Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Look What Santa Brought the Northeast!

OK, so this has nothing to do with my post, but I've noticed some activity on my blog.  I haven't publicized it or told anyone (scratch that- I've told three people.  Three people who don't blog) it exists, but clearly people are finding me because the number of page views keeps increasing.  So I just wanted to say that I have no problem with people signing up as followers.  None at all.  Really.  If you're reading, I'd love to know who you are.  Please.  Pretty please?

Anyhow, Santa bestowed a belated Christmas gift on the northeastern U.S. this year: a big ol' blizzard.  It started so innocently.  For the first few hours, it was nothing more than a sprinkle of angelic-looking snowflakes.  Here is my yard around 12:30 in the afternoon when it started:

Nothing impressive, right?  I didn't even bother to hope work might be cancelled on Monday.  Especially when hours later, my yard had only gone from the above to this:

Then, all of a sudden, the wind started howling like a wolf at the moon.  My house was literally shaking.  All I could see when I looked outside was white, until it was too dark to see anymore.  When I woke up the next morning, this was the sight that greeted me from my bedroom window:

Note the shrubs and stone wall have completely disappeared.  They're hidden beneath snowdrifts, much like the one that was waiting for us outside the front door:

And just in case you didn't believe me about the wind... Here you go.  Such a beautiful sight.  Especially when it DID get me out of going to work : )

Does anyone else love the snow as much as I do? : )

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boys: The Unflattering Sequel

So after careful consideration, I've come up with the flip side of my Most Wanted list.  Whether they're sleazy, skeevy, or just plain creepy, these are the YA boys who will haunt my dreams for all the wrong reasons:

5) Tamani from Wings and Spells
Maybe it's the whole low-man-on-the-faerie totem pole that turns me off.  Or maybe it's just the green roots of his hair.  Or maybe it's that I find Laurel to be kind of bitchy and hate that David and Tamani fall all over her just because she's hot.  I like man who fights for what he wants, but begging a girl to love you?   Oh, no.  No one should have to beg, and especially not to a girl who readily admits she keeps her adoring hottie human boy so she doesn't have to be alone outside the faerie realm.  Total beyotch.  Grow a pair and get over her.

4) Mike Montgomery from the Pretty Little Liars series
Blue eyes and dark hair is almost always a winning combination in my book.  It might even distract me from the fact that his name is short for Michaelangelo.  But Mike Montgomery is the kind of guy who ruins his good looks every time he opens his mouth.  Immature AND perverted.  Now there's a winning combo * insert sarcasm here*.

3) Christopher from Flowers in the Attic
OK Chris, I know that at the time you were locked in the attic with your sister, it was at a very formative, very hormonal point in your life.  But she's still your SISTER for crying out loud!!  And you weren't in there forever!  Shake it off, buddy!  There are plenty of fish in the sea, and ones who come with the added bonus of not needing to worry about inbreeding.  Talk about not knowing when to get over it! 

2) Reth from Paranormalcy
So just as wolf boys kept popping up in my other list, faeries keep popping up on this one.  It's not that I have anything against faeries per se, but Reth (despite being short for "Lorethan", which I thought was a pretty sexy name) comes across as a total cretin.  Speaking in convoluted riddles?  Materializing in Evie's room unannounced?  Constantly telling her he wants to "fill" her?  Ewww!  It sounds like a romance novel euphemism for getting it on, except he supposedly has no interest in things of that nature (and WTF is up with that??)  I think that's enough strikes to take him out of the game.  Plus, the whole no-nipples-or-belly-button thing freaks me out a little.  You stick with your see-through water boy, Evie.  At least he's anatomically correct.

1) Ben from the Touch Series
So Ben has the power of psychometry, and can see flashes of your future when he touches you.  Look out though, because if it gets too intense, he may just end up hurting you.  I can only speak for myself, but if I had a crush on cute boy, the last thing I would want him to see is visions of my dead body when he puts his hands on me.  And then nearly crushing me from the effort of it?  How romantic.  But I guess it's better than actually BEING mysteriously dead, like his ex-girlfriend.  Or worse, being obsessed with Ben to the point of pathetic, like Camelia.  I know Ben is supposed to come across as brooding, mysterious, and tortured, but I just found him totally creepy.  Keep those psychometric paws off me.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

What are the odds that there's a literary agent hiding in one of these boxes??

Sadly, not a chance.  I wrapped them all.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pretty Little Lies

First let me start by saying that I am in no way slamming literary agencies with this post.  Seeing as I am desperately seeking representation from an agent, that would be like biting the hand that may someday (hopefully, pretty pretty please) feed me.

I have to backtrack a little and say that I am so glad I only sent out a handful of queries this time around.  None of them rendered the response I was looking for, and this tells me my letter still needs work.  Having said that, my frustration is two part:

1) Have you ever read a book and found yourself enjoying it so little, you wondered how it was published in the first place?  The process is supposed to occur as follows, correct?
- agent's interest is piqued by query letter
- agent requests more material
- material decidedly does NOT suck, so agent begins pitching it to publishing houses
- publishing house concurs material is worth investing in, publishes the book
- We read it and agree or disagree
Granted, everyone's tastes are different, but I have read some books where the material definitely DOES suck.  Trite plotting, cliche dialogue, completely unrealistic scenarios... it almost makes me angry.  But here's the catch - there was SOME reason that agent, publisher, and finally me as the reader were drawn to the book in the first place.  Someone, most likely the author, found some way to cleverly present the premise.  Agent and publisher expanded on it.  They drew us all in, and while agent and publisher cash their checks, do they care that I don't stand behind my investment in their product?  And did they take it on because THEY genuinely believed in the product, or were they merely confident they'd found a way to spin it into best sellerdom?

So my main frustration is this: Even if my novel DOESN'T suck (and I do realize my opinion doesn't count in this respect), an agent would never know it if they're throwing away my sample pages based on the query alone.  Even if I've written the novel competently, I'm not SELLING it effectively.  So while my query is deleted, another query is moving on to the next round.  Will it become a novel some of us wish we'd never read?  Who knows.  But they made someone believe in their product.  EVERYTHING rides on that letter.  Which leads to my second frustration:

2) Many (some, not all) web sites and/or agencies make it sound like your query stands a chance so long as it is free of the glaring no-no's all agents despise.  For example, addressing it to the wrong person, bragging about yourself, not including the word count/genre, making spelling/punctuation errors, etc. 
Don't be fooled.  They are just being kind.  Your query can be grammatical perfection, with an ideal word count and a clearly identified genre, but guess what?  You still can and will be rejected.  It's not enough to do everything correctly.  You have to do it exceptionally.

So, Stephenie Meyer, despite what you would like us all to believe, your query obviously didn't suck.  But mine is clearly not at the exceptional level yet, so back to tweaking I go.  And when I do get to the next round, I sincerely hope no one regrets buying my novel! 

If anyone stops by and has ever been driven to distraction wondering how a book they found intolerable made it to publication, I'd love to know about it.  Happy Saturday!

Monday, December 13, 2010


So my last few posts were a bit negative.  Today I decided to lighten up a bit by making a list of the boys I would most like to date from the YA novels I've read lately.

You know... if they actually existed.  AND if I were seventeen physically, instead of of just mentally.  And not married, of course.

So, here goes:

#5) Colt from the Secret Year. 
Why?  Because I can tell he's HOT.  Even his name is hot.  Why else would Julia have been so drawn to him?  And Syd, and Kirby?  I've read very few novels from the perspective of a male, and he scores points just for that.  Unfortunately, he seems a little lacking in ambition, and he has trouble with the "L" word.  That's why he's at the bottom of the list.

4) Sam from Shiver and Linger
A boy who plays guitar and thinks in song lyrics?  Um, yes please.  Oh yeah, and the shifting into a wolf thing is pretty sexy too.  Minus all the vomiting.  But to have that kind of adoration from a boy is the kind of thing every young girl dreams about.  Hence his existence in the pages of book, and not in the teenage world I lived in, damn it.

3) Tie: Edward and Jacob from Twilight
Technically I am die-hard team Jacob, and was long before Taylor Lautner and his abs brought the character to life.  But here's the devotion issue again... their love for Bella is so intense it's yes, quite cheesy.
But who would complain about being in the middle of that obsession sandwich?  Not me.  So if I don't have to pick, I'm not going to.

2) Peeta from the Hunger Games
He is so effing sweet.  Burning his family's bread knowing he would take a beating, just so Katniss could have something to eat?  I've actually teared up just thinking about it.  Enough said.

1) Shay from Nightshade
First of all, Andrea Cremer's description of his shirtless body is enough to render him my number one pick.  And he seems to be an utterly fantastic kisser.  AND he's smart, and well read, and yes there's the whole wolf thing again.  Guess I love me some wolf boys.  But honestly - though it's been quite a few years since I was in high school, I remember the hot/intelligent/sweet combo being a very difficult one to come by.  At least at that age.  ( Just an aside, my hubby embodies all three, thank you very much.)

So congrats, Shay.  I would have blushed furiously and avoided eye contact at all costs if we had gone to high school together.  And then you would have dated my friend(s).   

Now that I've proven just how immature I am, at least I'm smiling again.  Coming soon: the ones I would be least likely to date, and the accompanying word vomit of rationale behind it. ; )

Thank God no one reads this thing!  But if anyone does stop by, I would love to know your picks!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Peace & Quiet & Good Will Toward Men

I've come to the conclusion that all I want for Christmas is nothing to do.

I'm sure the things going on in my life are the culprit, but my Christmas spirit appears to have been hijacked this year.  I'm so busy concentrating on all the niggling details that I'm having a hard time remembering why I was such a Christmas junkie to begin with.  For example: my house is an absolute disaster because I've had no time to clean it.  And why?  Because two weekends ago my husband and I ventured off to Newport to see the mansions decorated for Christmas and to Boston for a relative's christening.  Last weekend, we got up bright and early and set out to make a dent in our Christmas shopping.

And talk about annoying.  I have this mania about finding everyone their perfect gift, and I was not feeling it that day.  The deals were nothing special, the Gap wouldn't let me use my coupon for sale items, and while trying to locate "the" gift in Express for my sister-in-law, all I could concentrate on was the throngs of screaming children outside the store waiting to have their picture taken with Santa. 

We left with a few more people scratched off the list, but far too many incomplete for my taste.  Then on Sunday I spent some long overdue time with my sister, and there went that weekend.  And this weekend?  I needed an oil change, we celebrated my sister-in-law's birthday, and... we went to get our tree.  I didn't even want a real tree this year.  I wanted to totally slum it and get a fake one, foregoing the needles all over my floors, the endless watering (and consequent spilling), and of course, my husband yelling because I'm not holding it straight enough while he's tightening the tree stand.  I admit being out at the tree farm made me feel slightly less grinch-y, and the tree is making my (filthy) house smell heavenly.

My plan today is try and tackle some of the mess, do more shopping online, and maybe get in some decorating and wrapping.  But I feel guilty about it, because I'll be missing the Mass dedicated to the ten year anniversary of my grandfather's passing.  I also don't know how much I'll actually accomplish, because I seem to be permanently exhausted.  It's probably hormonal, but it's like trying to function underwater.  And of course, tomorrow it's back to work.  That black hole that sucks up all your time and energy and doesn't care that you have a life outside its doors. 

Sound a little negative?  Yeah, told you so.  And this HIGHLY unusual for me, because I normally adore Christmas.  I'm one of the first people to send out my Christmas cards.  My souvenir from every vacation is always an ornament for my tree.  I host Christmas day at my house, and I love watching people open the gifts I've chosen for them even more than I enjoy opening my own.  And yes, my novel takes place around Christmas time, too.

But I suppose it's no surprise that there's a kink in my Christmas mojo this year.  Yet, if getting the tree yesterday cleared away the Grinch cloud for a bit, maybe decorating it today will ease a little more of my Bah Humbughood.  But just so you can see what I'm talking about, here are some photos.  Behold the mass of unwrapped gifts, totes of Christmas wrap and decorations, and general messines.  But the tree is pretty, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

One Piece of Crappy News at a Time, Please

So I went back to the doctor this morning and, just as we knew it probably would be, the sac was still empty.  It had gotten bigger, but alas, there was no bean-like thing sitting inside waiting to turn into a child. 

I am ok with it.  I knew what to expect and I had accepted the idea that this wasn't going to be a baby weeks ago.  Now the scary part, though.  Whereas my last miscarriage was futher along and ended with a D & C, this time they want it to happen naturally, if it can.  And that part terrifies me.  The doctor made it sound like no big deal, but he also told me the recovery time for my laparoscopic surgery was two days.

Um, no. 

Two days later I still couldn't stand up straight and had to go to work in sweatpants to accommodate the swelling.  I know he was probably trying to scare me as little as possible, but now I'm on to him and I'm leary.  Then again, plenty of women have gone through this and survived, so maybe it won't be as hellish and gory as I'm envisioning. 

Still, given the way the day started, I am avoiding my e-mail inbox like the plague.  I can handle one piece of bad news.  But put it together with more rejection and hand it to me in a big red bow, and I guarantee I will cry.  And I HATE crying.  It's not something I do very often, but it seems that once I start, any little thing sets me on fresh bender.  Do I really need to hear that I suck at conceiving AND suck at writing, all in the same day?  I think not.

Besides, I've been waiting since the end of October to hear back on two of those queries.  I can probably assume they are big fat R's by now, but what difference will it make to wait one more day?  Instead of bad news, I'll overindulge in something else.  Like maybe a good book ; ) 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

In Your Face, Universe!

Another rejection popped up in my inbox today.  The exact response was, "Thank you for the query, but this does not sound like a project that is right for me."

That's it.  None of the usual lessen-the-blow mumbo jumbo about another agent may feel differently, etc. etc.  I'm starting to think another agent may not feel differently.  Which is especially disheartening, considering this newest rejection is coming on the heels of another devastating blow: I'm losing a second pregnancy.  My husband and I have been trying for two years to have a child, and after the first year we were thrilled when we conceived after a few routine tests.  But at the seven week ultrasound, it was clear things were not progressing normally.  The pregnancy ended at nine weeks with a D & C when it became obvious my body was not recognizing its error.  From there, difficulty conceiving started again.  One year, a new doctor, several tests, and a surgery later it was discovered I had both low progesterone levels and early stage endometriosis.  With the endometreosis lasered away and the progesterone being supplemented, my husband and I were confident my next pregnancy was both imminent and indestructible.

But, when I got pregnant this time, it was soon clear that I was going down a familiar path.  Any symptoms I had faded away very early on, and the hard little bump in my belly disappeared.  Sure enough, the ultrasound of what should have been a 7+ week fetus showed nothing but an empty sac.  I have to go back next week just to be certain, but I already know what to expect.

So, at this point, it's hard not to feel like a failure on all counts.  Pregnancy, which is so easily achieved by many, has eluded me for two years now.  There are no guarantees I will ever succeed.  And just as having not one but TWO miscarriages makes me question the viability of my dream of motherhood, all these rejections are bound to make me question the viability of my other dream: getting published. 

I can't let go of both dreams.

And I'm not giving up on either.

So, agents of the literary sort, be warned.  You will be hearing from me.  I will continue to query.  And damn it, one of you better stop telling me my project isn't right for you.  It's right for someone, and I will find you.  And beginning tomorrow, I'm forcing myself to continue writing the story I abandoned out of sheer lack of self confidence.  Neither baby nor book deal with be achieved if I give up.  So if the universe is determined to mess with me by sending down a hurricane of failure, fine.  I will stand right in the middle of it, and refuse to budge until I see the rainbow.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Here We Go Again

So of the four queries I was brave enough to put forth, I received my first form rejection today.  I wasn't surprised.  It was an agent I had already queried, back when the manuscript had 6000 more words and the query letter flat out sucked.  And even though I used my new and improved letter, my much more desirable word count, and even changed the title, the answer remained the same.  Oh well.  One down, three to go.  Or, it could be two down.  Unfortunately, one of the agents I queried, who I am really REALLY hoping to hear from, only responds on projects she's interested in.

I know agents think this is great, time-saving idea, but I HATE it.  Especially since this agent in particular doesn't give a time frame in which to assume she's passed on your project.  So, I have no idea if I should be holding out hope for a couple more weeks, or if the two that have passed are my death knell with her agency.  And while I do realize the volume of letters agents receive, is it really so hard to send out an automated rejection?  Silence just leaves me wondering if they ever received my e-mail in the first place.  And quite honestly, I put a LOT of work into my query letter, and would at least like some form of acknowledgement, even if it's a polite "no thanks".

So while my confidence is one again teetering after that dreaded e-mail this morning, I have to say it still beats silence.  At least I know the letter - the one that took me four months to write - was received and read, and worth the two seconds to push the rejection button.  And that's exactly my point: four months writing the book, four months writing the letter, countless hours revising.  I have to wonder if agents forget that an author's time is valuable, too.  Have a little respect for that SEND THE DAMN E-MAIL.

Silence, to me, just has this air of haughtiness to it.  Like your writing is so exceedingly unworthy it's not even fit for a response.  Most of us have been dreaming about this since we were old enough to string cohesive sentences together, and if you're going to dash our dreams, at least do it in a polite and semi-encouraging manner.

Geez... Perhaps I hate the silent rejection a little more than I realized.  So I suppose what I'm really trying to do is thank the agent who rejected me this morning, because at least she had the consideration to do so.  And while it truly is discouraging each time someone tells you they're not the "right fit" for you, most of them will remind you that another agent may feel differently.  And right now, I am not giving up hope that I will find that person.  So, off I go to send more queries into the world.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Confidence = Creativity

I'm finding that my ability and my desire to write lately is directly linked to my self confidence.  And at this point, pickin's are slim.  When I was inspired to write my first book, I wrote a little bit every day.  I heard conversations in my head constantly.  I was so determined to get the words down on the page that I finished in what I thought was damn good time.  Right after that, I created an outline of another story based on two smaller characters from the first.  I've written a good portion of it, and have a pretty good idea of what the unwritten portions will entail.  But the newest idea that presented itself has been a bit of a challenge.  I know it's a good concept.  I know I can make it an enjoyable read.  But given my e-mail inbox has been utterly silent since my re-entry to the world of querying (I know, a whopping 13 days ago), I can't help feeling like I might be wasting my time.  It doesn't seem wise to spend all this time nurturing these babies when I have a full time job, a house, a husband, and a lot of other things going on.  My dream is to devote myself to a writing career, but how do I know if I'm good enough? 

Now, when I start to write I'm finding myself staring blankly at the screen.  The concept that spun through my head like a whirlwind a few weeks ago has been disconcertingly quiet since.  I'm not obsessing over how to fill in the plot holes.  I'm not hearing witty banter in my head.  And it isn't because I don't want to write the story.  I just want to know I'm not wasting my time doing it.  Especially since the story in question is a prequel to the book I'm currently querying.  If I can't garner interest in that one, the other two are pretty much a done deal.  And not in a book deal sort of way. 

I need some positive feedback to feed my creativity!  This sucks!   

Monday, November 1, 2010

New & Improved

So just days after my last, somewhat rant-ish post, I discovered the correct label for my college girls on Janet Reid's Query Shark site: they are NEW adults! 

Somehow, this is much easier for me to accept than plain old adults.  I'm slowly loosening my desperate grasp on the YA label.  If they're NEW adults, they're still allowed to make mistakes.  Anyone who is new at anything is practically EXPECTED to make mistakes!  So that means they're allowed to think like their former selves- the people they were before they crossed that invisible line from an 18 year old YA to a nineteen and beyond  NA.

Of course, the term doesn't appear in either of the two queries I sent out last week.  But I do mention one of the girls is a college student in the body of my letter.  Hopefully, that's good enough.  I'm really hoping for some positive feedback with this round of queries, and then maybe I'll even tell my mother or my sister I've written a book.  Thus far, only four people on the planet know.  I just don't want everyone and their mother (or my mother) to be aware of my failure, if that's what this becomes.  There's nothing like trying to do what you love, only to be shut down again and again.  It's a real boost to the old self-esteem (not).  But then again, if I succeed... I'll know I've done it without any one holding my hand.  And isn't standing on your two feet, regardless of the outcome, all part of being an adult anyway?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

YA or PR? Y ME?

I sent out my very first query in over 3 months last night, and there is something that just keeps nagging at me.  It's times like this when I wish this blog wasn't brand-spanking new and I actually had the courage to post the link on my Facebook page.  My question is this:

My protagonist is twenty-one, but she lives at home with her mother.  She goes to bars.  She goes on dates- to the bowling alley.  She works part time as a waitress at a country club.

Does that really sound like someone who has life figured out?  I am thirty years old, and to this day, I don't consider myself an adult.  Sure I'm married and domesticated, but I love Taylor Swift and Britney Spears and Glee.  I have cabbage patch dolls in my spare room - one of which was a gift for my 24th birthday.  Yes, I said 24th.  And my book shelf is so full of YA novels that I often say I never aged past seventeen - mentally, of course.  Physically, the years are starting to show.

So how does it make sense to call this girl of twenty-one (who thinks a lot like I do) an adult instead of a young adult?  And worse- what does that make me?  I did the right thing and called my novel a "contemporary paranormal romance" in my query, but I can't help feeling like the label doesn't fit.  I hear romance and I think graphic sex scenes and racy covers.  I think Fabio with fangs.  And that's not my book at all.  I believe college students and high school students AND adults (if I'm speaking as one) alike would enjoy it, and since there is no graphic content, I don't want the term "romance" to be misleading.

I guess I'll have to hope the query spoke for itself.  If anyone happens upon this post and has wisdom on the topic, please feel free to share.  I need to send a few more queries and I don't want to do anything to lessen my already slim chances!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In the Beginning

For the longest time, I said I was going to write a book. But alas, college came and went, and after graduation I put my BA in English to good use as... a purchasing agent? Eight years later, I felt like the last of my creativity had drained out of my toes, and was pretty sure I would never see the day inspiration would strike again, let alone actually sit down and finish a novel.
Then, much like everyone else on the planet, I read and loved Twilight. For the first time in years, I felt the desire to create something again. I went online and read about how the idea came to Stephenie Meyer in the form of a dream. I admit, (hanging my head in shame) I was instantly jealous. I moaned to anyone who would listen that I had wanted to write a book my whole life, and here this woman was handed the mother of ideas on a platter as sparkly as Edward's skin. HMPH.
I should have kept my mouth shut. Earlier this year, I woke up from the strangest dream and knew it was going to be the subject of my story. I tossed ideas around in my head for two weeks before I ever put a word on paper. I had to figure out how to connect the characters, how to fill in their backstory, how to develop the plot based on the little snippet my subconscious had shown me. Once I had a clue, I started to write. And O.M.G. was I rusty. But just four months later, I had a completed draft of word vomit, and I was as excited as a pig in you-know-what.
I decided I was ready to query.
Don't misunderstand, I was not - AM not - under the impression that my story is the next Twilight. But Stephenie Meyer proclaimed her query "sucked", and still scored herself an agent. I was pretty sure my query sucked too, but I was hoping the whole book-based-on-a-dream scenario would work in my favor, too. Twenty rejections later, I realized just how badly my query sucked. Not one request for a partial, not one request for a full.
I knew I had to buckle down and do even more homework. I bought reference books and found new websites, opened every link pertaining to queries (including the ones that popped up when my search was "why does my query suck") and tore my letter apart time and time again.
In the process, I realized how much work my manuscript needed. I came across a website, I think Chuck Sambuchino's, where I read YA novels over 80K words reflect the author's inability to edit. My story was 95,000 words. I chewed my nails, agonizing over my word count. I was sure there was nothing I could eliminate without hurting the plot.
Wrong again.
Three months after my last rejection, my manuscript is down to a more polished 88,700 words. And you know what else? It's not YA, either. I was nervous that my twenty-one year old college student protagonist was too old, and I was right. My novel falls under the paranormal romance/urban fantasy umbrella. Good to know BEFORE you query, don't you think?
Finally, I think I've come up with a pretty snappy query. But we shall see. Because this isn't a success story yet. I'm getting back on the horse, and putting myself out there, because I have to. I've worked hard at this, and if there's an audience for my book, there will be an agent for it, too.
So stay tuned. Let's see if there's some creativity worth finding in me after all.