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!