Friday, March 30, 2012

Query Letter Query: Strategy

We've all heard the stories. You know the amazing ones where writers tell the tales of how they landed their illusive-deer-like, super agents. It t'was Spring, and the long grass danced wildly in the breeze, and we saw each other from across the way...

Well, in a certain number of those cases it may appear like serendipity. Like the the writer and agent were star crossed, meant to be, perfectly matched. And that it happened magically, easily, painlessly. We've all seen those stories on the blogosphere, heard them from friends at conferences, or read them in magazines.

I am no expert, but I would venture to guess that in most cases of writer-agent bliss, a lot of hard work and strategy went into to it.

So I have a series of query letter queries: (and yes, we will bullet point it out)
  • How many hours of research on agents is ideal? (Don't say two months)
  • When you first start querying, how many do you shoot out at once?
  • How many of your top choice/dream agents do you put in the first round?
  • What month of the year is best? (I've heard January is the worst because agents are completely inundated with queries at that time, among other reasons)
  • If you've received a full request, or several, do you put that info in the query? 
  • Are you supposed to address it to: "Dear Agent,"? (hah...jk)
 I know there are answers to these questions "out there" in the blogosphere. What I am looking for is how YOU feel. What YOU think.

So, spill it!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I Do Not Love You Anymore

Yesterday, my six year old daughter and I had a little "situation." And no, we didn't invite that D-bag from Jersey Shore over for a tea party.

Nope, we just had a good old fashioned fight. She has been resisting any kind of organized activity since...I don't know, birth. She doesn't like dance, she doesn't like gymnastics, she now doesn't like her cheerleading class. She won't so much as look at a soccer ball or a tennis racket. I've had that sit-down talk with her so many times, you know, the one where you explain how it's good to keep trying, sticking with it, pushing past the hard work, etc. But God bless her, she has her own mind, her own desires, her own ideas!

So, I told her she could sit in her room all afternoon until dinner, or she could get dressed and get in the car, "because we are going to be late...again!" She slammed her door extra hard to make sure I knew just how she felt about her options. Uh yeah, I got the memo.

Turns out I didn't get the memo. A half an hour later I was walking past her room and saw a note on the floor. I picked it up. Here is the real memo:

"To: Mom...I do not love you anymore!" -- This is all decorated with tears, sad faces, rain, a broken heart, and exclamation points.

My first reaction was: this girl is creative! I got to get her in an art class, or theater, or get her in a story writing class (if it exists for Kindergartners) or something!

Funny how life works! And funny how she's a lot more like me than I care to admit...

Anybody got one of these "situations?"

Monday, March 26, 2012

Air In The Tires

It's Spring time in Vegas! It's been warm and breezy almost every day for two weeks, and I have brushed the cobwebs off my bubbly and bedazzled pink beach cruiser to go for some rides. My favorite thing to do in the afternoon, when the baby is napping and the rest of the family is resting, is to go for a  ride. I usually ride up to the nearest cafe and sit in the sunshine. I write, I read, I blog, I listen to music, I have a sweet drink or treat, and I relax. I adore it!

Well, the last couple days, I was noticing that the ride up the big hill was getting more and more difficult. Either I was eating too much In-N-Out Burger or the bike was the one who gained the weight! Which was more likely? (Don't answer that in the comments)

Turns WAS the bike! Well, sort of. The air in the tires were ridiculously low.

 I hadn't even noticed. I went straight to the gas station and paid one whole dollar (how stupid is that? to pay for air?) to fill the tire back up. And guess what? Today the ride up that hill was so much easier.

That got me thinking about my writing. Lately, I have felt some seriously flat mental tires. I have been revising my manuscript for months. Waiting for critiques. Revising again. Sending to more beta readers. Revising once more. Etc. But recently I have received some feedback from two particularly awesome beta readers/critique partners, and OMG have my tires been filled back up. I wrote for five hours last night and it was one of the funnest, most thrilling writing sessions I've ever had! I was on a roll, cruising if you will. :)

So the gist of this little bike anecdote is: fill those tires up! Whether you are writing, revising, or doing something entirely different, like school or another goal, get some pumping going (in a non-sexual way...or if that works for you, whatever).

Are your tires a little low? If not, what has pumped you up recently?

P.S. I absolutely adored HUNGER GAMES, the movie! In fact, it's almost all I can think about the last few days. I'm infatuated!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Winner! HUNGER GAMES Comes Out Tommorow!


No, not that kind of winner.

Who's going the midnight premiere of HUNGER GAMES tomorrow night? Who needs a couple of free tickets?

Well, Emily R. King, and a guest get to go for FREE.

Congrats Emily! Email me so that I can send the Fandango Gift Card to you ASAP.

Thanks for everyone for participating in my first ever contest giveaway. I promise it won't be the last.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Wanna Read An Awesome Thriller?

Well, you're in luck! (Cue cheesy used car salesman music).

I'm Jessie Humphries, a.k.a. the B-Word, and boy-oh-boy do I have a deal for you. Come on down to the corner of Hook Street and Deliver Boulevard in good ol' Las Vegas, Nevada where the book of your dreams is waiting for you. We will double your tax refund for your down payment, throw in 0% financing, and have you driving home with your shiny new thriller before you can say, "Jessie, you need medication!"

We'll even give you a free test drive! Here's the blurb:

When twenty-three-year-old Courtney Beckham is abducted near her home, the search turns up more than just a kidnapping crime. FBI agent Jason Edwards investigates the ten-million-dollar ransom and stumbles upon something he wasn't meant to find. And when Courtney catches a glimpse of the caller ID in her kidnapper's home, what she sees turns her world upside down.

Today is my day to highlight and review Rachelle Christensen's new thriller:

The book came out just this month, and I was totally honored when I was asked to participate in the blog tour. Especially since I loved Rachelle's first (award winning) thriller WRONG NUMBER. Plus, Rachelle is one of the nicest people I've ever met. Seriously, if you ever get the chance to meet her, or attend one of her presentations at a conference, you will be glad you did. She is lovely.

Okay, let's get down the nitty gritty, El Guapo-style. I know a book is good when I am reading it in the bath at 2 a.m., and the freezing cold water (and my husband) is screaming at me to get the hell out!

I liked this book for so many reasons that I am forced to bullet point this one out!
  • Short chapters! Please authors of the world, do this! For me. For you. For the pacing health of all mankind. It makes me feel like I am getting somewhere. It makes me feel like there is reason to go on.
  • Sexy male leads and hot bodies! Come on, I know there is not always a reason in real life for hot men to take their shirts off. But this is fiction! Take their shirts off. Well done Rachelle. There was sufficient topless moments for the hunky FBI Agent Jason Edwards. Not overdone in a werewolf kind of way, or a erotic kind of way, just some good clean gawking fun.
  • Cliffhangers. I'm sorry but I need them like I need Diet Coke. I'm like a stupid mouse smelling the Coke-flavored-cheese--I will go into that trap to get it. Rachelle did an awesome job of luring me along the winding path.
I could go on and on...but I won't. So go buy it already! HERE or HERE. Click here to see the book trailer. And if you visit Rachelle's websiteand click on her blog link, you can enter her contest for a new Ultra Flip Video Camcorder (4GB memory, Records 120 minutes Value $149.99) and other great prizes. You can enter to win between now and April 14, 2012. Winners will be announced and notified April 16, 2012.

P.S. You can still enter my Fandango Bucks giveaway. Scroll down one post to check it one time.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    I Am Not A Contest Snob

    I am starting to realize that I am a way Bigger B-Word than I originally thought. There are so many things that I have failed to do in my time as a regular blogger. Award passing ons, offering any substantive writing advice, and CONTESTS.

    My writing Bff Erin has come up with a totally awesome contest to make things interesting. She is giving away a headshot. The thing is, I could totally use one of those. So voila, here is my mention of her contest. Go over there and enter to win.

    This got me thinking, what do I have to offer as a prize for my own giveaway? A free Last Will and Testament? A Living Trust? A critique? A book? Cold hard cash???

    Nope, while all those things would be totally rad, I decided to give away:

     $20 of Fandango Bucks!

     THE HUNGER GAMES movie comes out 8 days. I am so beyond stoked to go see it that I already bought my tickets a month ago. But for those of you who have not, here's your chance at free tickets.

    How to enter:

    You can have multiple entries by:
    1. Follow this blog
    2. Leave a comment (about what you would give away if you decided to come up with a random giveaway...or whatever.)
    3. Post about this random giveaway on your blog.
    4. Facebook about the contest.
    5. You can tweet it too if ya wants.

    Just let me know how many entries you are claiming in the comments, and you are entered.

    The contest will be open from NOW until March 21 (the night before HUNGER GAMES premiers).

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    I Am Not An Award Snob

    So, in the past, I've never carried on any of the blog awards that people have so generously bestowed upon me. I know, I know, that makes me sound like a total award snob. Or worse. I've tried to give thanks to those who were kind enough to think of me, but beyond that I haven't really participated in the various blog awards that go around these blogging circles.

    Theory #1: I really am a big ol' B-Word.

    Suspicion #2: I haven't really received all that many awards to begin with.

    Allegation #3: I don't really like telling people inconsequential details about myself in memes, because who cares about my personal tastes and ideas anyway?

    Truth be told, it's probably a mix of all three.

    But today is a new day. Thanks to Katie Dodge and Angela Cothran, who have awarded me the Sunshine Award, I am breaking new ground.

    I am going to participate. Without further ado:

    Favorite Color?
    Yellow. I love how bright and exciting it is. Plus, I am a yellow according the personality test in the book called THE COLOR CODE.  "All roads lead to the beach."
    Favorite Animal?
    Definitely not dogs at the moment. My dang puppy won't stop pooping on my carpet!!!
    Favorite Number?
    I always thought it was 11. But that has never actually worked on the Roulette table for me, so number 11, you are dead to me!
    Favorite (non-alcoholic) drink?
    That's too easy. I am a total Diet Coke addict. Just hook me up to an DC-IV already!
    Facebook or Twitter? 
    I don't care for either much. But I at least understand Facebook, so whatev FB.
    My passion? 
    Travel. I want to go on vacation every weekend of my life.
    Getting or Giving presents?
    Depends on what it is. I know that sounds bad, but if it's a DC-IV, I am pretty sure only me or Erin Summerill would want that :).
    Favorite pattern? 
    Stripes. They are slimming.
    Favorite day of the week?
    Saturday--play day.
    Favorite flower? 
    Yellow rose. 

    There you have it. Some ridiculous crap you didn't know about me!

    Thanks Angela and Katie. You are two of the most AMAZING writing friends I know.

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    I Need More Cowbell

    I don't know what's going on with me...but I'm pretty sure a little more "cowbell" would help.

    What do I mean by "cowbell," you ask.

    No, I don't need to re-watch the notorious SNL skit (but I don't think that would ever hurt).

    No, I don't need actual cowbell music in my life (I don't think anybody does).

    What I mean to say is that elusive something to kick myself back into a writing routine. Get my writing mojo back. That desire that turns into a passion, which sometimes morphs into obsession. That thing that used to get me out of bed at 6 a.m. just to write a new scene, a new chapter. I'd call it my muse, but since some call the muse thing a myth, I won't go there. I need a tactile, physical, mental boost to get going again.

    Everyone gave me great suggestions in my last post. I haven't disregarded any of them. In fact, I am going to try them and see when the cowbell returns.

    Could you use a little more cowbell too?

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    Just A Little Lull

    Are you like me, and feeling a little like this right now?

    Like a big ol' hibernating bear, trying to pick yourself up and get that hunger to get things going again. Like you know Spring is coming soon, the sun will warm up one of these days, bees will be buzzing in the air, and energy will start flowing.

    Yeah, well, that's how I feel at the moment. October was awesome for NaNoWriMo. December was full of activity and action--I was still riding the waves of revision highs. January kicked in, then February, and now March...ugh...I can barely look at my manuscript, let alone make it better. I missed the LTUE conference that seemed to light a fire for so many of you. The next conference I am planning on attending is Storymakers, which isn't until May.

    So what do I do now to reinvigorate myself and my writing? Plan a writer's retreat with some of you? Force myself back into a schedule? Start a new idea?

    What are you doing to overcome "Seasonal Affective Disorder?"

    Monday, March 5, 2012

    Book Monday: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

    Holy Minolo Blahnik you guys! This book freaked me out so bad, I couldn't sleep well for several nights. I mean, I thought I was seeing someone standing in my door frame in the middle of the night. I thought I was hearing footsteps downstairs. I could have swore I felt a chill sweep through the room (more than once). I had dreams of cracked-in skulls and stolen children.

    But this is the thing: I loved it. (In a love-hate kind of way).

    Was it too horrifying? Maybe.

    Is it ever cool to use Ouija Boards in fiction, or otherwise? Debatable.

    Is killing for good reasons okay? Very interesting!

    All I know is that I couldn't put it down. Even at 3 a.m. when the sounds in the garage sounded an awful lot like caged souls trying to escape...I kept reading.

    Did you read it? Did you like it? And more importantly, was it too dark?

    Friday, March 2, 2012

    Voice vs. Plot Smackdown

    Last night I was at my second ever installment of book club. We reviewed SHATTER ME, by Tahereh Mafi. This was my favorite read for 2011, and therefore MY my suggestion for our churchie little book club.

    Let's just say I was shocked when everyone in my book club didn't feel the same as me. At one point, my friend turned to me and asked, "Exactly what about this book made you think it was so good?" My jaw dropped a little before I could collect myself to answer.

    I liked it because of Miss Mafi's unique voice, her breakthrough style, her revolutionary disregard of complete sentences. I was blown away by how different and poetic the prose developed. Her response was, "Oh." Pause. "Well, what about the plot?"

    "What about the plot?" I responded.

    "There wasn't one," another girl reasoned with me. "Not until the very end anyway, and then the ending was beyond weak, totally ripped from the comic book section, and lackluster," she debated.

    The next twenty minutes were full of opinions on how bad the actual plot was. How did I overlook that? I mean, I knew the ending wasn't as fabulous as the beginning, but I hadn't placed enough emphasis on it. I've come to realize that I favored voice over plot. As a fellow writer I was blown away by that "Oh So Undefinable Golden Tool" (voice) that I didn't pay attention to how essential plot is as well.

    So what do you think? Voice vs. Plot?
    (I know both are important! It's not one or the other. Otherwise my large book club wouldn't have cared, right? Which one do you appreciate or favor more?)