Saturday, October 30, 2010

Where Does It Fit?

I've had a busy week this week, so obviously haven't had time to do any posting. I've been hitting the queries hard in the last couple of weeks for my sci-fi romance, Atrophy. I sent out about ten query letters, but then when I heard back from just over half, I sent out another half a dozen, then repeated the process when that number got down to half again.
I've gotten about as many requests for more material as rejections, so I think my batting average is looking pretty good. Most of the agents who asked to see more took the time to explain why they had then decided to reject me. A couple gave me that old 'I just didn't love it' spiel, but did say nice things about how great the premise is and that my characters are very strong, etc. Earlier in the week, though, one agent told me it wasn't sci-fi enough. That was alright. I never claimed to be a hardcore sci-fi writer. I don't think I'm smart enough for that and I think at heart I'll always be a romance author. But then yesterday, I got another rejection from a different agent who'd requested to read more and she said that it was a bit too heavy on the science-side.
Okay. Now I'm confused. Well, maybe not that confused. I guess it really does come down to an agent's personal taste. Does the results of my querying so far mean I need an agent who likes a happy medium of science and romance? But how the heck do I find that agent? The simple answer is to keep querying. I suppose if I run out of agents, I could always try going direct to the publishing houses as a last resort.
More and more, I look at books on the shelves at bookstores, particularly debut authors, and am amazed that they managed to find an agent and then a publishing contract, because most days, it really is like trying to push a boulder up a hill all on your own.
If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know by now that I'm stubborn to the point of stupid, so despite the seemingly impossible task, I'm just going to keep pushing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

News!

Just popping in to say that I got a release date for my first book, Sanctuary. It will be available from the 22nd of November. I can't wait to see what the cover is going to look like. I do get to have some input, but I guess what I have in mind will never be the same as what someone else sees. I'll be posting that as soon as I get it as well.
I've got grand plans to get a whole heap of work done today, so I'd better get to it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Where Have I Been Version 4.0

Its been about a week and a half since I put up a post, the reason being that my computer has been having 'issues' so I had to send it in to get fixed. The computer place had it for almost a week and they still don't know what's wrong with it. I got it back for the weekend (because, seriously? After 4 days of doing absolutely no writing and not being able to check my emails, I was climbing the walls. Really. I'm not ashamed to say I have an addiction.) but its going back again Monday. I wouldn't be surprised if they have it for yet another week. So who knows what condition I'll be in by next weekend?
I've gotten a couple of rejections this week, so I should probably put together a couple more queries to send out, but more than anything, I just want to write. For hours. Without interruption. Thousands and thousands of words. And that about sums up my plans for the weekend.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's Not Worth the Risk, But...

Now, I'm sure we all remember a few weeks back when I did just about the stupidest thing I'd done since I started on this whole writing gig - I re-queried an agent five minutes after I got rejected by her. Not with a different project and not by accident. It was a (somewhat) well thought out decision. And okay, it wasn't five minutes after. It was a good couple of hours, but it was still the same day.
I've been kicking myself since then. Wondering why I thought it was such a smart idea, what brain-snap could have possibly led me to believe doing something I know I shouldn't do was a good move to make. Imaging that if I ever happened to want to query that agent again, it'd be an immediate 'no' because I'd been put on the "authors who can't take no for an answer" list. Truthfully, even though I'd been regretting it, I knew all along that if I had a do-over, I'd have still done the same thing. Why? Because I'm a writer. And there is a huge part of me that won't take "no" for an answer.
But this morning, there was an exciting revelation waiting for me in my email inbox. An email from that agent. I was quite astonished, I'd assumed I'd just never hear from her again, so was surprised that she would take the time to re-reject me. But when I opened the email, it was a request to see the first three chapters.
My happy dance has been tempered by the reckless risk I took in immediately re-querying her. It was more of an eating-humble-pie dance than anything. So while I still don't condone breaking the rules of querying and agent etiquette, I have to admit, this time around it worked for me.
Now if she happens to fall in love with it and decide to take it on, this story really will be one for the press. In the past, I'd always hated reading about authors who found success by breaking the rules, when I'd been doing such a stringent job of following them exactly (I was jealous, admittedly. I used to think, "don't you think I want to break the rules? Wouldn't I love to get one step ahead of the pack? But I don't! I do exactly what they tell me to do!"). But look at me now, I've become what I used to loathe.
Maybe the point of this story is not about heedlessly going off half-cocked and conceitedly breaking agent's querying rules left, right and centre, but knowing when the risk of doing so might be worth it. But also having the foresight to know it could all end in a horrible mess.
And now we've strayed into philosophical territory, never a safe place for me!
I'm off to submit my first three chapters to a lovely agent. With fingers crossed. Which makes typing damn near impossible.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Is it Really That Hard?

I think its time I sat down and made a precise plan for myself to focus my ever-shifting attention. I'd been working on Alastor, then I stared a whole new project, and then yesterday I decided to review one of my romantic suspense manuscript because I'd like to eventually offer it to Noble once (the newly named) Sanctuary is released.
See how I'm bouncing all over the place?
The review of my rom sus is going to take a bit longer than I anticipated. Its set here in Australia and the hero is an SAS soldier (special forces, kinda like American Army Rangers, I suppose). To cut a very long story short (or maybe not so short) I entered an American writing comp earlier in the year, with a different rom sus that also had an Aussie digger (soldier) as the hero. One of the judges commented (and this still cracks me up) that my "hero didn't sound Australian" and that "the author needs to meet and spend time with some Australian people to learn their very distinct accent and mannerism so it can be translated into the writing." (not a direct quote, but it was along those lines.) Well, gee. Where the hell can I find some Australian people to hang around with? It's going to be freaking hard, since I LIVE IN AUSTRALIA.
Anyway, in the judges defense, I guess I'm so used to writing for an American audience that I did forget to make that character 'sound' Australian.
Though, in all honesty, its not like us Aussie all sound like Crocodile Dundee (G'day, chuck a few more prawns on the barbie, mate). I think we're becoming more Americanized by the year and the language divide (especially with gen Y. I swear some of them could pass as Americans) is getting less and less obvious. In my opinion anyway.
Nonetheless, when I started reviewing the rom sus, I decided I needed to sprinkle some more Aussie slang through it, though there was already a bit in there. Some of the problem being that after using some terms, I then had to find a way to explain what the heck my hero was talking about, because I don't think many people outside Australia would know what an ambo or firie is (ambulance officer and firefighter) or what we're doing if we say we're barracking or had a bingle (barrack is to cheer on a football team, and bingle is a car accident.)
Furthermore, I was surprised at how hard I found it to get out of my formal writer's head and remember what Aussie slang terms needed to be swapped in, so much so that I had to google an Aussie slang dictionary. I know, the Australian author needs to refer to a slang dictionary. The mind boggles.
So its slow going at the moment while I make sure my hero sounds like the right amount of Aussie feral bogan (don't ask) while at the same time, making sure my readers know what the heck he's talking about.
But you know I don't like to make things too easy on myself.
Meanwhile, I need to go get that 'projects plan' done on my office whiteboard so I have a clear direction in mind.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Open Season

I got a reply at last from The Agent, but obviously it wasn't the one I was hoping for, otherwise this post would have started out a different way. So I sent off a couple of queries to a few other agents today and will continue to send out a couple at a time until I start getting some action. I haven't managed to get anymore words down for my new manuscript yet, between the queries and the fact that its competition season with RWAus and I judge some of their comps, I'm a bit too busy.
Hopefully I'll get the ball rolling on my phoenix/griffin manuscript soon though. Like I said, its a good way to keep my mind off other things!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Oh No, She Didn't

Yes actually, I did.
And no, this time it has nothing to do with brain-snaps that cause me to email agents when I shouldn't.
Fellow writers can probably understand exactly what I'm about to talk about. Have you ever been 'attacked' by an idea. I mean, literally assailed by it until you can't think of anything else and your brain just keeps spinning around and around and it won't let you think of anything else and it certainly won't let you sleep until you DO SOMETHING with it, godammit!!
That's what happened to me yesterday and as you can see down the side of my blog here, I've added another word meter. I know I should be getting on with writing Alastor, but when this idea and characters and setting struck me out of nowhere yesterday afternoon, the itch to write it couldn't be ignored, much like what happened with Atrophy. And I wrote that in just on seven weeks. So, in another 7 weeks, might I have another completed manuscript to shop around? This is a good way to keep my mind from being consumed by the queries I've already sent out for Atrophy and the ones I'm likely to send out in the future.
Now for the damn genre tags again. I think this one's going to be a paranormal romance, but it could conceivably be an urban fantasy.
After some google research and a fantastic article by Keri Arthur, I've come to the conclusion this book will fall under the paranormal romance banner. So with my characters calling for attention, I should go do something about getting a few more words on the page.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

When Its Not Clear

After considering the comment left by Tez on my last post, which was that I shouldn't wait before querying other agents, I thought "she's right!" and sent out a couple more queries, which, I'll tell you were more carefully considered.
I had wanted to wait for The Agent to reply before I went on to other agents because for one, whenever I'd dealt with her in the past, she was always very prompt in her replies to me. And two, because in the last couple of rejection letters I got from her, she said some very nice, encouraging things and urged to me continue to query her in the future.
But as the weeks go by (coming up on three now) and I haven't heard from her, I guess the shine is starting to wear off my hope. I'm also debating whether or not to email her and let her know I got a referral from a fellow published RWA member to put in a query to her agent and have sent the first three chapters. But a partial is only a partial and nothing to get too excited over.
Meanwhile, back to the original point of this post. In writing these queries and considering the individual tastes/needs of any given agent, I seem to have run into a problem. Just what, exactly, is my manuscript considered? At first I assumed it was a straight sci-fi romance, but then, in the romance genre, these types of books are sometimes referred to as 'futuristic' romance. And then there's the story line itself. Part of the main plot revolves around a race of shape-shifters and one of the characters has almost supernatural abilities (she is telepathic and has telekinetic abilities, as well as some command over the elements). So is my manuscript in fact a cross genre of paranormal sci-fi romance? Or do I call it a paranormal futuristic romance? See where my confusion is? You'd think having written the thing, I'd damn well know what it was!
I'm inclined to lean away from the 'straight sci-fi' tag, as I've read some agent posts which flat out say sci-fi is not hot right now. And paranormal if always a big seller, so I guess I'm leaning towards paranormal futuristic. Either way, I should probably work it out before I send too many more queries!