Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Everyone Else Jumped off the Bridge
So apparently I will too! In honor of 2008 finally slinking away into the darkness, I will draw up my list of New Year's resolutions.
Normally I don't make New Year's resolutions, seeing as I have a sick way of making myself feel horribly guilty when said goals are not met, but I feel as though I should after this year. This year has been, quite literally, the worst year of my life. 3 deaths (in the span of a month), 1 surgery (the day before the first of the deaths), 1 bad life experience (cleverly disguised as a relationship), 2 mid-mid-life crises (one involving everything I thought I wanted to do with the rest of my life going *poof* and the other involving everything I called my faith going *poof*), 1 college switch, and a never ending string of health problems due to the compounded stress of the repercussions of all the aforementioned bad things. So, in other words, thank God 2008 is over. I have never been so happy to get out of something as I am to get out of 2008.
Wow, depressing. So here are my resolutions, happy things, to balance out the sheer bleck that was 2008:
#1) Finish Stream Pirates. This kind of goes without saying. There's no reason I shouldn't finish it long before 2010, but just in case, there it is.
#2) Hook that ever-allusive agent. I still have that full out as well as one other partial for Blind. Every time my phone rings, I freak out. And get oddly disappointed to see that it's my best friends calling and not the magic agent number. Sorry, guys.
#3) Stop being so hard on myself. So if, for some reason, I don't meet every single one of my goals, I am not allowed to feel bad for it.
#4) Read more books. Read more GOOD books. I tend to opt for lesser-known books in search of hidden gems (which are sometimes, but not nearly often enough, found) instead of trusting the bestseller list. This year, I will read only good books. Err, try to, at least.
#5) Be healthier. And not in an I-resolve-to-work-out-7-hours-every-day-and-eat-only-veggies way. In an I-resolve-to-not-go-to-the-doctor's-every-other-week kind of way. Not that I have too much control over that, but I will do what I can. Which may include working out 7 hours a day and eating only veggies.
#6)To have a better year. Honestly, 2009 just has to be uneventful for it to be better than 2008. Just no extremes, and I'll be happy. A nice, medium, neutral year. Though, if it wanted to go ahead and give me an agent, that'd be an okay extreme. And a book deal. Another okay extreme. And a puppy. A very fluffy, cuddly extreme.
*raises a glass of non-alcoholic sparkling cider* Here's to 2009. Go ahead, '09. Kick 2008 to the curb and change the locks, cuz he don't live here no more. There's a new boy in town, a new kid on the block. And he promises to be filled with more excitement, more happiness, more promises, more smiles, more hugs, more tears of joy than 2008 ever tried to have.
Cheers, mates. Happy New Year.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Down to the wire. Again. Bad Sara, bad.
Fantastic Thing-that-happened-in-the-past-week #1) Christmas!! B&N gift cards, cinnamon candles, a Belle (yes, Beauty and the Beast the Disney movie Belle) snow globe, and a stampede of puppies at my grandparents' house. Four doggies. Four wittle doggies. It was a rip-roaring good time.
Thing #2) I fell in love with yet another animated man (does anyone else do this? For instance, have a crush on Aladdin? Or watch Treasure Planet only because Jim is, well, hot?). This one is Sinbad in Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas. A-DOR-a-ble. Adorable. I don't know why this movie was so "hush-hush" when it came out. It's got adventure, romance, mythology (teehee. Explanation for the teehee in a moment), ships, giant sea monsters. And a really attractive animated lead, seen here.
Thing #3) Reason for the mythology-induced teehee: I finally figured out what was wrong with Stream Pirates (and there's a lot of mythology in SP. Hence the teehee). Since I got to a certain part in the story, everything has just sucked. And I could not for the life of me figure out why. This happens a lot though; I have a really difficult time keeping my characters' motivations consistent throughout really long gaps where they aren't forced to change and/or state their motivation. Unfortunately, the first half of SP is a really long gap where my protagonist isn't forced to change and/or state her motivation. So I kept forgetting why she was doing what she was doing. But I finally reached a point where she semi-exploded on another character, and this explosion served both to calm her down and remind me why she just did everything she did. So now that I know why she did what she did, I'll have a much easier time getting her to do what I want her to do. (Did you follow that? I almost didn't...)
Thing #4) There was thunder today. THUNDER. In December. It was both thoroughly disappointing because it should be snowing and cool because I like thunder. Odd combination.
My other exciting thing was already mentioned. The dogs in Barnes and Noble. If they had dogs in B&N all the time, I honestly do not think I would ever be able to leave. *marketing hint to any B&N execs*
Til next post...
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
'Twas the Night Before Christmas
Well, my fellow writers and/or blog readers, we've come to the end of yet another Christmas season. I find it odd that we prepare so much for one day. Shouldn't we be like the ye olde ancient folke and celebrate for days? It'd get rid of the cookies a lot faster. Anyway.
I just wanted to take this moment and wish all of you a merry Christmas. May there be submissive characters, finished novels, and agent contracts under your tree, and may the spirit of inspiration leave oodles of rich new novel ideas in your stockings.
Happy writing to all, and to all a good novel :)
Monday, December 22, 2008
TGIF: Thank God I have Family (who give me B&N gift cards!)
Puppy dogs + Books = Sara nearly exploding with giddiness.
Yesterday I ventured to a Barnes and Noble, completely unaware and unassuming, only to go on the very day that a group of people who take dogs to hospitals/nursing homes was gift wrapping to earn money. And they brought their DOGGIES!! They had their Golden Retrievers and the lot, but there was something special. Something exciting. Something truly monumental: one woman had THE dog I am considering getting (ie: talking my mother into being all right with): a Newfoundland dog. Of all the ridiculous dog breeds, they had the exact one I would love to cuddle with. Fate, I tell you. Destiny.
Anywho, I also had the extreme pleasure of walking around said Barnes and Noble, grabbing books off the shelf, and actually BUYING them. Normally I grab said books, walk around, talk myself out of spending $20 on a book I haven't researched enough to know whether or not it won't suck, and put it back. But thanks to the hefty supply of B&N gift cards I received at a family Christmas (I'm so easy to please) I am now the proud owner of:
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale (My parents were getting impatient so, after having debated with myself between it and a few others, I grabbed it on my way out. But Hale is a safe bet for a good read.)
Unwind by Neal Shusterman (I'm on an anti-Utopian, end-of-the world, post-apocalyptic spree right now.)
To Catch a Pirate by Jade Parker (Because, honestly, who doesn't want to catch a pirate? Johnny Depp. *drool* Also, I consider it "competition" for my current WIP. Loosely related competition, but competition nonetheless.)
And finally, a book that has been on my wish-list for (I kid you not) four years and was at long last discovered in the B&N sci-fi section,
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, translated by Mirra Ginsburg (I told you I'm on an anti-Utopian, end-of-the-world kick. It's along the same lines as Brave New World and 1984. I'm 84 pages into it so far, and while the language is slightly archaic [first published in 1952 in Russian], it is way heavy, way deep, way terrifying. As are all anti-Utopian, post-apocalyptic novels.)
So, after a very long hiatus from reading (the last book I enjoyed was The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray this past August. I say "enjoyed" because I have read quite a few books between now and then. I just really, really disliked most of them.) I will return to the world of words full-force.
While simultaneously sneaking Newfoundland puppy pictures into my mother's purse. And sock drawer. And medicine cabinet.
Pictures like this.
PS: I still fully intend to get The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins as recommended by Jill. There are far more Christmas parties in my future, and far more people who know how easily shopped for I am. And it fits very nicely into my anti-Utopian, post-apocalyptic kick.
Friday, December 19, 2008
This week has been a blur. Working can do that to ya.
Hm. My repertoire of snappy openings is running low. I should fix it by watching a few hours of Scrubs or Monty Python.
Fantastic Thing-That-Happened-in-the-Last-Week #1) I started working again. Which means my ever-decreasing store of monetary funds will stop decreasing at such catastrophic speeds. And I'll be able to get my friends something more for Christmas than little mystery gift bags from the Dollar Tree.
Thing #2) Mi prima and fellow writer Nikki Hensley made her blog non-private, which means when I speak of her and tag her in blog posts, my avid readers can then see who it is I am talking about. Yes, Virginia, she does exist!
Thing #3) I played with a St. Bernard puppy and had to be resuscitated due to overwhelming cuteness.
Thing #4) I passed the 30,000 word mark with Stream Pirates! *raises the roof*
Thing #5) Less than a week until I get Barnes and Noble gift cards and can actually leave the store with BOOKS! I'm so poor, I can't even afford to be bad and spend money I don't have on books. Because I don't even have money to not have. But God bless Christmas, because it provides me with a plethora of B&N gift cards.
On the subject of #5: I need recommendations. The one book I'm certain I will get is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (it both sounds interesting and is represented by the agent who currently has my full!). But other than that -- I'm at a loss. When I go into bookstores, I get so flabbergasted by the various titles screaming at me (and their potential suck-ability) that I never settle on a single one. So, help? What book this year changed your life?
PS: I think my little picture up there says "I have inside me blood of kings." In case you were wondering.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
This Blog Layout Won't Let Me Capitalize Titles
One week until...CHRISTMAS!
Not that I'm excited or anything.
Okay, enough mindless internet procrastinating. To the WIP!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Jill tagged me in a bookworm post, so here I go!
1. Open the closest book - not a favorite or most intellectual book, but the closest at the moment - to page 56.
2. Write out the fifth sentence on the page, as well as the two to five sentences following.
3. Then open your ms to page 56 and write out the fifth sentence, as well as two to five additional ones.
4. Tag five (or more) buddies to do this same exercise.
1) The closest book to me was Mythology by Edith Hamilton. I use it as research for practically everything I write. Greatest resource tool EVER.
2) "Zeus was madly in love with her [Semele] and told her that anything she asked of him he would do; he swore it by the river Styx, the oath which not even he himself could break. She told him that what she wanted above all else was to see him in his full splendor as King of Heaven and Lord of the Thunderbolt. It was Hera who had put that wish into her heart."
That basically sums up all of Zeus's trysts with human girls.
3) This is from Stream Pirates, just after Lu (my protagonist) goes to the pirate Yazoo for help finding her father.
Yazoo gave me one final shove through the door of the engine room. "Go shovel. You said you trusted me."
His boots thumped down the hall and up the stairs, leaving me alone with the chug-chugging and Ron. When I turned to Ron, he was back to shoveling coal into the furnace. Not a glance in my direction, not a word of explanation on the best way to go about it.
I looked back at the door, saw no sign of a returning Yazoo or a shout of "Gotcha!", and pulled my shoulders back. Fine.
4) I hereby dub the following to be bookwormed: Nikki Hensley, Jen Hayley, and...um...this is embarrassing. My list of blog friends is sadly small. So I shall have to cede to just tagging two people. Hm.
Friday, December 12, 2008
This week's Fantastic Friday is pushing the deadline. Again. Me and deadlines are not friends.
Thing #1) My new video blog! Check it out, below or on my YouTube page.
Thing #2) The semester is officially O-V-E-R. And so far I have passed all of my classes. Grades are not yet in for the Modern Drama class yet, but so far so good. I even passed accounting!
Thing #3) Last week's Crusoe. And this week's Pushing Daisies. How has my life become boiled down to two television shows? *sigh*
Thing #4) The new Librarian movie. Every writer should be required to watch those movies.
Thing #5) Mi amigas back at my now-old school. They threw me a goodbye party. A SURPRISE goodbye party. No one ever surprises me. Watch out for flying pigs.
Thing #6) This YouTube video.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Contests, contests, contests!
So many fun contests! Okay, here's a wrap up of what's going down in publishing town:
Nathan Bransford is having a first-paragraph contest.
2009 Debutantes is giving away a $25 gift card to Powell's books, an Oregon-based book dealer (the gift card can also be redeemed online. Fear not!).
Miss Snark's First Victim will be posting the first chapter of a reader's novel for critiquing. Yay!
Melissa Marr is giving away oodles of her books!
*gasp* Did I miss any? Okay, now start entering!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
I got bored today (i.e.: I should've been studying for one of my finals but...wasn't) and started thinking about promotional products for Blind. Using www.staplespromotionalproducts.com and www.blueberryink.com, I came up with quite a few interesting ideas. So tell me, if you received the following (free) items, which would most compel you to read the book? Or consider reading the book? Or even to just pick up the book?
#1: A heart key chain (probably in blue)
#2: A neon-colored cup (there is a part in the book that has to do with "mysterious red cups")
#3: A pillow-shaped stress reliever (the first two sentences of Blind are "I'm not going to call this a memoir. I'm going to call it what it was: a dream.")
#4: A book-shaped stress reliever
There are an abnormal amount of stress relievers out there. Lung-shaped stress relievers? Fax machine shaped-stress relievers? Seriously? Hm. Some of my favorites unrelated to Blind are here and here.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Why is the world making it harder and harder to find a few fantastic things to write about? All this economic/political/international stress is really starting to annoy. So to counteract it all, this week's Fantastic Friday is a list. Well, it's always a list, but it's a particularly special list that is semi-in-honor-of Thanksgiving.
10 Things I am Thankful for in this World (That No Amount of Economic/Political/International Stress can Sully)
1) This new website: http://www.authonomy.com/ *drool* I am doing everything in my power to resist getting involved until after finals.
2) My new blog. Isn't it pretty?
3) Australia and New Zealand. Just as countries that we never hear anything bad from. I'm convinced they are the utopia I am looking for and will, someday, have a house in one of them.
4) The Absolute Write forums for encouraging my rather sick hobby of editing people's query letters. I really, really enjoy it. I know, I have issues.
5) All the progress I'm making on Stream Pirates.
6) Mi prima and fellow writer, Nikki Hensley, for being my own personal editor/encourager. Everyone needs one.
7) Santa hats. No one can be angry around anyone in a Santa hat. Try it. If we required all international correspondence to be done while wearing Santa hats, tension between countries would cease.
9) This hat.
10) And last but absolutely not least: My loyal comment-posters! Your comments brighten my otherwise dreary snow-filled day :)
Thursday, December 4, 2008
The Switch is Complete!
This is now my official internet home!
All of the blog posts from my old web page are now transferred over so it looks like someone has been writing on this blog for a lot longer than I have. Only downside is I couldn't transfer the comments people made on the originals, so my comment boxes are all sadly empty. So lets rectify that! C'mon, me lovely lovely fellow writers/readers, leave me random, exciting comments to make me feel like a complete human being again. Because no blogger is complete without comments :)
Post NaNoWriMo Thoughts
I failed NaNoWriMo. But I'm okay with that.
When I first signed up for NaNoWriMo, I was an eager participant. I printed the flier and proudly hung it on my door, sent the website to everyone I knew who had at one point in time hinted at maybe kind of wanting to someday write a novel, and prepared a thorough outline for the story I intended to tackle (Stream Pirates). All in all, it was my new obsession.
Then November 1st came.
Oh the glory of writing the first few sentences of Stream Pirates. Oh the excitement of referring to my carefully laid out outline and my intricate hand-drawn map. Oh the thrill of adrenaline when I was able to meet my first day goal of 1,500 some odd words.
Oh the frustration when, two days later, I was 4,000 words behind and wondering why, oh why, my characters had chosen now, of all months, to be completely stubborn and refuse to go anywhere. I had it all mapped out, didn't they see? I had drawn them little road maps for their lives, and they had the audacity to turn to me and say "Eh, I don't feel like it. Maybe in December."
Oh the excitement when I realized my problem was POV. So I changed it and started again.
Oh the thrill when I reached 8,000 some odd words.
Oh the horror when I realized I was still in school. And still had homework, meetings, not to mention meals to eat and sleep to have.
Oh the oddly satisfactory sigh of relief when I decided deadlines aren't really for me and went back to my normal writing pace for Stream Pirates.
Perhaps NaNoWriMo worked for you. Perhaps you got the kick-start you needed by being "forced" to write 50,000 words in a month. More power to you; keep it up! But as for me, I shall stick to my write-whenever-I'm-not-swamped-with-accounting process. It has worked for me thus far, and I have faith that it will carry me down the rivers on my intricate map and right up to a finished novel. Eventually.
This week's fantastic Friday is down to the wire. I blame Black Friday and the need to spend money on people other than myself. Well, ALMOST on people other than myself. That hat in Rue 21 was calling to me...and those clearance Old Navy shirts...
Thing #1) I saw Twilight again. And didn't despise it as much the second time, mainly because I could actually SEE the movie and wasn't shoved so close to the screen I felt like I was in Edward Cullen's nose. There were still parts that made me groan (love-professing forest scene) and snort loudly while the rest of the theater was dead silent (Bella's hospital freak out. Over-acting, much?). But overall, it wasn't horrible. Here's to New Moon; may it draw attention to the fact that Edward is a very nearly abusive boyfriend and a stalker, and Jacob is just so, so much better for Bella. Or me.
PS and a Spoiler: Bella is not in love with Edward. She is in lust with him. Had to clarify. This bothers me greatly.
Thing #2) Hearing my sister go "He's a VAMPIRE!" halfway through Twilight when she figured it out. Apparently she hadn't seen any of the trailers and hadn't read the book and had managed to avoid any conversation about the book since it became so huge. Her evasive skills are so good, she should be accepted to the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women.
Thing #3) Thanksgiving! Pie!
Thing #4) I'm making progress on Stream Pirates! 15,000 words and counting. I plan to re-devote my life to it once I get out of this pestering thing they call school. Blast homework.
Thing #5) I have a super-cool Christmas-themed video blog in the works. Teehee. It will be around sometime in December.
Happy Black Friday and Belated Thanksgiving, all!
This week's fantastic Friday is...well...twisted. That's a good word for it.
Thing #1) "Twilight" came out at 12:01am last night. Yes, I saw it. Yes, I was one of the lucky people to leave the theater to find my car half buried beneath snow. And yes, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed giggling about. I enjoyed giggling AT it. Ahem.
For the sake of not bashing it entirely, I'm going to go about a very backwards way of saying what I thought of it.
-It could have been a lot better had the cast known they were making fun of themselves.
-The best scene was by far when Charlie cocked his gun before Edward came in the house. (ie: That is where the movie peaked.)
-The best actor in the entire movie was Charlie, followed closely by all of the supporting cast.
-Jacob's sparkling white teeth were more attractive/fear-inducing than Edward's glittery skin.
-Because of the above teeth reference, if I ever run into a vampire now, instead of cowering in terror, I will point and laugh.
-Every preteen will now believe the definition of "love" is to look at someone. Deep.
Sitting so close to the screen I felt like I was in Edward Cullen's nose isn't exactly the best place to get an objective opinion of the movie, so there is a POSSIBILITY I will see it again. For now, it is going on my list of movies to watch when I want to make fun of something. Also on that list are Clash of the Titans and Eragon.
Thing #2) Stats for Blind are now: 2 partials, 1 full. Teehee. The fact that I have 1 full out is not the reason I keep checking my email every ten minutes and turning the ringer up on my phone, just in case. Psh.
Thing #3) Thanksgiving Break is next week. Thank GOD.
Blog of the DWM
This Day/Week/Month's blog comes to us from the remnants of Snarkdom.
The anonymous Authoress has been continuing the tradition of the infamous Miss Snark ever since her sad retirement oh so long ago. Because of the super-fun secret agent contests, helpful crits, and book-loving followers, Authoress's blog has earned my coveted blog of the DWM award. All you aspiring writers should head over there and check out the contests she has. Even if you don't win, it should give you a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that people are reading the first 250 words of your novel.
Gracias, Authoress, for the opportunity to have the warm fuzzy feelings :)
Fantastic News that cannot wait until Friday!
I'm still in trembling-excitement-land, so this post may be choppy and hard to read, BUT:
The stats for Blind currently stand at 1 request for a partial and 1 request for a FULL! That's right ladies and gentlemen. A FULL. I am ecstatic. The slightest communication with agents puts me in giggly-query-land, so you can imagine where a request for a full would put me. Over the moon and beyond the stars.
Here's to that full. May it rise and shine as bright as I believe it can.
This week is semi-more fantastic than last week. Cheers.
Thing #1) Miss Snark's First Victim is having another Secret Agent contest on her blog which you can check out here. I entered Blind into it for the second time. I am getting good reactions, hence the reason this is one of the "fantastic" things that happened this week. On a not-so-fantastic note, the opening sentences of Blind seem to be confusing a handful of people for the same reason: if it's all a dream, your character loses credibility. So I am going to, once and for all, put to rest WHY the opening lines are what they are. Firstly, the opening is:
"I'm not going to call this a memoir. I'm going to call it what it was: a dream. One long dream interspersed with brief, jarring moments of reality that faded until they were as black as the ice that freezes on the highway. You can't see it, but it's there, and it'll kill you if you don't go slowly."
Yes, it mentions dreams. Yes, it has my protagonist saying that her life FEELS like one long dream. This is the important part. FEELS LIKE. The entire premise of this story is that Beth falls in love with the dead Cameron, who is only able to visit her when she is asleep. Therefore, the most exciting time of her life is when she is dreaming -- WITH/OF HIM. Reality, when she wakes up, becomes more and more fuzzy. It's dangerous, because she becomes so wrapped up in dreaming that she forgets about reality, ie: the ice on the highway. She can't see it, but it's there, and if she ignores it long enough, it'll kill her. How will it kill her? Well, buy it once it gets published and find out. The important thing is that no, the entire book is not one long dream. Beth's dreams merely become more important to her than "real life."
Wow, that was a long "thing." The last four things will be short to balance it out.
Thing #2) My hair is now red.
Thing #3) I am up over 10,000 words for NaNoWriMo [edited later: just kidding. Chopped it down to 6,000. uhoh]. Okay, maybe that's not fantastic, but I'm thrilled I stopped fiddling around with the map that goes with Stream Pirates long enough to write.
Thing #4) Four weeks until the end of the semester! Thank God. If I had to sit through five more weeks of classes, I would develop a bruise on my forehead from pounding my head onto the desk.
Thing #5) 6 days, 9 hours, 27 minutes until Twilight!! Oh my gosh, you don't even KNOW.
I got link-happy with this blog post.
Whilst I've decided that NaNoWriMo is "more like a guideline anyway" (paraphrased from Pirates of the Caribbean), I'm enjoying all the time I freed up in my schedule to work on Stream Pirates even if I'm not actually using that time to work on Stream Pirates. For instance, I bought this hat over the weekend and am now complete as a human being. I also confirmed the fact that I have no future as a virtual golfer. But this we already knew.
Anyway, I started writing this blog to accomplish more than a list of what I did instead of write this week. I started this particular post in honor of the man who inspired my character of Cameron in Blind (sample here): Cameron Duncan. Today is the fifth anniversary of the day he lost his battle with osteosarcoma. If you don't know anything about him, he was an incredibly talented film director from New Zealand. A few of the videos he directed/acted in are viewable on YouTube here and here. There is also a bio video on him in the extras of the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King extended DVD edition. The whole DVD set is worth buying just for that bio video. This man was amazingly strong, talented, funny. It was an honor to model my Cameron after him and get to know Cameron Duncan in the process (and by "get to know" I mean watch the LOTR DVD bio video enough times to have it memorized).
Here's to you, Cam. Know you are most certainly not forgotten, and your inspiration lives on in more ways than you know.
I try to keep him in mind when I choose to put off writing (again). This life and these opportunities are quite fleeting and precious. So though I absolutely adore my ivory felt cloche hat from Target, I think this weekend I may choose to stay home instead of shop. Because no matter how many adorable hats I find, in the end I will be most in love with Stream Pirates and will get the most joy from seeing it shine.
Wow, deep stuff today. Here's something random and German to lighten the mood.
The fantastic writing and non-writing things this week are as follows:
Good Thing #1) I started Stream Pirates! 5000+ words so far. It's coming along...slowly. Very slowly. May have to rework it.
Thing #2) NaNoWriMo began last Saturday and all the hype surrounding it has left me feeling rather, um, not fantastic? I'm not sure I'm a deadline kind of gal. The pressure is making Stream Pirates not a fun writing experience. But the fantastic thing I learned from this is that I don't work well with deadlines. Good for future reference.
Thing #3) 13 days until Twilight!
This week was rather un-fantastic. Hm. Here's to next week!
Have an Inquiry about a Query?
So I've been noticing a something lately that has me concerned: query letters that consist of nothing but summary, summary, summary. And I said the word "summary" three times because that seems to be the popular trend: three paragraphs of summary, end of letter. When did this become okay? Well, I'm here to correct this wrong and save the misinformed query inquirers from rejection. Today and today only, I shall write about a topic that I have been beating into submission for six years:
THE QUERY LETTER
*cue ominous music*
I've gotten rejections. It happens. But I have also gotten requests for partials. Quite a few, in fact (I think the status stands at two for Blind and three for Giving Light). Granted, the acceptance side of my red badge of courage box isn't overflowing, but I'm still rather proud of my humble five. This, I feel, gives me some credibility to say what does and doesn't work in a query (and the fact that I've been studying exactly what does and doesn't work in a query for six years).
I will use my query for Blind, because I like it best. In this example, I sent it to Kathryn Green:
Dear Ms. Green, (if the agent doesn't list a particular name, it is all right to do a "Dear so-and-so Agency".)
Beth isn't crazy. Sure, she doesn't like to hit the college party scene quite as hard as her friends. Sure, she would rather talk about books than pretend to be interested in football to lure in guys. Sure, her dreams are being haunted by an adorable Aussie who's been dead for five years and claims he's her soul mate -- and she believes him. But none of that makes her crazy, right? The 42,000 words of my young adult novel Blind prove that all girls are a little crazy, especially when it comes to issues of destiny, happiness, and any guy with an accent. (Summary. Short, sweet, to the point, hookish. I know it is one of the hardest things in the world to get your story down to a paragraph, but it CAN be done. Have someone unrelated to your story help you. They will know what needs explaining and what isn't necessary to the short summary. Online forums like Absolute Write help with things like this.)
I believe you would be an excellent agent for Blind due to your previous success with the Blue is for Nightmares collection. Beth's dreams are just as real as Stacey's, yet in a different way: instead of prophetic, they are encounters. The relationship Beth experiences in her unconscious state is not a warning to save others -- it becomes a chance to save herself. (I cannot stress how important this paragraph is, and yet it is frequently left out. This paragraph tells the agent why YOU picked THEM. Why you chose to send a query to them specifically. It tells them that you took the time to research them and didn't just send letters whilly-nilly to every agent in New York. If you didn't take the time to research them and chose the best agent for you, why should they read your book?)
I'm currently undergoing my own crazy college experience where I am a staff member for Passages, our literary magazine. This summer I placed second in the Daily News Short Story Contest for my story "On a Holocaust", as well as attended the Backspace Writers Conference in New York. In February my poem "Who Do You Want To Be?" will be published in Credo magazine. (Credentials. It's all right if you don't have any; this is the only paragraph that can be excluded.)
Thank you for the taking the time to consider my novel. I very much look forward to hearing from you!
Simple, neat, to the point. No need for paragraphs and paragraphs of summary; save that for your synopsis. The query is simply to hook the agent on your book's idea, not to explain every sweet detail. Like I said, if you are having problems getting your summary down to a paragraph, check out Absolute Write forums. There's some helpful people over there.
I hope this helps add to the partial-requesting side of your red badge of courage box :)
This week's Fantastic Friday is all about PIRATES!!
Good Thing #1) I am seriously getting into Stream Pirates. In honor of the upcoming NaNoWriMo, I watched both Treasure Planet and A Little Mermaid to get in the Stream Pirates mood. Bring on a November of piratic expeditions!
Thing #2) *drum roll* The Stream Pirates outline is DONE at a whooping 39 pages! I've never written an outline before, so I don't really know if that's long/short by today's outline standards. For me it seems long. But I'm pumped!
Thing #3) I saw a pirate today. Probably had something to do with Halloween, but it made me smile and twitch a little whilst trying to restrain myself from asking if they had any mermidon extract on them. That makes no sense to anyone who isn't me, but trust me, it'll be hysterical some day.
Thing #4) This has nothing to do with pirates/writing. Why does my last thing always have to do with Twilight? Until after the movie, this will be the norm. So this week's exciting Twilight thing is that tomorrow marks 21 days until the movie releases! I'm such a nerd. But it's fun to be a nerd when there are other nerds who will willingly go see a movie at midnight on a Thursday. Life is fun.
I'm starting a new section in my blog: Fantastic Friday! Here I shall list the good writing (and sometimes non-writing, if they're exceptionally good) things that happened in the prior week. So here we go!
Thing #1) Requests for partials are in! (er, well, now it's singular, but still exciting!) So we shall wait and see. And not get too attached to said partial-requesting agent until the time is right.
Thing #2) The outline for Stream Pirates is coming along swimmingly. It's now at 27 pages, which means the novel will be at least 28. Yay for progress!
Thing #3) This is really just an extension of Thing #2 -- my Stream Pirates outline will be done in time for NaNoWriMo! This causes me great excitement, because I really didn't want to start this particular story without knowing where it was going.
Thing #4) This isn't writing related, and in fact will just label me as more of a dork: Tuesday marked one month until Twilight comes out! Also, the song for Bella's lullaby is now "unofficial", but I heart it greatly. To me, it is the perfect piano song. So bravo, Yiruma. You have achieved musical perfection.
I'm sure more "fantastic" things happened to me, but I don't want people to be jealous of my life. So I'll leave it at four for now. Have a fantastic last week of October, all :)
Okay all you avid readers out there, here's your chance to go down in history! Or at least in one of my books!
My latest project is that geo-mythological pirate tale I hinted about on my homepage. Whilst I love getting immersed in the world of piratic expeditions, this particular world consists of many different river systems. That being the case, I am running out of creative/pronounceable names for these rivers. So, this is where the contest comes in:
Step 1: Leave me a comment to this blog telling me your favorite Greek/Norse/Roman/etc myth
Step 2: The first, oh, let's say 10 people will get a river named after them! (This name may be a variation of your name, ie: "Robert" may be shortened to "Bob", "Katherine" to "Rine" or "Kath", and so on.)
Come on, people! How often do you have the opportunity to get an entire RIVER named after you?
Blog of the DWM
To make yourself feel like an inferior graphic artist (even if you aren't a graphic artist at all), click here.
THAT'S where Jackson Pearce got all her funky-cool icons made specifically for her books. I was wondering (and jealous). Now I shall wait until this brilliant graphic artist/icon maker calls for people to respond and make icons for them, and I shall attack. muahahaha
Oh no. My master plan has been revealed.
Anyhoo, this blog is now the recipient of my coveted Blog of the DWM* award.
*DWM = Day/Week/Month
(btw: eternalphoenix_ is also where I got the pretty funky-cool icons that are now in each of my blog posts.)
I figured this was newsworthy. Or at least blog-worthy.
Starting October 1, 2008, I began the perilous journey into query-land for Blind. *gasp* I know. I barely survived the last time I ventured into this forgotten territory. But now I know to avoid the SASE beasts (a distant cousin of the ROUS's) and the swamp of long summaries. Perhaps this time I shall come out, not only alive, but clinging to a contract.
My peppy little cheerleader* "feels good" about this book. I do too. Thus I strap on my misspelled-name-hacking sword and adjust my Crocodile Dundee-esque adventurer hat. Manuscript in hand I plunge ever onward, through the dense jungle of useless biographical information and stupidly long introductions, pressing toward that golden Pyramid of Agent Attainment.
*peppy little cheerleader is a friend I met at a conference this summer. Everyone needs someone who waves pom-poms for you.
Blog of the DWM
And the blog I have chosen to receive my coveted DWM* award is that of Nathan Bransford**, for a number of reasons, the first being I just discovered how to link words to web pages and wanted to try it out. The second being that I absolutely adore his break-down of a query letter. The third being that he has compiled a lot of excellent resources for writers/authors, such as how to write a synopsis and your rights as an author. So bravo, Monsieur Bransford. Many have tried to reach the DWM status, and many have failed.
*For those of you just tuning in, DWM stands for Day/Week/Month.
**In case anyone was wondering, this was not a sly attempt to suck up, should Nathan Bransford ever read my blog. Psh. How dare you even suggest that.
News Article of the Day/Week/Month
This article über worried me. Then I got to the last two pages, and drifted into if-only-I-could-get-an-advance-that-big land:
So, one of the morals of the story: just say no to electronic books. They don't sound fun anyway. Who can imagine a world without the opportunity to detour to a bookstore for 3 to 4 hours and flip through ridiculous amounts of novels we never intend to buy but are fun to read random excerpts from? I certainly can't.
Just say no, people. Just say no
Blog of the Day...or perhaps Week...possibly Month
As I was stumbling around the internet yesterday, I came across a series of YouTube videos that made me fall off my chair. They were by a woman named Jackson Pearce, and her blog gets my coveted Blog of the Day/Week/Month award for this, well, day/week/month, until I find another super cool blog to share with my avid public.
I feel inferior to the amount of stuff this woman has done with her time. Blog posts, videos, not to the mention the ridiculous amount of novels she has written or has in progress. And she has a novel coming out in 2009 from HarperCollins. Brava, Jackson. You amaze me
Blind is a YA Romance novel. Approximately 42,000 words, it is currently enjoying retirement in a nice cushy Word doc.
Beth isn't crazy. Sure, she doesn't like to hit the college party scene quite as hard as her friends. Sure, she would rather talk about books than pretend to be interested in football to lure in guys. Sure, her dreams are being haunt by an adorable Aussie who's been dead for five years and claims he's her soul mate -- and she believes him. But none of that makes her crazy, right?
Below is an excerpt from the beginning of chapter three.
The spring semester at Addison University started three weeks after I was out of the hospital and able to walk on my own. My arm was still in a cast, but my few free fingers were mobile enough that I could write – never mind that that writing looked like an overexcited three-year-old with a magic marker. So, with this somewhat-limited mobility on my side, I convinced my parents that I could go back to school.
“Don’t lift that, Beth! Let your father do it.”
“She’s right, honey, I’ll get it in a sec.”
“Oh, not that one either! No, Beth, here, take this book. It’s not too heavy, is it? I could take it. Oh, in fact, there, just set it there. David, take that from her.”
“You can just wait here, hon. We’ll be back.”
My parents toddled off, their bones nearly snapping under the weight of the ridiculous amount of boxes they had piled onto their arms. I was left, alone and useless, behind our van, guarding the two suitcases my parents had decided could wait. As useless as I felt, I didn’t mind not being allowed to lift anything. Flopping into the back of the van, I leaned against the open door and let my feet dangle near the exhaust pipe. It had been exactly three weeks and five days since I had dreamed of Cameron, the dream of him as a knight, fighting that dragon, saving me. And looking at me like–
I stopped. This was exactly why I hadn’t let myself get into a deep enough sleep to dream. Sure, I was exhausted beyond reason; sure, I couldn’t exactly function as normal. I just attributed my inability to not slur my speech or perform everyday tasks on my head injury. No one suspected a thing, and I was saved the cruelty of having to see Cameron.
Yep, I was certifiable. My parents shouldn’t be taking me back to college; they should be taking me to a mental institute.
“What seems to be the problem?” the psychologist would ask.
“Well, doctor, I’m afraid to sleep. If I sleep, I’ll dream, and I’ll see someone named Cameron, and I can’t bear that this dream-knight isn’t real. You understand.”
Stream Pirate is a YA fantasy novel about pirates, a princess, coups, and magic tree sap. It is no longer traipsing through the wide, wide world of querying, as it is now represented by the fan-tabulous Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary.
Here is a book trailer/fan-vid thingy:
And here is an excerpt from the beginning of chapter one:
Every introduction was the same.
“Welcome to Radial Stream, Your Excellencies. I am King Tombolo Fan. May I present my daughter, Alluvial Fan.”
“Thank you for taking time out of your precious schedule to come gold-digging in a kingdom you would never ordinarily set foot in. My, your son is fatter than the portrait you sent of him. I’m king here, so put any thoughts of pomposity out of your overly-powdered-wigged head. To make sure you don’t forget that my daughter will one day be in my position, she alone will call me Tom while the rest of you may refer to me only as King Tombolo.”
At least that’s what I heard my father say. Made the day more interesting.
This introduction took place on the dock reserved for the royal family in Daol Port. The buzz of the busy capital provided a nice hum against the half-mumbled speech of intent from the Duke of Branderbee’s son. He was a very nervous-looking fellow, half a foot shorter than me and at least forty pounds heavier. Apparently he had heard the version of my father’s introduction that I had, because as he spoke his eyes never left his shoes and his cheeks grew redder. The world’s future lay on shoulders like these. How reassuring.
“Sir, I-I-thanks, thank you, thank you for the chance to meet with Your Highnesses. I have been looking up-forward, forward to this meeting with the princess, whom I have heard so much about.”
Tom’s lips remained in a welcoming smile beneath his gray beard, though I could tell he had reached the same conclusion as I – it was over. Very over. He took my arm, forcing me to take a few steps closer to the duke’s son.
Oh, grand. My turn.
“It is a pleasure to meet both of you,” I said, faking a smile as fluidly as my father. When I shook the duke’s son’s hand, his sweaty palm slipping against mine, I couldn’t resist. “I’ve been looking up-forward to meeting you too.”
Tom immediately grabbed my waist and shoved me aside. He flung himself into a conversation with the Duke of Branderbee and his son as though doing so would prevent them from hearing my mockery. With them engaged in a discussion of the ball they had come for, I was free to turn my back and let my smile rise from pleasant to amused. After five long years of being paraded in front of suitors, each boy was still a source of great entertainment.
My smile fell. Picking at the lace that cascaded out from my waist and dripped down the skirt of my green ball gown, I stared at the dock through curtains of my red spiral curls. Five years. Nothing had changed in those five years. If I closed my eyes, ignored the conversation behind me, I couldn’t tell any time had passed at all. I was still just thirteen, meeting the first dashing suitor with my father. I was still young and hopeful. I was still under the fairytale impression that finding the right suitor would mend the hole that had been ripped through the fabric of our perfect royal lives.
“That’s how I met your father. And look how it turned out with us? Don’t worry, Lu-lu; when the time comes, your father won’t force you into it. He’ll be patient with you. And you’ll meet someone who will see you when no else does, who will make you sink and fly all at once.”
Sink and fly, she had said. And after she died, all I’d wanted was to fly.
But after five years, I knew the most I would ever get was standing on the dock, closing my eyes, and pretending I still believed her.