Tuesday, November 23, 2010

CHEERS TO THAT!

I could easily think of a thousand reasons why the consumption of an adult beverage is a necessity. However, I have lots to do (like finish the first season of MAD MEN) so I won't bore you with overkill. Instead, I've compiled a list for your reference:

1. Holidays. (No explanation necessary)

2. Rejections. Particularly when someone says your manuscript is "cliche". (Thanks for reading beyond the first 30 pages!)

3. Children. (See #1)

4. Brad Womack is the new Bachelor. Again.
5. You couldn't say "no" to that slice of leftover birthday cake and now your jeans feel tight.

6. Cramps.
7. Waiting for J.R. Ward's latest installment of the Brotherhood.
8. Atheists.
9. Joy Behar.
10. It's there.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

VIRTUE OR PAIN IN THE A*S?

Patience has never been my thing.


Case in point: the ceramic angel I painted when I was about seven...

After a trip to LeeWards (Denver's version of Michael's in 1982) my older sisters and I stationed ourselves around the ping pong table in the basement and set to work painting our ceramic masterpieces. I remember taking the brush in my hand, and eyeing the beautiful array of colors...my angel was going to be stunning! I'd make her look just like the angel on the box; with long, blonde hair, shimmering blue eyes, and even a faint dusting of pink on her cheeks. I'd take my time and do it just the way I wanted...

Two minutes later she was complete. And she looked nothing like the angel I'd imagined in my head. Disappointed, I ran to my mom to ask her what I could work on now that I'd finished the angel. She said, "Paint it again." So I did. About twenty-seven more times.

I'm pretty sure I saw that angel strapped to the hood of a Miata at the gay pride parade last year.

And so now I ask this question: Is Patience really a virtue, or is it just a royal pain in the ass that you're either born with or not?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Time to call the professionals...

Up until this point, the responses I've received from agents have fallen into the following four categories:

1. Form Rejection: "Dear Author, I'm sure your book is good, but I am too busy to care..."
2. Polite, Personal Rejection: "Dear Bethany, thank you for your submission. It is not what I'm looking for..."
3. Encouraging, Personal Rejection: "Dear Bethany, what a great concept. Unfortunately I'm not currently in the market for chick-lit..."
and finally,
4. Encouraging, Give Me More: "Dear Bethany, You've nailed Peggy's voice--it's fresh, charming, and lively--and the title is superb..."

AND THEN LAST WEEK I RECEIVED THIS:
"Dear Bethany, Thanks for your submission. While your subject and writing interest me, as I began to read I found your manuscript filled with punctuation errors, which were distracting and detract from its professionalism. I'd suggest having your manuscript professionally edited before resubmitting it."

OUCH, STOP! THAT HURTS!!!
After my ego stopped bleeding, I took a look at the email with a little more diplomacy. First, she said "your subject and writing interest me". That's much better than, "this sounds stupid and you write like a left-handed preschooler." Secondly she said, "before resubmitting". Now it may be a stretch, but it sounds to me like she's offering me an opportunity to make it better and let her take a look at it again. That too, is a good thing.

So now I'm left with the question...DO I GET AN EDITOR?

I was well in the thick of mulling over the question of the day, when low and behold I received this email from another agent: "Dear Bethany:We are interested in reading your manuscript. Could you please send it as an MS Word attachment? Thank you."

It took me all of about nine seconds, and multiple confirming emails from my friends/family, to say, "YES. I NEED AN EDITOR." And that's exactly what I've done. I've gone and hired myself an editor. While part of me is anxious that it's officially been one week since the agent above requested the full manuscript and I've not sent it to her, I am confident that holding it for 2 weeks, so it can be in its most polished condition, is a much better decision then sending her something not entirely complete.

Of course, I wish I could go back and send Robyn, the first agent who requested my material, the revised manuscript (and I may do that if I don't hear from her before the revision is complete), but I think this is a wise decision on my part. After Jenni the editor works her magic, I will feel absolutely confident that what I am sending out is in its most perfect condition.

Here's to letting the professionals do their thing.
(And the agent who's tough words actually motivated me to make my book better)

Side note: I thanked that editor and asked if I could resubmit after revision. Her response: "Of course. I'd be happy to see it."



Wednesday, May 5, 2010

So THIS is what it feels like...

Last Thursday evening, I received an email from my dream agent, (someone I actually met at a writer's conference the first morning, who was the sweetest, nicest, cutest little thing you could imagine), informing me that she liked the first chapter of the book enough to request the full manuscript with, "an eye toward representation."

After I did a little white-girl-jig, and a very loud, oooh!oooh!oooh! through my living room and kitchen, which is tricky considering I was just over 2 weeks out of knee surgery, the reality of the moment set in.

1. Someone is taking me seriously as an author
2. Someone might actually publish my book
3. Shit! I haven't revised it enough
4. She's going to hate it, laugh at me, and send an email to every, single, solitary literary agent in the continental US, (maybe even our neighbors to the north), telling them to steer clear of the girl who doesn't always know when to use a semicolon or that "succulents", when referring to plants, is not spelled, "succulence". (spell check sucks).

Fears aside, and there were many, I .pdf'd the entire manuscript to 'dream agent', hard copy following later in the day, and now I get to wait...
and wait...
and...my, aren't you sharp...yes, wait some more.

I hope (pray) that she will look beyond the typos and punctuation fatalities, and will fall in love with the characters just as I have -that she'll see the uniqueness in the story, the sarcasm in the tone and the voice behind the author. If she can't see those things, than I suppose she's not the person I'd want repping my book anyway. But I like her - I really do, and I couldn't have designed a more perfect agent to give me my first taste of 'what could be' than her.


THIS BREAKING NEWS JUST IN: I've started a new book: Jilted left-at-the-altar bride seeks retribution on ex-fiancee through highly unconventional, hopefully fatal means.

Bottom line: I'm excited! I'm anxious! I'm nervous! I'm scared! But more than anything, I'm trusting...
"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." - Psalm 37:4
(in the end, His plan may not include a book with my name on the spine; but what He does promise is something far greater...I cannot complain about that.)

Be well. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

March Madness

March Madness goes way beyond Dick Vitale and one of the last pure sports left in America - for me it includes revisiting Stalking Peggy Flemming...again.

After careful consideration, and the inability to turn off the italics enhancement on this blog post, I decided that Peggy needed a bit of a face lift - or, some personality to be more specific.
After nearly a month of revisions (long nights, ignoring my children...you get the picture) Peggy is now a smart ass, quick-witted girl who makes me laugh and I absolutely adore her - more than I ever did. I still have about 100 pages left - am hoping to be done by my knee surgery scheduled by April 14, but have also decided it doesn't matter when it's done...it will be done when it's done.

This leads me to the following question: When are you finally done revising? When it's on the bargain rack at Barnes & Noble...


Sunday, February 21, 2010

A little itch...

After plugging away on Stalking Peggy Flemming for almost two years (formerly Saving Peggy Flemming), I have allowed the world to do what it will with her while I begin on a new project...and I'm really excited about it!

The 20 Year Itch is the story of 3 former High School BFF's who reunite just before their 20th high school reunion. I cannot begin to tell you how much fun I'm having with this story! The characters are bits and pieces of me, my sisters and closest friends and their experiences are nothing short of...REAL LIFE.

My mother, God bless her, read the first chapter and said, "I absolutely love it, and I definitely cannot show it to the women at church." Well...yes, that is true. For a brief moment I thought perhaps I needed to reign in these characters and their foul mouths and questionable behaviors a bit to reflect my personal beliefs as a Christian. That said...the characters are not allowing me to do that. So, because these women are so eager to tell their story, I'm allowing myself the freedom to be the vessel by which these voices are heard (Oh heavens...that sounds awfully mystical, doesn't it?) - I am trusting that honoring them and the process is honoring my talents, which, in the long run, honors God. And hang on...BOOM! Down from the pulpit I come.

That's all the updates for now. Oh, and I finished what there is of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward. She's the queen of analogy...LOVE THEM ALL! (V the most though)

Stay tuned for more developments, God willing, with Peggy Flemming and progress on the 20 Year Itch!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Writer's Conference Recap

I feel a little like Chris Harrison after a particularly awful episode of The Bachelor right now. But, rest assured, I will not be passing out any roses or kissing nine people in the same evening - promising each one of them that kiss meant more to me than any of the others. (Who am I kidding? I'd be the kissing bandit, too. PUCKER UP, BABY!)

Okay, back to the blog: This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend my first Writer's Conference - and what an experience it was. I was a little anxious day #1, largely because I HATE mingling with people I don't know. (I find small talk incredibly uncomfortable and a waste of air). I arrived right at 8:30 and took a seat at a table with seven empty seats and one guy filling the taken one. Zach, my table mate, introduced himself to me and instantly put me at ease...what a nice guy! (And cute, too...sorry ladies - I think he was gay). Anyway, I slowly grew more comfortable and soon a cute, little blonde gal came and sat beside me. (I was surrounded by cuties!!) We chatted here and there and it turns out...she's an agent. After she heard my rehearsed description of the story (nearly choking at one point when you sort of have that nervous lump that appears and you...ugh, cannot talk for a moment) she asked me to send her some pages (50) so she could review it. COOL!

Later that day I met with two other agents. One had read 50 pages before I arrived and we discussed her opinions of the manuscript. First she said, "You write very, very well." (SWEET!), she liked the story, but had some confusion with timing and also was concerned that maybe the book shouldn't be pitched as a YA but instead Women's Fiction... news to me, but I was up for her comments and agreed with what she had to say. After some discussion/clarification she suggested I make the revisions we'd discussed and send her more pages. (Again...SWEET!)

Second agent just talked to me and ...honestly, I don't think she really wanted to be at the conference. She said the book, based on what I told her was definitely YA and that it didn't matter if anyone knew he Penny Flemming was because they'd find out when the book was published. (Um...who is Penny Flemming?) At any rate, I appreciated her feedback but was left even more STUMPED than two hours earlier.

WHAT GENRE IS THIS BOOK?

After an encouraging first day I returned day 2 to about half the participants as the first day (hello!! you're wasting money, people!) and was starting to consider the day a bit of a snore...when I met my third and final agent for a consult. WOW! Can you say - "I DIG THAT CHICK!"? Seriously, what a cool woman. Not only was she comfortable in her own skin and clearly became an agent for her love of books and words -but she was engaging and genuine and actually asked me questions about ME, suggested things for the book and as we departed said, "I like the Peggy Flemming thing...it's quirky." (I am pretty sure I love this woman). She also asked that I send her the first 50 pages of the story, which, by the way, she thinks sounds like a Women's Fiction novel, too!

So, there you have it. I survived my first writer's conference. Felt like I was supposed to be there and came out feeling hopeful about what might happen. That said - I am setting Peggy free and not worrying about her anymore. Whatever will be, will be. I've edited, rewritten, cursed at and massaged her as many times as I can. Until someone else wants to take the reigns and guide me toward publication...I'm taking a rest and seeing where the proverbial shit falls.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

HIT THE BRAKES!!! Do we need a rewrite?

Ugh. I think the answer may be...yes.
Of course I want the book to be the best it can be, and I think I'm pretty darn close...but I am feeling a nagging to rewrite the first chapter.
"Why?" you ask.
"Because," I say, "for some reason the first chapter doesn't feel like it jives with the rest of the book. While the information is critical to the story, something about the presentation seems off.

So - now I get to start brainstorming on how I want to rewrite that darn first chapter. Part of me thinks this is a great idea & I should be excited to polish this book up so it's pretty and beautiful making it impossible for an agent or a publisher to reject. The other part of me has a sneaking suspicion that the first chapter is fine - that I'm just freaked out to call it "done" and am going to find ways to prolong the refining process.

Time will tell...

Friday, January 8, 2010

RULES SCHMULES...It pays to break them!

Before I started soliciting agencies, I had no idea there were so many RULES to follow in this publishing game. Specific fonts. Specific spacing. Contact us/Don't contact us. Snail Mail ONLY. Where's your SASE? We will send the environmental police to your house and burn you at the stake (like a metal stake, not steak like sirloin, that would require a visit from PETA) if you dare print something on paper - EMAIL ONLY!

Everybody has different rules - it's a wonder anyone gets published.

I have learned, however, that there is one rule that's pretty firm across the board. If an agent rejects you, it's okay to send a courteous response ,but do not bug them. They've made their decision and bothering them will only agitate them and get you black listed. (Black listed? I thought that only happened in bad made for TV movies!)

Uh oh! What's a girl to do who's made a resolution to be more audacious?! ....
She responds to a rejection and says, "Would you be willing to offer any feedback on my query letter?"

Low and behold, the agent responds and gives her HUGE, WONDERFUL, INFORMATIVE feedback! Hallelujah!!! After a brief modification to the query, incorporating the agent's comments, I now have a query that, I hope, will be much more captivating , and assure prospective agents that my book is worth examining a bit closer.

So, thank you, Melissa Jeglinski from the Knight Agency, for breaking the cardinal rule and responding to my email. (She didn't respond when I asked if I could resubmit - that might have been pushing the audacity factor up a few too many notches).


So, my point for this post:
BREAK A RULE EVERY NOW AND THEN - SOME PEOPLE FIND IT ENDEARING!