Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Five

Not only is it the end of the week, but it's the end of the month! February went awfully fast, didn't it?

1. If you don't read Nathan Bransford's blog yet, subscribe now. Seriously, right now. Because if you don't, you're missing out on one of the best literary agent blogs out there. Period. Nathan's blog was the first blog I subscribed to and he was also the first agent I queried. He's smart, honest, knowledgeable, and incredibly charming. He also links to great stuff , like this.

2. I. Can't. Stop. Thinking. About. Writing. All I want to do is write because there's SO MUCH TO DO: sentences to delete, character voices to improve, people to kill. Unfortunately, other things get in the way. Driving, work, showering - doh!

3. I should be querying more. All the success stories I've read usually start with, "... I queried 100 agents." It really only takes one. I've been quiet in the query department because I've been anxiously (very, very, very anxiously) waiting for a reply from Ms. Cornier. But, it sounds like agents are receiving up to 500 queries per week! So maybe I should just get my queries out there so I can start ... practicing to be patient. Ahh the strange phenomenon that is waiting!

4. I did not reach my 25,000 wordcount goal for end of February. I'm punishing myself by setting a 50,000 goal by end of March. Get 'errr done!

5. Please take a moment to mosey on over to Authoress' blog and critique my chapter ending! Pretty please?


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Read These

I read two very interesting articles today that I wanted to share with you:

One is a Q&A with 4 young editors who respond to questions like: "Give me some things that you find beginning writers doing wrong" and "Aside from what's on the page, and somebody's skill as a writer or voice or obsessions, what other things influence your thinking and decision-making?"

The other article is about Binky Urban - executive vice president of International Creative Management. She talks about the authors she represents, e-books, and how we're in the midst of a literary revolution.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Epiphany Before Bedtime

Sometimes I just get these *spurts* where all I think about is writing and all I want to do is write. I rushed through bath time and dinner time and have been sitting in the same position for about 2 and a half hours. I've written about 1,800 words.

I've mentioned before, I don't really write detailed outlines. But tonight, for some reason, I just had to. Writing an outline for the entire series will help me make sure that it's the best it can be [at the moment] for Mr. Barbara. I'm - ONCE AGAIN - going through THE UNICORN TAMER with a big, fat, red pen. Didn't I just do this before I submitted my full to Nadia Cornier? Why yes, that's correct. But Christine, weren't you supposed to do that before you started querying?

Why yes, that's correct BUT ... there's a but. I had an epiphany!

I don't think a writer can ever say, "OK, I'm done fiddling with this forever!" The only way I'm ever going to stop making it better and better is if somebody takes it from my hands, publishes it, and puts it on shelves. Only then will the story be safe from my big, fat, red pen because, well ... there will be too many copies to hand-fix. And bookstores don't like it when you write in their books. I should know. Did I ever tell you I worked at Barnes and Noble for 4 years in college?

Anywho - good night!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Won The Lottery!!

No, not the monies ... but, for an aspiring author, the prize is just as good:

Manucript Critique by Agent Stephen Barbara!

If you went to school in the U.S., you've probably read THE LOTTERY by Shirley Jackson. As a young girl who wanted to be a writer when she "grew up," this vivid short story definitely left a big, purple, internal mark.

I agonized for days over how much I felt comfortably losing - tickets were $1 and you could buy as many as you wanted. When I saw my name on the winning list, I was dancing on cloud 9!

I'll keep you posted on THE UNICORN TAMER'S journey to Mr. Barbara! Swoon!

To read more about the contest I entered, go here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Query Haikus


Girl saves endangered
mom, unicorns, and schizo
leprechauns from hunt


Kate sees black auras
warns the dying: get dessert!
underworld boyfriend

Yeah ... I think I could've done better. They were really hard to write! I went through at least a dozen drafts.

Friday Five-rrific

1. Resurrecting my Twitter account was the best thing I did this week! Also the most time-consuming (you can endlessly go from one followers' list to the next). I am addicted to following literary agents and experienced/aspiring writers ... it's really quite a lot of fun. I mean, who knew you could learn so much from just 140-character snippets? Or be so entertained?

2. What happens when I discover someone new on Twitter? I find their blog, too! I am now following 60 stupendous (people should really use this word more) blogs and my brain likes gobbling up all that literary information! Please don't 'splode, brain. Soak it up!

3. The last query I sent was ... January 12th. I'm waiting to ... (be still my heart) ... hear from Firebrand before I start the query process again (hopefully ... I won't have to ... gah! crosses fingers and toes). In the meantime, I'm all about contests! There are the super fun mini-ones like: MSFV's Secret Agent and The Swivet's haiku query challenge. Even though they're small contests, the prizes are fabulous: like query and manuscript critiques! Then there are the big ones like ABNA - March 16th is when the field is narrowed from 10,000 to 500!

And finally ... for #4 and #5, I leave you with two funnies:

A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell. She decided to check out each place first. As the writer descended into the fiery pits, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.

"Oh my," said the writer. "Let me see heaven now."

A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes."Wait a minute," said the writer. "This is just as bad as hell!"

"Oh no, it's not," replied an unseen voice. "Here, your work gets published."

and Jackson Pearce's Book-A-Minute video on Twilight.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fluttering Heart

(Conflict-free) Diamonds, flowers, cupcakes ... yes, all the above make my heart go a'flutter. But I'm also an aspiring author which means that partial and full requests make my heart race as well.

I am just ... oh-so-nervous and I know, I know I'm getting my hopes up WAY TOO HIGH, but I can't help myself. I'm excited and nervous and ... no ... I'm not going to throw up, but seriously heart, calm down!

Firebrand held a Query Holiday where they accepted and read over 3,500 first chapters. They only requested a little over 100 full manuscripts. Yup, I am one of the uberly lucky 3%. A part of me just wants to be grateful and I am (!) but ... can I also be an itsy bitsy hopeful as well? So far, Firebrand has extended two offers with one acceptance. I hope they don't stop extending offers. Yes, I hope that I get a golden ticket.

You can read all about it here from Firebrand Agent Nadia Cornier's blog.

Seriously. Can't. Stop. Dreaming.

Am I one of those "bring into meetings" manuscripts? Will I be???

I'll keep you posted - good or bad, I promise.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Learn From This

Just a quickie:

If you don't already know this - I love my Google Reader. I get a high from reading blogs by literary agents, accomplished authors, and aspiring writers - you know, the kind of high you get when you're reading a really good book.

Just wanted to share three - educational - blog articles that I read today:

From Editor Unleashed: "Want to publish a book in three years? The time to start building your readership for that book is now." I really liked the tips on how to better your blog!

and from Danielle Steel: I thought it was super interesting to read about her writing process. She's so disciplined!

and from Dame Jackie: because you can never have enough query advice ...


Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Five

1. Aspiring writers meet Authoress. Authoress meet aspiring writers.
If you have not yet heard about the blog Miss Snark's First Victim, you're seriously missing out. Authoress, the lovely, hard-working blog owner, puts on Secret Agent contests once a month! There's one going on right now and I'm entry #22. Go forth and critique (please)! And come back for the next Secret Agent contest come March - seriously, they're ADDICTING! Free, honest feedback, with the possibility of a query or manuscript critique by an agent - what's not to love? It's like Christmas every month!

2. I edit as I write.
That's how THE UNICORN TAMER came about. I'm still making minor (but still important) tweaks such as grammar fixes and simplifying sentences, BUT I have not done any huge, heavy re-writing. After one whole week of intense line-edits, I'm taking a breather from TUT and working on FRIENDS WITH DEATH.

3. Wordcount deadlines.
As I've mentioned, I tend to edit as I write, but I know a lot of (successful) writers who write, focusing all their energy on meeting their word count goal, and edit when the manuscript is completed. I'm going to try and force myself to just write FWD. I really want to complete the manuscript ASAP and I'm not getting very far because I keep re-reading and tweaking already written parts. I work 50 miles away from home and take the shuttle to and fro so I'm going to try and use that time to fill all that white space with black! Words shall be spilled!

4. There's a GREAT Q&A going on over at the Debs. If you ever wondered what kind of financial terms/compensation is common for a typical young adult novel or how long it takes to find an agent - mosey on over!

5. My Early Valentine
I dislike the commercial aspect of Valentine's Day (it seriously bums me out to see Valentine's day cards and candies being sold the day after Christmas), but it's a nice day as any to have date day! The beau and I are celebrating Valentine's day early tonight with a chocolate-themed dinner complete with beer pairing! Om nom nom!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

ABNA Kept Me Up At Night

I've been spending the last two days scrubbing THE UNICORN TAMER until it gleamed. Since December, I've been toying with the idea of entering the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, but kept going back n' forth on my decision. I don't know what exactly swayed my mind, but I, on a whim, decided to start the ABNA entry process at midnight. Two hours of formatting later ... I was officially a contestant.

I still have my heart set on the traditional route: query, agent, publisher, Barnes and Noble, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to try. After 2 solid days of line-editing, I fell in love with my first novel all over again so I'm going to do everything I can to get it published.

Next on my list: sending out my full ms to NC and really putting some meat on the bones of FRIENDS WITH DEATH ...

Dream on!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Foodie, Lush, Writer

The only excuse I have for not writing or blogging about writing is this: it's because all I've been doing is eating gorgeous, delicious foods and learning a lot about the foreign object that is wine.

January was a busy month:

* I turned 27 (!)
* the bf and I turned 4-dating-years-old
* we saw one musical (The Phantom of the Opera) and stayed at one spa (MacArthur's Place)
* we visited two museums (the Academy of Sciences and the De Young) and the Conservatory of Flowers - all in one day
* we dined at one of Thomas Keller's restaurants (Ad Hoc) and one of San Francisco's best (Gary Danko)
* we visited 10 Sonoma wineries (2 consecutive Saturdays) and tasted over 40 wines
* we ate real (non-Americanized) Italian and French food

Since January was an extreme foodie and lush month, February will be more writing intensive. It's already begun:

* I got my first full request!! And it's from Firebrand!! Maybe birthday wishes do come true?
* As promised, blurbs for my work and my work-in-progress: THE UNICORN TAMER and FRIENDS WITH DEATH!!!!

Coming up:

* Reaching the 15,000 mark for FRIENDS WITH DEATH
* Miss Snark's First Victim's February Secret Agent contest

Happy February Writing, friends!