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