Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A funny thing happened on my way ...

Seeing that I am leaving for vacation this Thursday, it makes sense that I get tons of work dumped on me. Although, I have to admit I like it. I am working on two technical writing projects and a smattering of little editing projects that my group needs done.

/work talk

My writing group is going very well this time. My first one was such a disaster, I swore the concept off for the last couple of years. Just to give you a feeling for how mismatched we were in that group, I'll tell you what we all wrote. B wrote sort of literary fiction (I liked him the best) about a man who has a midlife crisis and buys an old hot rod that had mafia evidence in the truck (unbeknownst to him). E wrote chick-lit about talking boobs. The other woman, whose name I forgot, wrote historical fiction. I never got to read her stuff because she got in a disagreement with one of the other two people in my group. Then there was me ... I write speculative fiction. B really liked it, but E just couldn't get past the whole "I don't read Sci-fi" attitude. Not to be whiny here, but I don't read chick lit, but I read her stuff.

So that was the first group. I then went on to work with a friend who also wrote in my genre, but we never really connected. Then this fall I met a guy at my Kajukenbo school that was working on his first novel. I talked to him for awhile and it turned out that he also wrote science fiction. I got the my husband to admit in public that he was writing a book, and we all started this new writers group together.

What a different experience this has been. First, I get to read excellent fiction! Second, I get really thoughtful input from people who are interested and knowledgeable in my genre. Third, I get to hear about how they are handling various struggles with their writing. If fact, this whole experience of late has gotten me back on getting Gibbons ready for sale. So traipse on over to my Web site and check out my synopsis for Gibbons (and Continuum if you've never read it.)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

In writing news ...

I submitted my writing to my first literary contest (not counting the ones I entered in high school). The contest is run by the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, which I am a member of, and I entered in the novel category (subcategory-science fiction and fantasy).

I chose to send them Continuum, which was a hard choice for me. I really wanted to send them G project( aka Gibbons), too, but I couldn't get it together in time--it is all about my synopsis avoidance problem.

So cross your fingers, and wish me luck!

I was mauled by the Internet

Is anyone else feel mauled, slimed, or otherwise violated by the amount and type of advertising on the Internet lately? I've been trying to decide if it was just me, due to the job I have of shifting through the worst of the SEOs, or if it really has gotten bad out there.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Nearly a year ago today

It was almost a year ago today that I got the call that knocked me on my butt. I was headed to band practice, when the phone rang. I was running late so the boy answered the phone. I can still remember the look on his face as he came up the stairs.

"You want to take this," he said.

At first I was worried that it was some bit of really bad news, but he was beaming. I took the phone and briefly looked at the caller id. It was a New York number. I don't live in NY and I don't know anyone there, so my heart leapt; it was an agent, at least that was what I hoped. And it was. The agent called at 6 pm my time, so 9 pm his time. He apologized for the lateness of his call and that terse tone to the boy. I honestly don't remember much of the conversation, besides that he wanted to see the whole book and he was very sure he wanted to represent me.

The next several days were a haze. I didn't want to tell anyone, but I was also bursting at the seams with excitement. He read my novel in about a month and offered me representation. I went through the revision process with him, and we were ready to sell.

I have to admit it is strange being in the same place I was 11 months ago or maybe a year ago, depending on what happened to my full ms after he left the agency.

How obvious is it really?

I was reading an entry today on another journal about what is so obvious to one person (in this case an agent) is not obvious to another (the writer who she was talking to). It got me thinking about my own struggles with communication, and when I get frustrated by other people. I can be very short after a couple of attempts to explain what I would consider a simple concept. Let me give an example (btw, can you tell I am working as a technical writer right now with all the examples I feel compelled to give).

I work a lot with my mother on her book and the various article that she writes. She loves to email me her articles about a day before the are due needing some guidance. Usually she is upset with her writing and really needs me to just give her a quick edit and mostly (in my opinion) some reassurance that she is not about to embarrass herself in front of her editors. My mother is a great woman, and she deserves a patient editor, but sometimes I cannot deliver that to her, especially when I feel that she is only feeling insecure and not acutally needing my help. So I get snarky, particularly about things that I feel I've already explained to her in previous edits. It is so obvious to me when to use a dash or a semi-colon, but to her (she hasn't worked as an editor therefor is less neurotic about all of this) it is so hard to remember.

I think the longer you are in a profession, the harder it is to remember what is actually common knowledge, or obvious. What about you all?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Is this even legal?

Fake Name Generator

I ran across this site today at work. It's interesting to say the least. So, for all you people who hate entering personal data, here is your easy cheat.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Deer Channel

My job takes me to the most fascinating corners of the Web. Today I present ... wait for it ... The Deer Channel! Yup, it exists. So get past the first little infomercial (deer here), and it's on to the deer madness. Of course, if you subscribe you get much much more than the deer montage that is freely available to the general public. Subscribers also get 24/7 access to watching those there deer.

To summarize I give you a quote from their FAQ.

Q: The deer [in the videos] are Texas deer. I am in South Carolina. I do not see the relevance.

A: Some might argue that unless the footage comes from a buck he's actually pursuing, it's of no relevance to him. In truth, there's plenty to learn from a big whitetail, regardless of where he lives. While a buck in South Carolina and one in Alberta don't lead exactly the same life, 4 decades of hunting whitetails from Canada to Mexico has taught us that they're all wired pretty much the same. They share instincts and behaviors common to all members of the species. We can observe a buck in one location and from that make some fundamental judgments about bucks everywhere.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Writers, Agents, and Timing

"I think the problem is when most people (writers) come into the publishing world they have no concept of the time frame of a book cycle. I didn’t. At this point, I had to explain to numerous amounts of people that a writer doesn’t merely send a manuscript in, get an agent, get a book deal, and get the book on the shelf in less than a year (with preferred placement, of course). Or at least it’s rare, but almost never with first-time authors. Since I started this foray into this world, I’ve had to learn to take a breath, relax, and release my expectations and preconceived notions.

The book that needs to be written is Zen and the Art of the Publishing Industry. :-) "

I posted this earlier in someone else's blog in response to a post about how long it takes editors to respond to agents and authors. After I sent it off, I thought about everything else that can push writers into the frenzy that lands them calling their agent, harassing that editor, and ultimately, shooting themselves in the foot.

The main thing that has pushed me over into getting frustrated is many of the non-writers in my world. The ones who push about why I haven't gotten a contract yet, or why I am letting my agent ignore me, etc. No, not the people who are merely showing an interest in my life, but the ones that are lecturing me about how I need to be more proactive--or to summarize--I need to work harder, because that is the real reason nothing is happening.

Point in case, about a year ago I signed up with an agent at a EXCELLENT agency. I could not have been happier. It was the agency I really wanted to be with, as I loved the philosophy of the woman who started it. My agent was not her, but it didn't matter to me because whoever she would hire would be great, as far as I was concerned. Things were going GREAT! I worked through edits with him for a couple of months and finally sent in my final draft so he could start selling. I heard nothing for a week, which was a bit odd for him, so I wrote asking if he got my package and if he liked my edits. Nothing. I waited two more weeks and wrote again. *crash* That's when I got my first setback. I received a note from the head of the agency that said he was no longer with the agency. The good news, I was staying with the agency and she, or the new agent she was hiring, would get to me shortly. I was thrilled that I might get to work with her, so I was ok with all of this, but a bit nervous about what it might mean. Enter the pushy masses. For weeks I got all sorts of remarks about how this was bad news, she was preparing to drop me, I needed to get on her and make sure I secured myself a ... something.

About a month later, I wrote said agency again. It was a quick note saying, "hi" and asking how things were. The agent wrote me that she hadn't gotten to me project yet, but she was expecting to get to it this summer. Well, that quieted the critics for awhile. Or at least until summer ended and they all wanted to know what happed to my agent. It went on and on. So, I gave (and I shouldn't have because said poor agent didn't need anymore stress). She wrote me a firm note about needing to wait and her current clients taking precedent over me. I didn't tell any of my naysayers about this part. I left it.

I learned two things for all of this. First, don't harrass your agent. Second, stop listening to people who are convinced that you just need to push a bit harder and you'll get what you want. That attitude might work in their worlds, but it fails here. In fact, I remember reading another writer's blog saying that she was dropped from her agent for writing too many questions to her agent (said writer was in contract negotiations).

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Such a dork

I already ordered my copy of the new Harry Potter book! So excited!