The Trials and Waiting

So I realize the time gap in my blog posts, but when I focus on one thing, I get so caught up, that others will slip away.

When I made my New Year’s Resolution to write something everyday, I knew I would end up breaking it, but this was one that I was going to keep even after I broke it. Two weeks after the 1st I skipped a day. Fine, I wrote the day after that. Missed a day here and there. February has a giant 2 week chunk missing…I was busy! But I find this exercise more than anything has helped me start my new book.

I hope one day, when I get an Agent, and we have a good relationship and many books between the two of us, I can show him/her Dawn of the Phoenix and finally see it in bookstores. For now, it has been shelved.

There is something liberating and terrifying in starting over. It’s a clean slate, but one that you have to scratch somewhere and then allow the chaos to follow. The first time I wrote a novel I wrote it straight through, half making it up as I went, half planned in my head. It was hard, and I’m sure the many writers reading this are cringing.

This new novel has already benefited from my new year’s resolution. I have an overview and running chapter outline. I think I’ll try it this way, see if it makes a difference. My goal here is to have this novel finished and critiqued by May which is when the next Backspace Conference is. I know, I know, why am I wasting time writing on a blog when I clearly have a lot of work to do. Well, I think it’s important that other new writers find this post. You need to know that even if you put your heart and soul into a book, and it goes nowhere, you can still start over. Fight that fear and the “what’s the point” attitude. Remember the reasons you write, what you wanted to make a novel, and just keep repeating them to yourself. Rock back and forth in padded room with a comfortable jacket on if it helps.

Hobey- ho, Geronimo, Onwards and upwards, and all that! What’s your new book about?

Oh also, you should go to the link below. The tips and advice will sound familiar but really reassuring!

http://the99percent.com/tips/7082/25-Insights-on-Becoming-a-Better-Writer

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Thanksgiving Writing Coma

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Don’t know about you, but with my family, Thanksgiving is a 3 day marathon of food, drama, and awesomeness. Don’t you wish you were there?

I have to admit defeat where NaNo is concerned. I know! I know! It’s terrible, but even if I wanted to make a final push/ attempt the fact is, I still have several chapters of my novel to edit and polish, deal with Beta comments, critique and review a backspacer story (oh, it’s so cool, I know your jealous) and get ready for a new job!

Maybe some are better at multi-tasking, but with this many courses on my platter, I think i’ll give my time and energy to the project that has taken 5 years of my life. I think it’s fair don’t you?

Anyway, how was your writing/ Thankgiving adventure? Anyone finish their NaNo?

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The Call comes in…now what?

Many of my fellow Backspacers are writing of this one particular question that was asked. I’m glad, because honestly, I didn’t even think to think of this question.

What happens after you get the mind-numbing, explosive, finally-on-my-way-destiny call from an agent offering you representation?

Everyone was amazed by this question, I’m assuming, because it’s never thought of as important. Ms./Mr. Agent offers to rep and the rest will fall into place, right? Nope, now we have work to do.

ASK QUESTIONS!!

Why do you like my book? What’s your plan for it, where do you think we can take it?

What are your suggestions on rewrites? (yeah, don’t think you’re getting off there)

What kind of contract are we looking at? 

Discuss plans for publicity if the agent is open to it.

Get an idea of what the relationship will be like and who the agent is, is this really the right fit for you?

Yeah, the call came in and life is ten millions times better already. Now take a breath and think about the business aspect of it. After all now you’re a working author 🙂 

Check out The Long Ride Home- http://sarahcookraymond.blogspot.com/2011/11/questions-to-ask-on-call.html

And The Flying Cheetah – http://marierearden.blogspot.com/

For more detail and great information. In fact, just subscribe to them, you won’t regret it.

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Backspace and writers

Two days after the Backspace Conference, why haven’t I posted yet, you ask?

Because it was crazy amazing and you need two days to recover before you can do anything else!

First off let me just say, it really was an amazing experience. Definitely something I would do all over again and here is why. I met some amazing people, AMAZING writers. Get this, I probably read several early drafts that will end up on next year’s NY TIMES bestseller list, how cool is that?

You should follow them on twitter now:

@marierearden- You want longing desire with a twist, keep a look out for her book. Your eyes will pop and your heart will swoon.

@RileyRedgate- Hunger Games and Ender’s Game have you entranced buy you want something new? Riley is your girl! You’ll never want to play another game again, unless it’s someone daring you to read this book. It’s an absolute must.

@SCookRay- We all remember those teen boy adrenaline rush books? Alex Rider and all? Well you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen her MC in action. Your typical boy with not so typical skills, but the price to be too cool for school is high.

@madelineclaire- The voice of the book is haunting, the mystical nature is entrancing, and the plot will have your fingers itching to grab the next book! All I can say is i’m buying her novel when it comes out…well i’m buying all of them, but still 🙂

Everyone there was very friendly, very open, and in no way judgemental about what you write. That’s not to say my query letter and first two pages got off easy. Yeah, not so much.

I changed a few things on my query letter per agents’ comments (Let us celebrate the birth of Query Letter #5) and brought it in the next day. The agents (a different amazing group) still had suggestions, all of which I put to good use in Query 51/2. In fact, Query #5 impressed them so much I got a couple of FULL MS REQUESTS!!!! AHHHHHHHH, breathe…remember to breathe.

Then there are my first two pages. A brilliant suggestion was made by an agent on the first day of the conference.

“Instead of starting on the day everything  changes, start at the moment.”

Now I like this and shirk from it at the same time. It’s cool because it means you grab the readers attention right away, the pace of your book is immediately on turbo. The downside is the lack of introduction to the main character. When stuff is blowing up or moving so fast that you dont have a clear picture of the mc, is it worth it to start with a bang?

So I completely changed my opening for Day Two. I thought they were garbage, I was so upset over them, but I had to try. The agents who looked over my new pages didn’t completely hate them! They suggested more showing, less telling, but my new opening line made them laugh! VICTORY!! So yes, now i have to go back and completely change chapter 1, here’s hoping that it will work out.

I met and semi- pitched to a few other agents as well (I need to work on my pitching, always have your pitch memorized!) and got a few bites in the form of partials 🙂 These are the big breaks every aspiring author dreams of right? Well here’s the unforseen downside to those realized dreams. Now I REALLY REALLY need to make sure my MS is in top-notch condition. I was sure of it before, but Backspace makes you look at something old and rethink it a bit. On to a new bout of revisions with old and new beta readers.

For those of you who have never attended a conference but are thinking about it, you need to go. It is worth the entry/registration fee. I can’t speak for all conferences but here is Backspace’s layout

Registration, Panel 1, Panel 2, Query Discussion Groups, lunch, First Two Pages discussion, mixer, panel 3. Then you get to go home with your head full of dizzing new information to process. Like I said, I would do it all over again (but I would hope i’d remember my earlier mistakes in my query and pages so I could change them and get more critiquing!).

Oh and as for NaNo….yeah that’s suffering. Sacrifices, right?

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NaNoWriMo And Backspace

It’s a sad thing when life gets in the way of writing, anyone who tells you it doesn’t….well they are better at balancing all that than me.

So anyway, let’s just recap August-October, shall we?

I’ve queried more than 100 agents for novel and have heard back from more than half. Nothing promising, but everyone knows that’s part of the deal when you start trying to make your dream a reality -road bumps and obstacles. I’m told I should just give up and move on, but there is something about this story which I’ve worked on for several years. I can’t let it go until I’ve tried every avenue. Anyway, enough of the “go get-em attitude”.

Worked at the New York Renfair from August through September- always fun with interesting people abound. I highly suggest everyone try it at least once in their life.

I turned 24 in October, a year out of college and I’m still in limbo, but I kind of knew that would be the price for four magical years of college.

Annnnnd NOVEMBER!

I hope everyone who is reading this knows aboutNaNoWriMo, a.k.a. National Novel Writing Month. It is very important (and time consuming) for anyone out there who wants to be a novelist.

http://www.nanowrimo.org- You need to check out their awesome website.

While this is my first year doing this, I do know most of the layout. Here are the important parts:

1) It takes place from November 1 through November 30

2) You must write 50,000 words for any kind of novel/story you want

3) If you manage to write 50,000 words in that time frame, YOU WIN A PONY!!!!! (Well, okay not a pony, but a pat on the back from the person closest to you.)

It’s great fun, and I’ll keep you posted on my doings and stats, if you let me know about yours.

 

Then we have Backspace Agent-Author Seminar (My first in-person conference, yeah I’m excited!)

It takes place in New York Nov 3-4 from 8 to about 5. Nothing but writing and meeting people for  hours, cool! I’m hoping to get some really strong feedback as well as gain a new writing circle of READERS. Not that there is anything wrong with my group of current readers, but it doesn’t hurt to expand right?

I’m also looking forward to meeting the agents I’ve been querying, nice to put faces to the namea! Especially since I’ve been kind of stalking Jennifer Laughran’s blog- and if you haven’t you need to right now….seriously get off my blog and get over to hers!! She’s brilliant!

backspacewritersconference.com check it out. What conferences have you been to/ are your favorite?

 

There will be more updates tomorrow after the conference. Maybe I’ll see some of you there!

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The Good, The Better, The Cake

So for The Good:

Rejection # 49 was a gift. It was NOT a form letter (I know! I was excited too). I won’t post who the agent was that rejected me for fear of misinterpretation but I would like to show you what the agent said.

I was REALLY intrigued with your query. It was written very well, and I was immediately interested in your manuscript. However, I don’t think we’d be a good fit for each other. I am a ‘small’ literary agent, and my contacts are pretty much limited to small publishing houses, and though I am open to all genres, I don’t really have any experience with YA fantasy- so my connections in that department are still pretty limited. I’d like to accept you as a client, as I think you have GREAT potential- without even reading your manuscript, but I fear it would take more time than is fair to establish connections that would get you the contract you deserve. I haven’t read your manuscript, but it sounds absolutely fantastic.”

This is amazing and bittersweet for two reasons. 1) This means that other than my readers and me, somebody in the business likes my story and thinks I have great potential. This is a huge ego boost and a great relief at the same time. 2) The agent likes my plot, but can’t do anything for me! As opposed to others who could do something for me but don’t like my story. So close…yet so far! I know, I know…harsh. It’s cool, maybe this agent will gain contacts and think of me…I hope!

This is not something all those books and agent sites prepare you for. People rejecting you sure, people accepting you, no problem, but someone who likes you but can’t do anything about it; left field. Be aware, this is a possibility.

 

The Better:

I reached rejection #50! For all you out there who are scratching their heads wondering why on earth this is a good thing, I’ll tell you.

No writer should expect a deal from the first agent they query, or the second, or the third…..it RARELY happens. I’m not saying it doesn’t, I’m just saying it’s not the norm, feel free to disagree. My philosophy is “Expect rejection, hope for the deal/ acceptance.” I know it sounds rather defeatist, but taking criticisms/ rejections from lots of agents can be taxing, so you need a mantra to get you through it. I suggest you create your own, one with puppies, kittens, rainbows, and lots of chocolate. But I’m off topic now. Why 50 is good. BECAUSE it means I’m at my halfway mark. I said that once my book was done I would query 100 agents, and until I was rejected by all these agents, I wouldn’t make any major plot-altering changes. AND, it also means that I’m 50 agents down to finding the person who will fit with me the best. That’s my optimistic story and I’m stickin’ to it!

 

The Cake:

I promised a friend that when I reached 50 rejections I would have a cake party. Well I’ve had my cake and I invite all of you to join me in cake day!! Let’s celebrate rejection because it means we are one step closer to success! Those of you who are still scratching your heads and wondering about my “skewed” view, think about this. Nobody ever went anywhere without making a few mistakes on the journey, otherwise the journey wouldn’t be any fun or worth writing about!

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And the results are in!

Hey guys, hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend! I know I did, so stuffed I could barely move.

For those of you that are actually reading/caring about that little bite I received…it didn’t work out. Another rejection, but at least it was different, right? Anyway the count is now 48.

One of my friends suggested I get a cake for number 50 and I’m inclined to agree. After all, it is a halfway mark, and hey who doesn’t love cake. This same friend actually posted something on my Facebook that really made my day, which is why I will re-post it below.

On a more serious note, Alicia, you are an inspiration. Seriously, you make me less scared of the whole idea of trying to get published. Hell, I almost want you to write a book on your experiences. I feel like your outlook on life, especial…ly the way you’re handling this rejection, is just amazing and as an aspiring writer I sure as hell would like to read how you manage to keep such a positive outlook on all of this. It’s just amazing–but what else besides awesome could I expect from you?
Well thank you very much! As to how to keep up the optimism…well here’s the key. You have to expect the rejection. I’m not saying don’t hope for the reward of success for all the hard work, absolutely do so, that’s what pushes us through this whole process. But if you think each query you send out is gold and each agent will be calling you up immediately, you are in for a serious let down.
In my writing classes back in college, a very smart professor always gave scathing, but helpful criticism. She never used a disclaimer and told us that if we wanted out feelings spared we should take another class, which I didn’t. Here’s what I’m saying, if you can’t take the worst, don’t play the game. So if you can’t look at it as disappointment and let it get you down, the only thing left to do is look at it as a stepping stone to success.
what do you think?

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