Sunday, December 16, 2012

Querying & Online Dating: The Scary Similarities

Since I'm married, I no longer visit the online dating sites that many of my friends frequent.  They are sure that, out there in cyberspace, their perfect soul-mate is waiting.  That may be, but finding your soul mate is a lot of work, and often peppered with disappointment.  That said, there's something spine-tingling and mouth-watering about the prospect.  Of course, we married folk can't engage in such activities.

So instead of dating, I query.  Which is practically the same thing.


First, I go online in search of all the beautiful agents that are looking for what I have to offer.  But instead of finding someone who "likes long walks on the beach and getting caught in the rain" I swoon when I see someone who's seeking "Middle-Grade magical realism with quirky characters."


Once I find the agents who are looking for *gasp* exactly what I have to offer, I send them an email.  Not just any email...  a query.  And not just any query.  This query is so polished it practically blinds me when I look at it.  Here, I tell the object of my affection why they're special to me ("You're not like all the others"), why my manuscript would be a great fit for them, and then, just a little bit about myself.


There are only four possible responses when reaching out to a possible date/agent:

1)  The SNUB
You get nothing back.  No rejection email, no thanks but no thanks.  Nothing.  (Editor's Note: This is perfectly acceptable and even expected in querying...  but not so polite in dating.)

2)  Flat-out REJECTION.
Sorry.  But you/your manuscript is not for me.  It's not you, it's me.  We just didn't connect.

3)  The POSSIBLE Connection
Send me some sample pages or let's meet for a drink sometime.

4)  The MORE-THAN-POSSIBLE Connection
Send me the full manuscript or I'll take you out for a five-course dinner.

The Outcome

Out of the above four possible responses, there are only two possible outcomes:

1)  The REJECTION After Reading

Hey, I've gotten to know you/your manuscript and although I really like you/your manuscript, I just don't feel strongly enough to keep going.  Keep in mind that everybody's tastes are different so even though I don't like you/your manuscript, someone else might.


Hey, I've gotten to know you/your manuscript and I think we could have something really special.  Will you let me marry/represent you/your manuscript?

Life Goes On

Of course, in between, you experience the roller-coaster ride of emotions.  There's the exhilaration of receiving that first email asking for pages.  Then there's the devastating disappointment of being dumped, and mourning the relationship that almost was.  You wonder if maybe you should have done your hair/written that first Chapter differently.  Perhaps you had spinach in your teeth/backstory in your opening.  You pray that your would-be soul-mate/agent would just give you even a little tiny hint as to what turned him/her off.  You lose sleep.  You cry a little.  Then you move on, and the search continues.

In the end, we all have hope that some day, we'll find The One.  The One who understands us/our manuscript, The One who sees the depth of our soul/manuscript, The One who will help make us a better person/writer.

As I go through this process, I remind myself that after years of unsatisfying relationships and devastating disappointments, I actually found my husband online.  And I'd suffer the same mishaps all over again to find the person that recognizes my worth... or at least my potential.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This is YOUR baby...

Picture this:

You're a brand new parent.  How hard can parenting be? You've read books on parenting, you've seen other people parent. You're pretty sure you can be at least as good a parent as them... and probably better.

So, there you are, with your brand new babe, who's now screaming like a banshee. You think you know what to do, but no one seems to agree with you. Hubs tells you to rock him, Mom tells you to feed him, and Grandma tells you to let him cry it out.

Then, it's time to dress the brand new babe for an outing.  You've picked out an outfit, but it's just not right. Aunt Edna tells you to bundle him up so he doesn't get a chill. Uncle Albert tells you to take off his coat so he doesn't overheat. Your BFF tells you you're crazy for taking him out at all.

You hope bed time is easier.  It isn't.  Your cousin tells you the baby should sleep with you.  Your in-laws tell you the baby should sleep in his own bed.  Hubs doesn't care where the baby sleeps, as long as it sleeps.

You throw your hands up...  exasperated and exhausted.  You thought you knew what to do, but it turns out parenting isn't quite as easy as it looks.  You know you need help but who do you listen to when everyone's advice is contradictory?

Writing your first novel is not much different.

Everyone has different opinions on what your characters should look like, what your setting should be, and even which dialogue tags (if any!) to use.  Sure, it's great when everyone agrees (Xoltenirvanamon is not a good name for a main character) but what happens when they don't?  What happens when one of your CP's is sure your MC's hair should be blonde and the other one insists on brunette?  Or if your writing instructor is sure starting your novel at Chapter 7 will get you a very nice book deal, and your other instructor thinks Chapter 7 should be cut and shredded, never to grace the inside of your manuscript again?

You go see your therapist, who listens and nods and glances at her watch every ten minutes.  At the end of your session, you ask her who you should trust.  She tells you to trust yourself.

Trust myself? Are you kidding me?  What do I know about writing a novel?   I'm a florist/engineer/accountant/fill-in-the-blank.  I'm not a writer.

Truth is, you are a writer.  Once you put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, you are instantly transformed.  And as a writer, especially the writer of your story, you have to trust yourself to be able to tell it better than anyone else.

That said, I often listen to my CP's and writing instructors.  They have given me advice that makes my MS stronger than it would have been had I not had them.  I'm incredibly thankful for their wisdom and non-bias opinions.  But, that doesn't mean I have to agree with everything they say.  At the end of the day, I have to listen to my gut.

My gut isn't always going to be right, but at least it's mine.

I'd love to hear how you handle contradictory critiques!  Meantime, check out another blog post I wrote on trusting your intuition.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How Did I Get Here?

I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up! And it only took me twenty years.

Actually, that's not entirely true. I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was a little kid. I even knew when I started college.

And then Real Life intruded.

Surely you've met Real Life. Real Life is that guy who tells you that what you want to do is unrealistic. Real Life says, "That's not practical." Or "You can't make a living doing that."

I entered my freshman year of college as a Creative Writing major. I'd excelled in high school writing classes, and I was constantly writing stories, poems, or song lyrics (I look back now and wonder who that sappy, overly-romantic, slightly insane girl was).

But I digress...

The point is, I always loved to write.

But Real Life got it the way.

Just before the start of my sophomore year, Real Life paid me a visit. "You can't become a writer and get paid for it," Real Life said. "You need a Real Job. And to get a Real Job you need a Real Major."

And, because I was 21 years old, I believed him.

So I changed my major from Creative Writing to Communications.

And I graduated college, and I got a Real Job. In fact, I got lots of 'em.

I went into Public Relations and Marketing, and I'm darn good at it (if I do say so myself). Even though I enjoy my career, I still felt something was missing.

And it finally occurred to me why.

I wanted to write.

No, I needed to write.

So, after much soul-searching, career-concerns, and financial-fear... that's what I did.

I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote until I finished the first draft of my first novel, a middle-grade fiction book called The Secret Seventh Key.

I was elated when I wrote the last line. I did it!

Little did I know... My work had just begun.

And that's why I started this blog--to share my dream with you in the hopes that you'll share yours with me.  And then we can take this journey together.