Saturday, January 30, 2010

Submission Update

Okay, hoping I will have more news someday soon. I did send out 4 more queries this week and collected one more NO. So that brings us to a total of 2 NOs and 6 unknowns. I'm keeping those fingers (and toes) crossed!

Brainstorming

So I've got one book on the shelf and one I'm submitting to agents and having my lovely critique group read. Now it's time for something new! I had thought about going back to one of my two works-in-progress, but I think I would like to do something completely new. Of the two WIPs, one was a sequel to my first novel, which one of the agent blogs I read strongly recommended against spending time on. I had thought that anyways, but was thinking I might give it a go. They are right, it very well could be two books sitting on the shelf, being that the first one never went anywhere.

So how does one start fresh? Where am I going to get ideas? I have notebooks full of old ideas, in fact, THE GREEN was an idea I had maybe a year ago and one day just sounded good. So far all I've done is make a list of a bunch of different random topics. Zombies, cannibals, high school, cooking class, unicorns. Pretty much nonsense. I'm feeling like I would like something mythical or magical or both, so I figure I'll read some old stuff, Grimms' Fairy Tales, old myths from other countries, even Sherlock Holmes and pretty much anything I can get my hands on and figure out if I can make some sense of peaches, witches, underground tunnels and prom. I am excited to see what comes of it! I'm also open to interesting ideas, leave me some below!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Submission Update

I've sent out 4 queries in the last 2-ish weeks and so far we stand at 1 NO and three unanswered queries. I plan on bringing my query letter back to my critique group again to see if there is anything else I can do with it. If anyone can help me, they can!

I did finally receive one YES, from DePaul University! The plan is to start classes in March, so fingers crossed I can get the school loan sorted out by then and I'll be ready to roll! I am so excited to learn everything I can about writing and publishing. Hopefully I'll have better luck from some of these agents in the coming weeks! I'll keep you posted!

All About Agents...Part 1

So you've written a book. Now what? Don't just stare at the computer screen, it's time to get to work! Yeah, work. Writing the book is only the beginning! After you've re-read your book numerous times and edited out all the junk, and maybe have some friends at your critique group give it a read and cut out some more crap, you are ready for the next step.

You may be wondering just what one needs an agent for. Can't you just write a book and get it published? Why, no, friend. It's more complicated than that. Once you have written a book, you need to get someone in a publishing house to read it. Many times you will need an agents' help with that. There are a few other angles you can approach the situation from, but we'll discuss that in a minute.

Now mind you, this is all coming from me, who is no expert, but is becoming experienced in the ways of the writing world. I currently do not have an agent, but I would love to find an excellent one...hint hint...

If you are writing non-fiction or picture books (even novels, but less so), it is possible to get published without an agent. Many publishing houses (smaller presses, indie presses, etc.) will take submissions from the unagented crowd.

Joining an organization such as SCBWI and attending conferences can also get you an in at publishing houses big and small. Doesn't mean they will buy your book, but you are allowed to submit without an agent.

If you are writing fiction novels, an agent may be helpful to you as the bigger publishing houses are generally not interested seeing unagented manuscripts. In this respect, if you have a good agent who is good at what they do, they will be able to direct your manuscript to the right houses and editors. Picture book and non-fiction writers do also use agencies, but seem to have success without them as well.

NOTE***You should never pay for an agent's services. If anyone asks for payment up front, run away! Agents are supposed to work hard to sell your book and then they take an agreed percentage from your earnings.

Finding a great agent does take some research. I've used the Writer's Market books (Guide to Literary Agents & Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market) to start research on literary agencies. Once I find an agent that looks like a good match, I will follow up with checking out their website and any blog they might have. There are also some good websites to check up on your possible agents. Absolute Write Water Cooler offers a feature called Bewares and Background Checks and Preditors and Editors are good places to start. It appears that Preditors and Editors is being sued, so I'm curious to see how long it continues operating.

After you find your dream agent, it's time to query, which we will discuss in All About Agents...Part 2!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Resolution Update...

Okay, so I didn't exactly follow my prescribed plan, and the New Year has only just started. I did get THE GREEN revised, at least one time around, and then decided to start sending it out to agents, just to see what responses it brings. I was so happy the other day to hear the morning show on 103.5 here in Chicago talking about some of the multi-cultural/racial aspects that are actually in the book. So I am hoping it will appeal to someone out there.

Last Saturday I sent a query to an agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency out in California. I really feel that THE GREEN is perfect for what this particular agent represents and is looking for. But so far, almost a week and no email begging to be my agent just yet. Of course this has turned me into an insane email stalker and I swear I check it no less than 20 times a day! This weekend I may try sending it out to another agent. I am trying to go slow, so I don't burn thorough my options too fast!

Also, I finished my application for DePaul University's MA in Writing and Publishing. I'm hoping to get a 'yes' letter from them sometime in the next month, as my first class would be in March, if everything works out. I was joking with my husband that I was so desperate for a 'yes' from somebody that I decided to go back to school just to get it! At least I know someone there will be reading my writing (I had to send a portfolio), so I know my writing has gotten me somewhere!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Watcha reading?

I'll try to make this a new feature of the blog, so I can tell you about what I'm reading at the moment. Feel free to email me or leave me comments with some suggestions for future reading.

After a break from reading new books, I returned to an old friend (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) for a little light holiday reading. If only there were more...*sigh*... Anyways, my current YA selection, first of 2010, is SHADOWLAND by Alyson Noel. It's the third in her Immortals series. I am a bit of a series-aholic (if you've seen my bookcases, you know) and this one has held my interest so far. I found the first book, EVERMORE, a little more intriguing, but lost some interest after the second, BLUE MOON. I had picked up SHADOWLAND on sale, so you know, I couldn't pass up a deal! I'm hoping the story picks up a little as I go further. It's a decent read, but maybe it was just bad timing. For me, nothing beats Harry P. and the gang.

Next up on my reading list...THE PRICKER BOY by Reade Scott Whinnem.

Friday, January 1, 2010

My New Year's Writing Resolutions...

I have to say that I'm pretty excited to see I have 80 lovely people following me through Facebook, and a few others here on Blogger. Thanks all!

For our critique group next week we are supposed to bring a list of Writing Resolutions for the new year. And as I am sitting here, thinking about the future, I figured I would post mine. And then at the end of 2010, when we're sitting around on December 31st, we can see if I really followed through on any of them.

I'm very excited for 2010. I have some BIG expectations that I hope I can live up to. At this point, I am placing all my eggs in THE GREEN basket. I am really proud of this book (now that I'm revising and realizing how good it actually is) and I really think this will be the one to make it. I love INTO THE SHADOWS and maybe there will be a place for that series once THE GREEN gets us in the front door.

So here are my resolutions regarding THE GREEN:

1. Finish revision for critique group to read in January/February.
2. Make revisions after critique in March-ish.
3. Submit to agents March-April.
4. Win over wonderful agent with said manuscript March-April-May.
5. Have awesome agent submit to publishers.
6. Have contract on THE GREEN before end of 2010.

I don't mean to sound over-confident, but I'm feeling really good about this one! Of course, past resolution #3, I have very little control of what happens, but I will do my best!

In other resolution news, I am also planning on furthering my writing knowledge at DePaul University. I never thought I would head back to school but I found a program, the Masters in Writing and Publishing, and I just can't get it out of my head. Every class on the list looks intriguing, I want to take them all! I am putting the application together now and hoping to start taking classes this summer. I think it will really take my skills to the next level!

As for the rest, my goal is to always keep writing, and reading of course! I plan to do plenty of both in 2010! Happy New Year!