Sunday, May 29, 2011

Short submission, short post

Today I submitted 5 very extremely short short poems to a magazine called INCH. It's tiny. It doesn't pay anything except copies if you get in, but hey, it's only POETRY. haha. It'll be ironic if I can get these published before my good stuff.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A reading first

You know how when you start reading a book and you feel the obligation to finish it? Well, SOME of us feel this insatiable urge, even if the book is bad. It's kinda along the lines of "finish what you start" or "clean your plate."

So I just finished a book that I forced myself to finish thinking eventually this HAS to get better and it never did. It's by an author I adore, but the book was about cliche topics and went nowhere. The descriptions were gorgeous (but too long) the main character was good (but as plain as Great Value instant oatmeal) and the plot was interesting (but so convoluted I had trouble figuring out what to pay attention to and what to ignore).

After I finished the book I stared at the other two TOMES in the series and (here's the "reading first" incident) pulled up the Wikipedia entries to read the spoiler summary of both. Best decision I ever made. Saved me another week of torturous reading AND I found out what happened.

Part of me feels guilty because I didn't give the second and third books a chance. Then again, the readers on agreed with my assessment of the first book and didn't speak highly of the other two. My time is valuable and if I'm going to invest 3-4 days into a book, I need to 1) enjoy it and/or 2) learn something from it. I learned something from reading this one and NOT reading the other two: the bookworm secret agents didn't come take my reading license!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Blah blah day

What do you do when your brain's creative juices are sucked out by (insert life happenings/biological event here)? Keep writing. Even if what you type/scribble is horrible, keep writing. Even if you know everything you write will be ripped out later like flood-soaked carpet, WRITE. Otherwise, you might get into a pattern (as I often do) of not writing at all. That's where I am today.

I'm in one of those ruts where I'll type a few minutes then be possessed with the urgent need to go check the mail. Write for another few minutes, then must do the laundry. Write, then I'm hungry. Write then this, write then that. I've been doing the up and down "ooh, shiny!" routine all day and I'm pretty disgusted with myself. About all I've accomplished is mended a crocheted shawl, finished a couple loads of laundry, and logged a few more steps on the pedometer. Oh, and I think my washer's leaking, so I had to sweep up the pool of water and re-check the floor a few times, too. Sigh.

So, back to writing. Oh, did I hear the dryer go off? Gotta go check.... ;-)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wasting time

Ah, the computer is such a two-edged sword when it comes to writing. I can type much faster than I can write. Can edit faster, too. But when my attention wanders, it's SO easy to flip to Amazon or ebay or some games website and waste hours of time.

This past week has been really a challenge for me attention wise when it comes to my writing. Part of it's biological, part is stress from work, but I also take responsibility for my inherent laziness that I've given free reign. Some days my brain feels fuzzy and I don't want to do I don't. Sometimes I'm just sick of it all and want to give up. So I allow myself to be a slob for a couple days, then get some rest, pull my boots back on, and get back to work. I don't know if it's part of the female cycle or just mine, but after almost 40 years I realize this fuzzy brain laziness will pass in a few days, then I get back to work. Maybe it's the price I pay for being super focused/always busy the other 25 days of the month.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I've been spending my nights trying to locate possible agents and getting disheartened when I couldn't find any that accepted unsolicited manuscripts, my genre, or anything more than a query letter.

My first mistake was using only one source: an old Writer's Market book. Reading through the agent section and picking out only the ones that SAID fantasy left me few choices.

I figured out, though, that if I start at the beginning, type in their web address or search for their website, that I get different information. Some are under new management. Some have new agents. Some just have changed what they're looking for. And then I still run into some that think fantasy is a ridiculously hard genre to sell or they hate it. In any case, I have new hope.

I now have about 5 possibilities to send to, and that's going to be my project next week. I'm still saddened that most are query only or query and synopsis, but a couple I can send a few pages of the book, too.

Make the most of what you have!

All they can do is say "no."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Officially bummed

Okay, so I knew finding an agent would be difficult, but I thought the difficult part would be getting them to ask for a manuscript, NOT finding someone (ANYONE) who is willing to consider reading a query for a fantasy! Gack! Yes, yes, I realize the market isn't strong for adventure and magic and elves, but come on! EVERY SINGLE AGENCY I looked up this evening has agents who either A) not accepting fantasy novels (although they used to) or B) not accepting unsolicited manuscripts. GRRRR.

I may have to speed up work on my urban fantasy. Apparently that's "hot" right now. But isn't it Grimm's fairy tales (or Shakespeare) that tells us the older sister should get married first otherwise bad things happen?!!?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Print goes bad fast these days

I've been pawing through the 2009 Writer's Market for literary agents and finding a great deal is out of date. Some agencies no longer accept my genres, perhaps because those specific agents have moved on. Some listings are not quite what the book suggests. One was merely a catalog page of links to other publishing agencies. Suspicious!

I've passed on a few just on the "feel" of the web page. Not the colors or the pictures, more how easy it was to find information, how much information they had available, if they had agent bios/pics, and of course what they said. Some were very sparse with the info and it was hard to find who represents what genre. One I found offers a lot more services than agent, which again raised my suspicious flag. Maybe they're legit, maybe not.

I found an agent I like, but she didn't specifically say "fantasy" in her reading list. I sent an e-mail and am waiting to see what I get back.

My first contest

I did my homework to make sure it was legit, had several people do a once-over on my piece, used a secure method of payment, and submitted to my first contest. Well, my first PAYING contest. High-school and college literary journals don't really pay. If I don't get anything, I have my next two contests with this piece lined up. I could simultaneously submit, but then I would have to notify all the contests that I've done so, and to me that would reduce my chances of winning. The submission guidelines don't say so, but if I were running a contest, that might be the difference between publishing one good piece over another.

So the waiting begins again. Two months.

That doesn't mean I can't write/submit OTHER pieces other places. In fact, that's a strategy I learned at the conference. Have several finished pieces of several genres/types and rotate them around so you can send each to only one contest at a time but still enter several contests.

I've made a calendar in a folder to keep track of all my contest/agent queries. This way I'll know when to look for results/re-query when the deadline passes.

Friday, May 6, 2011

News on the Agent Front (dun, dun, DUN...)

Yes, folks, it is official. I have been rejected again. The agent I met at the April writers' guild meeting sent me a polite note that my piece wasn't right for their agency, and that it was nice to meet me.

The funny thing is, I'm not at all upset about it. I wasn't even shocked. Disappointed, yes, definitely. I really like the no-nonsense attitude of this woman. But the more I looked at what this agent represents (romance fantasy/science fiction), the more I realized my adventure fantasy with a TINY bit of romance wouldn't be a good fit.

So, onward and upward. I've picked out several other agents to research this weekend, plus I'm submitting at least one flash fiction piece to a few contests.

Plus, I've discovered I DO have more than one novel idea in me, and that is something I've worried about for some time. I'm currently working on an urban fantasy with a heavy romance element (well, as heavy as I get with romance. Fade to black is my go-to scene). If I can't get an agent for my first book/series, maybe I can with my second.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cool writer's tool

Wordle is a really cool tool to create a word cloud of your work. Why is this important for a writer? Well, when you copy and paste your document into Wordle, you see a visual expression of your focus. For example, if you use the word "got" more than anything else, it will be bigger than all the other words. Who wants a piece focused on such a do-nothing verb?

You can also see if your focus/hero is really the focus. If there are other characters whose names appear more often, therefore bigger font in Wordle, then your hero might not be the focus of the story. That could be good or bad depending on how you want to portray your hero.

Besides, as a visual person, I like to see my work condensed down into its most frequently used words. Gives me perspective. And changing colors and fonts is a great mind distraction when you're trying to come up with the next great plot twist.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Yet another writing book

This evening I ordered yet another "how to write" book. Part of me feels guilty at the expense because most of what I read on how to write these days are things I already know. However, from my training as a teacher, I realize that sometimes what we know in our heads and what we do are two different things. So maybe if I continue to read good books on how to write, that will improve my writing.

I'm making my summer reading list, too. Since I'm going to be working on my urban fantasy story/novel, I'm going to go back and read several of the urban fantasies out there that I really like. I'm also going to read some high fantasy books so I can continue to polish my first book. I've figured out how to end it in the middle of its 140,000 morass, thereby making two (approximately) 80,000 novels which tend to be a bit more palatable to most people's first/second book choice. My third bit of reading will be a bit more technical, as learning more about governmental agencies and psychology are current obsessions of mine.

A writer's work is never done. Now if we could just get PAID for never taking vacation...;-)