Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Kind that Pays Better

In the opening credits of Castle, Nathan Fillion’s character says, “There are two kinds of folks who sit around thinking about how to kill people: psychopaths and mystery writers. I'm the kind that pays better.”

Well, I’m not so sure that being a writer pays better but I am sure that as I continue to write, I will build up quite a troubling series of search strings in my computer’s memory.
Currently, I’m searching for things like, “How much money is in a bank?” and “How to rob a bank.”
What will be next? Only time will tell. Hopefully my manuscript will be sufficient evidence to exhonerate me in a court of law.
“See, your honor? I didn’t rob that bank. I only imaginary robbed it while pretending to be a chubby 11-year-old boy."
"Okay, then. No problem."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I Am a Writer

I’m not a salesman. I think that’s what makes querying so hard. You’re selling something. You’re selling your work and you’re selling yourself. I like me. I like my work. Please, sir. Will you like me and my work too?

So I’ve got to write something fresh. Middle grade is looking good to me and I’ve got an idea and characters that I’m excited to play with. When I told Dan about the concept, he said, “That will be awesome… if you can pull it off.”

Isn’t that always the trick? Pulling off a great idea?

Sometimes I think I’ll reinvent myself as a storyteller, gathering strangers around a campfire and telling them all the stories that are traffic-jamming in my head.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Today It Sucks

It’s easy to be the next great undiscovered author when you’re sitting home alone with your manuscript. Your characters love you. You made them. Your mom and your former editor and a couple of other Beta readers love your manuscript. You think – this is going to be my breakout novel. Should I go with a veteran agent or find someone fresh and young who’s looking for their big break in the industry? Because this could surely be their big break as well.

And then you start sending it out and you realize that the road to publication is far longer and more difficult than the road to a manuscript ever thought about being.
Writing has got to be the most emo thing I’ve ever done besides bearing and raising children. You’re in love and then you’re disappointed. You’re euphoric and then you’re shattered. It’s enough to turn a healthy brain bi-polar.

This week I’ve been stalking my email inbox waiting to hear back about a contest I entered. 200 writers were accepted into the contest, essentially at random. Hundreds of hopefuls didn’t make it in because their internet speeds were too slow to upload their information in the first 30 seconds the contest was open to submissions.
And I’ve watched on Twitter as writer after writer has been chosen. There are 40 spots in the next round. So, the top 20% move on. I felt good about my query, and like nearly every other writer in the contest, I had no doubt I’d make it. After all, if I can’t be chosen as one of the top 40 in a group of 200, how will I be chosen out of thousands in a cold submission to an agent by email?

One agent I currently have my eye on said she accepts 1-10 new clients per year. She receives over 50 queries per day. So I have a 1-10 in 15000 chance of her choosing to represent me. The 1-in-5 odds of this contest seemed promising.

So, like a 20-something girl headed out to a singles mixer in an outfit she spent half her paycheck on, I put myself out there again. And I went home alone.

Maybe it should be comforting that many of the writers chosen for the contest appear to have a history with the judges. Among the winners, there were judges’ critique partners, online friends, people whose partial or full manuscripts the judges have already read. But it doesn’t. If my content were strong enough, I would have managed to rise to the top 40 entrants. That’s a lot of winners, my friends, far from an impossible nut to crack.

And the judges’ picks overlapped quite a bit. Some entrants were picked by multiple judges and some that were picked by only one judge had other judges saying, “Yeah, I had her on my short list too.” So there appears to be somewhat of a consensus about what is good and what is not.

When setbacks like this happen, successful authors seem to always use it as motivation to work harder and go stronger. Maybe I’ll get there, but today I’m just gonna let it sting and suck for a while.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dark Bird - Query

Most of you know I've been hard at work for the last year, finishing a novel. The first question everyone asks is - When does it come out? And the answer is - After I get an agent, do a bunch of rewrites, sell it to a publisher, do a bunch of rewrites and go through a rigorous editing and production process.

Currently I'm working to find representation and today that process includes posting my query and first page as part of an online contest to get my work in front of some impressive literary agents. So, for everyone who's asked for more details about the book, here goes:

Title: Dark Bird

Genre: YA Fantasy

Word Count: 70,000 words


Neen Sinclair’s obsession with super hero Dark Bird has gotten her into trouble more than twice, but she’s always been able to roundhouse kick her way out of it. Always, that is, until her little sister Mae decides to offer herself up as chum in the fight against evil. In trying to protect everyone else, Neen has inadvertently led her sister into danger.

So, when she’s offered a spot on a dive team at a wealthy Seattle high school, Neen leaves Dark Bird and her vigilante lifestyle behind in an attempt to set a different kind of example. Concentrating on her sport, she will become Neen the straight A student, Neen the championship diver with a billion college scholarship offers, Neen who leaves crime-fighting to the professionals and no longer has a chair with her name on it in the principal’s office.

However, cross-training at an off-the-grid martial arts studio, Neen ends up entangled with Hayden, an unpredictable and easy-on-the-eyes teen crime fighter who embodies everything she’s trying to run away from. Diving competition takes a back seat as a psychopath with a Robin Hood complex starts terrorizing her classmates’ wealthy families, and she can’t resist taking a stand.

As Hayden and Neen train and work together, she finds herself pulled further and further from her mysterious roots. But can they succeed at taking down their nemesis without the help of Dark Bird, a hero whose connections to Neen go far deeper than anyone realizes?

First 250 Words:

We're so close now.

My heart echoes in my chest and I wonder if he can hear the drum beat of my fear. But he doesn't look up, too focused on his own careful movements. Creeping along the stone wall, I struggle to calm my breath.

I'm getting stronger and, whether real or imagined, there's a power to Dark Bird that gives me more confidence in myself. Just saying that name gives me a sense of protection, and standing here with this guy in front of me, I feel a surge of strength greater than my own.

Dark Bird is powerful. I am powerful. Tonight I make the first move, striking forward from my place in the shadows.


The wipers squeak across the surface of my windshield as I turn the key in the ignition. Screech, slam, screech, slam. They were running full tilt during yesterday's deluge but today they only serve to startle me, adding one more knot to my mounting anxiety, a gut-tugging anticipation that's left me slightly shaky all morning.

Whatever happens, after I cross the lake today, things will be different. I tell myself that I like nearly everything about different, except maybe the fact that it means things won't be entirely the same. There are things I'll miss.

I ease my car down our gravel drive, weaving to avoid the familiar potholes, only to slam down hard into a fresh one. Pavement would be nice here, Dad. But I'm sure I'll get plenty of that in Seattle.