Monday, August 5, 2013

I've relocated!

It's been quite a while since I posted on this blog, but for those of you who may find your way here, I have condensed my blogging efforts into one site.  I hope you'll join me at my new blog:

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Writing Milestone

Well, it's official! I sent off my first 5 query letters this weekend (2 on Friday, 3 on Saturday). And I've also received my first rejection letter! While I of course would have preferred that I had 5 agents on the phone this morning offering representation without even reading the full manuscript (which is TOTALLY realistic!) I am actually glad to have my first rejection out of the way. I have been telling myself for months, even years, that every writer gets rejected. After I've heard from my first five potential agents, I will re-evaluate my query letter and go from there.

So, in the spirit of revising query letters, I wanted to share this awesome post on the Guide to Literary Agents site. I enjoy reading this site because I think it's a great way to get a glimpse of what agents are really like, aside from their offical profiles. I have also found invaluable advice on writing and querying and pretty much every aspect of this whole aspiring-author thing. Cory Jackson, who recently sold her first book, posted this great article about how she found her agent.  And you can see more info and her actual query letters here. Well, reading the "before" and "after" letters helped me immensely in writing my 4th query. I'm sure I'll be reviewing the letters to rewrite my query again.

Cory's final query is fabulous, and my mom gave it the best praise of all: "Now I can't wait for her book to come out so I can read it!"

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Back to life, back to reality...

I really can't believe I haven't posted anything since May.  There is no good excuse, really, except for "LIFE."  I have continued working on my book.  I made huge revisions and it's so much better.  Huge thanks to everyone who read my drafts and gave me such great feedback!  I've also written five versions of my query letter.  My husband finds that hilarious.  I remind him how many times he goes over the taxes every year before he sends them off.  I guess we're even.

So the big book-related news is...  I am ready to query!  ARGH!  Just putting that in writing is terrifying.  This is a huge jump, and one that I've kept putting off.  Honestly I could have queried at the beginning of December but it seemed kind of pointless.  I wanted to focus on the holidays with my kids, and I knew a lot of agents aren't even in their offices at the end of the year, so I talked myself into waiting until January.  Which is now here.  So it's time, my friends.  Cross your fingers and say a little prayer for me, because this is seriously scary.

Also, a quick update on "LIFE" since May.  I really have been busy, I promise.  I revised and revised and finished my book.  I wrote my query letter.  And amazingly, we had some things happen that weren't related to my book!  (Unbelievable, I know.)  Probably the biggest thing is that we are expecting Baby #4 in March, and it's a little girl!  We are super excited, especially the boys.  They can't wait to have a new baby.  So far their name suggestions have ranged from "Barbie" to "Baby" to "Pink Barbie" to the names of all their little friends.  Slightly less than helpful, but I do adore their enthusiasm.

We've done lots of house projects.  The kids have been busy with school and church and trips to the emergency room.  Ben had his first ride in an ambulance on Saturday.  Considering how accident-prone the child is, I'm amazed he made it to 7 1/2 before that fun experience.  Happily everything is fine, but we are not looking forward to the medical bills.

I am resolved to do better with my blog posting in the new year.  My other goal is to figure out this Twitter thing.  I have an account and I follow exactly one contact:  the Bear River Health Department.  I signed up last year to get a heads up on when the flu shots were available.  Having a 2 year old with asthma will make you paranoid like that.  So if anyone has any Twitter tips, I would greatly appreciate them!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dangers of Editing when Tired

I've been plugging away on my book.  I had to take a break because after the last post, we had two full weeks of sickness at our house.  I wasn't getting any sleep to begin with, so writing had to go on the back burner.  But I'm making progress again!

Last night I sat down to write, and as usual, read through the changes I'd made the night before.  Whoah, Nellie.  Someone was tired on Friday!  I found all sorts of weird problems in the 1/2 chapter I'd revised.  A few examples:
  • I've been checking for passive verbs, but sometimes I don't get the sentence completely fixed.  "She was carrying the books" is supposed to become "She carried the books", but Friday night, the sentence looked more like "She carrying the books."  Which would be fine if I was writing in the voice of a four-year old, but I'm not, so... not so great.
  • I've been deleting entire sentences when they aren't important.  But Friday night, I apparently wasn't getting the whole sentence.  So I would have random words like "She" or "because" or "monkeys" just floating around in the middle of a paragraph.
There's not much of a point to this story- I just thought it was funny!  And a little alarming.  I hope the rest of the book isn't like this.  Maybe I really do need more sleep!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Treat it like it matters

Life has been busy lately, and I can't believe it's been a month since I last posted!  We took a spontaneous vacation to the California and Oregon coast, and we had a wonderful time.  I really enjoy road trips and our new giant party van made the drive much more enjoyable.  Of course, once we got home, it took a week or two just to get caught up.  And I've been working on my book.  A lot.  Which brings me to the subject of this post.

My husband is very supportive of my desire to write.  But he's all about efficiency and results, and he has been really pushing me to fnish.  And he's right- I do tend to procrastinate when I feel blocked.  Steve says I'm a perfectionist and eventually I'm just going to have to say the thing is done and send it off.  Again, he's right (although we're not there yet).  But there are SO MANY things I need to do that all too often, I push the writing back.  I end up only working at night, and sometimes I'm so exhausted that I go to bed instead of writing.  And so the time slips away and everything takes longer than I intended and two years later, I'm still working on this "masterpiece."

So last Friday, we were making a list of all the things we wanted to accomplish over the weekend and through Monday evening.  It's spring and our new house has a massive yard, so most of our items were yard-related.  (Till the garden, buy seeds, plant the garden, change the oil in the tiller, mow the lawn, etc.)  Jokingly I said "Hey, put "Finish Steph's book" on that list.  So Steve wrote it down.  And then he said "You better finish it by Monday, because it's on the list!" 

I didn't finish by Monday.  (In my defense, Steve didn't finish either- we were up all night Sunday with a sick four-year old and he went to bed last night instead of finishing up his items.)  But here's what changed.


While Steve worked in the yard Saturday, I sat on the couch and revised my book.  I wanted to be outside.  But I took prime daylight, weekend hours and devoted them to my writing.  This was partly inspired by Nathan Bransford's post about "Butt In Chair."  Once again, Mr. Bransford made me think and totally inspired me.  But it was a complete shift in perspective, and one that I really needed.  If I am serious about being a writer, I need to treat my work like it matters.  I need to make time for it.  I need to push through the moments when I really DO NOT want to write, and write anyway.  I revised three long, help-needing chapters and I made a lot of progress, and I'm continuing to work every day.  I can see how the story is coming together.  And it's good.  That makes me excited and it builds my confidence.

We all have dreams- something we want to do, but we keep putting it off because we have to do laundry or weed the flowerbed or go to a PTA meeting.  But here's my advice.  Treat it like it matters.  Because it does.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Middle Grade vs. Young Adult

At dinner Friday night we were discussing the difference between Middle Grade and Young Adult literature.  I found this blog post very helpful. 

My biggest problem is word count.  When I started this big rewrite I was probably about 125,000 words.  I am down to 115,490 words.  I still have thirteen or fourteen chapters to trim, so I fully expect that number to continue to drop.  I mean, I cut 400 words just last night!  But I'll still be at the very top end for my genre.  I'm okay with that.

Thoughts from any of you?  I've been reading more YA lately, but there are several MG series that I want to read.  I still haven't read Harry Potter (I know!  The horrors!) and the Percy Jackson series looks interesting. What have you been reading lately?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wonderful weekend. Also a dream featuring Janet Reid.

It was my birthday on Saturday and it rocked!  I went out Friday night with Becky, Mary, Ami, and Alicia.  We went to dinner and a movie and then ice cream afterwards.  It was such a nice break to be with girlfriends and just laugh and be crazy.  These girls, along with my mom, are also going to be my Phase 2 readers.  Becky, Mary and Mom read my book in November.  I was going to give it to Ami and Alicia, but my first three readers had very similar comments.  I decided to work on a rewrite and then Ami & Alicia could see the new version with fresh eyes, while Becky, Mary, and Mom would have the perspective of the first draft.

I think these women are fantastic readers and I really look forward to their feedback.  As I work through the book this time, I can feel how much better it is.  I think I'm getting close.  But I want it to be as good as I can make it before I start queries, and my readers can help me get there.  They are wonderful friends but aren't afraid to tell me if something sucks.  I love them for that.

Yes, friends, I am KISSING UP!

And who's read "Graceling"?  For serious, go read it.  I want to discuss it on the blog but if only Becky & I have read it, it won't be much of a discussion.

Finally.  Last night I dreamed about Janet Reid.  She is a literary agent with a fantastic blog and the amazingly helpful Query Shark site.  I've never met her (I should be so lucky!), nor do I know what she looks like, but her work has helped me become a better writer and also taken much of the fear out of the query process.  Anyhoo.  Last night I dreamed that she called me on the phone (!!!) and told me that she was doing a conference in Salt Lake this very weekend.  One of the authors she planned to critique had backed out at the last moment.  She was familiar with my work and wanted me to send her a copy of my manuscript right away, and also wanted me to attend the conference.  Of course I was stoked... until I realized that my book is NOT done, and that I couldn't go to Salt Lake this weekend!  Cue panic attack.

If Janet Reid called and personally invited me to attend a conference, I would be there even if it was in Taiwan and I had to sell my leg to make it happen.  Second lesson from this dream?  I need to finish the freakin' book!  :)

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