Friday, February 26, 2010

Query Land

Ah yes, that magical place of hopes and dreams, laced with nightmares and disappointment. What unique torture us writers like to put ourselves though.
Its been almost two months since I sent my manuscript off to the slush pile of Silhouette Romantic Suspense and of course I haven't heard anything. I've no doubt it will take them at least six to twelve months to get back to me about it. In the coming weeks I'll be entering the RWA Valerie Parv Award, but the past few days I've also been thinking about querying The Agent. I've written a previous post about whether or not to do this, the fact being an author doesn't need an agent to write for HMB because of the way they're set up in terms of contracts. However, in some ways, I feel having an agent might fast-track me past the slush pile, but also give me a good grounded start for when I want to move into single titles later on. Sure, working on these category romances has been fun, but ultimately I want to write a single title series a la` Suzanne Brockmann, Tara Jenzen or Cindy Gerard.
Right, well I've got words to write, editing to do, chocolate to eat, all the usual. And as usual, these things won't take care of themselves.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Life Gets in The Way

My non-existent word tallies have continued this week, but I can't say I haven't done anything, even though it might feel like it. I've been entering the Chase the Dream writer's comp the past few weeks, to no avail. Besides that I've been looking over the judge's reports from the RWA Emerald comp, trying to decide what comments I might take on to improve the piece. I'm going to go over it again with my CP, because obviously I trust her judgement above all others. This next comp, the Val Parv award, is the important one. First prize is a mentorship with Valerie Parv, and the opportunity to have your ms read by Silhouette editor Leslie Wainger. I want to at least make the short list, which means I have to be in the top 6.
As with trying to find an agent, I think this is partly going to come down to luck, reflected in the Emerald. As I said in my previous post, two of the judges scored me only a few points off perfect, while the third only scored me half, a 50%, which absolutely slayed my overall ranking. If I can land my ms with judges who all felt the same as with the High Five where I place 10th, I don't see any reason why this isn't totally doable. But like I said, it comes down to luck. Which, considering all the hard work I put into this gig, really offends my sensibilities.
I'm starting to think its like trying to make a career out of playing the lottery. You could be a maths genius, play the probabilities, study the numbers that have come up in the past and make some chart about what numbers are likely to come up in the future, but not matter how long or hard you work, its all going to come down to luck in the end. What little coloured balls fate decides to throw out of the machine. Just like it depends for me which judges fate decides to put my manuscript in front of.
So I guess the moral of the story is I can only make my manuscript the best I can and hope the judges, editors or agents who read it are my lottery winning numbers.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Out The Window

The past few weeks my 1000 word a day minimum just hasn't happened. Its been one thing after the other keeping me busy so that I've not even had the chance to sit down in front of the computer. And its left me feeling like I'm now running behind. Not that I have anyone to answer to except myself, but if I'd been able to keep those 10,000 or so words a week totals going, I could have almost completed my young adult novel by now. All I can do is get back on the bike, so to speak and try to make sure I get my words done each day this week.
Last week I got back the judge's reports for the RWA Emerald comp I entered. Its frustrating, because it annoys me how in one comp this ms could place 10th and then the very same pages in another comp could get a placing halfway down the pack. And do you know what I've belatedly realized? Just like its the luck of landing your manuscript on the right editor's/agent's desk on the right day, these things come down to the whims of the judges. So while two judges apparently liked my ms and scored me well and had lots of nice things to say about my work, one seemingly did not like it so much. She seemed to feel that my characters were a bit cliched and the storyline not believable and that it would need some re-writing in order to make it up to scratch, thus her score was almost half of what the other two scored me.
When I read this, at first I was a bit angry because I (as all us writers do) have been working by butt off and this judge's opinion was so far opposite of the other two, I felt like I'd been ripped off. Like, if my manuscript had gone to another judge who scored me as well as the first two, then I would have made the cut into the second round. Like, just because for whatever reason this person didn't like my work, I'd missed a big opportunity.
After that, I started feeling kind of desolate about it. What if she was right and the other two were wrong? What if my characters really were cliche and my storyline not believable? How would I ever get published if after all this time I still can't string together a half decent story? What am I doing with my life? Should I just go get a job as a checkout-chick or receptionist somewhere and forget about this whole writing gig?
Then I went back to anger for a little while, thinking just because she didn't like the story, didn't mean she had to score me so harshly and getting on my high horse about when I do judging for RWA, even if I don't like something, if it's put together well and holds my attention, I still score it accordingly.
Now the funny thing is, usually after this point I arrive at the emotion of "I'll show them!" which spurs me into a frenzy of writing and usually sees me submitting something, somewhere, just to make myself feel better.
Except this time I've come to some sort of philosophical feeling about the whole thing. Strange. Does this mean I've grown as a person? I don't know, but I lastly thought that I was really angry or depressed about it, about something I have no control over, that being someone else's opinion. I can only work to make it the best I can make it and of course there are going to be people along the way who don't like what I've done for whatever reason. But that's the nature of the profession I've chosen.
So no mad dash to scribble down thousands and thousands of words this week, no impulsive decision to send some work off to an agent/editor. Just the knowledge that I'll review my work with the judge's comments in mind and send it off to the next competition, hoping luck sees my pages sent to judges who all like what I've done. That this time, the opportunity will come my way.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Where Does the Stupidity End?

I don't usually comment on current affairs or political matters or news stories, but since this one loosely relates to my career as a writer (plus it baffles me and made me really angry) I decided I did want to put my two cents worth in.
A few days ago, the band Men at Work lost the copyright infringement case brought against them for their international hit and unofficial Aussie anthem, Down Under, because apparently the flute riff in their song ripped off the old Australian folk/children's song, Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree. See article here.
As an Aussie kid, of course I know the tune to the Kookaburra song, and while I can see the close similarities, I cannot believe a judge ruled in favour that it was in breach of copyright. This is likely going to have far reaching consequences as a barrage of other cases are brought to court for songs which sound similar to other songs.
As for the person responsible for bringing this case about, Norm Lurie, all I can say is he is totally un-Australian and definitely a greedy person, more than likely only out for money. And I hope he reads this. In fact, I might even email and tell him so. The rights for the Kookaburra song were brought by the company he is managing director for - Larrikin Music - almost ten years after Down Under was released. So what right does he or his company really have to it?
Lurie is quoted as saying "if you believe in something, then you've got to fight for it."
Fight for what? For dragging an iconic Australian band and song through court? To get the award for biggest douche of the decade? To make sure you've got a few extra million dollars (which rightfully shouldn't be yours) floating around just in case you want to buy a Porsche?
Adding to the obvious money-grubbing by Lurie's company is the fact that the original composer, a Miss Marion Sinclair, who wrote the song 75 years ago, never claimed any similarities before her death in 1988. If anyone deserved to question it, it should have been her. But obviously she wasn't a soulless, greedy, opportunistic shark.
No matter what defense Lurie and his company come up with for this action, you cannot tell me when it really comes down to it, money was the motivating factor. If there had been no money involved, would they have bothered fighting it in court for two years? I think not.
I only hope Men at Work appeal the ruling and win the second round, because this case is ridiculous.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

On the Rebound

Yesterday I had my usual downer about not making the top fifteen of the Emerald comp. It always takes a day or so to hit me. I went through all of the old familiar emotions. Frustration that I work so hard, yet have received another knock back. A lack of comprehending at how the same pages can place so well in one comp, yet not so well in another. A 'why do I bother?' moment followed swiftly by the 'just give up already, its never going to happen' thought. Lucky for me I now know how to deal with these emotions and get on with it, I know the best way to handle things is to get right back into working and look ahead to what I might be able to do next.
This morning I entered the Chase the Dream contest, did a bit of writing and remedied myself that I have a submission out with Silhouette. If that doesn't pan out, I can always send my manuscript off to Harlequin Intrigue, not to mention my young adult novel is coming along nicely and will be finished in another few weeks.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Emerald Results

The results were announced for the Romance Writers Australia Emerald comp and unfortunately I didn't make the top 15 and get into round 2. I should get my score sheets sometime later in the week, so I'll have a read and see where I went wrong. Hopefully I can improve it enough to do better in the next comp, the Val Parv award, which closes on the 26th of March. I'm also considering entering the young adult manuscript I've been working on, just to get some feedback at least. I only got 8500 words done last week, which was up on the 7800 from the week before, but still not as good as the weeks I was managing to get 12,000 to 14,000 done. So I'm a bit behind I feel, but hopefully I might get caught up this week. I just can't wait to have another finished manuscript to edit and submit to agents.