Big news is on the way…

This morning I had a super secret phone call that made me do this:

Immediately followed by this:

I can’t say much… yet. But I will say one thing: Today is DEFINITELY worthy of an Empire Records montage*…

Check back in a few days on Wednesday for an official announcement and details of the phone call…

HAVE A GREAT DAY!!! xoxo

*Empire Records is one of my favorite movies EVER and it makes me do my happy dance**, hence the not so random montage.

** My “happy dance” is eerily similar to what Lucas (with the black turtleneck in the second to last gif) is doing. Seriously.

5 things you can be proud of RIGHT NOW

As writers we spend a lot of time inside of our heads. A LOT. I’d say we also spend a GREAT deal of time focused on the future. OMGGG when will I sign with an agent? When if ever please please please will I find an editor who wants to buy my book? What if no one thinks my manuscript is pretty? What if I get a kajillionmillionbillion sad faced reviews on Amazon/Goodreads/Barnes and Noble/and GAHHHHHHHH.

BREATHE.

No really, take a nice deep breath. Don’t focus on that stuff, focus on the here and now. Need a little help? Okay, here are some things you can be proud of RIGHT NOW:

1.) I’ve said this before a KAJILLION times, but it’s SO worth repeating. YOU WROTE A BOOK. OMGGGG. Do you have any idea how many people say they’re going to write a book one day, and NEVER ever ever ever ever do? You came up with a plot, a story arc, YOU KNOW WHAT A MACGUFFIN IS, you have amazingggg characters, and HOLY FREAKING MOLE you rewrote until your eyes bled 26 letters all over the page thousands of times. Be proud. No matter where you are in the publishing process, don’t ever forget that you wrote a book. You sat down late at night when everyone else was asleep. Maybe you wrote at the crack of dawn, when even the birds were too tired to get up. You sacrifice any and EVERY extra second in your day for this one dream. You’re my hero, so BE PROUD of yourself.

2.) You got a form rejection. How is THAT something to be proud of?!! Simple. You didn’t just talk about making your dreams happen, you went out there and you DID something about it. YOU WERE SO BRAVE FACED I WANT TO INTERWEBS HUG YOU SO BAD. You learned how to write a query letter. You researched agents, you boiled your plot down into 250-350 words INCLUDING your bio – holy crap you are a rock star. A form rejection, while it isn’t pleasant, means YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING. HUZZAH!!! You are wearing something that walks, talks, and looks a WHOLE lot like perseverance right now. So be proud.

3.) You got a partial or a full request. First of all YAYAYAYAYAYAYYYY high five! That feels AWESOME, doesn’t it? I mean, a real live literary agent saw something in YOUR query letter and was all, “OMGGG SEND ME THIS RIGHT THIS SECOND AS AN ATTACHED WORD DOCUMENT PREFERABLY. I HOPE TO GET BACK TO YOU IN 60-90 DAYS THANK YOU FOR THINKING OF ME…” SQUEE! Now do me a favor. Remember this feeling. Take it and squeeze the juice out of it and put it in a bottle to savor when you’re feeling down. Stop focusing on what happens next. The best thing I can tell you is this; you now have a 50-50 shot. It’s either going to be yes, or no. So breathe. SO MANY THINGS go on behind the scenes for why an agent may or may not take your project on. Be proud of how far you’ve come, and don’t forget that squishy feeling in the pit of your stomach and the triple beat of your heart slapping against your ribcage when you open that email and see a request. Allow yourself to feel proud, you accomplished something. You are so awesome.

4.) You have read every last book in your genre, your mother’s genre, your mother’s mother’s great Aunt Sissy’s genre and — holy crap that’s A LOT of reading. Why is this on the list? Reading is essential for writing. YOU are doing research, whether you think you are or not. How else will you know where your book fits into the market? Eat books for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sprinkle stories on your ice-cream at night. Read read read read read as MUCH AS YOU CAN. Then write. Reading work that has been published helps get your brain into butt-kicking sharpness. PLUS, isn’t part of the reason you’re in this whole publishing game BECAUSE you heart books so much? So be proud of how much you read, no matter where it sits in the bookstore. If you like YA…YAY!!! Mysteries, thrillers, science fiction WHATTTT. (Sorry, I loves me some science fiction.) Ahem. Be proud of yourself for taking the time to read. YOU are working on your craft and that is DEFINITELY something to be proud of.

5.) You never give up. A rejection dings its nasty little head in your inbox, but you don’t even bat an eye. You take out your handy-dandy list of well researched agents and you carefully send out a personalized query in the rejections place. You don’t view rejection as a toxic dart being shot into your heart. You view it as it was intended; It’s nothing personal – you just weren’t a good fit with that agent for whatever reason. You are a professional, you are always kind and courteous – you bravely soldier on. YOU ARE SO ADORABLE AND AWESOME AND OMG KEEP GOING GOING GOING GOING. Because you are SO CLOSE, I can feel it. NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER GIVE UP. One day I’ll be reading your book, falling in love with your characters, and DYING for your next work to come out. Thank you in advance for all that you do. I am so very proud of you.

HAPPY MONDAY!!!

Revisions, Unicorns, and lot’s of Face Punching

Oh my, oh my, OH MY. I can’t believe it’s Friday, which is a good thing. But STILL. Where does the time go? More importantly WHERE DID MY BRAIN GO?! There’s so much happening.

Here’s the deal:

I received a reader’s report on my current manuscript several weeks ago, LURVED the suggestions and got to work going balls deep in revisions. In the end, I was SUPER pleased.

Wait…did you notice my word choice…was…that wasn’t a mistake.

I’ve been sick with a fever and bronchitis and somehow during my feverish delirium an amazing idea struck me. LIKE SO EFFING AMAZING I CAN’T BELIEVE I DIDN’T THINK OF IT SOONER. I SHOULD HAVE FEVERS ALL THE TIME THEY MAKE ME SO SMART.

Then another thought hit me…and I banged my head against my laptop for a good forty-five minutes.

STUPIDSTUPIDSTUPIDSTUPIDSTUPIDSTUPIDSTUPIDSTUPID…

Ahem. Excuse me.

Where was my crystal ball three weeks ago? Why didn’t I foresee this plot twist? WHERE IS MY LITERARY PSYCHIC CAP?!!

Face punch. Punch. Punch. Punch. Punch.

I promised myself I wouldn’t touch the damn book again. Then I remembered I write fiction…I LIE.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I sent my project out into the query world prematurely. Quite the opposite. It’s been beta’d, critiqued, beta and critiqued, beta and critiqued and slaughtered and shelved a MILLION BA-JILLION KA-TRILLION times before it ever saw the light of day.

It’s getting a lot of requests as is. But this one little added detail, which is SOOOOO easy to build into the current framework of the manuscript is REALLY something sparkly. Like superhero power sparkly.

Sigh.

It’s like the difference between a unicorn and a goat. Subtle. So, so very subtle. They both have horns and four legs. But they’re just not the same.

I can only hope one of the agents who currently has my manuscript will fall in love with it and then I can share my additional WOWZA factor. And they can be all, OMG I was thinking the SAME EXACT THING we are literary twinsies. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

But whatever way it works out, my current manuscript is super sparkly. And that’s the most important thing, right?

So that’s my story.

Wish me luck, I definitely need it. Also, send vodka. Lots and lots of vodka.

Wishing you all a very wonderful weekend. May the creative gods shine some goodness on you. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always alcohol. XOXO

Query Letters Dissected By Those Who Know

Last week I posted some query letter tricks that I’ve learned over the last year or so, HOWEVER there’s a weekly post you should check out on your own, by people in the biz.

BookEnds (a fantastic literary agency) posts a query letter each Wednesday, then gives feedback on what works, and what doesn’t.

Be sure to check it out, then click on some of the popular posts on the sidebar, they’ve got A LOT of great information.

Psst! Click here—> BookEnds Blog (Wednesday Query Letter AKA Workshop Wednesday) 

<3333333333333 XOXOXOX <33333333333

Query Letter Hell? Not Necessarily…The ABCs of #Query Writing Made Easy

Its been a little while since I last blogged about the wonderful world of writing. Since many of my blog readers, are…well, readers I try to keep the behind-the-scenes writing stuff to a minimum. You’re welcome, BTW 😉

That being said, I’ve gotten a few questions regarding query letters in recent weeks from friends, family, fellow writers, and even some tweethearts.

Why? I’m not sure. (That’s a lie. It could be that my friends and family worry about me, methodically/psychotically crafting pitch letters, and manuscripts for days, weeks, and months at a time. I’m normal Mom – all the writers are doing it. Pinky swear!)

It could be because I tweeted that I was an absolute query-lovin’ sicko, and enjoyed writing them. Or, it could be that I spend A LOT of time on Absolute Write assisting other writerly types with their query letters.

Why? Because I’m a sick, twisted little girl that’s why. Oh, and I love helping other writers out when I can. Aww… Fuzzy moment alert!

So what’s my secret to writing a good query letter?

That’s the easy/hard part to explain. There are TONS of agent blogs out there, that give STELLAR advice on query letters. By all means, please check out some of the sites listed below. (I’ve included links to make it REAL easy for you. XO)

Always take the advice that works best for you, above anything/everything else. Okay so enough disclaimer shiitake.

Here’s the breakdown of a query letter:

Paragraph ONE

This is really up to you / the agent you’re querying. If the agent specifically says they like writers to get right into the heart of the book, then of course DO THAT! I myself, fluctuate between starting with my hook, or personalizing it – depending on what the agent I’m querying specifies.

Am I speaking Chinese right now? If yes, then stop reading and check out the QueryShark. Go on, I’ll wait. Now that that’s settled, let’s continue.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Example One: Personalized Intro (Per Agent Guidelines, again, each agent is different, so do your homework.)

Dear Ms. Dream Agent:

Recently I read an interview you gave on ABC blog, stating that you’re seeking XYZ in a manuscript. My young adult novel SUMMER DIE-VER is complete at 60,000 words, and contains XYZ.

(Or you could write, I recently finished reading TITLE BOOK, by awesome AUTHOR and saw you represented the work. I hope you might find my novel, SUMMER DIE-VER a good fit for your list as well.) (You get the idea, right?)

Example TWO: Gettin’ Down and Dirty Right Away

Dear Ms. Dream Agent:

Fifteen-year-old Olympic diver Lillian Awesome’s been having a hard time fitting in with the other, less talented kids at Summer Swim Camp, but that’s about to change with the mysterious arrival of her super cute, and equally talented dive partner, Gill.

See the difference between the two intros? Good. (And no, this is not one of my books, it’s just the first thing that popped into my head during the writing of this entry.)

I should point out quickly what NOT TO DO so you can easily tell the good from the bad right away.

Things to AVOID: DON’T write your query like this:

Dear Ms. Dream Agent:

My young adult novel SUMMER DIE-VER delves into the inner psyche of what it’s like being a successful young swimmer in a world filled with jealousy, and deceit. The title is a play on words, expertly crafted to show a mystery lies deep within the novels pages. It talks about friendship, death, betrayal, and summer crushes. The reader embarks on a journey through adolescence, and learns what’s right, and wrong along the way.

This is what agents are talking about when they say SHOW don’t TELL. See what I’m talking about? The first example is showing, and the second example (To avoid) is telling. Got it? Good. Let’s continue.

The first sentence of your book intro, (no matter if you have it in the first, or second paragraph) HAS TO BE CATCHY.

How do you accomplish that?

Write it, over, and over until your eyes cross, AND bleed, then write it over some more. If you had to introduce the conflict, and basic premise in just one sentence, this is where you do it. What does your main character do, where does the story take place, and what’s the conflict? If you can capture that in the first sentence, and build from there, you’re on the right track.

Helpful Hint: If your book is fun, don’t have a sterile query letter. Make sure the tone of your work matches the tone of your query letter.

Remember, your query letter is your sales pitch for your book. Read the back covers of books that you already own, (and have read) and see how it matches up to their story. Once you get the idea of how it worked for them, start crafting yours the same way.

Heck, write yours the same EXACT way as your favorite book blurb, to get the format down, then rewrite it until it’s in YOUR voice. Practice makes perfect. I swear.

So here’s what the whole thing would look like: (Following Ex. 2’s Jump Right In Method.)

Dear Ms. Dream Agent:

Fifteen-year-old Olympic diver Lillian Awesome’s been having a hard time fitting in with the other, less talented kids at Summer Swim Camp, but all that’s about to change with the mysterious arrival of her super cute, and equally talented dive partner, Gill.

The other campers are jealous of the dynamic duo’s constant winning, and conspire to take them down. Permanently. After a close-call at the bottom of the lake, the young divers find more than just a terrible plot to end their swimming supremacy. They find a local swimming coach, that’s been missing since last summer, and apparently he’s been sleeping with the fishes. Now it’s up to Lillian and Gill to solve his murder before the Summer’s over. But who can they trust, when everyone’s a suspect?

SUMMER DIE-VER is a young adult novel complete at 60,000 words. Recently I read an interview you gave on ABC blog, stating that you’re seeking XYZ in a manuscript, and hoped you might enjoy my work.

Currently I’m a member of (Whatever writing group, SCBWI, MWA, etc.) (If you’ve been published, here’s where you can include that too. FYI it’s okay if this part is short and sweet. Less is more if you don’t have many writing credits behind you. For realzies.)

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Awesome Author Who Did Their Homework

Phone Number

Email

Link to blog/website/whatever

(AGAIN: This isn’t my book, or query letter. It’s just a five minute mock-up for this blog post.)

Check out the following links for excellent #Query Letter Tips:

YA Fantasy Guide recently broke each paragraph down expertly. Read it HERE.

Agent Kristen Nelson posted winning query letters HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Agent Jessica Faust also posted query letters that worked for her HERE, HERE, & HERE

Agent Janet Reid gives the best query letter help in the shark tank, so check out her entire blog dedicated to helping writers create stellar query letters HERE.

Q: Did I forget anything? Don’t be afraid to ask any questions I may have missed. I hope this helps you, my super talented friends! <3333333

You must ‘want to’ enough…

They say that perseverance is key in the publishing industry. So keep that in mind fellow writers on this #Writers Wednesday. Don’t be discouraged by rejection. You never know what tomorrow’s mail will bring. You just might find your literary agent partner in crime.


Believe in you enough and believe in your writing enough to keep going.

Photo credit meetbethallen.com

“You must want to enough.  Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning.  Like any other artist, you are learning your craft- then you can add all the genius you like.”-Phyllis Whitney

If you toss off a few nasty ‘you’ll be sorry’ emails to agents that rejected you guess what? You validated their decision. It’s all about humility friends. Learn it. Love it. Live it.

Success is in the eye of the beholder…

How do you measure your success?

This question has been popping up all over for me lately and I can’t seem to shake it. So I’ve decided to take a deeper look at it, rather than pretending it isn’t there. Here are some ‘success status’ questions:

Do you consider yourself successful if you make a large annual salary? Is having a stable, happy family your measuring cup of success? Is garnering a large cash advance your tool of a successful writing career? Maybe raising your son or daughter and sending them to college is your greatest idea of what success is.

Photo by Anthropologie.com

Success for so many people can be so many different things. Kind of like the book publishing industry. A prime example of differing opinions and how each person’s tastes are unique, are all the literary agents out there. They are all looking for something they can fall in love with and fight for till the end. My quirky mystery might not be your bloodsucking vampire cup of tea and vice versa. It’s different for everyone and that’s okay.

Therefore measuring success in rigid terms becomes difficult and comparisons should be avoided.

If you haven’t sold your book yet, or if you haven’t landed your agent partner in crime as of today… Fear not. This is NOT a measure of your success as a writer. You’ve completed a manuscript. That’s a success! You’ve written a perfect query letter, that too is a massive success! You’ve spent hours upon hours researching agents that might make wonderful business partners, that too is no easy task and therefore another success!

Just because your book hasn’t been turned into a blockbuster movie, or you received another form letter rejection… It has nothing to do with your success as a writer. Start looking at all of the small steps you took that brought you to this door today.

You’ve already had many little successes the entire way, you just didn’t notice them.

Congratulate yourself on completing your novel. Keep looking for the silver lining in those clouds and I guarantee you’ll continue to find it. Success comes in all shapes and sizes just like people. Each marching to the beat of it’s own drum. Start tallying the small hurdles you’ve jumped and I bet you’ll start feeling the glow of success, whatever that may be for you.

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” –Maya Angelou