Friday, July 30, 2010

You Gotta Have Friends

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for the sweet comments and well wishes and emails and everything this week. You're all wonderful.

It's been kind of a stinky time, I'm not going to lie, but the baby and I are doing okay and I'll be 30 weeks along on Sunday, which is good.

I managed to get some writing done this week! It feels so great to accomplish something again. I am inching along on this manuscript, but I really love what I've got so far, so that's encouraging.

And I made a surprise appearance at RWA on Thursday to hang out with two of my favorite people, Sara Megibow and Karen Hooper!
My trip was made possible by the photoshopping skills of the talented Megan Rebekah (I love that she added a pregnant belly!), and the photography skills of the lovely Tiffany Reisz. You girls are awesome. :)

I've been following all the RWA tweets and blogs all week and that has been ALMOST as fun as being there. It sounds amazing. I will make it there someday! Karen has had a bunch of great updates on her blog, so if you want the inside scoop you should check it out.

I looked at my summer word count yesterday and it's shockingly low. I've only written about 5000 words since June 1. Granted, it's been a crazy summer. I'm just hoping the quality is a little better than usual and that's why it's taking forever.

How has summer been for your writing? Are you more productive, less productive, or about the same during summer months?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sometimes Life is Tough

In June I decided July would be the month I would make stuff happen. I was going to finish my manuscript. I was going to enjoy awesome-summer-mommy-time with my kids. I was going to go to RWA and meet my amazing agent, hang out with some of my favorite people, and be surrounded by writers, agents, editors, and DISNEY WORLD for three whole days. July should have been the month I did all the things I wouldn't be able to do when baby #4 comes in October.

Alas, July had different plans for me. I got sick. A few weeks into the illness I was diagnosed with a nasty little pregnancy complication. All of my plans for July (and August and September) were put on hold or cancelled, (sniff...RWA...sniff), and I spent the month passed out on the couch while my kids watched brain-frying amounts of PBS. Good times.

The good news is I have a fantastic doctor and we feel like everything is going to be okay. I just need a lot of rest and the baby needs to stay healthy and delay his entry into the world for another 7-8 weeks.

Until then, (and probably for a month or two after), I'm sure my blog posts will be sporadic. I will promise to write about writing or reading or something sort of interesting when I do post.

I didn't read many blogs in July, (I hope to check in with everyone this week). I'm sure I've missed some things. What have you all been up to? Amazing vacations? Conferences? Agents? Book deals? Fill me in peeps.

Oh and if any of you are on Twitter you should check out my super cool agent, @SaraMegibow. She just started tweeting a few weeks ago and she's getting the hang of it now. Plus, I think she'll be tweeting from RWA next week, and if you can't go, aren't tweets the next best thing?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Another Visit From My Agent

Hey everybody! I'm still on my month-long blogging break but my lovely agent, Sara Megibow, offered to share some notes from last month's referral experiment and I knew you'd find them interesting. Enjoy!

Dear readers and writers -
Thank you for all the wonderful submissions referred by Natalie last month! I've had a delicious month reading romance, romance, romance! Just wanted to say thank you for all your hard work and for considering me in your agent hunt.

Here are the results:
I read 75 partials (still have a few in my database, but not many)
I asked for 3 fulls
if I sign any new clients, I will definitely let Natalie know

Of the partials that I read, there were three main reasons for passes - I thought I would share my notes in case it helps. These notes are not true of all submissions of course, but were more of a general observation.

1) stories that opened with dialogue in which the purpose of that dialogue was to "explain" the story to the reader:

ex. (and I am making this example up - it's not taken from any real submission)

Chapter 1
"Fred, how could you? You know that mom and dad sent us here to Wisconsin specifically so you could learn how to get along with others and stop fighting!"
"But Sally, I've just had such a hard time since mom's cancer and I don't like anyone here in Wisconsin anyway"

To me, this feels like an awkward way to introduce a story to the reader, so it was one reason why I passed on some partials.

2) occasionally, I saw examples of weak writing right up front. Yes, as an agent, I could "edit" this kind of thing. But, if I see it up front, then I'll gamble that it's throughout the book. An editor at a publishing house would pass on a book for weak writing and therefore so will I.

ex. (again, making this up)
James looked out across the mesa. James picked up his coffee cup and took a sip of the hot liquid. He didn't know what was next in life, but he felt overwhelmed. James felt like this a lot.

Obviously, no submission is perfect. But, if I saw too much of these kinds of mistakes (poor use of pronouns and "telling" the reader what James is feeling instead of showing us), then I would pass on the sample.

3) data dump. This is the number one reason that I pass on projects submitted to the agency in general. I know it's really hard to integrate backstory and get the reader "into" the story. But, editors will only read 30-50 pages before nixing a work, and that's how important those first 30-50 are. So, there is no room for datadump especially upfront.

ex. (again, not taken from anything specifically)
Gretchen was an only child and the last chance for the Duchess to produce an heir. She's been sent to boarding school, trained to perform, pampered, educated, pushed and prodded. And yet, she was 22 and single. Her mother was losing her patience and Gretchen was losing her confidence. Really, there was only another month until her 23rd birthday and her mother was insisting on throwing a big ball in an effort to attract suitors.

I hope my thoughts and notes are useful and I wish you all Happy Writing!
Sara Megibow

Nelson Literary Agency

Good stuff, huh? I've struggled with all three of these things. My first manuscript was a lovely little story that began with a gigantic info dump. I did learn a lot from writing it though and I'm glad I didn't give up after the first attempt. Practice. Practice. Practice. The more we write the better we get!

I hope you all have a great July and I'll see you in August.