Thursday, December 25, 2008

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!

I've been doing Christmas-y things, thus, tonight was the first night I actually hunkered down to do some writing. I just wanted to stop by and wish everyone a very warm, safe, and happy Christmas! I hope Santa was kind to you and yours!

Love, milk and cookies - Christine

P.S. I leave you with some shiny, itty bitty Fluffy progress in word count form:

8843 / 60000 words. 15% done!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Do Eeeit! FAR FROM YOU release celebration and contest!

FAR FROM YOU release celebration and contest!

Lisa Schroeder, author of I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, is celebrating the release of her upcoming YA novel, FAR FROM YOU, and hosting a contest with LOTS of great prizes!

For three days leading up to the book’s release date of December 23rd, you can watch VLOGs and hear some excerpts read from the book. The VLOG schedule is as follows:

Sunday, December 21st – Liv’s Book Reviews -

Monday, December 22nd – What Vanessa Reads -

Tuesday, December 23rd – Lisa Schroeder, author - AND

Help spread the word, and you might win a fabulous prize!

Copy and paste THIS entire blog entry into your blog between now and December 21st, then come back to Lisa’s blog at either Livejournal OR Myspace and leave a comment with the link to your blog and you will get TWO enteries to win a number of prizes.

Wondering what you might win? Here is the list (there will be multiple winners):

~ An Advanced Review Copy of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, by Carrie Ryan

~ An Advanced Review Copy of SOMETHING, MAYBE, by Elizabeth Scott

~ Young adult novel GIRL, HERO by Carrie Jones

~ Young adult novel, THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD by Donna Freitas

~ Young adult novel, UGLIES by Scott Westerfield

~ Pair of YA fairy tale retellings by Cameron Dokey (BELLE and BEFORE MIDNIGHT)

~ TWILIGHT movie soundtrack

~ $15.00 Barnes and Noble gift card along with some Harry & David’s chocolate moose munch

~ And of course, a signed copy of FAR FROM YOU

For more chances to win, watch one or all of the VLOGs and leave a comment on that vlogger’s page, and you get another entry. That means if you post the schedule on your blog AND comment on all three VLOGs, you can have FIVE entries for the contest!

A live drawing with winners announced will be done by Lisa Thursday morning, December 24th, in a special holiday VLOG.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Longest Week Ever

(Christine guiltily peeks around and blows a breath on the thin layer of dust that's settled on her blog ... )

Hello! Sorry I've been MIA ... not a lot of writing news to report because I haven't been doing much writing. I've been really restless while trying to get over a cold and ... just counting down the hours till Christmas vacation (3 more days). For kids, the night before Christmas is the longest night of the year. For us adults (or pretend aduts), the week before no work is the longest of all.

Along with the normal dreams of sugar plums, I've also been dreaming about hours dedicated to The Unicorn Tamer. In my dream, I'm sitting all cozy by the sparkling Christmas tree, with a Starbucks gingerbread white chocolate mocha, and all my edits and re-writes are easy and brilliant. Ha! I wish! All daydreams aside, I am honestly looking forward to having the time to dedicate to my writing. I know it won't be smooth sailing ... but I really want to re-write the partial portion of my manuscript and fix the glaring holes!

I really don't have an excuse for NOT writing though, so I'm really going to try and at least work on Fluffy everyday (Fluffy is the code name for my untitled, YA Urban Fantasy, btw). If I want to finish Fluffy by February or March, I've got to get my butt in gear. So, for encouragement, here's my shiny new word count progress bar for Fluffy:

7177 / 60000 words. 12% done!

I think I'll try and write an outline today. I never liked writing outlines in high school or college ... they always felt like a waste of time to me. Why spend an hour writing an outline when you can spend an hour writing the meat? However, over the past couple years, I've finally found a worthy use for an outline: novel writing. In case you're wondering, I write it out in list form and mark each "event" or "scene" with numbers and do it on a chapter by chapter basis. For example:

Chapter 15 - Title of Chapter
1. Protagonist recovers/reacts to the end of Chapter 14
2. Protagonist meets side-kick and they don't get along
3. Side-kick promises Protagonist something shiny and our hero reluctantly follows him to Hades

I know it's not Christmas yet, but I wanted to wish the few of you who do follow this blog a Happy Holidays! I'm thankful for each and every one of you. I'm working on my online presence in the writing community and am even looking for some critique partners so hopefully ... I'll grow my blog friends base. But thank you, yes you, who come to read my ramblings on this scary hard adventure. Heart!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mostly Reading, Little Writing

Hello! Even though I haven't been doing much physical writing, I've been doing writing related things:

-- I entered the first paragraph of my untitled work-in-progress (WIP) to Nathan Bransford's contest! He's amazing to volunteer his time like that. Merry Christmas to us! Already he's got over 809 comments ... half of those are probably entries! Wish me luck! If I win, I hope he'll be OK with reviewing the partial for The Unicorn Tamer because I haven't finished the query or the first 3 chapters of my WIP. I decided not to submit the first paragraph of TUT because after Miss Snark's First Victim two sentences critique, I know that the first paragraph of TUT needs work. A partial read by Nathan would really jumpstart my editing over Christmas! Santa? Please?

-- I got curious and decided to try out Authonomy - if you want, you can check out the first 11,500 words of The Unicorn Tamer here. I haven't decided if I liked the site yet. I'm not really sure if I feel comfortable having so much of The Unicorn Tamer out in the public like that. Also, I feel that if I want to be "successful" on Authonomy, I would have to spend a lot of time networking, commenting on profiles, critiquing books, ect. I don't know if I have the time to invest all that energy. We shall see ... EDIT: It's Dec. 19, 2008 and I pulled my stuff off Authonomy a couple days ago. I just didn't have the time to invest in the community. Maybe someday I'll try again ...

-- I entered the two different versions of the first two sentences of TUT here and here. It was great - reading the other entries and reading the comments on my own. The exercise helped me see that I need to make the first couple of chapters of TUT (essentially, the partial portion) much more exciting.

-- I joined Miss Snark's First Victim's first chapter critique group. To help a fellow aspiring author, I am going to be reading the first chapter of her love story (that oddly reminds me of the movie "P.S. I Love You") and hopefully giving her fair, useful feedback.

-- I am now following 41 blogs! Woo!

P.S. I miss Disneyland.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Fluffy and Fun YA

I always find something else to do when what I have to do is pack. I despise packing. But I have to pack because I have to sleep and I have to sleep because I have to catch a plane bright and early tomorrow. My friends and I are off to Disneyland! I love Disneyland - the idea of it, the details, the fact that's it's a tangible piece of imagination for children - and am really looking forward to seeing the park all decked out for the holidays.

So writing-wise, I've yet to send out my new query. I think I'm going to wait until after the holidays. I have been struggling with the first couple chapters of THE UNICORN TAMER - wondering if there's anyway I can make them more exciting, improve my voice - especially that of my main character's. Since I've been staring at the manuscript for about 8 years now, I decided to take a break. The good news is, I have a new story that isn't as demanding as a children's fantasy. There is no world-building involved and no exhausting, detailed epic I have to create and fret over. This new story if fluffy and fun - it's a YA romance with a supernatural twist. The only difficult part is writing in first person - which I've NEVER done before, but thought I'd try. I can always change it later if it doesn't work out. Since I'm only in the beginning stages, I won't spill too much juicy detail here. I don't even have a title yet (how about I give it the code name Fluffy, for now). I'm glad I'm taking a step back to let The Unicorn Tamer stew for a bit. It's still my baby - per se - and I will do everything I can to get it published, but right now ... stewing is good. I will edit and polish more over Xmas vacation.

I have several other story ideas - the one that tops the list is another fantasy geared towards middle-grade boys - but with all the energy I'm putting into The Unicorn Tamer, I wasn't ready to start another epic. Then ... a couple days ago ... Fluffy presented itself and 3000 words later, I have scenes! I completely failed NaNoWriMo, but I'm going to really try to finish this story in a couple of months instead of years. Once I have more of the story written, I'll write the blurb and put it up here.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Q, P, F

When I was little, I think my favorite letter was "C" ... because "C" is for "Cookie" and that's good enough for me! "C" also stood for "Christine" and for "Christmas" - both cool things if you asked me. Nowadays, my life seems to revolve around the letters Q, P, and F - Queries, Partials, and Fulls.

I was thinking about those letters today and how tricky they were. Each time you "graduate" from a Q to a P to an F, the stakes get higher and higher. And when I say "stakes," I mean pain. I finally figured it out. With a Q, you're trying to sell an idea. In a way, queries are sort of like pick-up lines and good hygiene - you need both to make a good first impression. With a P, you're trying to sell your writing. That's why a reject for a P hurts ten times more (maybe even 50 times more) than a reject for a Q. An agent probably knows if he/she likes your writing after the first 2-5 pages ... maybe 10. No longer are you trying to hook the agent with a fancy one-liner, you're trying to keep them reading. If they stop, then, well, sometimes you wonder if you should give up as well. Then, there's the F. With the F, you're trying to sell your story. Your story includes your beloved characters and this universe you made just for them. It's your love for your characters and the adventures they seek that encourages you to write till the 100,000th word. If the agent rejects you there, that's probably pain times 1000. What it means is that you got their attention, they liked your writing, BUT they didn't like the story you wrote.

And why do we write? It's because we thought we had a story to tell.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Counting the Days till Christmas

Only three writing related things to post:

1. TW answers responses to rejection letters, thus, she is awesome and no... I didn't write to bother her, I wrote to thank her for her time

2. I have a shiny new query letter and 5 hand-picked agents who will be receiving said query letter tomorrow!

3. I entered two different versions of THE UNICORN TAMER's first two sentences here... let the critiquing begin!

And now, some fun end of the year stuff as we count down the days till Christmas vacation!

100 Things I've Done (red is in the past year, blue is in my life):

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (I played alto sax in high school... and over the summer, I got up and played a kazoo in a band that came by work...)
4. Visited Hawaii (one of my favorite places!)
5. Watched a meteor shower (I think I saw one this year, but I don't remember...)
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (twice this year!)
8. Climbed a mountain (the Harding Ice Field in Alaska... now THAT was a mountain)
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (been to, but I don't think I walked to the top)
18. Grown your own vegetables (one year, Bryce and I tried to grow tomatoes...)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse (but not with my new laser eyes)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (another one I can't remember if I've done this year...)
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke (Rock Band style)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (Hawaii!)
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain (it did not rain enough this year)
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching (Alaska!)
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (I think I do this every year)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial (I'm fairly certain...)
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book (Very soon, I hope!!!!)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible (I will never forget... my World Cultures professor said that even if you're not Catholic or religious, you should read the Bible, because it's one of the best stories ever written...)
86. Visited the White House (yes, I think)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (Sir Ian Mckellen! Does Eric Schmidt and Larry Page count, too?)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Fat and Happy

That's what Bryce always says when I ask him how Grace-icles (his and Mike's obsessive compulsive, crazy, non-graceful cat) and that's how I feel right now. I am very, very thankful for my life.

Beware: personal post coming right at'cha! Just wanted to catalog Thanksgiving 2008.

It started with me going to bed at 5:30AM. I was completely and utterly doing absolutely nothing productive and then all of a sudden, it was 5:30AM. In case you're keeping count, there were three "ly" words in the previous sentence. Instead of sleeping in till 2PM, my parents woke me up at 11AM for some breakfast. We tried the new restaurant Pho (translation: Vietnamese beef noodle soup) Minh right down the street. It was clean and decent. I'm going to leave my restaurant reviews for yelp (also known as: my daily writing exercises). It was a lovely, cool day in Cupertino. Thank goodness it finally feels like Fall here. The rain the other day helped a lot.

There were four highlights of my day:

1. This is going to sound totally un-exciting to you, but, I finally know where all my shoes are! I still live with my mom and sister and it all adds up to a heck of a lot of shoes. So my mom and I got down n' dirty and opened every box, placed every shoe in its correct home, and stacked them in the correct gal's corner. I usually wear flip flops, sneakers, or Uggs, but now, when I have to step outside my normal shoe wearing routine, it won't take me an hour to find the fancy stuff.

2. The creative juices were totally flowing today and it was very exciting. I jotted down five new story ideas. Once I flesh 'em out a bit, I'll put the summaries up here. I am trying to decide how many work-in-progresses I want to have, but I can't decide which I want to start on. I want to work on them all! I want to finish them all in 2 months, too. Hah. My crazy self amuses my self.

3. I helped my mom cook Thanksgiving dinner for the first time today. It was wonderful. My family's not big on turkey (gasp!), so we opted for Cornish game hens instead. She taught me how to soak the hens in cognac and brush them with honey. I made stuffing (easy because it was Stove Top), green bean casserole, red-skinned mashed potatoes, and garlic croissants. I had such a good time in the kitchen with my mom today!

4. I am quite addicted to this fps (translation: first person shooter) online PC game called Team Fortress 2. I call playing the game "pew pew'ing." Anywho, I'm quite addicted as in... I play a minimum of 2 hours a night. Since I'm on holiday, of course I want to do a few of my favorite things (i.e. write, sleep, eat, and pew). I was kind of concerned that most of my e-friends would be too busy with Thanksgiving-y things to come online to play with me. Turns out, I was bummed for no reason at all! Right after dinner, an e-friend and I got one of our community's servers going and it filled up quickly. Soon, we were having awesome 12 v. 12 games. All-talk and party mode was on (translation: when you blow somebody up, instead of blood, presents and balloons come out of the dead body) and I was a super duper happy camper. I was able to game for hours after all and I didn't have to suffer on a public server with weird sound effects (i.e. rap music when I dominate someone? *shudder*).

So as you can see, not really a literary-focused blog entry, but I'm just gonna count every little bit of writing as practice.

Happy Thanksgiving, folks!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Cornucopia-like Post

Happy Day Before Thanksgiving! I've got a lot of writing stuff on my mind. Especially since I'm about to have two shiny days off!

First, NaNoWriMo! 2563 words written... I know, uberly pathetic. Even though I didn't get a complete novel out of NaNoWriMo, I did hatch a brand new sparkly idea for a Middle Grade novel geared towards boys. But with queries and partials and editing The Unicorn Tamer, I have not had the heart or mind to throw into a brand new story. There's still a couple days of November left... maybe I can write a synopsis or something... plotting sounds like fun!

Next, I'd like to mention how it baffles yet inspiries me when I read about writers who are working on multiple novels at the same time. How does one complete such a task and not confuse voices, themes, and genres? Answer = endless creative energy. I am still learning how to channel such energy especially if I'm considering writing (A) the sequel to The Unicorn Tamer, (B) said MG fantasy geared towards boys, and (C) a YA (urban fantasy ?) love story. I want to be a published author and am learning that The Unicorn Tamer may not be It for me (even though I love, love, love the story and characters...) so I can't just query The Unicorn Tamer and then give up... I gotta keep writing and trying, writing and trying...

Sad news bears that totally bummed me out and confused the heck out of me: TW rejected my partial. Over the past couple days, I've been going back n' forth on how honest I want to be on my blog. The problem is, I don't want an agent or editor to stumble upon my blog and become affected by what I report. However, I want to be honest because... this is me.. on this journey and whether or not you're an aspiring writer, you're along for the ride. If you're here to learn something about this whole process, I want to share it with you. So I decided... I'm just gonna wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve and tell you what she told me. *Disclaimer: if you're an agent or editor, please don't let the following information sway your own decision on my query or partial - thank you.

TW said: "While I like the premise, I regret I wasn't as engaged by the narrative voice." Stab, stab, stab the heart and stain the sleeve with blood!


So... first thought: there's something wrong with my narrative voice. That sounds really, really bad. Like I've got some many-letter'd disease that I haven't heard of or understand. How do I make it all better? Well, it's not like a typo or a mis-placed comma or a continuity issue, folks. She basically said that she doesn't like my voice - the storyteller's. Second thought: maybe it's a subjective thing? Maybe TW doesn't like my voice, but some other agent will? Third thought: she's a professional and knows what she's talking about, maybe my writing is flawed, but how do I make my narrative voice more engaging? I would have to re-write the entire book... I wish I had more information to work off of, I wish I could email TW back and ask for advice on ways to improve... Fourth thought: I can't put all my eggs in one book. Fifth thought: I can't give up on The Unicorn Tamer... it deserves to be query'd for at least a year. If I get 3 "don't like your narrative voice" rejections... then I'll brainstorm ways to fix The Unicorn Tamer completely.

Rinse and repeat thoughts.

Annd on to queries... as I've mentioned in a previous post, I've re-written my query letter to try and be... "hookier"... I've sent it off to both my Grammar Fairy and the wonderful Kimberley and the responses were enthusiastic. Over the next couple of days, I'm going to see if I can write an even better query and start drafting my next 5 to 10 letters. Come December 1st (... that's weird to type... it's practically December? Where did most of November go?) I'll send them out. I want to make sure I get them out before Christmas break. I won't be sending any more until after Jan 1st. Hopefully, Santa will give me partial and full requests this year. That's all I really want. Because this is what I just learned: most agents will write you a personal rejection letter if said letter is for a full submission. Even though, yes, that particular rejection is really disheartening because you seem to have gotten so far... it comes with a glimmer of light. A personal rejection letter means they'll let you know what they didn't like which means... editing advice!!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Scary News Flash!

Publishers Weekly has just learned that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has asked its editors to stop buying books.

What does that mean for the partials and queries I have out???

Read the article here.

Sharing my Book

The point is... I want to be a published author. I want to share this story, this world, and, most importantly, these characters that I created and love, with other people. Why, then, do I always get a little nervous when sharing the manuscript with my friends?

Perhaps, a part of me just wants the reader to experience the book when the book is actually a book, all bound and beautiful and plucked from a shelf at Barnes and Noble instead of reading it in .docx form. Another part of me is always working on it, continuing to polish and edit and change it so... I don't want people to read it because it's not quite done (I've been known to change Chapter 1 every other day). That makes for some difficult reading. I can then argue that, I'll never really be done until it's printed and sold. Then there's the part of me who knows how biased and kind my friends are. Perhaps I should seek a stranger's help, but that is also a bit terrifying. It's like having to trust your baby with the interwebs.

I'm working on accepting critique. I'm constantly struggling with letting more people read it so I can make it better. I've chosen my audience carefully, perhaps a little too carefully: Andrew, Bryce, Kenlyn, Grandma, and Grandpa - that made sense to me. SK, EB, CW, ME-D, EG, AC and LP - those were all sort of impulse decisions. Out of the above mentioned, I think only two... or two point five have actually read any of it (maybe SK ... EB read the first chapter I believe ... AC and the soon-to-be LP). I pick people based on a lot of things... how close we are, their literary tastes (i.e. love for Harry Potter), and/or their background in English or the arts... perhaps they're even writers themselves.

I'm looking forward to contests and such on the blogs I've been following to share my work and get it critiqued by the literary community. It's about time I did such things.

Polishing Woes

I found two mistakes in my manuscript and one in my synopsis... yes, it feels like the world is ending. It's heart-breaking because the query and partial process is already hard enough - there's no room to be sloppy. It's just so disappointing to find a "you're" instead of a "your" after all the editing that I've done. And I have no idea how "h" is the only letter standing... what, may I ask, happened to the other letters in the word "thousand?" It doesn't help that sometimes my brain is ahead of my fingers... seeing the sentence perfectly formed in my head doesn't mean it gets transferred over to paper perfectly when I type... sometimes words (especially small ones like "to") get forgotten. So, learn from my mistakes. I know I will. NEVER EVER stop editing. You owe it to your manuscript and you owe it to agents to look professional. I am blogging this because there's nothing else I can do. The documents are already out there and one can only hope that they overlook the minor typos and instead focus on the bigger picture - the story.

In happier news, I received another partial request on Saturday! I am DANCING!!!! The request is from an agent whose blog I read daily. I would love it if she were my agent... a girl can dream right?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Friday!

-- I just had a Gordan Biersch beer with Mr. Gordan Biersch himself
-- Never trust a skinny brewer.
-- Query Update: 10 out, 5 rejections in, and 1 partial requested... when you do the math, it adds up to: NEED TO WRITE A NEW QUERY!
-- Word count of old query: 313, Word count of new query: 274
-- is "hookier" a word?
-- I am uberly (uberly is definitely a word) excited for the Twilight movie tonight! Hot vampyrs ftw! Gotta admit... kinda terrified of the screaming throngs of teenage girls... just a little bit spooked. (Christine daydreams that The Unicorn Tamer will become a movie someday... Spirited Away-esque... but first, Christine daydreams that it actually becomes a book.)

Alright, kids! Happy Friday! I'll be back to my editing on Sunday. Tomorrow's the first ever YouTube Live - part live concert, part variety show, all entertainment. Tune in for the live streaming at

"... and so the lion fell in love with the lamb ..."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Waiting Game

It kind of feels like... waiting for Christmas, when you're 7 years old. Or like, waiting for the doctor to come 45 minutes into your appointment. Sort of like, waiting to see the person you fought with, so that you can make things better or... waiting to find out if he really likes you as much as you like him. It's waiting for college applications and SAT scores. It's waiting to read the next book in the series - a book that hasn't been published yet. It's painful, and hopeful, and most of all... the longest feeling in the world.

I'm trying to busy myself by revising and rewriting and refreshing my Gmail way too many times it can't be healthy. I'm considering busy'ing myself by sending out even more queries (if you're keeping count, I'm 9 queries sent, 3 rejections, and 1 partial request), but I don't want to send out a query that isn't working, but I don't know if it's working until I hear back from agents and... well...

Some agencies say that they'll respond in two weeks, while another it's 6 to 8. Then, there are some agenicies who won't respond at all - if they don't like what you've got. So... it's a tad difficult, trying to decipher if my query is working or not at all. Maybe I should just wait a little longer.

On another note, thanks to the spiffy invention that is the U.S. Postal Service's confirmation label, I know that my partial arrived in TW's mailbox at 1:05PM today. That means... she has it if she wants to read it. That means, she could read the first couple pages and decide that it's not for her or read the entire thing and be "intrigued" to read more.


I'm waiting to find out. Wait with me, won't you? (forgive the half bitten finger nails, I won't bite them when you're around...)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Adventures at the Post Office!

Since this is my first novel, and my very first attempt at trying to acquire representation for said novel, every day is a day of firsts. It's very exciting - in a newborn-babies-do-something-new-everyday sort of way. There was the first query letter written (and the first 7 drafts). There was the first rejection letter. And I'm sure every author remembers their very first glimpse of hope - a partial request!

I haven't physically been to the post office in years! But there I was today, learning about new things such as priority mail and confirmation labels. It was so satisfying (in a nerve-wracking sort of way) to see my "package" all ready to go out to Ms. TW in the land where the literary agents live - New York!

Over the weekend, there were even more firsts:

-- writing a cover letter (it's like writing a professional business letter)
-- formatting the manuscript in the proper way (i.e. double-spacing, author's name/title of book top left and page number top right... has some good advice)
-- WRITING A SYNOPSIS! (I have been putting this one off because, in my opinion, they're so difficult to write. Thankfully, the urgency of submitting to the query contest pushed me to finish it in the wee hours of the morning.)
-- formatting a title page (again, has good advice)
-- hunting down the correct envelope size and address labels for my SASE (a harder task than you'd think because nowadays, a lot of mailing is done online...)

I have to admit, I said a little prayer when the package went away. Now, all I can do is busy myself with sending out even more queries. I have 7 agents I'd like to query - am just waiting to hear back from the query contest. Whatever notes Jodi Meadows makes, I'll use before I send my next batch out.

It's exciting times, it is! Oh! And TWILIGHT the movie this Friday! Squee!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lit Soup's Contest!

Two very cool news (if you're (A) me or (B) a fellow aspiring writer):

1. Jenny Rappaport (Lit Soup) just opened her very own literary agency!

2. She's conducting a query contest! Know what that means? 50 very lucky writer-wannabes will get a personalized rejection letter (or even better, an acceptance) from her assistant, Jodi Meadows (whose blog I discovered at 2:01AM). I'm super duper excited because that means it won't just be a form rejection - I'll actually learn how to improve my query letter from the experts themselves!

If you're as excited as I am about this, check out The Rappaport Agency for submission guidelines. I think you enter the contest by emailing your query letter in. I already made the mistake of posting the query letter into the Comments section of the Lit Soup blog. When I realized my mistake, I had to delete my post in her Comments section (Christine blushes). Then, I spent the next hour searching through her archives to learn more about her past contests and how people entered. One of the other contests did indeed involve copying and pasting the submission into the Comments section, so I was confused and posted yet another comment to ask. Then, I found her previous query contest and learned that folks entered by emailing in their query (Christine blushes again as she deletes her second comment because she found the answer herself).

Yar, I feel like an idiot, hence the third sheepish comment left on Lit Soup's blog. If you're Jenny Rappaport or Jodi Meadows and you're reading this, please forgive me for the un-intentional comment spam!

In other news! It's 3:58AM and I just finished writing my synopsis! Time to celebrate by sleeping! woo!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Discovering New Blogs

For a writer, finding new literary blogs where agents or editors share their wealth of knowledge is like finding $5 in the pocket of an old coat. Even better if the blogs are witty, sarcastic, and/or very well written. Then, they're not just educational, they're down right fun to read!

Whenever I add any new blog to my Google Reader (one of my favorite products, btw... *fangirl plug here*... you should really try it! It's like having a newspaper customized specially for you... i.e. only has stuff you want to read/care about)... moving on...

Whenever I add any new blog to my Google Reader, I copy and paste them over there (look to your left) under Advice or Inspiration!

Today's bejeweled finds:

Writer Beware Blogs -- "Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, shines a light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls."

Dystel and Goderich Literary Management -- "We take our unsolicited queries very seriously. As a matter of fact, we have discovered many of our most talented authors in the 'slush' pile. We read everything that is sent to us, whether we decide to represent it or not."

Lyons Literary LLC -- "Tips and quips on publishing from a literary agent."

I'm also following some blogs written by exciting and endearing brand new authors who, not long ago, went through the same struggles that I'm going through right now with the query process. Reading about their query process and their success is inspiring!
Kimberley Griffiths Little -- a very sweet author who just sold a 3 book deal to Scholastic Press. This wonderful lady took the time to critique a stranger's (i.e. yours truly) query letter!

Cindy Pon -- a stay at home mom who just sold her debut novel (YA Asian Fantasy) SILVER PHOENIX : Beyond the Kingdom of Xia

Jackson Pierce -- has two awesome YA Fantasy novels coming out in 2009 and 2010! I really, really enjoy reading about her query process because it reminds me so much of my own!

Enjoy the blogs fellow aspiring writers!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Query Update!

Queries sent out: 4

Rejections received an hour later: 2 (yes, it hurt, but a speedy, direct "No" is better than a "No Answer" that means "No"... isn't it?)

Number of queries I still want to send out, but am hesitating because of those 2 "No's": 6

Number of queries I am anxiously waiting an answer for: 1

And... my favorite! Partials requested: 1!!!!

I know, I am trying to stay grounded... a request for a partial doesn't mean ANYTHING, but it still means SOMETHING bright and happy to me! My very first partial means that an agent actually wants to read some pages of my work! Color me excited and nervous. Cross your fingers for me, ladies and gents!

Monday, November 10, 2008

First Two Queries Out...

and first two rejections in. Yikes! A part of me is wondering if my query letter is weaksauce. I think I'm going to stick to my plan of querying at least 10 agents with the same query before revising.

On the bright side, NB and SB replied to my email right away so I didn't have to spend copious amounts of time worrying and wondering.

So what does rejection feel like? Kind of numbing... it really makes me wonder if I got a story to tell. But... it also feels like... falling down - where it hurts, but you're not just gonna stay on the ground. You pick yourself up and query the next agent. I'm prepared to stick with it for a year! Of course, a girl can't hopewishdream that it's sooner!

On the bright side, I fell in love with this article today and it prompted me to jot down some ideas for a new book geared to middle-grade boys. I want to write a book with a video game storyline (think Final Fantasy), with a regular, young guy who gets to be badass. There will be young girls in the book and they'll be badass, too.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Buy A Book This Weekend

Bookstores are suffering because, well... people are suffering. Moonrat over at the awesomely informative, profound, and humorous "Editorial Ass" blog said it best.

You can help save bookstores, publishers, editors, agents, authors, and wanna-be authors (read: yours truly) by doing the following: buy one book.

Please keep this in mind when you're out shopping for Christmas presents this year! I always enjoy giving kids timeless children's books I loved as a kid - pretty much anything by Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein, Judy Blume, and E.B. White! Oh, and who can forget If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?

Save the book world!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Writing Query Letters equals Hair Loss Because You've Pulled It All Out

Oh, and by the by... I have not turned in any queries yet. Two versions of one query letter somehow turned into... 7... (I'm sorry, Kenlyn). I've been nit-picking/slaving over single word choices and staring at this ONE sentence for hours.

I think my queries are getting worse.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Kenlyn is my Grammar Fairy

Everybody, I'd like you to meet my official, un-official editor, Kenlyn McGrew (yes, Bryce's sister). She was born with a gift - the grammatical kind - and has kindly, kindly agreed to help me with my book. Already she's done the first 3 chapters and is working on two versions of my query letter as we speak!

Which means, yes! I've actually written two query letters! How confident am I about them? Not so much! Woo! Seriously, folks, query-letter-writing is painful in the tooth-pulling kind of way. It's so hard trying to convey tone, plot, and characters in less than 350 words. I've never tried to sell my book before so it's all just trial and error. At least I have Kenlyn to make sure my spelling and grammar errors are non-existent.

If she gets back to me tonight, I'll be sending off my very first query letter... tonight! I just want to get my first batch out! Because if I keep staring at my query letters, they (A) won't write themselves and (B) will never get sent out because I'll keep agonizing and re-writing them. At least if I send them out and get rejections (eek!), I'll know that something's not working and can try something else. I'm just sort of... blind at the moment. I'll let you know what happens - good or sad.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Historic Moment: Go VOTE!

Ok... today's post is not about the book or writing, but!

I have just set my beloved Tivo to record 7 hours worth of Election Day coverage on NBC! I have's Decision Dashboard up n' running, as well as ready at my fingertips (read this interesting article about how Obama dominated early voting making it so that every day has been Election Day).

I've emailed my grandparents who care more about this election and this country than anybody I've ever met. Period. Grandma and Grandpa, I wish I could be there tonight to scream and toast champagne with you!

Alright ladies and gentlemen, I'm headed to the polls! It's time for a refreshing, much-needed change, it's time to make history. Go Obama!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy NaNoWriMo!

Sentences written for a query: 4... maybe 5, but I can't tell if it's a sentence or a run-on. Probably the latter.

Sentences that are almost good enough to be sent off to an agent: 2

Sentences written this past weekend: 0

Edits done this past weekend: 0

Procrastinating in the form of NaNoWriMo's challenge (write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November): 572 words written

Hopefully, this week will be more productive!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I'm doing a couple different kinds...

On the original manuscript, I'm going through and fixing everything that I either (A) overlooked, (B) did not write correctly, but wrote just for the sake of writing something (black on white space), or (C) did not write well (better... when you're a writer, you can always write better)!

The next kind of revision that I'm toying (quite excitedly) with came from reading this blog entry from kt literary on magical realism. I just read it moments ago and I like envisioning my story for the first time in a different light, from a different angle (real, as in modern day/real places, ect., YA instead of MG, dark, edgy...).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Query Equals Pain

Truth and nothing but: writing a query letter and a synopsis is harder than writing the novel itself. At least it is for me.

I started about a month ago, writing a little bit here and there, trying to somehow describe a 100,000 word story in one paragraph (for the query) and in less than a page and a half (for the synopsis). Over the summer, and every single day forever and ever, I've been reading about queries. If you're in the same boat that I am, I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite help articles:

-- Query Letters, an Agent's Perspective (Jessica from BookEnds)
-- Anatomy of a Good Query Letter (Nathan from Curtis Brown LTD)
-- Queries - An Inside Scoop (Jennifer O' Connell's Query) (Kristin from Pub Rants)
-- anything by Miss Snark (unfortunately, she no longer blogs, but her advice is razor-sharp, witty, and oh-so-helpful... like this one... ooo, and this one too!)

Anyway, yesterday, I sat down determined to focus on my query letter. It took me one hour (no exaggeration) to write two sentences. I have to say that thanks to kwatz, those two sentences are pretty strong (for a version 1 query letter). Thanks kwatz, for sitting there at 3AM (your time) to analyze single word choices with me. You're a pal!

Now... on to the next sentence!

(Being a writer is almost sadistic. In a good way, of course.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Let the agonizing over query letters begin!

I've been MIA because I've been in MA and ME visiting my jaw-dropping-incredible grandparents (inspirer of my nom de plume), eating lobsters in a lovely, magical light house, and viewing forests upon forests of awesome foliage.

My golden vacation is over. Time for two kinds of work - the ihaftado and the iwannado:

The Hafta:

-- weave weather into the book
-- explain "the sun" in "the Eas"
-- BUILD STRONGER CHARACTERS by polishing and polishing and polishing
-- figure out how big Drualtys really is
-- fix the trees
-- write an alluring, clear, captivating query (most dreaded task)
-- write a fantastic, concise, exciting synopsis (second most dreaded task)

The Wanna:

-- Send out my first batch of query letters
-- Research agents and publishers
-- Read literary blogs
-- Edit my first 3 chapters to Kenlyn's specifications
-- Work with my grandfather on my synopsis

Hopefully, I'll make some kind of dent on this list by Halloween!

On another note, I finished Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series on the trip and I am very sad to see the Cullens go. Though Bella and Edward were the main characters, I favored (read: adored) Carlisle, Alice, Jasper, and Emmett. Eddings, Rowling, Meyer - they all wrote incredibly strong, lovable characters that you wish you knew in real life. My goal is that.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I haven't even started yet...

and already it's gonna be tougher... emphasis on the er.

I chose the best worst time to finish my book. Perhaps I should've stuck to my original deadline of complete The Unicorn Tamer by the time I'm 25. I thought it was cute. A quarter of a century goal for myself. Since that didn't happen, my goal became complete the book before my 26th birthday. And here we are, 10 months later and well... the economy is quite the bleak.

Jessica from BookEnds (a Literary Agency) blogged about the economy and books. Basically, it's going to be a lot, a lot, a lot harder for a non-published author to become published. The advances and royalties (i.e. the money) will be less and everyone (i.e. publishers and agents) will be taking fewer risks. So unless an agent or a publisher absolutely loves, adores, can't-live-without-my-book, the chances of it being published in this here economy are downright slim.

That's not going to stop me, I'm still going to try. It's just unfortunate that something that's already so hard is just... well... harder!

By the way, I'm procrastinating. I should be packing for Boston right now...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Once upon a time ago...

Actually, more like 8 years ago... it was the summer after high school graduation.

I've always loved to write. I remember, with images that are more than blurry around the edges, a story I wrote at the age of 7... or it could've been 9... like I said, the details aren't concrete, but I do remember the story. It was about a cat who was stuck underneath a black, top hat. Around and around he scurried, visiting mothers and fathers, children and friends, and everyone would say, "Why! That's a moving hat!" only to discover later that the moving hat moved because of a cat.

So back to that summer of freedom right after a grueling senior year that consisted of 8 college applications and essays. Have you ever played that game where you and your friends sit around and daydream out loud the 100 things you'd want to do before you die? I don't think we ever made it to 100, but I do remember my #1: I wanted to publish a book. I wanted to see something that I've written all shiny and bound on a shelf in a bookstore. I wanted to be just like those old storytellers, who travelled around, sharing their stories orally. What I want is that impact storytellers had. They told stories that others passed on to their children. They told stories that were remembered and through those stories, they too were remembered even if they were long gone.

So I thought to myself, what kind of story did I want to write? That was fairly easy to decide, almost as if it had come naturally. I've always enjoyed children's literature more than other genres. It's amazing to me, the imagination of children. If I could write a book that would have kids put down their video games and forget about their television, that is something truly magical.

I wanted to write a fairy tale, just like the ones I grew up on. I also wanted to include Greek mythology in my writing because even till this day I can still remember the images in D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths. That was 5th grade! Finally, I knew that I wanted my hero to be a girl. A strong, everyday girl.

Her name is Emma Brown and her story, my story, is called The Unicorn Tamer.

I finished yesterday. My heart leapt (the I-feel-nervous-but-I'm-not-actually-nervous sensation), my fingers were shaking (I could barely type anything other than the words... I'm done), and it was... probably one of the most significant moments in my life.

I promised myself two things. That I would finish my book in time for my visit with my beloved grandparents. The name "Nguyen" is hard to pronounce, so I'm taking their name as my penname: C.N. Curtin. My second promise was that I'd start a blog to chronicle my adventures in the publishing world. I don't know how long it'll take, and I don't know if it'll ever even happen, but keep your fingers crossed for me, okay? Thanks!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008