Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's Nothing Personal

If you recall, in "I'm Not a Stalker...Really" I expressed my desire to work with an agent who had an Internet presence in the form of an excellent blog. Well the email that I was waiting for came and it was a rejection (form) letter (email). Ending the possibilities of finding a home for my project and all projects to come. Normally, I'm able to take the blow and move on, but it has become clear, that a rejection over a query is very different than having a manuscript rejected.

In "Mixed Reviews," I ranted how it's mind blowing agents can decide on whether to see your manuscript based on a query (and possibly sample pages). Those rejections I can handle without seeing it as personal (I received five in the past two days and I'm still standing-unfazed). Agents (and gatekeepers) are bombarded with writer hopefuls, praying that someone will find interest with their work. But when a agent finds interest, requests more and than rejects you, how can you not take it personal?

Take this analogy if you will. To me, the query letter is like an annoying door-to-door salesperson ringing (and/or knocking) on your door. A request for a partial/full manuscript is the same as offering that person into your home. Do you know how rare access is? So once you get inside it's up to the salesperson to convince the homeowner to purchase what he/she is selling. In the world of publishing, once a substantial sample of your work is in an agent's hands, it's your writing that will have that impact necessary to obtain representation.

There are many reasons why an agent won't offer representation. Either he/she didn't connect to the material. The writing sucked. The story sucked. Too much to revise. Not easily marketable. Unfortunately, the agent most of the time gives a polite form rejection letter that usually implies that the manuscript wasn't the problem, but the agent's enthusiasm towards it was. It's (again) polite and encouraging, but still gives the author hope that one agent will have that fervor the others lacked. But, if the writing and/or story sucked, an agent's acceptance will never come. For some that might be okay, but for me I would like to know.

If a writer's growth is based on how he/she progresses through revisions and further projects, then it would be helpful to know an agent's honest opinion. Especially, if she/he thought it was worth reading. I'm not asking for line to line analysis, just one's overall perception. It still can be polite, just straight to the point. Why should I waste another agent's time if the manuscript is completely doomed? Besides, I'm still going to possess the same thoughts with a formed rejection then I would without being told the truth.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mood of the Day....


Blasting nothing but Kittie (Brackish and Charotte).

Maybe I'll discuss it further tomorrow.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Procratination 101

I am a major slacker when it comes to doing work. Writing doesn't become "work" to me until it's time to editor in preparation for the next draft or the final line edit. Besides the bouts of writer's block, writing is an enjoyable experience. It have everything in your head come neatly together on paper. It's the ultimate natural high.

But when procrastination does hits, whether it's writer's block or not, here are a few types that have helped me:

  • Discover the cost - Is procrastinating keeping you from getting what you want? If the answer is yes (which it usually is with me), then this might be the kick in the butt that you need to do the tedious chore (whatever that might be) that you've been putting off.

  • Let feelings follow action - Do it first. Your mood will catch up. Once I'm in my protagonist's world, it doesn't matter how I got there, I'm still riding the wave.

  • Be aware of your best time of day - That's when you can get your work done. I'm a night person. I rarely can hit my stride before 10pm.
  • Learn to Say No - Ignoring your own responsibilities to do something else, is one way to lose the grasp of what you need to do.
  • Ask “What’s My MIT (Most Important Task)? - Finding the answer to this question will help you realize what needs to be done.
  • Break Down Large Tasks - Expand the task over days for completion. Unless you're one of the lucky writers who don't work or have other responsibilities besides writing, the likelihood of getting all your editing (etc.) work done in one day is impossible, besides unwise (you'll miss something).
  • Plan Rewards - Rewarding yourself after completion of assignment is essential. It fosters positive reinforcement. It’s your own “pad on the back” for completing the job. And besides, you might not fall into the procrastination rut if you know a reward is waiting for you once you finish this daunting task in the writing process.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mixed Reviews

So far, agents (or the gatekeepers to those agents), either love me or hate me (my query that is), based on query alone. I find it odd that a one paragraph synopsis could have the agent interested or not. Some say that the query is harder than writing the manuscript in the first place. I seriously would have to agree. It's extremely difficult to say, "Read me!" within two paragraphs.

My usual query letter has two paragraphs dedicated to the manuscript (paragraph one: the hook; paragraph two: the synopsis), followed by a paragraph dedicated to me as a writer (my inexperience in the writing world and my marginal successes in other writing realms) and then I end the letter with why I thought the agent would be interested in my book (sometimes citing examples of work they've represented).

That is not hardly enough to base a decision if you like it or not. So obviously the agent (or gatekeeper) must be going on subject matter alone. Not the YA part, because I wouldn't have queried them if they didn't represent YA, it's the type. This seems to be the problem with my creativity.

I write YA (which I mentioned before), but not the fairytale "everything's going to be fine" type. I feel that if the voice is to be believable, there can't be a fairytale ending, just comprehension - growth. My protagonist has a journey to make, and she comes in contact with others on their own journeys. Naturally there's no smooth sailing, she's a teenager. That alone should scream the makings of an emotional rollercoaster in the land of the unknown (which could be anything).

Isn't that the goal of writing YA? To capture the uncertainty, while showing the growth that comes from discovering the unknown? I admit my world is darker or "edgier" than some, but it's still the same world. Nothing is sugar coated and syrupy sweet, but does that mean because of its rough edges, it will be passed up? Where only a brave few will be willing to read passed the initial query? Has it come to me making the edges disappear so that more agents will be interested? I can't even fathom an unrealistic imaginary world of force fed happiness.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Soundtracking Your Life

If your life was a movie, what songs would be playing as backdrops to the scenes in your life? On any given day (hour), I jump on the music spectrum from rock to rap, with some heavy mental scattered in. Not to forget the mid-spectrum rock-rap like Jayz and Linkin Park or Rage Against the Machine (Oh how I would've loved to have been Mrs. Zach De La Rocha). Then there's classical, R&B, Pop and those "oldies" no one can escape. Plus, there's the music I can't categorize like Tricky (Is he considered techno?) Regardless, these are the melodies that forever play in my head. My MP3 Player is a testament to my diverse musical palate.

Today I found myself wavering between a don't-mess-with-me-or-you'll-get-the-wrath-meant-for-someone-else mood and a just-leave-me-alone-and-let-me-be-glum mood. Since I'm borderline paranoid, I won't go into specifics. Let's just say that I am having a difficult time with a recent meeting I had with my supervisor, that left a bitter taste in my mouth. One that has me loathing waking up on a weekday. Couple that with my mild case of writer's block and a chest cold that refuses to develop or defuse, I'm a snarky force to be reckon with. Therefore, my soundtrack today thus follows:

Jayz/Linkin Park - 99 Problems

Kittie - Brackish

Beth Hart - Learning to Live

Howie Day - Collide

Howid Day - Sorry So Sorry

God Smack - Whatever

Garbage - Bleed Like Me

Everly - Maybe

Korn - One

Eminem/Rihanna - Love The Way You Lie (I guess the secret's out, I'm a closet Eminem fan.)

With the weekend almost here, I wonder what tomorrow's soundtrack will be. Stay tune...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I'm Not A Stalker...Honestly

I find myself once again falling for an agent. Between researching, querying and submitting requested material, it's hard not to find one agent in the process that you would love to work with. During my first round of querying I fell hard for a top notch agent. I never expected that this "no response means no" agent would actually request a partial (50 pages) of my manuscript. I was elated and then the obsession began. I did more research about the agent, her client list and the successes that she brought to first time authors. Then a week later, the rejection letter came. I was crushed. Initially, when she requested material I thought it was a fluke. When my hopes were dashed, I knew it was one. Now I can't even look at the agency's name without thinking of what could have been.

Presently, I'm completely focused on my next project. Keeping the querying manuscript far from my thoughts. But after two requests for the full manuscript, my stalkish ways have started again. Both agents who have the material are excellent and I know either one will do the book justice, but there is one who has more of an internet presence, making it easier for me to obsess. Since rejection has a possibility to be imminent, and more unanswered queries still out there, I don't want to focus on one agent. Hell, I don't even want to think about this manuscript and what agents are interested and who are not. Of course, rejections I have received still sting, but I've become thick-skinned. Both interests I thought at first were rejections. I guess I'm used to it.

Anyway, I found who I think would be the perfect agent for me. She seems passionate for her writers' work and is willing to put in the extra attention to make a deal. An added bonus is that she's looking for the YA I write. In my mind it's a perfect fit. Too bad there are two people in this equation. After reading it, she might not think we fit. Then I am once again bruised by the harshness of this business. Knowing me, only to find another agent to fall for.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The beating has begun.....

Today I embarked on my next round of querying. I'm either a true writer, dedicated to finding an agent or a sadomasochist looking to be beaten repeatedly by rejection. I would like to believe I was the first, but as the replies begin to role in, I might be proven to be the latter.

I sent them out this afternoon. Two will be snail mailed tomorrow. My last post will be tested. Hopefully, I won't embarrass myself by checking my email crazily. Of course, I already checked it and there was a reply. "So soon?" I thought. Barely two hours later. Don't get me wrong, I love an agent who responses quickly. I rather have an answer (good or bad), then nothing. But I was hoping I could have a day or two, considering the work week is almost over, at least until Monday before the beating commenced. I should've waited for the weekend. Then I had a surefire chance not to be rejected until next week.

Also, true to form, I didn't open yet. I'm instead, typing this blog entry, trying to stall as long as possible. But like this entry, that too will come to an end. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Watched Pot...

Can the old saying "A watched pot never boils" apply to emails? My inbox (my email dedicated to writing) has been empty for days, dare I say weeks. At first, I checked it twice a day, trying not to fall into the every hour trap that so many of us find ourselves in. Forgive me, for I have sinned. I found myself doing the one thing that I didn't want to do. In the beginning, I kept to my twice a day. Then agent responses started coming in. Naturally, knowing that a request could be waiting for me, I was compelled to continuously check my email account, usually to find nothing. Now I'm desperately waiting those agents who is so many words make it clear patience is a virtue one needs for their response. So I wait and watch...and watch...and watch, until I hate the very idea of email. It's so instant. It almost makes me wish that more agents were old fashion and insist on snail mail. The urge is so strong, I've already checked my email twice as I wrote this rant on the very subject. Is there such thing as an email checker addiction? If so, when's the meeting?