Thursday, May 10, 2012

What Am I Afraid Of?

The answer: everything. 

Spiders (okay, that's a given; everyone's afraid of spiders), disease, dying, being alone. But what I'm really afraid of is not being recognized for what I love and my dreams being crushed. 

As a newbie writer (only been truly at it for two years, now), every rejection that comes my way is soul-crushing. I need to develop a thicker skin when it comes to this, but that takes time. Time is not on my side. 

So, I'm afraid of not being recognized, not being published traditionally, not being good enough. As a dream, it may only be in my head. 

Last night, someone told me, "You may never get published."

And it killed me. Because she was right. I may never be published the way I want. I have a book coming out in a few weeks with an indie publisher, but that wasn't enough. I want an agent. I want someone to tell me I'm good enough. Even if it's only one book; I WANT IT. I want it so bad that I'd be willing to sacrifice everything I have, shut myself into a room for years, and finish writing. My life has become this. 

After all, it's hard to believe in yourself when, (1) All three of your full requests were rejected in five days time, (2) The only queries getting attention are those without sample chapters, (3) your request rate is only 2%, and (4) your inbox has been completely silent for days -- waiting for the other 60+ rejections to come in. 

Maybe I'm not good enough? I don't know. I guess it's possible. Everyone tells me I should just write for myself. Well, I do. I do write for myself. But I want to be recognized for being at least halfway decent at it. Maybe I am spoiled. Maybe it's bad that I want things other people have. Maybe it's bad that I expect some recognition for something I may not even be all that great at. 

Last night, I finished reading Dying to Get Her Man, the last in a series of novels by Judy Fitzwater. The novels center around thirty-something Jennifer Marsh, an amateur writer who's spent the better part of ten years trying to get published. Jennifer gets into all kinds of trouble, and somehow always find a murder close by her -- her being involved. And Jennifer, stubborn as she is, always has to figure it out. 

In the first book, Jennifer meets Sam Culpepper. Oh, how I love Sam. Everyone loves Sam. How could they not? That slick dark hair, those deep blue eyes, his downright Vulcan logic was all it took for Jen to say yes to a first date. 

Now, five books later, Sam calls her with the "We need to talk" line. They'd been dating a while and Jennifer was expecting it. But she's scared. She's scared of planning ahead because she's lived her life a certain way for years. So, instead of listening to what Sam wants to tell her, she prattles on the entire night about a woman who supposedly killed herself on the grave of her lover the night before. Jennifer seems to think that this woman didn't commit suicide. 

By far this is my favorite in the series. I'd been waiting five books for Jennifer and Sam to finally say those three words to each other because I know they know it. Scared or not, Jennifer needed to suck it up, because the next morning, she finds out that one of Sam's ex-girlfriends is back in town, and Belle seems to think she can get him back...or at least that's the way it looks to Jennifer.

In the end, Jennifer and Sam have their talk. It was one of the best moments I'd had in a long time when reading a book. Sam tells her, "The first time is hard, but after that, it just rolls of your tongue. Try it." He takes her face in his hands, looks deep into her eyes, and says, "I love you, Jennifer Marsh."

Yeah, I went fan-girl "squee" all over this. Pathetic, right? Blah, blah, blah. We knew it all along, but hearing those words makes things a little more solid, don't you think?

Just like me hearing "Yes" would be just about the best thing to happen. Will it ever happen? Maybe. If I work hard enough? Perhaps. In the meantime, I've just got to focus on other things. 

I'm just too impatient.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

In Alpha Order: Brendon, Jack, Julian, Kevin, Malcolm, and Martin

Taking a point from one of my fellow 238'ers, I have decided to fill all of you in on each male main character from my books. Of course, they all vied for the top spot (even though I TOLD them it was in alphabetical order), and surprisingly enough, the top spot goes to the one guy who's too modest to admit he's great.
  1. Brendon James: Forty-three-year-old car mechanic who never finished high school. Life was normal for Brendon until the outbreak of a mutated rabies virus turned the world's people into rabid, flesh biting monsters. I love Brendon because he's so humble. One of Brendon's best lines:
    • "My best friend and boss always told me I was perfect candidate to be a model, but I’d never trade engine grease and hard work for makeup and magazine covers; that’s just not me."
    • Appeared in RVE025 (horror/science fiction).
  2. Jack Hess: writer extraordinaire. Jack's first marriage crumbled when his "promiscuous" activities at book signings got him in trouble. But when he met Lisa -- fifteen years his junior -- all that stopped. Jack is a recluse; he doesn't like crowds, hates the dark, and is prone to horrible migraine headaches. One of Jack's best lines:
    • He searched around, fumbling on the wall for the light switch. When he located it, he flicked it on, but nothing happened. He teased the switch a few times, but to no avail. “What is this, a horror movie?”
    • Appeared in Under the Glass Dome (paranormal/suspense).
  3. Julian (no last name): How do I describe Julian? Ah, yes. Julian is millions of years old. Normally, he floats around between dimensions, ferrying people into the afterlife. Well, he's more of a taxi driver, really -- exchanging energy for GPS coordinates. When Julian does have a body, he enjoys food, banter, and rhetoric. One of his best lines:
    • “How I would love to take you with me. You wouldn’t believe how uninspiring dead souls are.”
    • Appeared in The Death of My First Assignment (YA Paranormal).
  4. Kevin Carter: Kevin is a six hundred-year-old wraith in a forty-year-old human body. He used to haunt humans, taking their souls in exchange for bogus offers. But when an assignment went awry, he ended up staying human, liking it much better than stealing souls and consuming bodies. But Kevin's secrets go far deeper in the sequel to The Death of Me. One of his best lines:
    • “Okay, guys, what I want you to do is just make a quick film about the book. It could be anything from a ten minute scene off the pages to a completely separate idea. I don’t care what you do, as long as you’re within guidelines and type the damn thing up. If I get a hand-written assignment one more time, I’ll have to kill all of you.” (which is, consequently, his first line).
    • Appeared in The Death of Me (YA Paranormal).
  5. Malcolm Holmes: My personal favorite male character and the one who I personally wished to get the top spot. Alas, he is number five in the alphabetical mix. Malcolm is the epitome of English -- with his gravelly thick voice and premature silver hair. Woman from countries away flock to his charm. Unfortunately, Catherine has decided against sanity and fallen in love with him. One cannot fall in requited love with Malcolm. It takes several books for the two to actually "click". One of his best lines:
    • He whistled lewdly at her. “You’re still a knockout, Love.”
    • “Oh, please.”
    • “A perfect ten.”
    • “You can stop now.” 
    • “What if I don’t want to stop?”
    • Appeared in A Cure Series (six books of varying genres)
  6. Martin Krane: My Martin. I do love Martin almost as much as I love Malcolm. Martin is three-hundred years old, perpetually stuck in the body of a eighteen-year-old. Martin is sweet and kind, but loves to tease. When he loves, he loves with his whole heart. But watch out, the kid is full of trouble. One of his best lines:
    • “You’re just so damn cute in the morning it’s hard not to be motivated.”
    • Appeared in The Death of Me (YA Paranormal)
Any questions? I didn't think so. Which one is your favorite?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Some More Searching...

Here are some updates since my last post a million years ago.

On Tuesday, April 25, 2012, I thought I was going to die. You can totally say I'm spoiled and impatient, but I'm just a passionate person. I'm emotional and I'm not afraid to admit it -- even if it may be unwarranted at times, it's just who I am. 

Remember the partial request I was talking about in my last post? Yeah, on the 25th, it was rejected and I went back to square one with no responses and rejections on the query alone. So, I went back to thinking it was my book; my concept just wasn't good enough. I just wasn't good enough. 

So, I sought solace in both my writing group and the forum boards at QueryTracker. Everyone there is so helpful and supportive. I got PM's for "hugs" and lots of "Don't give up!"'s. Subsequently, I also got a few "you need to rework your query"'s. And I thought. Good Lord, not this again! So, I set about diligently (and when I mean diligent, I mean I stayed late after work and stuff) reworking the query, got it to a comfortable spot after several soul crushes and tissues, and sent out another five the next day. 

And April 26th was a better day.

Because I got my first full request. 

Not only was it a full request with the words, "Please, send the full" in the body of the e-mail, but it was from an agency that was notorious for only requesting 3% of queries that come in. And, boy, was I excited. So, I sent it off right away and waited. Then, that night, I got a second request from another agency. 

Dang, I thought the world had gone insane or I just hit a lucky streak. But today, April 30th, my full was rejected from the first agency, saying the writing was good, but he just didn't "fall in love" with it. 

On the bright side, I'm not back at square one again, because I have a second full out there. But I'm still not getting a lot of responses off my query. So, I sent out ten more today and hope for the best. 

Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Today is a Good Day

Today is a good day. It started off with a harmless enough Facebook post in my writer's group, "The Few, The Proud, The 238." This post is as follows:

"In high school, I dated a guy who had a twin brother. At the time, I KNEW which one he was because his brother was weirder than he was. Now that I have them both on my Facebook, I can't remember which one I dated. Is that bad?"

In my opinion? Yes, that is very bad. Specifically if either one of them sees that. Of course, what followed was a barrage of comments from my fellow writers. Some of them were:

"i dont know. i'm too busy laughing! :D" and "your twin comments were so good that I posted them on my wall. They're so funny that they've already gone viral. It'll help your career, if not your self-esteem."

I just love all my fellow 238er's. They are actually some of my best friends even though I've never met them.

Anyway, on to more news at hand.

So! Last we left off, I was searching for that all-elusive "yes." On Monday, I sent a new and improved query to a smaller agency. About six hours later, I got a partial request. My first request! Woo-hoo! I know it doesn't mean much because people usually get many requests before they even get some personal interest. But, it helps my ego and self-esteem that someone liked my query enough to want to read the first fifty pages.

Guess I know which query to send out now, huh? So, I wrote a paragraph to pull the reader in, and submitted my query to ten more agents the next day.

It's now Thursday and I have yet to hear anything. Impatient? Damn right.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Search for that All-Elusive "Yes"

What happens after we die?

From the moment our oldest ancestors looked into the sky and caught a glimpse of a far-off supernova, we've been obsessed with life after death. We've discovered paintings on cave walls of a bright, oval-shaped light in the sky, gods flying high above the heavens depicted on pottery, and there have even been theories about the ancient Nazcans drawing huge pictures in the sand so their gods had something to look at when they descended.

But that doesn't answer the question.

Well, the long answer is very, very long -- convoluted with theories, religious interpretations, and even some "first-hand" experiences. But, the short answer is, "We don't actually frackin' know."

My opinion? You don't want to know it... trust me; it's not relevant or happy. Which brings me to my point about finding that one agent who will say "yes" to my book.

"Seventeen-year-old Katie Bunny has thirty days to accomplish everything she’s ever wanted in life. Before she dies. Again"

That's the hook for the novel I'm pitching around. Most people I've come into contact with have said, "Wow, I want to read it based on that". So, why haven't agents told me the same thing? Because they're busy, they're picky, and they're right.

Katie Bunny (yes, she has a strange last name, but it's integral... trust me) is seventeen, moderately freckled, and socially awkward. What I mean by that is she's too busy watching old B movies and trying to finish high school to think about what she needs to do in life. She figures once she graduates, she can do the things grown-ups do without having to worry about cliques and cliches. Unfortunately, she dies first. But because she never achieved her purpose, she isn't allowed to pass onto the next phase (a dimension without bodies, only consciousness). Katie is suddenly given thirty days to achieve her goal so she can pass on. But she nearly spills the beans right away, so this alter-dimensional being, Martin, is sent to follow her around like a lost puppy. In addition to sanity threats on Katie's behalf, alter-dimensional wraiths are trying to acquire her soul by any means possible -- usually by exchanging it with some bogus but tantalizing offer. But if Katie gives it to them, then they own her and she'll spend eternity being consumed by them once she dies.

I can't tell you how many times I've drafted and re-drafted my query letter. Okay, maybe I can: it's about 30 or 40. My blood, sweat, and abundant amount of tears are smeared across the pages of THE DEATH OF ME and on the wall in my computer room (from bashing my head against it if you didn't catch that). So, having to rewrite a query and spend more time on it than the actual book just seems odd to me, but it's like a job interview, right? You can spend ten years working for the same company and hate it. But you can spend fifteen years searching for the perfect job and tailoring your resume. So, I understand.

But, I haven't even garnered any requests; only form rejections based on my query. What am I doing wrong? Probably nothing. I'm just one of the unlucky 90% that never gets a chance no matter how good the writing is. Just like a job interview. It doesn't matter how good a person you really are. What matters is the first impression you make. It has to be fantastic, solid, and awe-inspiring.

In conclusion, I don't need help with my writing, I need help with my QUERY! Dog have mercy.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My First Post

I'm a writer. I love words and I love to write about truth and fiction. Although, it's usually more of the latter with a little of the former thrown in for balance.

Now, notice how I said "writer" and not "author."

In my complex and ever-changing brain, being a writer means you love to write and will sacrifice relationships, sanity, and computers to do it. An author is someone who is paid to write, whether or not they actually enjoy doing it.

I don't get paid... Yet.

I've had my fair share of hobbies in life just like everyone else. Of course, most of those hobbies ended in a hanging of my head in one form of shame or another. I drew pretty pictures, sang at weddings and events, even dabbled in Paranormal Investigation (well, go on then, shake your head and walk away!). But out of the ashes of my failures, I found my true inspiration was story-telling.

Did you ever play that game at a company meeting or classroom where one person tells the other three things about themselves, and one was a half-truth or all out lie? No, well, let's do it. Here goes:

1. I can sing in Japanese (yes, I was born and raised in California... never even been out of the country).
2. I had my appendix taken out.
3. I have fifteen unpublished works gathering e-dust in my computer.


Yes, I can sing in Japanese. It's actually pretty easy. It's just like learning a song in English -- specifically seeing as most of today's pop stars whine for three solid minutes while unoriginal music drones on behind them.

Number two is false. I still have my appendix (for now...).

I know what you're saying, now. "Fifteen unpublished works?" Well... that's about all I know you're saying. I have no idea what questions you're asking in your mind (or even shouting at the screen). Of course, some of these works are short stories I only wrote for myself with no intention of publishing them. But, some of them are meant to be shared. Here's a list:

1. Luck Be a Lady
2. A Cure for the Condition
3. A Cure for the Past
4. A Cure for the Family
5. A Cure for the Hero
6. A Cure for Their Daughter
7. A Cure for the Nightmare
8. RVE025
9. Under the Glass Dome
10. 31919
11. Gibberish
12. The Death of Me
13. The Death of a Pop Star
14. Dimension
15. I Hate Meat

Damn... I have way too much time on my hands. Double damn... none of these are published. What am I doing?

Numbers two and three on the list ARE coming out this year. A Cure for the Condition will be released in June and its sequel in October under a small, independent publisher. Sure, I have to do all the publicity work myself -- and I'm terrible at selling myself, let me tell you -- but it's cool to know that someone else liked my idea enough to publish it.

Now, if only I could find an agent...

Coming up...

My foray into searching for that all-elusive "yes."