Thursday, August 30, 2007

Making the most of rejection
oday Jessica Faust of Bookends blogged about a letter she received from a frustrated writer. It was almost painful to read the letter. You could feel the frustration bordering on anger from this writer. There have been a lot of comments about the letter. Some expressing sympathy for the frustrated writer and some not. Jessica was saddened by the letter and mentioned that it's really the author's job to figure out what's wrong, what is or isn't working.
Sadly, I have to agree with her. I say sadly, because it is so very very frustrating. I've queried a lot of agents with several different projects (yes, Jessica was queried on every single one). My last project was especially frustrating. I received a lot of interest so at least my query letters are getting better. But in the end, no takers. And I can't blame them. There is something wrong with the book. I just have no clue what it is.
The comments from agents were all over the place. I got everything from "great characters, good dialog, strong plot, good writing, but I just didn't love it enough" to hand written notes telling me they usually don't go into so much detail but my character was so good that she deserved to have her game raised. One agent even returned the full manuscript (at her own expense) with a two page letter of comments and notes on the manuscript. From the comments she made I doubt we'd ever be a good fit, but you better believe I wrote her an effusive thank you letter. Another agent wrote "
Still, there's something wrong with the book. I love the premise, I love the characters, I think the plot works, I think my writing is strong. But somehow it just isn't coming together in a pleasing way. So, for the first time in years, a manuscript is going under the bed with the dust bunnies. Well, mostly. First I'll cannibalize a few scenes that will work in another book. I just hate to waste anything.
Back to the writing
The fridge got fixed and I spent a chunk of the morning restocking it. I also went to the gym and to Wal-mart where everyone is shopping for back to school. Now, I can write. At least for a couple of hours before I have to do something else.
I'm finishing up the second chapter of a proposal for the fourth book in the Parker Investigations series. Hoping to get the third chapter finished by early next week and then I'll send it all off to my publisher (Medallion Press).
I also want to finish a cozy mystery by the end of September. I'm going to be in Tucson, visiting my family in October, so that would be a great time to edit the book--IF I get it done. So, that means writing about 8-10 pages a day.
Yeah, we'll see.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

And the writing grinds to a smelly halt...
A couple days ago The Husband shoved a jug of milk under my nose and said, "Does this smell bad to you?" It didn't. But then I wasn't the one who was about to drink it. Minutes later he poured it out. The next day, I bought more milk. That evening, I thought my white wine was a little more tepid than I like. And the veggie drawer was taking on an odor that was less than fresh.
I got out my meat thermometer and discovered the fridge was a balmy 60 degrees. The next morning I called a couple of appliance repair places only to discover it would be 2 days before anyone could come out.
It's been a long two days. At first we just ate food in the order of the expiration dates. Then we began to sniff everything suspiciously before tossing it out. By today, it was all bad. Milk, veggie soup, sour cream, lettuce, cucumbers, salad dressings, meats. All of it. ICK!
Good way to clean out the fridge though. Now, it's sparkling clean for when the repair person gets here -- tomorrow.
And I got NO writing done today.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Life is good!
I'm writing again. Working on a proposal for the fourth book in the Parker series. The first three books each focused on one of the women in the investigation firm. This time, I'm involving all three of them more equally, although I think Shelby will end up with a slightly bigger part than the other two.
My biggest challenge with this is keeping each of their personalities consistent and separate. It's much easier when you're only dealing with a single character. I'm thinking about going back and reading the first three books to refresh my memory of the characters. And I think that will be strange. I haven't read either of the first two books since they were published because by the time you get to publication, you've read the manuscript about fifty times and are sick to death of it.
I'm hoping to get the proposal finished and polished by the end of the week. Then it's on to the new cozy series.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thank (insert deity of choice here)!!!
The sewing is almost done. I finished 3 tunics today. The only thing left are the finishing touches on the daughter's gown. And the hem. I'd measure the hem, but then fussed with the %*(#)$* collar so much that all the pins came out. But by noon tomorrow, I'll be done.
Which means I can write again. I'm so eager I don't even know which project to work on. My choices are:
Proposal for the next book in the Parker Investigation series.
Second half of a cozy mystery.
An Urban Fantasy that I've only written about 60 pages on.
What a wonderful problem to have.
And I just sent in the cover spec sheets for the third Parker book and the second Skye Donovan book. I can't wait to see what they do with the covers.
Hopefully there will be more coherent and more timely posts in the following weeks.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Drive By Announcement
My friend, Alexis Fleming, is celebrating the launch of her new website on Friday, August, 24.
Drop by for prizes and chatter.
Alexis writes funny. She writes hot. She's a lot of fun! I can't wait to see her new site.
Oh, you can just click here to go to her site.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

New Release Date!
Yippee. I just found out that the third book in the Parker Investigation series will release in February of 2009. The title (tentatively) is It Takes A Thief. The title fits the book really well, I think, but for some reason, I'm just not that happy with it. Medallion Press hasn't changed any of my titles so far, but maybe they'll have a better idea for this one.
I just posted an excerpt on my website, so if you want a sneak peek go here and click on the title. You can read other excerpts there, too. If you don't like them, I don't want to hear about it.
Seriously. Unless you're volunteering to give me a critique.
Yeah, I thought that would stop you.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Jonesing for the Writing
I'm still sewing. Somehow, several tunics got added to the wardrobe of medieval wedding garb that I'm making. The bride and one of the bridesmaids tried on their gown this weekend and all is well. The plan this week is to finish both of those, make the Groom's tunic and get another bridesmaid gown and the flower girl gown ready for fittings on Sunday.
I also need to do a OMG-we're-having-house guests housecleaning by Thursday.
Which means, I have no time to write. I managed to squeeze in a few pages over the weekend but it's just not enough. I need a full week of I-don't-care-if-anyone-eats-or-has-clean-clothes kind of writing.
Oh, well.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Path To Publication
Today Elizabeth Joy Arnold posted on the BookEnds blog about how luck, perseverance and talent are all needed in order to attain publication. I think I'd add a few things to that. Patience, a rhino hide, and a sense of humor.
Patience. This is an absolute necessity. You will always have to wait. Wait for replies to agent queries. Wait for replies to editor queries. Wait for contracts, wait for advances, wait for royalties. Get used to it.
Rhino hide. Suck it up. You're going to get rejected. Probably hundred of times. Some agents and editors will be great about it. They'll comment on why they are rejecting the writing. Some will be polite about it. Some will do it in a manner that makes you feel like you don't even exist. A few will even be mean about it. You can't do anything about it and if you even think about replying to a rejection, other than a brief and sincere 'thank you', stop yourself.
Sense of humor. With all the waiting and the wondering and the rejection, a sense of humor is absolutely necessary to keep you from tearing your hair out, or as Miss Snark was fond of, setting it on fire. I miss Miss Snark.
For most writers, the path to publication is a long trail with lots of switchbacks and dead ends. And to be honest, I'm not sure it ever really ends for most of us. I suppose a lot of best selling authors don't worry about getting an agent or selling that next manuscript. But maybe they have other things to worry about. You know, movie deals, that sort of thing.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Is this one of the cutest dogs you've ever seen?
And she's all mine!

Lately the husband and I have toyed with the idea of another dog. Our wolf hybrid died about a year and a half ago at the ripe old age of 14. This time we've been talking about getting a smaller dog. And maybe one that doesn't shed so much. It's taken us a long time to come to this decision because we were so attached to our wolf. Anyway, I've developed a habit of looking at the Humane Society web site and this week I saw the cutest little dog. We went to see her today and she'll be coming home with us tomorrow after being spayed.
She was found wandering around and they say she's 8 years old. I don't know who they let judge her age. I estimate that she's at least 12. She has cataracts but gets around ok. She's missing a few front teeth which is common in elderly Shih Tzus. She is very, very skinny, weighing in at only 5 pounds, 2 ounces. Her temperature was a little under normal and I'm a bit concerned about the spaying but they won't let me have her without it.
She's a sweet little girl and never barked once on our visit. I know she won't be the dog I take on hikes (unless he's in the backpack). But she'll lay next to my desk all day and sit in my lap while I read or watch television. We'll probably only have a few more years with her and I intend to spoil her the entire time.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Agent Hunt
Yesterday Tess Gerritson posted a link to this post on the Killer Year blog by author Marcus Sakey. It's excellent advice and I'd recommend you to read it if you're looking for an agent.
I think I first queried agents in 2002. I got a (very) few requests for partials and full manuscripts. But ultimately, no agent. When I wrote the next book, I queried agents again. I got a few more requests. Still, no agent.
In January of this year, I queried agents for the fifth time. I received what I consider excellent response. 25% of the agents requested a partial or full manuscript. That doesn't sound like a lot but it is. Because, I queried widely. Yes, I research agents as much as I can, but some are pretty quiet and about all I can glean from the internet is that they represent certain genres. So, with that factored in, I'm going to get a lot of "not right for me" responses.
But even with a good response I still don't have an offer of representation.
So, what's the problem?
I'm guessing it's what I'm writing. I don't mean the genre or even the storyline. Just that the particular book I queried wasn't what they were looking for. And I have to admit that I had hesitations about the last book I queried. I think some parts are great and some parts are not. And the agents agreed with me.
But do I quit? Give up? Whine about it? No! Okay, maybe a little whining. But only to my closest friends who would never tell because we live by Vegas Rules in our little group.
So what do I do? I learn from this experience just like I learned from the first four. And I query again.
Don't give up. Ever.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Self Promotion or Self Defeating?
I'm getting used to the blogging thing. I blogged almost every day during July and I got to the point that it wasn't such a big deal to find a topic and write a paragraph or two. I'll probably stick with it, at least for a while.
But to be totally honest, I started blogging because I thought I was supposed to. I kept reading how I needed to have a blog in order to let fans know about my books, to make sure agents and editors saw that I had one when they googled my name. Yeah, I'm sure that's happening multiple times a day.
Today on The Lipsticks Chronicles, Harry Hunsicker blogged about closing his MySpace account. I wanted to stand up and cheer. He likened MySpace to joining a club and that if you already belong to a club of like minded people and then you write a book, of course you'll tell all your friends about the book. Then he questions the wisdom of writing the book and then joining a club to promote it.
And in the comments, Nancy Martin notes that most of her MySpace friends are sending her notes on when their books are being released. Harley Jane Kozak wanted to cry when a friend suggested she do a MySpace page to promote her new book.
Well, pass the tissues.
Now, I don't mean to say I don't like the fans. I love them. And it's not that I'm such a hermit that I don't want to go anywhere or see anyone. I'm a fairly social person. And I loved going to RT and meeting fans and other writers. I don't mind doing the promotion thing. I'll go to conferences, I'll sign books. I'll pretty much do whatever anyone asks of me with in reason. I just don't want to do it all the time.
I'm a writer.
I write. I love to write. And I'm hoping that I have fans that want me to write. Because, really, do you want to read a blog post from your favorite author or do you want to read their next book?
Harry Hunsicker's next Lee Henry Oswald book, Crosshairs, will be out Monday.
Harley Jane Kozak's, Dead Ex, will be in stores on Tuesday.
Nancy Martin writes the Blackbird Sisters Mysteries, the latest of which release in March.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Not Getting There...
I'm still not ready to start the sewing. Jeeze. And I don't even know what has sucked up all my time this week. I think it was a lot of little things. I had to do a bid for a technical writing/project management gig. I got a HUGE survey to fill out from the Census People. And BTW, it's against the law to not fill it out.
I did get the office part cleaned up. Paid the bills, adjusted the budget. Listened to the husband vent about a real estate project that is operating on Murphy's Law. Signed a contract for another book with Medallion Press. This one is Let Sleeping Dogs Die, the second book int he Skye Donovan photographic mysteries.
Watched several episodes of the third season of 24. I think we only have five or 6 more episodes left in this season and we still don't have season 4. I've been hoping that the discount DVD place will get it, but I think I'm going to have to pay full price for it somewhere. And I will. I'm truly addicted.
The husband is leaving work early today so we can go see The Bourne Ultimatum. I'm so excited. I loved the first two movies and I adore Matt Damon.
But before the movie, I need to finish organizing the sewing area and mow the lawn. Yeah, don't hold your breath.