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Monday, December 29, 2014

Magic To Do

My goodness - can the holiday season be almost over?  It feels like we were just putting up the tree yesterday.  So much work to get ready and it's all over in a flash.  Almost all the presents have been delivered.  My mailed a package to my friend who lives in the UK on December 14 and she still hasn't received it.  Since USPS doesn't track to UK there's nothing they can do about it being missing.  Other than that all other packages were delivered without a hitch.

Once the new year comes I'll be doing some organizing and after that it'll be full speed ahead on the querying front.  I had made the decision to step back for the holidays for a few reasons.  First, because many agents on my list were closing to queries until after the new year.  And, I decided I wanted to concentrate on enjoying the season instead of being stressed about waiting for replies.  Also, I wanted to try and poke at my manuscript a bit.  I'm hyper aware of my overuse of the word "that" so I did make an honest effort to find ways around using it.  And, I was under the impression I had already done a search for it and "just".  When you've gone over a manuscript time and time again it's easy for things to blend together to an extent.  So, I must have dreamed doing that search because I was up until six am Sunday deleting over a thousand of those two extra words.  Yes, a thousand.  Since my character is telling a story I can get away with some use of the word "that" but not that much.

I've also been paying some attention to Query Tracker to work on my list.  Who changed their genres, who's closed, who's branching out on their own, etc.  This is something I always try to keep up on whether I'm in querying mode or not.

This week I'm going to be working on finding my desk.  I seem to have misplaced it during the holiday season thanks to all the packages, Christmas cards, and catelogs.  Just like Spock it will be found.  This I swear.




Wednesday, December 17, 2014

This is the Moment

I wrote the very last word of my first draft in early May.  It was very late - definitely after midnight.  When I was done I had to run out for a bit - for gas I think.  I don't usually take my iPod in the car with me on quick trips but this time I grabbed it.  And This is the Moment from James Barbour's album Bring Me Giants was the very first song to come over the speakers.

And it was that moment realization came over me.  This was the moment - the first of many more to come.  Finishing that first draft was so amazing and if I hadn't done that the rest of the journey could not have started. 

Since music is such a large part of my manuscript and because this song played an important part in the story I wanted to highlight the whole album.  In fact, the very last song, I Can't Recall, is mentioned in the book.  The CD's not available on Amazon or iTunes anymore but maybe it'll show up again.  Every song is from a musical based on a literary classic.  Some you may recognized but others may surprise you.

Who Will Love this Child - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Longer I Live - Dracula
I Will Be There - The Count of Monte Cristo
Loving You Keeps Me Alive - Dracula
If Ever I Would Leave You - Camelot
Music of the Night - The Phantom of the Opera
Bring Him Home - Les Miserables
This is the Moment - Jekyll & Hyde (see below)
Impossible Dream - Man of La Mancha
Bring Me Giants - Cyrano de Bergerac 
I Can't Recall - Tale of Two Cities

















Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bright Brand New Day

I'm going to keep this brief this time around and only concentrate on the good.  The bad is always trying to pull me down but that's being laid aside for now.

Christmas season is upon us and the new year is approaching.  With it I have bright hopes for more good things waiting in the wings.  I hope they hear their cues soon so entrances can be made.

This past Thursday was #pitmad and it's always a fun time (even though I have to work through most of it).  Lots of retweets and new followers - I haven't had the chance to follow back yet but I certainly will very soon.  The event was good for me with a few favorites.  Now it's time to wait and see if they turn into anything.. 

I missed the last few hours of #pitmad because I had tickets to a Christmas concert at a local high school.  I live in a smallish town in NJ that doesn't get much in the way of "big" acts.  For that I'd have to travel to New York City, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, or even New Brunswick.  We don't have any big concert halls and couldn't support them due to our proximity to the larger cities.

So,  hearing Phil Coulter would be playing at a high school down the street from my office was pretty exciting.  And, the concert was the perfect end to a great day.  I've been on Phils's Tranquility Cruise twice so I'd heard all of the songs Phil played before except for one - Bright, Brand New Day.

Even though the song is about the Irish city of Derry coming alive after The Troubles  I sat up straighter in my seat as I listened to it.  I was so close to my own bright, brand new day.  I felt like I was ready to head down a new road.  To stand up and say "I'm ready".

And I am.  I'm ready for my bright, brand new day.



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Heart

Well, Nightmare on Query Street is over – for me at least.  It was a fun few days but ultimately the judges didn’t find what they were looking for in my manuscript.  I won’t lie and say there weren’t tears or there wasn’t a brief moment of “why do I bother”.  I’ve been asked to not stray too far away from the twitter feed even though I am no longer in the running (and maybe never really was).  Apparently, my contributions to the feed have been worthwhile but I’m still undecided on that.  I don’t want to come off as sour grapes but the stab of rejection is a little too fresh for me to wade back in to watch the celebrating.

Now it’s back to the query trenches with the hope that someone, somewhere will see something in my little manuscript that could.  I still believe in the piece even if I’m having trouble finding people who feel the same way.  And, it’s not just because I’m the author and I think everything I write is amazing.  Is it a perfect manuscript?  Probably not but wasn’t it Picasso who said art is never finished but rather abandoned?  I’m sure some tweaks need to be made but as a whole I think I have something good and people who have actually read it agree.

I want to thank the good folks who were chatting with me last night and talked me off my proverbial ledge.  Those first few moments after the announcement was made weren’t pretty ones for me.  It’s always my endeavor to never come off as whiny or anything and if I ever came close to it last night I apologize.

I didn't write this because I wanted anyone to feel sorry for me or that I feel sorry for myself.  My goal with this blog is to chronicle the ups and downs of this process.  It's easy to say "don't take it personal" or "don't let it get you down".  But, we're all humans with emotions and not having feelings just isn't in the cards.  Having those moments of reflection, sadness, and even doubt are okay.  They're even healthy.  But, the goal is not to dwell on those moments.  To take stock and move forward carrying something better than what you had before.

I would also like to thank the hard working folks behind #NoQS.  All of you have jobs, families, and your own books but you still made the time to try to help people reach their ultimate goals and find an agent/publisher.  This road doesn’t end here for you guys and it stretches on for you and the writers you saw potential in.  May you all find success in your future endeavors.

Finally, congratulations to the winners – may you all come out of this adventure with agents, books deals, and gads of fans.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Shades of Gray



And the rejections came pouring in from every side.  While I do try to stay positive and not let the naysayers pull me down I'm also not going to put a fake whitewash on things.  Getting rejections just plain old sucks - even really nice, non-form rejections have some level of suckage.  We all question ourselves from time to time.  Are we wasting our time?  Are we wasting everyone else's time?  What if we're not good enough? 

Those questions are perfectly acceptable but the important thing is to not get trapped in those moments.  If someone comes along and says you're not supposed to feel down about the query process you have my permission to kick them in the shin.  You have every right to feel down about things but it's important to move on.  Reflection is okay but don't peruse them. 

There are a lot of cooks in my kitchen and I have trouble sorting out what advice to take and what is best left to the side.  Everyone means well but with so many opposing views coming at me I end up feeling as if I'm on an out of control merry-go-round.  The up and down and round and round can give anybody a headache.  I'm sure anyone else out in Agent Land can understand those feelings - many of you have probably had them.

I've been prepping for Nightmare on Query Street lately and I feel like I'm just about where I want to be.  I just need to tighten up my query just a bit more before the deadline.  A lot of these contests have the same judges/mentors/agents as other contests and sometimes I have to wonder if they're tired of seeing my name and title go scrolling by.  "Her again?"  But, perseverance pays off and this is more of a "keeping at it" game than anything else.  If we all gave up after thirty-two rejections there wouldn't be a publishing business to speak of.  No new books would ever get published.

So, we'll all keep plugging away until that shining moment when someone wants to read more that becomes an offer of rep.  Remember, many authors got hundreds of rejections and only one yes.




Thursday, September 25, 2014

Maybe This Time



I started querying again earlier this week.  I hadn't given up after receiving so many rejections and no requests but I had stepped back for a moment.  I took stock of what I had and got some great feedback on my query letter and my manuscript as a whole.  I thought shining a light on it again would help me make it stronger for another round of queries.

I've been sending a few queries every day for the past few days and today I got some responses.  One one was a form rejection letter after two days and the second was a form rejection after one.  These new rejections shook me more than even the first one had.  I couldn't explain why these latest ones hurt more than the ones in the past.  My confidence wasn't in overload but I was feeling very sure of myself - much more so than before.  Thanks to betas and CPs I knew for sure that I had something worthwhile - worth reading.  And yet more people don't want to read it.

One of the agents said it wasn't a good fit for their client list.  That almost sounds like my manuscript can't be trusted in polite company. It's going to run around the room and annoying all the other older, established manuscripts and no one will invite it to any more parties.




We're cool though - we can fit in with all of the other polite manuscripts without causing trouble - well, much trouble anyway.  Life without a little trouble is very boring.

So, I'm down a bit today but I'm not out.  Tomorrow is another day, after all.  There are still a lot more queries out there and others still waiting to be sent.  Today was just a tough one - two rejections within an hour of each other on top of a rough day at work.  My poor brain just wasn't having any of it by 5pm.

But, that day will come when someone, somewhere will see something special in me and my little manuscript that could.  And upon that day there will be some freaking out.






Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Book Report

I was up until almost 3am writing the bibliography for my manuscript.  No one has asked for it or said I require it.  But, I thought I should put it together and have it available on the off chance someone did want to see a list.  And now I've decided to share it.  There's nothing spoilery about this.  Everything listed here is mentioned, sung, watched, or heard by my main character in the book.

Batman.  Dir. Tim Burton.  Perf.  Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger. Warner Bros. 1989.

Benetar, Pat.  “Shadows of the Night”.  Get Nervous.  Chrysalis\EMI Records.  1984.

Blackmore’s Night.  “Where are We Going From Here?”  Ghost of a Rose.  Ais.  2010.

Boublil, Alain et al.  “I’ll Be There”.  The Pirate Queen.  Masterworks Broadway.  2007.

Bowie, David.  “As the World Falls Down”.  Labyrinth.  Parlophone.  2007.

Brian Setzler Orchestra, The.  “Hollywood Nocturne”.  Dirty Boogie, The.  Interscope.      1998.

Carpenters, The.  “There’s a Kind of Hush”. Love Songs.  A&M.  1998.

Carpenters, The.  “Top of the World.”  Love Songs.  A&M 1998. 

Cash, Johnny.  “Folsom Prison Blues”.  With His Hot and Blue Guitar.  Sun Records.  1955.

Dusk, Matt.  “This Could Be the Start of Something Good”.  Live from Las Vegas.  Royal Crown.  2011. 

Eder, Linda.  “Both Sides, Now”.  Other Side of Me.  Verve.  2008.

Electric Light Orchestra.  “Evil Woman”.  Face the Music.  Epic.  1976.

Everyone’s Hero.  Dir. Christopher Reeve, et al.  Perf. Jake T. Austin, Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg,    Rob Reiner.  Arc Productions.  2006.

Exit to Eden.  Dir. Garry Marshall.  Perf. Dan Akroyd, Rose O’Donnell, Dana Delany.  Savoy Pictures.  1994.

Fain, Sammy, et al.  “Secret Love”.  Calamity Jane.  Vintage Music, 1953.

Fillmore,  Henry.  “The Circus Bee”.  1908.

Fučík, Julius.  “Entrance of the Gladiators”.  1897.

Goodman, Benny, et al.  “Flying Home”.  A League of Their Own.  Sbme Special Mkts.  2008.

Gore, Michael.  “Miles From Here”.  Fame.  Rhino.  2003. 

Greatest Show on Earth, The.  Dir. Cecil B. DeMille.  Perf. Charlton Heston, Betty Hutton, Cornel Wilde, Gloria Grahame, James Stewart.  Paramount Pictures.  1952.

Hamlisch, Marvin.  “Music & The Mirror, The”.  A Chorus Line.  Sony Classical.  1975.

Keeling, Derek.  “Broken Bridge”.  Long Road Home.   CD Baby.  2013.

Kelly, Ryan.  “Live for Life”.  In Time.  CD Baby.  2013.

Kerrigan, Kait, et al.  “How to Return Home”.  Kerrigan-Lowdermilk LIVE.  Yellow Label Music.  2013.

King, Karl.  “Barnum & Bailey’s Favorite”.  1913.

King, Karl.  “Melody Shop, The”.  1910.

Lauper, Cyndi. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”.  She’s So Unusual.  Portrait Studios.  1983. 

McGinty, Damian.  “A Bird Without Wings”.  Act Two.  Celtic Thunder.  2008. 

Men Without Hats.  “Safety Dance, The”.  Rhythm of Youth.  Aquarius.  1983.

Menken, Alan.  “One Step Closer”.  The Little Mermaid.  Walt Disney.  2008.

Moonlighting.  Perf. Cybil Shepard, Bruce Willis.  ABC.  ABC Circle Films, 1985-1989.

Nelson, Willie.  “On the Road Again”.  Honeysuckle Rose.  Columbia.  1980.

Parton, Dolly.  “Shine Like the Sun”.  9 to 5: The Musical.  Dolly Records.  2009. 

Proclaimers, The.  “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).  Sunshine on Leith.  1989.

Prom Night.  Dir. Paul Lynch.  Perf. Jamie Lee Curtis, Leslie, Nielsen, Casey Stevens. Simcom Limited.  1980

Queen.  “Another One Bites the Dust”.  Game, The.  Hollywood Records.  1980.

Queen.  “Don’t Stop Me Now”.  Jazz.  Elektra.  1979. 

Rodgers, Richard.  “I Could Write A Book”. Pal Joey.  Capitol Records.  1952.

Rodgers, Richard, et al.  “Most Beautiful Girl in the World, The”.  Jumbo.  1935. 

Rodgers, Richard, et al.  “Suzy is a Good Thing”.  Rodgers & Hammerstein's Pipe Dream (New York City Center Encores! Presents).  Ghostlight.  2012.   

Rodgers, Richard, et al.  “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”  Carousel.  1945.

Rubin, Bruce Joel, et al.  “Life Turns on a Dime”.  Ghost:  The Musical.  Ais.  2011. 

Santoriello, Jill.  “I Can’t Recall”.  Tale Of Two Cities: Original Broadway Concept Album.  Libra Verde.  2011. 

Schwartz, Stephen.  “Corner of the Sky”.  Pippen.  Ghostlight.  2013.

So Proudly We Hail!  Dir. Mark Sandrich. Perf. Claudette Colbert, Veronica Lake,     Paulette Goddard, George Reeves.  Paramount Pictures.  1944.

Sondheim, Stephen.  “Everybody Says Don’t”.  Anyone Can Whistle.  Sony Classical.  1964.

Sondheim, Stephen.  “I’m Still Here” Follies.  Capitol Records.  1971.

Simon, Paul et al.  “America”.  Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits.  Columbia.  1972.

Springstein, Bruce.  “Born to Run”.  Born to Run.  Sony.  1976.

Star Wars.  Dir. George Lucas.  Perf. Mark Hamil, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford.  Twentieth Century Fox.  1977

Stitt, Georgia.  “Big Wings”.  This Ordinary Thursday.  P.S. Classics.  2007.

Stitt, Georgia.  “If I Could”.  My Lifelong Love.  Sh-K-Boom Records.  2011.

Super Friends.  Perf.  Danny Dark, Adam West. ABC.  Hanna-Barbara Productions, 1973-2011

Superman: The Movie. Dir. Richard Donner.  Perf. Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman.  Dovemead Films.  1978.

Webber, Andrew Llyod, et al.  “As if We Never Said Goodbye”.  Sunset Blvd.   Verve/BMG.  1993.

Williams, John et al.  “Can You Read My Mind?” Maureen McGovern: Greatest Hits.  Curb Records.  2011   

Williams, Paul et al.  “I’m Going To Go Back There Someday”.  Muppet Movie, The.  Walt Disney.  2003.

Wildhorn, Frank et al.  “This is the Moment”.  Jekyll & Hyde.  Atlantic.  1997. 

Wonder Woman.  Perf.  Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner. ABC/CBS.  Bruce Lansbury Productions, 1975-1979




Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I Have Confidence

I know I haven't blogged in a little bit but there's been a lot going on.  Every day I'd say to myself  "I'm going to blog tonight" and then it suddenly be 1am and time for bed.

My sister is flying to California in a few weeks to visit our older brother and the packing has begun.  If I hadn't stepped in every single shirt she packed would have been a Disney t-shirt.  That's all fine and dandy for the day they go to Disneyland but something else might be better for other outings.  Now there's a little more variety such as Broadway t-shirts and a Celtic Thunder t-shirt.  And some nicer clothes as well.

#pitchwars came to a close for me on September 3.  I was not chosen by one of the mentors nor did I get much in the way of feedback.  However, I did make a lot of new friends and contacts.  New betas and new cheerleaders.  And I hope some of the participants found something worthwhile in me as well.

Yesterday was #pitmad where from 8am-8pm you can tweet a pitch for your manuscript twice per hour.  If an agent or publisher favorites your tweet it means they are requesting more information.  In the days leading up to the event I crafted more than thirty tweets.  After bouncing them off friends and other #pitmad participants I narrowed the list down to sixteen.  I had them open in an email so I could copy and paste throughout the day.  Some people scheduled their tweets but I opted not to do that.  I'd rather have the ability to switch things up if I chose to.  Reuse one that I had gotten some attention and such.  At the end of the day I ended up with four favorites though only two seemed useful to me.  One of them was a small Christian press and I know that would not work for either of us.  I've already sent off the requested materials to the two and now we're back to playing  the waiting game.

#pitmas is coming up in December and I'll probably take part in that.  Other than the two queries from #pitmad I've also sent two more to agents.  For now I'm back in the query pool - I had been holding back until the results of #pitmad and #pitchwars came through.  Now that they're over it's full speed ahead.

I go back into the slush pile with an updated query and edited synopsis in hand.  Hopefully now someone out there will see something they like and request a full or partial manuscript.  For now that's the goal - getting in the door rather than just being shown out.

Let's do this.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Roses & Rainbows

The announcement regarding #pitchwars is expected to happen at 12:00 EST on Wednesday, September 3.  Twelve more hours of waiting.  I'm feeling mostly ambivalent about things today.  I don't feel confident but I don't feel rejected either.  I'm just here.

It's only noon and my workday has already been very draining.  This might be way I feel so "eh" about pitchwars right now.  I feel so beaten down that I just can't find the energy to be excited about much of anything right now.  Even my usual "go get 'em" attitude seems to be MIA.

That all being said I am still very grateful to Brenda, the mentors, and everyone who made the #pitchwars feed a fun and educational place to be.  It's an experience that I will treasure always and I definitely did come out of it all a better person (I think anyway).

Whatever happens we have to keep on swinging and not worry about what's behind us.  We're always working toward to what comes next and at the end of the day we get out what we put in.  Let's all put in the very best we can.  We don't have to wait for someone else to give us good things - we can go out to get them ourselves.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

It's been one of those weeks and I'm definitely hoping for a restful holiday weekend.  Phew...

Earlier this week I started feeling lousy - sore throat, cough, sniffles.  If you guess "summer cold" you'd be right on the money.  My mom had one the week before so I guess I picked it up from her.  After the Emmy's on Monday night I took an Alka Selzer Cold Nighttime capsule to help ease my symptoms and put me to sleep.  Though, that wasn't what happened.  Even though I was getting very tired I had to keep getting out of bed because my mom kept calling me.  She was having abdominal pains and needed me to fetch her things.  Water, a bucket, and so on.  By the time three am rolled around I was dead on my feet but not in bed even though work started at eight-thirty.  My mom decided she needed to go to the hospital but I couldn't take her because of the cold medicine.  And, if we both went who was going to stay behind with my sister who was asleep?  Neither us wanted her to wake up to find the house empty - she'd be so scared.  So, my mom decided she felt well enough to drive herself and I would stay home to sleep and be with my sister.

At ten of seven my mom calls to ask me to pick her up from the hospital.  She has a kidney stone - her second one of the year.  They'd given her morphine and she couldn't drive.  So, after only a few hours sleep I got dressed and went to get her.  I went back to sleep for about half an hour when we got back before getting up to head to work.

My mom had asked me to text my younger brother who lives in NJ - he'd been planning on coming down and she wanted him to run some errands for her while I was at work.  He said he probably wouldn't be down until after five but would do what needed to be done.

I ended up leaving work at four because I could not sit there anymore.  The AC was so high it was making my Raynaud's flare up, I was sleep deprived, and my cold was getting worse.  Since I had finished all the work on my desk my supervisor and president had no problem letting me slip out early.  I was in bed by 4:22.

My brother and sister were not at the house when I got home.  They were out picking up my mom's prescriptions and picking up some dinner.  I went right to bed and was woken up around six to hear my brother and sister had gotten into a car accident.  They were going straight through an intersection and a guy on the other side was turning left and he turned right into them.  No one was hurt but the car was totaled.

I had to meet them at the car dealership to pick them up and then we had to drive over to the hospital so he could get our mom's car to bring drive back to the house.  After I dropped him off I drove right home and went right back to bed.  My poor body had been through enough and it still had miles to go.

On top of all that I got a rejection from the agent I thought could be "the one".  As soon as I read her blog I felt a connection to her and something inside of me said "this is it".  Sometimes that something inside should keep it's damn mouth shut.  It's back to the drawing board for me.

I'm on the tail end of the cold now and my brother has picked out his new car.  He got a rental car and will be back on Saturday to pick it up. The week may have started poorly but it looks to end well - I get to leave work at 2pm tomorrow.  Yay!

Keep Your Eye on the Ball



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Half as Big as Life

Sometimes we fall off our Hills of Confidence and stumble into the Valleys of Self Doubt.  Clawing our way back  up can sometimes feel like a very sisyphean task.  As we try to make our way back up the dirt at our feet keeps giving way and the dirt above us falls on our heads.  The only way to climb out is with a helping hand.  More than anything that is what #pitchwars has given to me.  I have a confession to make - I don't know what mentors I've chosen.  I had a list and it was stolen by one of the cats.  Note to self - never write things on paper and then leave the paper on your desk.  You might be rolling your eyes but it's turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  If I knew who they were I'd probably be stalking their feeds and only interacting with them.  This forces me to put myself out there more and interact with everyone.  I feel as if I've gotten more out of the challenge than I might have if I had been solely focused on the mentors.


I haven't received any requests for pages or a full manuscript but I'm not even sure that matters at this point.  I feel as if I've already won.  September 3 is a little over a week away and plenty can happen between now and then.  My empty inbox could suddenly be bursting and until that happens I have the spam porn to keep me company.

But, even if no one chooses me I'd like to think that the attitude I've put forth has caught someone's attention.  Someone is out there watching and thinking "wow, I'd like to work with her" and everything will work out for the best.  The ultimate goal is getting published but the friends, the contacts, and education are also a big part of it.  For all of these gifts I would like to thank Brenda Drake from the very bottom of my overflowing heart.

By the way - September 3 is my half-birthday as well as my calico Róisín's 3rd birthday.  We'd love a mentor as a present.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Between the Lines

Every August Turner Classic Movies has what they call "Summer Under the Stars" and every day is dedicated to a different actor or actress.  A few days ago they had a day filled with John Hodiak films - one of which was Harvey Girls.  I've seen Harvey Girls several times over the years and actually own the DVD.  I also read the book back when I was in high school.  It got me thinking about that book and others I bet people haven't read or even heard of.  So, I thought I'd post about some books that have been made into movies that I bet people haven't read or seen.

Harvey Girls

As always the book is very different from the film.  Fred Harvey was a real person who built restaurants along the blossoming westward railway line.  Trains would stop at these stations and the passengers would get off the train to have something to eat before continuing their journey.  The cities were typical "wild west" with prospectors, ranchers, gamblers, and prostitutes who did not always welcome the restaurant and their respectable waitresses.  As a musical the film shows a slightly happier version of events while the book is more realistic and darker.

Captain Blood

Captain Blood is the film that made a star out of Errol Flynn and is one of my favorites.  I read the book when I was in a freshman in high school.  It's not an easy read but it's certainly worthwhile.  I would recommend both the book and the film to anyone who likes a bit of swashbuckling in their life.

I Capture the Castle 

If you are a writer this is a book I 100% recommend.  It's written in journal form and is laugh out loud funny.  I have given this book as a gift countless times.  So often that I don't remember who has it and who doesn't anymore.  I'll have to find another book to give.  The ups and downs of first love and life in a run down English castle has never been so artfully shared.  The film is good but, of course, the book is better.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Butter Outta Cream

I got an email just as I was getting ready to shut my computer down at the end of the day.  Rejection #11.  I'm not depressed about it - I've had ten others to get me ready for it.  But to say that every "no" isn't a disappointment is a lie.  Every one is a sigh but they're not stop signs.

When an agent says something doesn't sound "right" for them you have to wonder what makes it "wrong".  I think that's a fairly normal reaction.  Is there something broken about it?  The key is not to dwell on those questions and ponderings.  It's just one more wall to climb over - or break down.

It wasn't a great way to end a rough day at work but what made it better was all of the support I'm getting thanks to my involvement in the #pitchwars community.  So many of them stopped to tell a joke or show their support when I announced I had received another rejection.  The writer's life can be a solitary one so it's nice to have that sort of support.

All I Ask Of You

My answers to the Pitch Wars Ask Me Anything!  Next questions go to @elwicker!

1.  Which literary character, if they came out of their novel, would you leave your partner for? - @SandieDocker

Hmm...tough one. I'd have to go with Gilbert Blythe. He's not as dashing as Fitzwilliam Darcy or as steadfast as Charles Bovary, but he's kind and loving.

2.  Give me a synopsis of one episode of Power Rangers you wrote! - +AlannaLP

 In a nutshell Billy started dating the new girl in school and she found out about their secrets.  She became the Purple Ranger and her dino was the triceratops.  And, yes, I absolutely sent it to Saban.  They didn't care for it.

 3.  What is your guilty pleasure in books? - @thirtynerdy

Hmm...I don't know if I have any "guilty" pleasures but I do enjoy Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series as well as Victoria Laurie's Abby Cooper series.  I tend to gravitate toward series - I've been reading Carol Higgens Clark's Regan Reilly books since I was in high school.

4.   Have you ever 'shelved' anything and if so, what led you to make that decision? - @elwicker

I have. About ten years ago I started creating my own superhero but I kept getting frustrated because every costume I came up with or any set of powers mirrored another hero.  She was essentially Live Wire wearing Black Cat's costume.  It's not shelved permanently and I do dust it off from time to time.  But, every time I do the same frustration comes out again.  I'll finish it - someday :)

5.  How do you handle rejections? - @raballard


I move the email to my "rejections" folder and send out another one. There's not much to it - I just keep moving forward.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Positoovity

The #pitchwars submissions have been closed for almost forty-eight hours and emotions are running high.  Some people are getting requests for more pages from potential mentors and some people are not.  Others are taking offense at some of the less-than-positive comments from mentors in the #tenqueries.  We've all put ourselves out there and playing the waiting game isn't easy.

Something else I've noticed are people throwing in the towel because they haven't heard from their mentors.  I have to say that giving up this early probably isn't in anyone's best interest.  A big part of being an author is playing the waiting game.  Waiting for an agent to read your query/pages, waiting for a publisher to pick up your book, and so on.  Panicking and giving up after forty-eight hours is simply a waste of time in my opinion.

There are so many positive things to take away from this contest even if you aren't chosen by a mentor.  If you give up you lose out on all of them.  You can learn from the mentors when they talk about the queries and pages they've received.  You can take their comments and go back to your own work to see if you can apply them.

There are also a lot of great people waiting out there for you to interact with.  People who are in the same leaky rowboat you are.  Chat with them.  Laugh with them.  Learn from them.  There are so many great new connections and friends just beyond the Pitch Wars hashtag.  Personally, I've already found a new betareader.  I bet you can too.

Also, we can all see you.  Lots of us are "stalking" the hashtag to follow the news and we can see you giving up and walking away.  Those people watching are other authors and agents and you don't want them to remember you as "that negative one".  I know of at least one person who lost their chance at a mentor because of their behavior on twitter.  Heaven forbid any of us be that person.

Remember, you get out of any situation what you put in.  If you are negative then it will be a negative situation.  Come and play with us - we don't bite.

Much.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Colors of My Life

After writing about a dozen posts I decided it was about time to introduce myself to my readers.  As you can tell by the name on the blog my name is Kristin and I am a 1997 of Steinert High School in Hamilton Square, NJ.  I am a life-long Hamilton resident and it's hard to imagine living anywhere else.

After Steinert I moved on to Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA where I graduated with a BA in Fine Arts with a concentration in creative writing in 2004.  I value my time at Cedar Crest because it is what helped shape me into the person today.  I was much better off being a "big fish in a small pond" than the other way around.  When I graduated my adviser gave me a gift - you don't find that everywhere.

I worked retail for several years before landing a sales job with a plastics company.  Eighteen months later the company was moving and I ended up back in retail.  A year later the store I worked at was closing and I needed to find new employment.  Which is how I ended up with the job I have now.  Six years ago I started as sales assistant for a steel company and a year ago I was promoted to the billing clerk.

I've started writing when I was a sophomore in high school when I was injured and had to sit out of gym class and other activities for a whole semester.  I needed a new outlet and started writing episodes of Power Rangers.  Don't laugh - my younger sister was watching and I figured I could do better than what they were airing.

Other than writing my loves include pop culture (films, television, etc), reading, Broadway, and pretty much anything Superman related.  It would probably take more than a year to have a marathon of all the Superman DVDs I have.  I also love my cats more than I probably should - they're my furry children.





Monday, August 18, 2014

Drop That Name

Before I started the query process my plan was to make my twitter private and open a second twitter with my pen name.  But, I may have painted myself into a corner without meaning to.  I came up with that idea before I knew about #pitchwars and all of the great agents and authors on twitter.  Before I knew it I was making contacts and friends I never imagined I would be.  And, I don't think I'd have it any other way.

It still raises the conundrum of what to do.  Do I continue to use the same twitter I've been using for future fans and any events related to my book?  Both have their pros and cons and there really isn't a "right" answer to this one.  Whatever I decide will simply have to be the right answer.

I've already decided how I want to be known professionally but I haven't worked that into any conversations yet either.  That one will probably have to wait until an agent actually asks for a full or partial manuscript.  Those kinds of issues can definitely wait for now.

Would love to hear any thoughts on the subject on either side.  Feel free to jump into the discussion!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

In My Own Little Corner

Yesterday I took my cousin's twin daughters to see Cinderella on Broadway. It was their first time seeing the classic show on Broadway and my fourth.  And, I'd see it again and again.  It's something I doubt I'll ever grow tired of.  The transformation from rags to gown still brings me to tears even after four visits.  It was certainly a magical Saturday.  When they left this afternoon they went home with several more books.  If there's one thing I can be counted on  it's to give books to young children.

I got another rejection letter but it was so uplifting that I can hardly mind.  I don't know if the same words are sent in response to every query but I don't even mind.  It takes a lot of talent and kindness to let someone down and lift them up at the same time.  It is obvious to me that Janet Reid at Fine Print Literary has both of those qualities in spades.  Even if it is a form letter that is sent to many hopeful author such as myself - it was written with pure compassion and hopefulness.  That's the important part.

So, it's back to the drawing board.  I'm watching the #pitchwars mentors chatting about the submissions they've been getting and how good so many of them are with great hope.  Even if you haven't entered (you have until midnight tomorrow night) you can chat up the mentors to an extent.  You can even chat with mentors who are not reading your genre - it's a great way to learn, make new contacts, and new friends.  The writer's life can be a solitary one so there's no better person to reach out to than another writer.

Now, it's just time for waiting but while we're doing that we can go back into our little corners.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ain't No Road Too Long

I'm  having a really good time watching the many #pitchwars mentors tweet about the submissions they're receiving.  It's an interesting window into the selection process. September 3 is my "half-birthday" being selected by one of the mentors would be a great "gift".

I threw my hat in the ring for a free critique from #critsfromcait but I wasn't chosen for that.  I just need to keep plugging away and taking every opportunity I find.  One of these days I'm going to bust through a wall and everyone will wonder where I've been all this time.

When I was in college my work study job was in the scene shop of the theatre.  Every set built for every theatrical production at the school came out of that shop.  It was hard work but very rewarding when it all came together.  It was a running gag that my "forte" was using the sledgehammer to break down pieces when they were no longer in use.  I may not have a physical sledgehammer anymore but I still have one in my mind.  Every day I'm hammering at those walls standing in my way and very soon they'll be dust at my feet.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Choose Me, Oprah!

Well, folks, not only am I actively sending out query letters and samples of my manuscript but I also just entered Pitch Wars.  This is a contest that matches up unpublished authors with published/agented authors to create a mentor/mentee relationship.

On September 3 the names of the authors chosen will be announced and from then until October 31 the mentor and mentee will work together to hone the manuscript into something worthy of publication.  Even though my manuscript has already been read by several readers another pair of eyes is never too many.  We'd all like to think our project is already worthy but everything can still be tweaked more.  You never "finish" a manuscript - you just stop working on it.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Live for Life

The last few days have been pretty quiet.  I haven't received any emails from agencies since Friday so no new rejections is a good thing.  The last email I got was a rejection that was sent at 11:31pm - this just goes to show you that agents work just as hard and as long as we do. 

In the past two days we've had three celebrity deaths - Charles Keating, Lauren Bacall, and Robin Williams.  Lauren Bacall had lived a long and accomplished life and Charles Keating had been battling lung cancer.  It was the death of Williams that has taken us all by surprise.

I think it was Irish tenor Paul Byrom who said it best - "It's funny, I never had the honour of meeting him, yet I've woken this morning feeling like I've lost a friend, or someone I care about".  We may not of have known him personally but he was always a welcome addition in our homes thanks to his movie and television work.  From  his days of "nanu nanu" to his last project for CBS we could always count on him for a laugh.

I had a cousin who was manic depressive and he committed suicide when I was thirteen years old.  Four years later I lost my father to cancer.  Illness comes in all shapes and forms and we can find a way to battle them all together. 

This is also a reminder that we need to get out and live for life - no matter how hard it gets.  If we see someone stumble we can reach out to help them.  It's so easy to get trapped behind a desk or drown among our responsibilities and forget there are wonderful things and people out there. 

Earlier this year I did something I was told I would never do - I wrote a book.  I looked adversity right in the eye and spit in it.  It took my a really long time to get to that point.  To get out of my own way and "just do it".

So, let's take this moment to remember those who have past and find a way to get out of our own way to live for life.


Get it Right

No matter how hard you try or how careful you are mistakes still happen.  As I said in yesterday’s log I always go back to the agent’s website before submitting to verify they’re still open to queries and to reread their submission guidelines.  Even with that extra step I still managed to foul one up.  One mistaken out of twenty-two queries isn’t bad but it’s one more than I’m happy with.

What was my mistake?  I didn’t follow the guidelines.  It wasn’t willfull and with how careful I am I don’t even know how it slipped past me.  The agent asked for a query, pages, and a summary and I only sent the query and pages.  My eyes must have somehow skipped past that bit when I was reading and rereading.


So, that’s probably a rejection right there.  So, my word of advice for the day is “don’t be your own rejection”.  Do everything you can to get it right.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Putting it Together

Still holding at seven rejections this sunny Monday morning with fourteen hanging in limbo.  I also have another nineteen agents still to query.  And, I'm always looking for more to add to the list - there are so many more agents out there I haven't even discovered yet.

I've put together an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all the queries I have out there.  It's nothing fancy with only six columns - Agency, Date Sent, Rejected, Manuscript (this column is still empty), Contact, and Notes.  Even with the sent folder on my email I still found myself getting a little confused as to what companies I've contacted and what agent I submitted to. This spreads it out right in front of me all in one place.  If you're just starting out like I am I would strongly recommend doing something like this. In the notes section I put comments such as "No response after 48 hours means 'No'", "one sentence rejection letter" (seriously?), doesn't respond if it's a 'no'", and similar items.  You could also put how many pages/chapters each agent is looking for, company websites, email addresses, or whatever other information you deem relevant.  I don't have email addresses listed on my spreadsheet because that forces me to revisit the website before I send the query.  This gives me the chance to look over the agent bios once again to see if anything has changed and to make sure I still feel the person I chose is the right one for me.

I also sent my query letter to Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire for critique.  Every Saturday she has something called "Saturday Slash" where she picks apart query letters in an effort to make them stronger.  I thought my query letter was fairly strong but with seven rejections so far - two of which came in less than two hours after the query letter was sent - I thought it couldn't hurt to see what Mindy had to say.

Most of the rejections I've received have been pretty basic or blunt (I'm still hung up on the one sentence thing) but one's stands out from the bunch.  I had planned on not revealing any of the agents or agencies I have already queried or plan to query but I think this warrants a rule break.

Paige Wheeler at Creative Media Agency, LLC turned me down but gave me hope at the same time.  She encouraged me keep trying and invited me to query her in the future when I have another project.  I read that as her saying she didn't connect with this particular project but saw something she liked in my work.  Though, I could be reading too much into things.  It wouldn't be the first time.

I thought the thoughtful and kind email made Paige worth highlighting and if any other first time authors are reading this blog I suggest sending your stuff her way.  She wasn't right for me but maybe she'll be right for you.

And, even though she turned me down I still emailed her back to thank her for her time and her kindness.  It probably won't change her mind but I saw it as a bridge worth trying to build.  








Saturday, August 9, 2014

My Own True Love


Does anyone else get an electric thrill every time they hear those iconic opening notes?  There are only two film scores that make me feel that way - Gone With the Wind and Superman.  But any discussion of my love for all things Superman can be saved for a later date,

Right now it's all about Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind and my trip to Atlanta in July 2014.  I was in dire need of a vacation and my friend Marjorie suggested I hop down to Atlanta for a visit.  I had't seen Marjory since 2008 and I hadn't seen my other Georgia friend, Connie, since 2012 so it seemed like a good idea.

When it was decided that I would be going to Atlanta the question of what to do came up.  For me there was nothing else to do but immerse myself in all things Mitchell and Gone With the Wind.  Through Google I found Atlanta Movie Tour's Gone With the Wind Tour which is a three hour tour hosted by an actress playing Margaret Mitchell.  As cheesy as it may sound it was actually a lot of fun.

I was in seventh or eighth grade the first time I saw the famous film.  We were at my grandmother's house for some occasion and I decided to put it on while the adults were talking.  I'm not sure why I reached for it over some of the others moves she had.  I had heard of the movie before but had certainly never seen it.  From that first scene with Scarlett on the porch of Tara with the Tarlton twins I was hooked.

I was in eighth grade when I read the book which didn't seem to surprise my teachers very much.  I remember in we had to keep track of all the books we had read over the school year.  My log was pages and pages long.  And, I ended up winning a gift certificate to a look bookstore for reading the most books out of the whole eighth grade.  Seeing me carrying around something like Gone With the Wind wasn't out of the ordinary.

The year after that I read Scarlett and as much as I liked it there was no topping Mitchell's original.  It seemed to be part of me and a trip to Atlanta would not be complete without a pilgrimage to where it all started.
 
 

Margaret Mitchell only lived in one small apartment though the whole house has been turned into a museum dedicated to Mitchell and her work.  Margaret had been a newspaper reporter (female reporters were a rarity at the time) when she was in a car accident.  During this time her husband John did his best to keep her occupied and according to legend she read every book in the library.  After that it's said that John suggested she write her own book.




This is the picture that hung in Rhett's bedroom in their Atlanta home and if you look closely...

you can see where Rhett threw the drink!

Our next stop after the house was the library which has a very extensive collection:


Margaret collected editions of the book in other languages.


Here's the 1,000,000th copy.  I'd like one of these with my name on it please.


I'd like one of these with my name on it as well.  This is just a copy of the actual Pulitzer.  The real one is kept away from the harsh lights of the library.

After we left the library we headed over to the Oakland Cemetery where Margaret and her family were laid to rest.  If you're ever in Atlanta I strongly recommend checking out Oakland Cemetery.  It's one of the few Victorian style garden cemeteries in the United States and has a great deal of history.  There's even a lamp post with Civil War damage and a magnolia tree that was planted by the brother of a confederate soldier laid to rest.  Atlanta was a major train hub and had several military hospitals were near the cemetery.  So, many soldiers were buried there - including sixteen Union soldiers and over three-thousand unknown Confederate soldiers.  These graves are all protected by the Lion of Atlanta.

Here's that lamp post


And, here's the magnolia tree planted in the soldier's section of the cemetery.  Every grave there is a Civil War soldier.  Back then you were buried where you died and people spent a lot of time looking for their sons/fathers/brothers after the water was over.  A man planted that tree when he found his brother in Oakland.


The Marsh family plot

It's a little hard to see in this picture but there are pennies, nickels, and dimes on top of the headstone.  These are most likely from people wishing to have the same sort of literary success that Ms. Mitchell had.  I left a dime - I figured I could use the extra nine cents of luck.

Here's Oakland's other famous resident - Bobby Jones.  Apparently people leave golf balls on his grave in the hopes of improving their games.

Visiting the Margaret Mitchell House and being in the room where that work of art was created made my need to complete this journey even stronger.  It made me want to work even harder to complete my manuscript and get published.  It was almost as if Margaret reached from the great beyond to give me a pinch.  And I'm going to do everything I can to make that ten cents a sound investment.

Next year I hope to visit Green Gables with a stop to see the March sisters and Walden Woods on the way up.  From what I understand Concord, CT is a great place for literary exploring and I hope to do as much of that as I can.






That's What Friends Are For

I could never had made it up to the query process without my amazing friends.  They supported me and lifted me up whenever I might be feeling a little frustrated.  And, they also helped craft the manuscript into what it is today.

My beta readers/proofreaders were all great helps to me.  They helped me find those typos my tired eyes had overlooked and pointed out what sections needed to be fleshed out a little more.  Just because the author knows something doesn't automatically mean the reader does too.  Those questions I forgot to answer were pointed out to me by these people.

I don't ask people to do things for me without doing something for them in return - especially things like reading a 80K word novel.  I'm big on gifts.  You pick me up at the airport - you get a gift.  So, you definitely get a gift if you help me with mo novel.

I had found a shop on etsy called OpheliasGypsyCaravan that sells literary and pop culture mugs some time back and I thought it would be perfect for my gifts.  I messaged the seller and worked out for her to ship the mugs straight to the recipients.  Paying shipping twice just seemed silly to me.  I know there's not a lot in her shop right now but she's going live with another batch on August 12.  When she goes live it's a free-for-all - I actually had one bought while I was trying to buy it.  Check her Facebook for updates.  Maybe when my readership starts to go up a bit more we can work out some sort of giveaway.

These are the mugs that I purchased for all my helpers whom I appreciate more than I can express:


“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” - J.M. Barrie




 “I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does.” -L.M. Montgomery



 “A little Madness in the Spring is wholesome even for the King.” –Emily Dickinson



“She had a lively, playful disposition which delighted in anything ridiculous.” –Jane Austen




"Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh" -Ecclesiastes 12:12b



 "Art is the only way to run away without leaving home."  -Twyla Tharp
This last one was bought at her cousin's shop WispyWhiskers since Ophelia's quickly sold out of anything I thought would be appropriate.


"The sunniest day has its clouds, but one must not forget that the sun is there all the time." -L.M. Montgomery.  This is the one I bought for myself - it's something we all need to remember from time to time.

So, until next time keep on reading and writing.  Perhaps later today or tomorrow I'll talk about my recent trip to Atlanta, GA.



Friday, August 8, 2014

It Gets Better

I wasn't going to post again tonight but I was sitting up watching Cedar Cove on Netflix with my calico Róisín when I decided I pop into my email to see if there was anything new.  There was.  Rejection #7.

On the episode of Cedar Cove I'm watching one of the characters just mentioned how scary it is to put yourself out there for others to judge.  It is pretty scary.  Waiting for someone else to decide whether or not you have "it" is very nerve-wracking. 

I'm keeping busy the best I can though the urge to constantly check my email is there.  If I'm not near a computer I'm reaching for my phone.  I started reading Anne Marie Stoddard's Murder at Castle Rock partly because I wanted to and partly because I needed the distraction.  And, I was distracted but as soon as I stopped reading it was back to wondering if I had any emails and  if there could be a positive one among the bunch.

It's early in the process and I've only been sending out letters for about a week.  And, there are still people I have on my list that I haven't sent queries out to yet.  I'm not wandering alone in the Rejection Pile Woods.  Just dipping my toes in the Lakes of Slush.

But, it'll get better.  Somewhere out there is the right person to head down this crazy road with me.  I just need to keep believing that.


My Favorite Things

I thought it would be nice to share some of the items that I always keep in reach when I'm working.  What are your favorite things?






Water - always have something to drink.  Creating your own world is very thirsty work.

Hand lotion - I don't know about you but my hands get very dry.

Back scratcher - for those hard to reach itches

Lip gloss - gotta keep moisturized

Emery board - to ease any jagged nails.




Source books:

For this particular project I used Celtic Names for Children (this is a book that Laurell K. Hamilton uses as well),The Writer's Digest Character Naming Sourcebook, and Greek Mythology (An Encyclopedia Of Myth And Legend)

Some might say "I don't need a character naming book - I already know their names".  That's all fine and dandy but they're a great help.  You never know what you're going to need or what could help you.  For example - I used the Greek book to  help me name a planet.




Of course you don't want to fill up your hard drive with your epic manuscript so these come in very hand.  I had to have the Superman one - it was necessary.


A small notebook to carry around with you is a great help.  Any time I had an idea while away from home I could jot it down so I wouldn't forget.  Lifesaver.  I'd like to thank my friend Stefanie for sending me this one from Paris.



And, finally, it's all about setting the mood.  Do you need to work in silence?  With the lights out?  I like to have my music going while I work.  In fact, some of the songs actually inspired me and helped create parts of my manuscript.

So, those are a few of my favorite things.  I'd love to hear about yours.  Tomorrow I'll highlight the shop where I got my awesome beta reader/proofreader gifts.




Take a Chance on Me


I've decided to blog about my "Adventures in Agent Land" - or in my case "No Agent Land".  It's a dark little place filled with Hills of Confidence and Valleys of Self Doubt.  The Lakes of Slush are in the East and the creepy Rejection Pile Woods are to the North of Completed Manuscript Castle.

Back in March I started being haunted by a plot.  I was driven to write it down even though I wasn't sure I was going to end up with enough words for a novel.  80,218 words and a little over a month later I had a complete first draft.  I realize how incredibly fast that is and I'm not sure it'll ever happen again.

After months of sloshing through beta readers (to whom I am eternally grateful) and revisions I felt I had something worth submitting to agents.  On Sunday, August 3, 2014 I sent out my first query letter.  As of Friday, August 8 I have sent out twenty query letters and have received five rejections.

Two of the rejections came two hours after the query was sent and I wasn't quite sure how to feel about those.  Was it a sign that my manuscript isn't as good as I thought it might be?  A sign that the intern/agent is so busy that they didn't even take the time to consider me?  Or something in between?  Either way it's a no from them.  

Rejections are expected - especially for a first timer like me.  I knew I'd get a lot of them and I was fairly mentally prepared.  Still, all the insight in the world doesn't keep that little stab of disappointment from creeping in.  

There's one particular agent I feel really drawn to.  I follow her on twitter and felt connected to her blog/bio.  I've been waffling on whether or not I should tell her that I think we could have a good working relationship.  Up front and honest or slightly needy and stalkerish?  There's a very fine line between the two and it's easy to fall onto the wrong side.  

For now I'm still plugging away but I'm ever hopeful that someone out there will see something special in me and my work.  Once that happens the sky is the limit and I promise to keep pushing that sky higher and higher.