Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow And It's All In The Name

First off, we are getting buried by snow! After having an extremely mild December overall, the snow has finally decided to come in all its fury. One last hurrah to close out the year. So far, we have received about eight inches, and it is still coming down. According to weather predictions, we could receive as much as two feet of snow by Friday night. Bring on the sledding and snow ball fights!! It is definitely a winter wonderland out there. A not-so-white Christmas has given way to a super white New Years!

Second, it's all in the name. In a fiction novel, there is usually at least one main character and a whole host of secondary characters. The writer, in turn, has to name all these people. Yay! But how do you pick out the perfect name? Sometimes there is a name that just stands out, a name that really captures that character. A name made for that character. Sometimes it requires research...and research...and more research. I know I spend a lot of time researching baby name lists online. I am sure a lot of other writers out there do the exact same thing. It is really nice to be able to look up, say, boy names in Ireland, and be provided with an entire listing of traditional names and meanings. Very helpful.

Well, for the first time ever, I changed my main character's name after I had written the entire novel. Usually, once I settle on a name, I don't change it. It is particularly difficult to change a main character's name after you have spent an entire novel getting to know him or her by that name. It's like having a close friend tell you after two years that her name is actually not Jessica. It's Emily. Great.

But sometimes it is inevitable. You just get this feeling deep down that the character's name is not quite right. So, my main character, the character through whose eyes the entire novel is written, got a name change. After doing some research and making the change, I am extremely happy. This new name really captures the essence of the character. It is a name that flows well together, and it has an awesome meaning to boot. Ah, perfection.

What about y'all? Rename any characters lately?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Memories, First Rejections

Time spent with friends and family is the best. I hope all of you had as amazing of a Christmas as I did. Family, laughter, games, movies, music, presents, cookies, cider, a fire in the fireplace.... Brilliant. We sort of had a white Christmas, if you count the scattered patches containing little more than a half an inch of snow. But hey, we take what we can. It was the first Christmas in Colorado that we did not get snow on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. At least the wind storms finally ceased and the power stayed on. Woo hoo! It was a perfect week. Did y'all have a good Christmas?

On the writing front, things have basically been at a standstill. As I said in an earlier post, I do not expect a whole lot to happen until after New Years. On the other hand, remember those first few query letters I sent out on Novel B? Well, I have received my first couple of rejections. I see not every agent takes a nice long break for the holidays. Pity. Oh well, I am actually kind of glad to have the first rejections out of the way. Now I can tweak my query and work on sending out some more letters!

Have a good rest of the day, everyone. Enjoy the last four days of 2010!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

Hello, everyone!

In light of the Christmas holiday, there will be no more postings until Monday. Because of this, Friday's "Writing Hints" will also be pushed to next week.

Until then, I hope everyone has a safe, fun, and brilliant week!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Waiting, Writing, And Wind

Hi, y'all,

There is not a whole lot going on right now as far as the writing is concerned. I have not really heard anything from my original handful of queries for Novel B, and I am pretty sure I will not hear anything until the first part of January. Many agents are taking some very much needed time off from the daily deluge of queries until after New Year's.

But, in my mind, the break is quite welcome. Here lately I've been burying myself in my manuscript every night until almost two in the morning then falling into bed exhausted. But I haven't been able to fall asleep because I've been so wired, my brain trying to process the actions of every character, the nuance of every sub-plot, the mechanics of every word.....yeah, you get the idea. I think I need a few days to let my mind relax. It really became clear when my brother said something to the effect of, "You're always on the computer." Great.

I'm sure you're thinking right now, "I thought she was done with Novel B." Well, I am. But, as I have said before, the revisions are never done until the book is on the shelf. There are always things I can find that I would like to improve.

In other news, we are having a crazy snow storm at my place. The only catch is, there's no snow. Hmm. All we have received so far is really, really hard wind (the kind that makes the house tremble), and two power outages. Each one lasted about forty minutes. Supposedly, we were supposed to get quite a bit of snow. But there has been nothing so far. And I live at 8,000 feet. We received three early snow storms, but nothing lately. This may be the first Christmas in years with no snowfall. Maybe it will come. I hope so. The wind I can do without.

How's the weather where you are?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Novel B, Conference Call, And The Unveiling of "Writing Hints"

Hey, everyone!

I have officially sent out the very first small batch of queries for Novel B! There is always a heightened sense of adrenaline when those first queries go out. Yeah, there will be the rejections; that is pretty much a given. But there is also a new expectation that this will be "the one," whether that expectation proves to be true or false. So the process starts once more, but with a brand new novel. Stay tuned for updates.

Meanwhile, Novel A is not sitting idle. I am putting it through another set of revisions and a new round of queries. The revision and submission never ends until the novel is published. Now there's a bit of uplifting news for all you writers out there. But truly, don't stop revising. Your novel can't help but get better.

Last night I was able to participate in a conference call with several writers and authors, including Bree Despain and Brodi Ashton. Brodi's debut novel "Everneath" comes out Winter 2012. The conference was very informative and I have lots of notes. I would encourage other writers out there to look for outlets like this one. Phone conferences, writer's conferences, etc. You learn a lot and get to meet some very neat people.

Lastly, I am starting a Friday feature here on the blog.... (drum roll please).... WRITING HINTS! "Writing Hints" is a very broad, encompassing title that will include hints about querying, the submission process, and writing in general (mechanics, plot lines, character development, etc.) Basically all things writing, but mostly, from the fiction writer's point of view.

So, without further ado....

Writing Hint #1 - When querying an agent, never - and I mean never - begin your query with a rhetorical question. I cannot tell you the number of agents out there who have written about how much this one thing bothers them. So don't do it!

Thankfully, I found out about this faux pas before I ever sent out my first queries. Whew.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Book, New Queries

I have heard so many times (from authors and agents) to just keep writing. You get fifteen rejections a week on Novel A? That's alright! It will all work out if you just keep writing. That is the solution to every problem. Write! Set Novel A aside and let your mind take you to new places and people. Write another book!!!

So, that is what I have done. While I have been querying and submitting to agents for Novel A, I have also been furiously writing a whole new story (Novel B). It has worked as a great distraction from the very long and tangled journey of Novel A.

Well, Novel B is now finished. It is written, it is edited (many times), and it is all polished and shiny for its first foray into the agent/publishing world. Holding a finished manuscript is like nothing else. It makes me feel very good when all my characters finally know who they are and what they are supposed to be doing.

I have had a running query going for a few months now, but I finally settled on a summary and format that I like. Even now, I am compiling my super list of possible agents.

Wish me luck! How is everyone out there doing? Any plans? I might go out and throw some snow balls later in celebration. Those of you with no snow....I'm very sorry.

Monday, December 13, 2010

....And So It Begins

Finally! Here it is. My very first blog posting. This blog will follow my journey as a young adult fiction writer. But along with that, you will be subjected to whatever else happens to cross my mind. Some of this will be related to writing in general (queries, agents, publishers, story plot, characters, etc.), but I also may decide to write about something random like what color of socks I am wearing. Ok, maybe not. But you get the idea.

Right now I am playing the waiting game as far as my YA fantasy manuscript goes (Let's just call it Novel A). I started sending out queries in June. Thus far I have received a whole lot of rejections. BUT! And this is key. Every single literary agent has been extremely nice, and I have received absolutely NO negative critique. Two agents expressed interest in my manuscript and asked to see it (one a partial/one a full). Though neither picked me up as a client, I received a lot of positive feedback and was encouraged to continue on. After I had queried her, I realized that one of those agents did not deal specifically with fantasy. Actually, I found out that she doesn't like reading fantasy at all. Oops. Yet, she still asked to see a partial (in this case, the first 50 pages)! She wrote a very nice e-mail about eight to ten weeks later saying that she did not feel she was the best agent for me (because of that whole dislike of fantasy thing). However, she felt that my novel has great potential and gave me some really great advice. Though disappointed in receiving yet another rejection, I have found myself thinking more positively than I have in a long time. After all, an agent who does not like fantasy still took the time to read further and also say something really nice about my novel. I feel confident. 

I think part of my problem right now is the unstable market. Personally, I think the words "debut author" are a little scary for some of the agents I have queried. Even if they say otherwise. But that is okay. I cannot help that I am new. Every author starts out that way. The ones who push forward, take advice from rejection letters along the way, and press on will eventually become published. It is all an exercise in endurance. 

I do want to say thank you to all the literary agents out there I have queried thus far. I know agents get swamped with literally hundreds and thousands of query letters, and their job is certainly not easy. I just appreciate them taking the time to review my submission, and I am especially glad that most of them have taken a few minutes to send a formal rejection letter instead of simply not responding. I hate silence....