Tuesday, April 29, 2008

No News is Frickin' Annoying News

Haven't heard back from that comp I entered yet. I could have sworn they would have posted the results by now, but still nothing. It's a little bit frustrating, but this is the world I asked to be in, so I just have to suck it up. I know I've said it before, but it's the waiting that really gets me in this industry.
I suppose I'm finding it more annoying at the moment for two reasons. 1) I don't want to send out a letter to this agent until the results are posted. Obviously if I get a mention, that's something invaluable I can add to the letter. 2) my stupid computer is not co-operating at the moment, and I need someone to look at it for me. But I've been putting off taking it into the computer shop until I get the results of the comp, therefore I'm putting up with a computer that only works properly when it feels like it. Damn annoying!
In other news, I've been working on a post with my favourite Firefly/Serenity quotes, so stay on the lookout for that one. I'll finish it eventually. But right now, my manuscript is calling!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Selling Out or Selling On?

I was going to bemoan the fact that the results of the comp I entered haven't been posted yet (and I just couldn't spend all weekend waiting!), but I was distracted by the post that the agent had put there today (smart move, people!). She questioned whether or not we as authors would accept payment for product placement in our books, and as readers, would it annoy us if our favorite authors started doing it, and basically any other thoughts we might have on the issue.
It is quite an interesting thing to consider.
I can see how a character liking one particular product could be a quirk, and if the book is going to be a true reflection of society, then it's hard not to mention specific products. Like just recently I wrote a scene where one of the characters wanted to have a double malt vanilla latte and some Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Everyone knows that Krispy Kreme doughnuts aren't like a usual doughnut, and that's part of the reason why she specifically wanted them. If a company wanted to pay me to mention their product, I'd have to honestly say I'd seriously consider it (since I earn exactly $0 from my writing at the moment, it's hard to think I'd turn down any money. Maybe when I'm a successful, multi-published, New York Times Best-selling author I'll have the luxury of refusing money). But in saying that, I would draw the line if they had clauses such as I had to mention the product every chapter or something.
However, I don't agree at all with product placement in children's or young adult books. Kids these days are already bombarded with enough advertising and peer pressure, it doesn't need to be in their literature as well.
Well, now that I've had a think about that, I can get back to wishing they'd hurry up and post the comp results already.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Mini Interview Pt 2

Before I get into this, just to let you know (and because I need to make a note of it somewhere myself) there ended up being 75 other entries to the comp I entered the other day. Some are quite obviously good, some could use some work (IMHO). Now I just have to wait a couple of days to see what the agents come up with. I've picked one that really stood out, that think will probably win. So I'll be interested to see if it gets a placing.



Q Typical writing day for you?
A At the moment, I don't have a typical writing day. They're a thing of the past since my daughter came along. But I will say one thing; I'm sorry, but I DO NOT write in my pj's, I never have, and I never will. The reason behind this is because writing is my job. Would you go to work in your pj's? No. I get up, have breakfast, shower, get dressed and then sit down and do my job. Sure, it's not a paying job at the moment. But I'm still going to treat it as such. So apologies for the rant, but I do wonder about the writers who sit around and write in their pj's all day. However, I suppose that's their prerogative. For myself, I'd rather keep my mind in the frame of a job. I think that way, I can handle rejection more easily, but that's a whole other matter.

Q What did you read growing up?
A From when I could sit down and read myself, I used to love reading my dad's Footrot Flats books. They were what you'd call now a 'graphic novel' I suppose. It was about a New Zealand farmer and his boarder collie named Dog. I still love to get them out sometimes, they're so funny. Anyway, after that I moved onto the Silver Brumby series by Elyne Mitchell, first published in 1958 (anyone who isn't Australian won't have a clue what I've been talking about so far, sorry!). They were a series about wild horses we have here in Australia (we call them brumbies), they could talk to one another and spent their time trying to avoid being caught by us humans. They were actually quite brilliant. That was towards the end of primary school. For a little while when I was about thirteen, I was into the Goosebumps books by RL Stein, by I soon moved onto his Fear Street series, which I just never got enough of. My favourite was the Fear Street Saga, which over three books went back in time to how Fear Street had become cursed in the first place, beginning with a young girl being mistakenly accused of being a witch and burned at the stake. Just talking about it makes me want to go back and read them again!
Towards the end of high school I didn't read anything specific, just some mainstream fiction. When I was nineteen, my sister-in-law gave me Julie Garwood's Honor's Splendor to read and the rest is history!

Q Are you a 'Pantser' or 'Planner'?
A I'm kind of on the fence when it comes to this one. I'm probably 75% pantser. I often have an idea of where I want the story to end up, and several key points along the way, but most of it comes to me as I write. Even I'm surprised at some of the stuff that happens sometimes. Often I'm like "Oh my god! You can't do that!" But my characters just tend to do what they want. They pretty much have total control of the story. I think its an exciting way to write, since the plot is revealed to me a bit at a time, like sitting down and reading a book. So far I've never had any major problems with this method of writing. The only point I need to be careful is to make sure my revisions are very thorough, sometimes I need to go back and add in information, to make sure the story is complete.

Q How do you handle rejection?
A I've had lots of practice with this now! Of course the first few were very disappointing. Like all new authors, I had high hopes that I would immediately be picked up and told how brilliant I was before selling a million copies of my first book and hitting the top of the New York Times Bestsellers List. Ok, I wasn't that delusional, but I did hope I'd get my first book published off the slush pile. I'm older and wiser now, and rejection doesn't really bother me much at all. Yes, it still is a little disappointing (I think there would be something wrong if I didn't get disappointed about it!), but I never take it personally and just remind myself that I'm one more rejection closer to my 'yes.' The way I see it, fate has a certain number of rejections lined up for me and I just have to work through them to get to my 'yes.'
Like I said, writing is my job, and if an agent or editor doesn't want my work, it's not a personal attack against me. I choose whether or not I wish to take on any comments they may have made and then continue on planning how I can approach the next proposal. I'm always planning that sort of thing, because I think its smart to plan what is essentially my career, to do constant revisions and reconsider which direction I'm going in. The most important thing I value is my confidence and my positive attitude. I have no doubt that one day I will get published because I will persist until I'm successful (I'm kind of stubborn that way). I have so many books I want to write, and I could spend my entire life doing it and know that on the last day I ever write a word I will still have learnt something. I just need to find a way to show the agents and publishers this!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Distraction or Action

Its amazing what will tweak things in your mind. One of the agents I'm particularly interested in runs comps on her blog for the different romance genres. Basically you enter the first hundred words of your ms and the agents award the winner to whichever grabs their attention the best. I realized when I went to enter with my current WIP, the beginning of Chapter 2 was far more reader-grabbing than the beginning of Chapter 1. Since Chapter 1 introduces the heroine, while Chapter 2 introduces the hero, I was ale to swap them around with a bit of tweaking and now the book is actually flowing a lot better. Sometimes it takes an outside source to see something new about your work, or reveal things that can be fixed to you.
Of course, in my heart of hearts I hope that I might win or at least get a runners up or mention. That way I'll have more ammo to fire off when I write to this agent. But of course the competition is stiff, there are many other great entries.
Anyway, I sort of did create more work for myself by doing all this tweaking. Of course I've had to do some re-writing to make it fit, but nothing too dramatic. Hopefully it won't be too much longer before I'm ready to send off my letters to agents. I feel like I've been saying that forever, but I am getting closer, and at least I'll know what I have to send in will be as good as I can get it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Line is a Dot to You

I don't know why I chose that title for this particular post. If you're a Friends fan, you already know where I nicked it from.
Anyhoo, I'm mid-way through doing some basic re-writing and editing of the first three chapters of my current WIP. I'm so close to having it ready for agents, so close to being able to send off the letters I've drafted. It's a very exciting point to be at. This is the time when I have high hopes that this manuscript will be 'the one.' I'm not thinking of the rejections I'm going to get, only that one little 'yes' that I know I'm going to have to hear eventually.
And when I'm so close, what am I doing here, writing a post about it when I could actually be getting even closer? I don't know! I suppose I just wanted to put my excitement out there.
Better get back to work.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Mini Interview Pt 1

Just for practice (for all those hard-hitting interviews I'm going to be facing once I'm a published author) and also for fun, I've decided to interview myself. Ok, so I'm not really interviewing myself, I'm just coming up with some question that might be interesting to answer...
Well anyway, this is the first small part, and the second part will be posted (who knows when) soon.

Q What do you write, exactly?
A Hmm, that's a good one. At this exact moment, I'm working on a romantic suspense. Its along the lines of Suzanne Brockmann, Tara Janzen, Cindy Gerad etc. A nice butt-kicking-action kinda book. It's been a lot of fun to write actually. I've been able to do lots of interesting research about terrorists, countries that have current Guerrilla conflicts, military rankings, weapons, and studying lots of world maps.
However, when I started out in this crazy business seven years ago, I actually wanted to write historical romance. The first manuscript I wrote was set in the 1500s, based around the black plague (how romantic is that!) and that manuscript will probably never see the light of day again, since it's got pretty much every cliche you can think of in it. The second manuscript I wrote was set in the late Georgian period, 1780. It was the first in a series, and over the years I've written the two following it. I have hope that one day I will go back to this series (they'll probably need a fair bit of fixing up) and finishing writing the other 3 books I had planned and get all 6 published. I think I'll always have a soft spot for the historical romance.
Other than that, the last few years I was working on a paranormal romance, but with the flood of paranormals in the market at the moment (and after spending all last year sending it around to various agents and publishers) I decided to set it aside for the time being, because I needed a break from it. Not to say I won't go back to it one day, but I just don't feel the drive for it at the moment. I'm happy working on the romantic suspense.
In the future, I'm hoping I might have the opportunity to write a futurist romance I've had in mind for a long time now.
So, the short answer to the question is; I'll have a go at any sub-genre, as long as its romance.


Q Why did I become a writer?
A It wasn't until I made the conscious decision to sit down and attempt to write a novel that I realized I'd always been a writer, I just hadn't known it. I can remember being about 9 years old and being told at school we were going to write and illustrate our own books I was so excited about it! In fact, I now know that I was a romance writer even back then. My story was about my friends and I getting shipwrecked on a tropical island, where we were promptly attacked by pirates. Another ship came along and the Captain (who I'm sure was devilishly handsome) came to my rescue. The teacher read it out in class and I got teased for weeks because the other kids wanted to know if I wanted to kiss my imaginary Captain boyfriend. I was a bit more careful of what I wrote after that!
I have to say now that writing really is who I am. If I'm not writing, then I'm thinking about writing; planning the next scene, drafting the next letter to the next agent (spending my royalties before I've even got them!). Its a twenty-four hour job. One I can't escape. Even having a 15 week old baby hasn't slowed me down... much. Ok. It's slowed me down a bit. But I'm still going, and that's the important thing!

Q Something quirky about me.
A I buy cereal. Ok, that's not odd. But I don't buy it to eat for breakfast. I buy it to eat for lunch. Or afternoon tea. Or as a quick snack. Or at two o'clock in the morning. Basically I'll eat it anytime that's not breakfast.

Q Which of the characters you've written is your favorite?
A Easily Branford Somerset, Viscount Ashburton. I don't know what it is about Bran, but I love him. He is the main character of the second Georgian-set historical romance I wrote. He had a bit of a screwed up childhood, which resulted in him killing his own father. He wants to be a good man, but thinks he'll end up being a monster like his own father was. When he falls in love, he fights it so hard, driving the woman he loves away. However, when he comes to his senses, he literally goes down on his knees to beg forgiveness, in the middle of a crowded ball no less! I love Bran and I love his story. I think I always will. However, the character I've been working with lately for my romantic suspense, Captain Keagan Stewart of the USAF, comes in a close second.

That's all for the time being, but I will have more! Tune it at a later date to find out some other interesting facts!