Friday, May 29, 2009

Out With the Old...

It's still Spring around here--the tulips and daffodils have gone the way of the Dodo, but my lilacs are still hanging in. Everything is still green and fresh, for now, until the summer heat kicks in.

And I'm working on a new project. It's actually an old project (I listened to my gut) but with all the changes I'm making, it's quite new. It's like in the old days, when they took a hat and ripped everything off of it and turned it inside out and stitched new stuff on it to have a new hat. That's pretty much what I'm doing with this story, that I wrote sixteen years ago. I'm making it timely, and current. And I'm having fun with it. And laughing at how melodramatic my writing was, back then. I was trying to write like Jane Austen, and NO ONE writes like her. Nope. No one. Silly me.

My good friend Devon pointed out that writers submitted TONS during the holiday weekend (I didn't, so I didn't assume everyone else did) and agents are currently machete-ing their way through their inboxes. Makes perfect sense. Only my submissions were the second week of May, so I'm hoping I'm a little closer to the top of the pile, if you get my drift. ;-)

In the meantime, I have this old hat to work on, and keep me occupied.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's Too Quiet.

I haven't received anything lately. No rejections, no requests, NOTHING, but complete email and mailbox "silence," for a week, now. Crazy. It must be a busy time of year for agents or something. I'm the type of person who thinks hey, if it's going to be a rejection, just hurry up and REJECT ME, so I can move on, and not wonder, and not get my hopes up, thinking you're actually taking the time to read and discuss my query/sample chapters.


I'm an impatient little brat, I know.

Although requests for additional material are indeed welcome.


I especially like the "if you don't hear from me within six weeks/eight weeks/six months, you can assume I am not interested in your project" submission guidelines.

THOSE are the WORST.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Tale of a Story...

So, I have a story I wrote in college. I have a long, tawdry history with this particular novel. I first drafted it in 1993, and when I got married in 1996 I started to work on it again, because I was going to be a writer, dang it, and I was going to support us by selling a novel overnight and becoming famous and getting a HUGE advance, to put Hubby through Law School.

Heh heh. I know.

Well, I got an agent for the story fairly quickly, and her name was Melanie Mills. (Just Google her, I dare you--she was notorious and faked her own death, ran down her own mother with her car, etc. etc. etc. ETC.)

Believe it or not, she was only ever professional and super nice to me. Unfortunately, her M.O. was to have a major house interested in your story (in my case, Random House) and offer her (very expensive) services as an editor. I declined politely, and soon after, she "died." My hopes sort of died with her, because I never realized I was wasting my time and the novel wasn't getting subbed to any publishers at all. I was being conned. What a mess.

I rewrote the story, gave it a new title, and sat on it, for seven years.

Got excited about it again in 2002. After all, it was a good story, and it was my first. My baby, if you will. I started querying agents. Nope, not for them. Rejection after rejection. Finally, on my TWENTY SEVENTH try, I got a bite. With a real, honest to goodness agent, who himself, was pretty new to the agent business. He fell in love with my story against his will (his words--he doesn't like fantasy elements in stories) but he signed me and we began the submission process.

Eleven rejections later (and one REALLY close call where an editor raved about it and to our mutual surprise, did an about face a month later and rejected it, asking US if she was making a mistake) my enthusiasm waned. He wanted me to write more--only stories that didn't have magic or fantastical elements in them. I dragged my feet. I was overwhelmed with my three kids and so, eventually, we parted ways. Amicably of course, and I look at his website now, and he is a SUPER successful agent, and I am still grateful to him, but he doesn't like fantasy. We're not a good fit.

Now, five years later, I've pulled the story out of the proverbial "drawer" and dusted it off, and last night, I started reading. And tweaking. Then I began to get excited about it. *I* wrote this? It's a great story! (I'm also biased and super humble, I know!)

I changed the title. Changed the names of the three main characters. Grabbed a machete, and chopped and cut, then patched and sewed and now I have a story that I think is pretty darn good.

Problem is, NOW what the hell do I do with it???

Friday, May 22, 2009

Quiet...for now...

All is quiet on the query front for now. I haven't heard anything from anyone, and I have three queries out there as of this moment. I really want to wait to hear from them, JUST IN CASE, but part of me is urging to query one or two more--just for good measure.

And of course, I committed the most egregious of querying sins a few days ago, I realized I ACCIDENTALLY (as in UNWITTINGLY, I DIDN'T MEAN TO, etc.) queried two agents at the same agency! EEEK!

I screamed when I found out. Yes, screamed. Luckily Agent B rejected me, but I still haven't heard back from Agent A. Probably because Agent A was snail mail and Agent B takes e-queries.

So, I'm waiting for the rejection from Agent A, just because I didn't follow the rules. I could really smack myself! Agent A is my dream agent. Not a good impression.

I really am not very good at this process. But you have to start somewhere, right?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mea Culpa

It was bound to happen---is it me, or do agent's names start to sound alike after a while? They all seem to have traditional names, and if you're not REALLY careful with your agent research, you might end up querying simultaneous agents in the same agency (haven't done that yet, thank heaven) OR, the big boo-boo--querying someone who doesn't even represent the genre you write.

As was the case with me, and agent X yesterday. I got her name totally mixed up with another agent, and the rejection was polite and swift, but along the lines of "Uh, I'm not the right agent for this story, seeing as I don't rep Fantasy."

She didn't say it that way, she was a lot nicer, but I certainly got the point.

*Lara hits forehead* D'OH!!!

It was a waste of her time, and mine, and I could smack myself for being so careless.

ALSO, I am having the big problem of my opening chapter wasn't compelling enough. So I switched it with one that is pretty action-packed...AFTER I queried my dream agent with the first ten (boring) pages!!!

Yeah...waiting for it to get sent back to me in my SASE any day now...

Live and learn. The trouble is, you only have one shot with these people. You have to make it your BEST and really leave a good impression. Because once they've rejected you, unless you've written some other fabulous story, you're screwed.

I have three or four of them I've queried just as many times over the years, (with different stories, mind you) and I've noticed a couple of things: A) the response time, which might have been 24 hours years before, is now 6-8 WEEKS, possibly more. And B) I swear some of them deliberately prefer snail mail queries only because it might weed out all the "lazy" writers who only want to get the instant (or not so instant) gratification of an email query process, versus the old fashioned "watch for the mailperson with white knuckles" routine. And yes, shooting off an e-query is SCADS easier than printing it all off, stuffing it into an envelope, TRUCKING YOUR BUTT to a post office to get proper postage for your SASE, mailing it, etc.

I have the running spreadsheet in Excel I update. And I've discovered that I HATE querying, because no matter how many things I throw myself into, I find that this general feeling of "ants-in-the-pants" never goes away, no matter what. It's like a toothache, festering in my brain, making me run to the mailbox (or stand by it as the mailtruck comes) and check my email 36759363857 times a day.

Querying sucks. But it's a necessary evil! Therefore I embrace the Antsiness...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I have a story out on submission. I got my first official "Not-Right-For-My-List" rejection yesterday morning. Boo. I was saddened, but hey, it's part of the process.

Hubby's reaction to the rejection surprised me.

"You should resubmit that GARDEN story you got the agent with. You know. It's been five years since you had it out on submission. They probably won't remember it. It's the best work you've ever done."

I wasn't sure if that was a compliment--Hubby seems to think that I would have a better chance if I resurrected a story that was rejected TWELVE times by publishers (although one editor loved it and we came thisclose to a sale--only to have it fall short). Granted, the last rejection was in 2005, but as one blogging agent wrote in his blog--"What worked in 2005 would not necessarily work in 2009."

I would have to dig it out of my archived files (I seriously haven't looked at it since 2007) and see if it's worth saving.

But is it even worth the effort of trying? I certainly haven't given up on my Fairy story, but what about dusting it off?

That is my dilemma. Do I try and put it out there again? Would editors remember?


Monday, May 18, 2009

And....We're OFF!!!

Now that my story is marinating and out on submission, I need to find another project. I have the rewrite of one novel pulling at me something fierce...but I also need to work on the sequel to the project on submission. I won't lie, I'm wishy washy. I love my story and my characters, but I'm "kinda still sick" of editing them.

So, I think I will pay some attention to the project that's "pulling" and give it some love. If I get interest (as in AGENT interest) in the other one, then I'll go back to work on the sequel. I still have to write a synopsis. I think I'll tackle that first, and THEN work on my EMMA rewrite.

I have EMMA written in third-person. I think it will be much more snappy if I make it in 1st person--Emma's POV, because, frankly, she's a hoot, and the stuff in her head needs to be shared with the reader. :-)

I am UPTIGHT and WAITING on the query-go-round right now, but I think this is just what the doctor ordered. DIVERSION.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Query Cold Sweats

You know how you hit "send" on the computer, and send your query to a dream agent?

Yeah. Did that twice yesterday.

I felt the need to throw up, and curl into a ball all at once, because yes, I'm not embarrassed to admit it, I have high hopes for this story!

So, I have THREE queries out there. It may be months before I hear back. So, I sit, and I wait. Because three queries is my limit for now. I want to hear from at least two of them before I query more. Because the more you query, the less chance you have of giving an agent an exclusive look at your material, should they request it, and frankly, I am old school. I think it's tacky to SAY you're giving it to them exclusively, when it's not the case. A big No No in my book. But that's just me.

Heh heh, clearly I haven't run into the "exclusive dilemma" yet. ;-)

Here's to some hopefully good news one day!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, I am IN THE ZONE with my edits right now. I am nearly finished, and OF COURSE Life is piling up activities and things to take me away from it.


(Okay, I've been reading that "Pirates Don't Change Diapers" book too much to my two-year old. ARRGH!)

I edited heavily last night, and when I went to bed, I still had a scene running through my head. Hubby laughed when I jumped out of bed to look for a pen, and write some key things down. I can't help it! I wanted to stay up, but I NEED my rest. It was past 11 pm.

It's SO Murphy's Law. When nothing's going on, you don't want to write/edit. When you have a zillion things going on, the writing pulls you. At least, that's what's happening to me.

Extremely frustrating.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Black Hole of Editland...

That sounds like a great story title! ;-)

Except it's the literal truth. I get sucked into a "black hole" when I edit. I'm reading and tweaking at the same time, and I block out noise, kids, everything. It's a gift, really. I can block out pretty much anything. Much to the chagrin of my kids...

I accomplished quite a bit yesterday. On the Writing front, that is. Not so great on the domestic front. That's where I need to learn to balance. I am horrible at it. If I go all domestic, the writing suffers. If I write, the family/home/responsibilities suffer. Because I don't do stuff halfway. I focus on one thing wholly, and everything else falls to the wayside.

It's a glitch, I know. I need to figure out how to BALANCE my responsibilities.

My husband said something to me that really resonated with me the other day. He was encouraging me in my story, and he said "I think it's great that you are doing it. You obviously like to do it, and it brings you satisfaction. I think it's a great hobby for you to have."

I guess the word "hobby" sort of got me--I'd rather it be a career, one day. Although pitiful amounts of writers really ever do make writing their career. I can't remember the percentage, but it's low. A lot of writers write as a "hobby," just like me. They don't quit their day jobs.

I know writers who write for a living. Most of the writers I know, however, work for a living and write on the side. It's a tough business. Unless you have the time and stamina to devote to it, (and the SUCCESS, which is a whole other can of worms) you will always be a "Hobby" writer.

Getting ready to enter the black hole, now. Perhaps...someday, things will change?

Monday, May 11, 2009

"A Good Writer Writes Makes Time to Write Every Day."

That's the best advice I got in college. All my courses seem to blur together, but my one Journalism class I took--I remember the first day, the professor told us we were WRITERS. And a good writer finds time EVERY day, to write.

That really stuck with me. So, in the spirit of attempting to be a good writer (and since it's good practice) I have attempted to write, every day. Whether it's a journal, a blog, a wip, as long as I devote some time each day to writing, it's all good.

What I love about Writing, is it's not a stagnant thing. Writing grows, it matures, it only gets better with age and practice. Every writer knows this, because every writer at one time or another has pulled out a piece they wrote in their earlier years (in some cases MONTHS) and read through it and cringe.

Did I really write this? It's awful! Or at least, it's not as "good" as what I write now!

We are sponges. We absorb what we read, see, hear, and we implement it in our writing. One good book can change our whole perspective. We are sentient beings. Times ten!

I only feel accomplished each day, if I write something. And that's the honest truth. I really feel it, when I don't.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Welcome to the Waiting Game!

It's been a Loooong time since I've been out on submission. Years, actually. Now that I am querying, all the old memories (most of which I've blocked from my psyche) have come flooding back like elephants riding a tank on rough boulders through my tender brain. Unwelcome memories.

My husband has been very encouraging. He's always been my #2 fan (the #1 spot belongs to my mom!) and although he doesn't "get" the masochistic aspect of querying, he's excited for me to "put myself out there."

I've realized (with help from writing buddies I've lamented to) that the key to NOT going starkers while waiting for a reply from a potential agent--is to immerse myself in another project, or other things.

I try. I really do. But there's that little voice at the back of my brain, which I call a Doubt Demon, who sometimes acts very naughty. Sometimes he likes to stand RIGHT in the front, on the rooftop of my brain and scream YOU HAVEN'T HEARD FROM (DREAM AGENT) YET! HE/SHE MUST HATE IT! YOU WRITE RUBBISH! HE/SHE IS READING YOUR SAMPLE WORK AND THROWING UP IN HIS/HER MOUTH RIGHT NOW! WHY DO YOU EVEN TRY? GO EAT AN ENTIRE BAG OF HERSHEY'S KISSES!

Yeah, that little voice is naughty. So, I have to call on the other voice, (a.k.a the voice or REASON) to occasionally knock him over the head with a frying pan and drag him back to the back of my mind, where he belongs. Silly little Doubt Demon.

Lucky for me, he's keeping pretty quiet right now, because he knows just as well as I, that any query I send out is sitting in a slush pile somewhere, and it takes time.

Of course I read the other day that this agent can respond anywhere from 8 days to 4 months, so my little Doubt Demon will probably start to get "antsy" in about two weeks.

*sigh* Gotta love the Waiting Game.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Novel Burn Out?

This is a phenomenon I'm experiencing lately. Is it possible to completely "burn out" on a project? You get to a point where you know you have to look at it, but you'd rather stick a pin through your eye?
Okay, perhaps that was a bit severe, but I am thinking it IS possible. I have a story I've written, and I thought the first draft was...Okay.

Second draft--MUCH BETTER.

Third draft...PERFECTION! Hurrah! I'd written a fabulous story!

Then I sent it to a handful of trusted readers.

I'm currently on the SIXTH draft, and I think I'd rather change poopy diapers or clean toilets before I sit down and pull it up again. I'm sick of it. I'm too close to it.

So, the next question becomes, how long do I give it, before I look at it again? Because it must be looked at. I'm thisclose to being finished--and it is a "worth it" story, in my humble opinion.

Tick tock, tick tock...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


MAN what is up with me lately? I've been slower than a slug with a heart condition on my editing. That's what happens when I write an entire novel in 30 days. I have to EDIT it for six months. When I take six months to write a novel, 30 days of editing are usually sufficient.

Funny how that works. But it makes sense.

I've got one submission out, and I'm editing said submission. Once I've finished it, I need to get started on the sequel, which is 25% written. I'm getting a pull from a different story, but I need to focus on my Evil Fairies for now.

So, I was reading the most excellent Nathan Bransford's blog the other day, and read how he hates rhetorical questions in his queries. Oooops. I have not one, not two, but THREE fabulous rhetorical questions in my opening paragraph of my query.

Here I was, thinking it was such a cute hook. Actually, I haven't gotten any critiques to the contrary, but who knows. Some agents might like (or at least not MIND) rhetorical questions as openers. My sub out there isn't to Nathan Bransford (he doesn't rep what I write) but it sure made me think.

I've also realized that these agents who blog are invaluable. They flat out TELL YOU what they like and don't like. How to do certain things. That's advice worth something.

But I still like my rhetorical questions! Let me know what you think:

Dear (Super Fantastic Dream Agent),

As Humans, we’ve all heard of Fairies. They’re magical, sweet, and grant wishes, right? What if Fairies were actually…bad? What if everything we’ve been told about them is a lie?

Yeah, boom boom boom. I sort of lay them right out there, don't I? ;-)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Time For a Change!

I'm not new to this business. Rather, I'm "new" as in I'm unpublished, but I'm not new to the "Acquiring-An-Agent-And-Trying-To-Sell-A-Manuscript" thing. I had a fantastic agent a few years ago, but we parted ways because I wasn't serious enough about the Writing business. (*insert where Lara kicks herself in the head*)

I had written a story, yes, but I wasn't willing to write others. I let other stuff get in the way. So, I'll admit, it was my fault we parted ways. He was super nice about it, and at the time, I was ready to be done with writing for a while... but the itch to write wouldn't let me go.

Over the last few years, I have written. And written some more. And now I'm ready to stop sitting on my (work) and try for an agent again!

I just sent my first (snail mail) query to the top agent on my list. It's probably sitting in her query slush pile right now. Hopefully, her assistant or under assistant or whoever she has reading them will like my idea. I guess we'll see!