!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

This book's for you!

So, yesterday I posted a list of reasons why someone might not like my books. Then I thought, that was a little discouraging. I wouldnt want to tell people not to read my books, after all. So I thought I'd make a more positive list today. Here it is. Ten reasons someone might actually want to read my books.

You might want to read my books if:

  1. You like getting to know the characters more than a ton of action sequences
  2. You don’t mind people who swear, smoke, drink, and otherwise misbehave
  3. You like amusing dialogue that makes you squirm a little sometimes
  4. You can overlook a lot of character flaws and still like someone
  5. You don’t mind a mixed-bag ending or one that’s more hopeful than happy
  6. You throw a book against the wall but you’re still likely to pick it up and finish it
  7. You can deal with a lot of pop culture references, even if you don’t know them
  8. You like smirky guys
  9. You can love a character who has absolutely nothing exceptional about her
  10. You don’t mind if no one smolders.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Not for me.

I'm a little behind on posting since I had the flu and was out of commission for a while. Here's another post to make up for it. Plus, I find lists are a great way to procrastinate when I should be writing.

When querying, the standard rejection letter can be boiled down to one line, or three little painful words: Not for me. That's the polite way to decline a query letter. So, in honor of rejection letters, here is ten reasons why someone might find that my writing is not for them.
You might NOT want to read my books if:

  1. You expect the guy to be all sappy and romantic or metrosexual
  2. You want lengthy descriptions of how people look/how hot they are
  3. You don’t like the C-word, F-word, or B-word
  4. You don’t like the D-word or any other anatomically exact words used to insult someone
  5. You have a problem with age disparity in couples
  6. You don’t want any of the characters to die
  7. You only like books that end shiny and happy for all the characters
  8. You don’t like books with sex/people who talk about sex a lot
  9. You want someone to hold your hand and explain every sentence
  10. You don’t like books with fantastical elements (vampires, clones, psychics, oh my!)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

query insanity

Someone once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Sorry, I’m not sure who said that. But it brings to mind a certain habit of trying-to-get-published writers. This particular habit, which in itself is the definition of insanity, is called querying. I personally find the process grueling, disheartening, and overall a little degrading, as I’m pretty much begging for an agent to give me a read-through. I query, and query, and change my letter, and change my letter, and query some more. And all the time…nothing. But if I don’t expect a different result, then I’d probably go more insane than it’s already making me. I have to keep hoping, which is roughly the same thing as expecting a different result. So to sum things up, hope is the definition of insanity. Maybe I need a new definition of insanity.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A writing exercise from my critique group.

I had to write a paragraph using ten words. I won't tell what they were, but here's the paragraph.

Once there was a boy full of joy. Until the day when he cut off his finger—that’s when the trouble started. Before that he’d been one of the cool kids, running around the playground with his cool kid friends, trading his apple for some grapes with his best bud at lunch. Then there was the incident with the finger, and he became strange, different, a mystery even to those friends who had known him all his life, shared his apple, ran after him at recess. Now he ran by himself, running up the hill into the aqua sky on his way home from the bus stop, watching his cool kid friends playing basketball with all ten fingers. He thought his head would explode from wanting to be one of them again, but they wouldn’t even let him explain about the finger. Explain that he was still the same boy, that there was nothing remarkable about him, that one missing digit did not a boy make.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I'm Baaa-aack!

So, I realize it's been about a year since I posted a blog--or it feels that way, anyhow. Turns out being sick with the flu is not conducive to writing. Sure, all I did for days was lie around, but I was hardly at my creative best (or any kind of best, for that matter). Mostly my brain tried to cling onto the two or three one paragraph scenes it managed to send up through the haze of pain and chorus of moaning/coughing. But I did manage to consume copious amounts of tea, eat vitamins by the handful, and possibly cough myself into great shape (or at least that's my wishful thinking).
Today I'm feeling a bit alive again, and even sat down to bang out a few pages. I tried editing during my flu, thinking that would be easier than straining my brain with the creativity--heh heh. Yeah. Right. Like editing is ANY easier than writing. Needless to say, that endeavor was a giant FAIL.
But here's to hoping I'll be back on track, writing and maybe even blogging a bit more this month. Happy February!
Last week's major downer:
Flu: 1
Days spend lying in bed/on the couch: 6
Pages written: maybe 1
Pages edited: 2
Cups of tea: oh, thousands
boxes of tissues: at least 1/2 a big box
sneezes per day: I only counted one day...I sneezed 52 times.
bursts of inspiration: 0
productive tasks completed: 0
bottles of cough syrup: I'm working on it...It's about 1/2 gone.