Monday, January 28, 2013

Inspiration Monday


"Keep your face always to the sunshine." Walt Whitman

This is only a partial quote, but for me it's the most powerful part. So inspiring in fact, that I just might tattoo it on my body. Just kidding.

But seriously, I am drawn to the sun. Both as it rises and it sets, because oftentimes, it's hard to tell the difference.
My thirst for the sun is physical. It warms, energizes, and uplifts me.
It's also psychological--without it I get easily depressed, grumpy, moody. (Just ask Mr. Humphries)
And it's also metaphorical--representing hope, positivity, power.

Too bad it snowed in Las Vegas today! Yeah, that's like Hell freezing over.

Regardless, I think no matter where we are in the world (Russia like Mara Rae, or on an island near Western Canada like Emily King, or at the bottom of the Rocky Mountains like Peggy Eddleman) there is always some sunlight to be seen. Even if it's only the metaphorical kind :).

Where are you finding your sunshine today?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Key to Submitting Your Work

Yes, it might feel like this when you press Send to submit your work. Whether you are sending your query to a friend to critique, a full manuscript to an agent for consideration, or your revisions to an editor for publication...you are putting yourself at risk. You have swam past the breaking waves and now you are swimming with the sharks! You're heart is racing, you start to panic, your legs are tired, the soundtrack from Jaws is playing in your head...you're thinking about giving up. Drowning would be better than being eaten alive, right?!

Okay, I might be acting a little dramatic here. Or not. Seriously, this writing thing is hard work. And not for the faint of heart. We have to be BRAVE! We have to be FEARLESS. Or at least work really hard at denying our fears. We have to be CRAZY to swim out there in shark infested waters!

But we do it. And we will keep doing it. And it will all be worth it! Who are you in the process of submitting your work to?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wednesday Quickie

I've decided that I would like to introduce a new posting theme to my blog called:

The Quickie

(Yes, I am going to take advantage of the shock value attached to that title!)

This is where I am going to post a QUICK WRITING TIP. A writing skill everyone should know. Whether it be technical or creative, useful or not, I'm gonna give it to you! You're gonna be singing the Jay-Z song: "Give it to me. Gimme that funk, that sweet, that nasty, that gushi stuf!"

Okay, maybe not.

Here's the Quickie for today:

Join Publishers Marketplace. If you are serious about becoming a published author, you should know your industry. PM is the biggest dedicated marketplace for publishing professionals to find critical information and unique databases. It's where deals are reported. Where agents, editors, writers host web pages for easily accessible information. And A LOT MORE. For more benefits click here.

The free version is called Publishers Lunch. It is the shorter, FREE version of their daily newsletter and weekly deal report. At a minimum, subscribe to this so you can be educated about the market today. Are you writing something agents and editors even want? You should know the answer to this question.

Voila! We just had our first quickie. Was it good for you?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Push Yourself

We all have talents. Abilities. Gifts.

Some of us were born with these traits, and some of us have to work extremely hard to develop them. Some of us have to...'ah, push it, push it real good!" I just love using Salt N Peppa lyrics to illustrate my points! :).

As a youth, I found the things that came most naturally to me were sports. Not music. Not dance. I was in dance for six years and I could never once do the splits! Seriously. But when I picked up a tennis racket things came very easy to me. I can still remember the first lesson I ever took and the coach couldn't believe that I hadn't been playing for years. It made me feel so good. And after that, I thrived on tennis. I progressed. I got stronger. I devoted my life to developing my natural talent. And it took me places.

Now that I am an all-washed up middle-aged mom of four, who dabbles in the practice of law (and laundry)...what talent am I developing now? What am I thriving on now? I haven't played tennis in years.

Well, I'm writing. And while I find that it didn't come as naturally to me as tennis or other sports, I'm most definitely thriving on it. I am progressing at it. I am becoming a stronger story teller every day. I am devoting my life to developing what natural talent I have and pushing myself to improve on the things that don't come easily for me.

I think it's important for all of us to continue developing our talents. And maybe not just one at a time. We can have creative muscles we work on while at the same time flexing some of our physical muscles. For example, me and my CP Erin Summerill are going to run a half-marathon in 3 weeks.

Are you pushing yourself to develop your talents?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Best Time of Year To Query

Legal Disclaimer: The opinions contained in this post are not to be misconstrued as expert advice. The thoughts and ideas expressed herein are limited to personal experience and as such should be interpreted with careful consideration. However, any disagreement shall be discussed in the comments section,  and thereafter binding arbitration.

Okay, now that we have the fine print taken care of, let's talk about queries, baby. Let talk about you and me. Let's talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be...Let's talk about QUERIES. (Please re-read the last several lines to the tune "Let's Talk About Sex" by Salt N Pepa).

I am just going to get this out there: I STALKED AGENTS. I'm not ashamed (well, a little), because I knew the agents I wanted. I knew when they were too busy to query. I knew which conferences they were attending. I knew what they were selling. I knew what they were looking for. I knew if they liked red wine or orange soda! I'm not kidding. I knew these things because I read about them. Through interviews, through their blogs, through their author's blogs, etc. I knew that my agent, Sarah Davies, was one of the top ranked agents in YA sales in 2012. I knew that she was an editor for crime novels for a long time and therefore would provide invaluable advice for my crime-ish thriller. I knew that her name starts with Sarah D... and she is from England, which I thought was a great coincidence because my best friend's name also starts with Sarah D... (for Donovan) and is also from England. True story!

With all that being said, what's the best time of year to start querying?
Let's discuss. I queried Sarah in the month of May. I'm not sure if that is the best time of year to query, but it seemed to work for me. It was before the summer months where a lot of agents take time off for summer breaks and vacations. I've also read that some agents don't like to stay indoors reading submissions all summer day when it is so warm and beautiful outside. This is obviously going to vary from agent to agent.

I do know, however, that my agent was affirmatively looking for new Talent in the month of September, as evidenced by this post of hers: Pounding of the Hooves. She talks about the freshness in the air, people going back to school and getting down to business. I would say the same thing holds true for November as well. Most everyone is so busy with their new, shiny NaNoWriMo project that they have no time for querying and therefore agents might have a slightly less gargantuan slush pile.

Others months that may be sketchy: August because of family vacations and heat waves. December because of all the unpolished NaNoWriMo submissions and also because the holidays.  January because 1) everyone (and their mother) are waiting for those agents to get back from said holiday breaks to query, 2) because a lot of those agents will be going out on submission with their clients during this month, and 3) because of a couple big conferences which a lot of agents attend. Therefore, in February, the agents may have more time to catch up on their slush piles.

But, I could be 100% totally wrong on all of this. As stated in the disclaimer, I am only speaking from my own personal experience. Your best bet is to research your favorite agents individually and find out what they are doing and when.

Let's open this up. What month do you think is good or bad for queries? What has worked for you and why?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

B is for Back to Business

Pfew! That Holiday Season was a doozie!
  • Crazy-busy. 
  • Crazy-awesome. 
  • Crazy-fast. 
I have a total Holiday Hangover. But I've missed the Blog-world. It's time to get caught up and back to business. Dontcha think?

So I did this crazy thing where I looked at my first blog post from last year. It was about goals--and sort of how I failed dismally in 2011. It was actually sort of depressing. Sorry about that. I never want to be a Moaning Millie. But I set some new goals for 2012, and I think I did pretty good! I revised like I planned, queried like I planned, went to conferences like I planned, and one of my biggest dreams came true in October when I accepted representation with Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary. So yeah, I would say 2012 was a pretty good year! And 2013 promises to be even better.

I am still a big believer in goal setting. I've always felt like if I don't know where I want to go, I won't get there. So for 2013, let's do this:

  • Attend LTUE conference in February, LDStorymakers conference in May, and SCBWI conference in August. 
  • Go to NYC for some yet to be discovered reason
  • Sell my MS currently titled KILLING RUBY ROSE 
  • Write another book that I've already outlined and "beated out"
  • Blog 3 times/week 
  • Run two half marathons (that way it will be a full marathon, right? ;) just kidding. That's all I got.
  • Go to Hawaii
  • Force, manipulate, and threaten my extremely talented CP Erin Summerill into finishing her awesome fantasy and query it this year. Yes, Erin, I just publicly called you out! And I'm pretty sure Peggy will have my back.
  • Oh, and losing 15 pounds might be good too! ha
What about you? How was 2012 for you? Got any good goals for 2013?