la_belle_laide: (yanyan)
Today is July 4th, and I took the dogs to the beach, set up the pool filter (again) and tried to see to it that it'd be swim-ready at some point before September. (Even though it's like, 60 degrees today.) My Mom is off from work today too (it's a Saturday; I usually work mornings / afternoon, but we're closed for the day.) Callum picked some peppers from his garden and basically walked all around while I cut back bittersweet and such. Haku came outside, but Sano heard fireworks and just cowered by the door until I let him back in.

La la. But it's really July 2nd that I want to talk about, because that's the day I got THE CALL and I want to write all of that down!

So, we set the time to chat at 2:30, and of course I sat there pissing myself until that very second, when she called at 2:30 on the nose. I told her up front I was nervous on the phone and she said that was all right. I was like, “Haha nice day today, haha *sweatdrop* what lovely... weather and all, haha... hahaha...”

With The Call (always in caps like that, seriously,) sometimes it's an offer of rep, and other times it's “I like this and that aspect, but can you edit it hugely and send it to me when it's done, so I can consider it further?” and sometimes, “I like your style, do you have a different book I can look at, and you can email me when it's done and I can consider that one?” So I was pretty unsure where this was going.

She asked, “Do you want me to just launch into my thoughts on Blueshift?” and I said, “Please do.” She said, “First of all, I am really into time travel...” (“Oh, cool! Me too haha, haha, hahaha!”) “And more importantly, I love this book.” (“Oh! Wow! Thank you so much, hahaha, hahaha!”) “I really liked the world you built.” (Silent relief; I've alternately heard “too much world-building” and “the world is too vague” from other agents. This stuff is truly subjective.) “The beginning could use some tightening up; it's rambly here and there, a few scenes don't seem to have much of a purpose on the first read. I understood their meaning after I finished it, though. But it could still use some tightening, close a few loose ends, things like that.” (“I can totally do that.”) “There were no entire chapters that I would cut – just minor things.” (More silent relief.) “The ending was my absolute favorite part. That's when I really couldn't put it down.”

Which surprised me, and totally delighted me, because I have always LOVED my ending, but have been told that it's too open-ended, and you can't leave it like that because people want definite answers, and / or you have to have a happy ending. I was really pleased that she was into that. She said she loved the entire second half.

“Make those two lead characters hotter for each other in the beginning, though. I wasn't buying their relationship until close to the end. I felt like they were more like best friends, or just loved each other as people. It needs more heat and passion.” (“I can do that, for sure.”) (This also clued me in to how astute of a reader she is, because in fact, in the first draft, the two characters were related and she completely picked up on that. I was like, “Damn, she is good.”)

I asked her if she had thought of any editors or publishers while she was reading it, and she gave me the names of two editors she had considered, who are also into this sort of thing.

Then she said, “I do really like the book—I would not be on the phone with you right now if I didn't—but time travel stories don't do well as first-releases, so I also wanted to talk to you about anything else you might have?”

So I told her about the one I did for NaNo, which is an extreme first draft right now, and although it has a beginning, middle and end, and a plot, with characters, and subplots, but that I hated the ending, had left two characters sort of blank so far, and had to completely re-draft it. I had written down my short pitch for that book, too, which I had planned to read: “Blue Sphere (working title): a medical examiner, her physicist associate, and her psychic best friend survive a neurological epidemic and invent a machine that can hold a person's consciousness after death. With the help of a disillusioned cop, they have to escape the corporation who are willing to murder them to get their hands on the machine. “

But it sounded so clunky as I started to read it that I just sort of wandered from it. “This medical examiner and this physicist, these two women—I haven't really fleshed out one of them yet—they invent this machine out of synthetic neurons” etc. I went a little more into the plot than just that little blurb thing up there.

And she said, “That's what I want. I want the lady scientists. Here's my idea: Let's finish that, and pitch that one, first.”

(Thank flipping GOD I wrote that book, god damn!)

Me: “Yeah! Sure. That's cool. I have that one on my mind, actually, so I can dive right back into it. I have a really great critique partner. She does not hold back at all. She tells me the absolute truth about her thoughts, and she's an excellent writer; she has an agent of her own, in fact, and a book out on submission.” (“That's what you want in a critique partner,” she said. "Keep her.")

So by this point, I was thinking it all sounded good, but I wasn't entirely sure if this was going to be a “get back to me when you finish it” kind of thing.

But then she said, “Just to be clear, this is absolutely an offer of representation.”

Me: *voids bowels* “Oh! Yay! I'm so excited, hahaha, how wonderful!” (I actually said “yay.” >_< )

She went on to say that she is really excited about both books, but really wants to lead with the “lady scientists” one. (“After that one comes out, then it will open the doors for the time travel one.” I liked that “after it comes out” part, like, a lot. Made me feel really confident in that.)

She is an editorial agent, so she said that she would be more than happy to offer critiques as I wrote it, once I was comfortable with sending it to her. She said she understood that a lot of authors were protective of their first drafts. I said that I wasn't protective of it, exactly, but that, let me be clear: it's just not good right now. I explained that it was a NaNo, that it was a sprawling mess at over 100K words (“I like a first draft to be too big rather than too small,” she said,) and I was scrapping the ending and re-writing the last 4 chapters or so from scratch.

She said, “That's okay. I'll wait for that one. I'm not offering to rep just one book, like, Blueshift or nothing, and that's it. I'm offering to represent you as a career author.”

So, there was no, “get back to me when you're done” or anything. It was an actual offer, like, “let me send you the contract in case you have any questions” offer.

My deadline to accept is July 16th. I've sent out my “nudge with offer of rep” to other agents who have queries, partials and suchlike. You sort of have to wait for them to get back to you before diving into anything like this – it's only polite. But I really, really liked what she had to say. I am so stoked that she loves Blueshift because the truth is, so do I. I love that stupid book. I had a blast writing it. I think other people should read it. ^_^ I loved the ideas that she had and I was so stoked that she was into the “lady scientists” book. So it really looks like I'm going to sign that contract on the 16th.

I hope it's not bad luck or bad form to share this. It links to my FB, but I mean, my FB is private, so. So I hope this isn't jinxing anything. I am just so, super excited and I wanted to put this all down.

And now! Once Callum wakes up, then I'm going have a shower and go over to Chrissie's house for dinner, so the kids can play together for a bit and she, Mom and I can chat away.

I need to stop worrying about what can go wrong, and start being happy with what is going right! For once, I'm going to do that!

ADDENDUM: I also told her, full disclosure, hey, I was a pretty prolific and semi-well known fanfic writer across various fandoms. She asked, "Oh, which ones!" and as I was listing them and got to Final Fantasy, she was like, "OH WOW, I probably read those!" She said it was perfectly all right to have fanfic still out there, that as long as I was comfy with it, so was she and so was the agency. (This agency is extremely pro-fandom. So yay!)
la_belle_laide: (D)
Haku had a seizure at 4:10 this morning which totally sucks. And I really want to make this a big, long LJ entry full of updates, but I got a request for the full manuscript last night and I am going nuts because I decided last minute to change this one subplot, so I'm acting like a crazy person combing through every mention of it. It's minor enough that it can be done in a few hours, but I only have those two hours a day, and like 20 minutes of those are already done, so.

But this is a really cool agent. A different agent at this place was talking about fandom, and how she thinks agents should be open to people who were fanfic writers, and to email her if any of us fangirls wanted to chat. So we talked for a while and she asked for my query, even though she doesn't rep what I write. But she still liked the query, so she referred me to her associate, who then asked for a partial. When you query with a referral you'll almost always get a partial request, but then last night she asked for the full which is kinda huge?

So I'm flipping out and I have to go figure my nonsense out right now!
la_belle_laide: (Default)
Lots to talk about today; might have to make it into TWO WHOLE POSTS.

Last week I won a query/first 5 pages critique from the agent Uwe Stender. This guy has an actual fandom among writers, and now I understand why. First of all, it was really generous of him to offer his time to writers seeking agents. He doesn't even rep what I write, but he did the critique anyway (because writing is writing, you know?)

Second, he is *so dang nice. * In his email, he explained that he wanted this to be a nice experience, and critique is meant to help. (I actually enjoy any critique, regardless of how it's worded, whether it's nice and “cushy” or straight up, “No, this doesn't work.”) But it was still kind of him to say so.

Critique—especially from people in publishing—is gold, yo. *GOLD *.

The gist of what he told me went for both the query and the first five pages, and basically it amounted to: too much world-building, not enough character-building. And that makes so much sense to me, because I have gotten requests for this ms, and the rejections I've gotten have usually been along the lines of, “I like your writing, but I can't connect/it's too distant/character didn't draw me in.” And I never really understood why that was. (And agents don't have time to sit there all day explaining themselves and helping you make your novel better. That's the writer's job.) But with this critique, just that observation showed me exactly why that is.

About a year ago, I asked another writer friend for help with the query, and she said that there wasn't *enough* world-building. She was like, “But where is this? When is this? What's the place like? What led up to this? These are things we need to know.” So I think I went a little nuts with that. Also, he told me the query was too long. Stick to the character and the conflict.

Looking back, and looking at my other work, I realize that I do over-focus on the world of the story. And the funny thing is, I'm always afraid that I'm not doing it enough. That I'm leaving blank spaces where the setting should be, and that readers will feel lost in the book unless I hand-hold them through the landscape. But I see now that that's not true. And I should trust the reader more.

I've also reined in my characters like crazy, and that's because I know I'm a hugely effusive, emotional, fangirl-bait writer. When I do first drafts, I go crazy with the characters and I know I'm a little bombastic and overwrought. By the 4th, 5th, 6th revision, I've often cut back a lot of the actual character, because I don't want to end up sounding like a fangirl of my own creations. But now it seems that maybe I should let them breathe a little more.

The good thing is that, even though it was only a 5 page / query critique, I can apply this to the rest of the novel, and to the one I'm working on now.

He also did say that, even though the first five pages had those specific problems, he still thought the writing was really good. And let me tell you, that is so great to hear.

And now, it's time to get to work!
la_belle_laide: (D)
Just jotting some things to remember. Callum took his first steps on his actual first birthday. Then he stopped for a while, and then about a week later, he started doing it again, two steps at a time. Yesterday, he walked across the room. And now, he's walking, turning, and trying to run. WTF, how did this happen so fast?

My wonderful friend Crow-Lady has taken Havoc for a while. He needs a break, I need a break from the 5:30-all day screaming. I've spent a few days scrubbing the floor in the sunroom and generally cleaning it up, cleaning up his cage, etc. (Now that CJ can toddle around, I plop him on the floor with some toys while I clean.) Havoc will come back, probably when it's too cold for him to be outside, and anytime Crow-Lady has to go away on vacations. But I cleared enough space in the sunroom to turn it into a kind of reading/relaxation room. The kind of hipster sort of thing you see on Tumblr, with cool chairs and string lights. I only just started, so we'll see how that turns out.

Big BIG news for my cousins across the street, too. Not something I'm allowed to write about yet due to legal stuff, so y'all can probably guess that they are adopting again, and we'll leave it at that. WOW. And it is happening so fast!

I still have that full manuscript out with the agent who said she enjoyed the beginning. Still have not heard back. It's on my mind every day: What part is she up to? Did she get bored and put it down? What is she thinking if she's reading that section or this one? I know you're supposed to give 3 months for a full, but I want to nudge her every single day. O_O I'll cop to checking out her FB page once in a while to see if she's saying something like “OMG I'm reading the best manuscript ever and I'm so fired up!” or if she's like “Jeez, the first five pages of this one ms were great, but now it sucks.” But she's not saying anything. >_< PLEASE LOVE ME.

Welp, back to staring at Winter Solider TVTropes for a while before putting BB and myself to bed. ^_^
la_belle_laide: (Wildflowers)



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I should have written this 2 weeks ago when it happened, but here it is now:

THERE'S AN AGENT LOOKING AT MY FULL MANUSCRIPT.

It's crazy. I changed the name to something that was similar to the title I dreamed about a few years ago. Actually no, it wasn't even a title I dreamed of; it was a lottery ticket with a word on it. And last month, I came across a scientific theory that sounded similar to that word, and weirdly fit perfectly with my book. I thought, Well, wow! I really like that! And maybe changing the title will get me a few nibbles. So I did, and sent out a query letter, and FIVE MINUTES LATER she wrote back saying she would love to read the whole thing.

I've got to wait, what, typically 6 months for a reply on a full. But I'm really stoked. She didn't ask for an exclusive, so I can query some others in good conscience, too.

Also in good news, my close relative got some good news regarding some medical results today and I couldn't be happier.

Yes, it snowed yesterday and it is miserably cold and not at all spring-like. But that bit of good news, and having a request for a full, is really making me feel all the happies.

Last week I went out with Gold Dragon to see Winter Soldier. It was so dang good and we had a great time together as always. Gold Dragon wanted to hang out after the movie, but I'm one of those Moms now who can't ask anyone to watch my baby past 11. So I took a rain check and we're going to go out to a nice dinner some Sunday instead.

And tomorrow, my best friend Glassworker is going to come over for a hang out.
Work is fine (though my bosslady had a sad occurrence / health upheaval – she's fine now, though,) clients are generally nice (except the ones who book two slots and then cancel them both, leaving me with NO clients on that day, wtf, who does that?!) and I got a raise! Woop! I actually got it sometime previously, but my boss didn't tell me, and I didn't notice it because my paycheck varies so much week to week.

I really miss Kung Fu these days. I especially miss my beautiful training family. Empress went to another school way out west (and she works and goes to college full time now.) Snarklit moved to Brooklyn. Chrysanthemum still trains once in a while when she's around. Gold Dragon works full time, doing graveyard shifts at the hospital and then catching up on sleep. I just miss them. I miss the shape I was in, too. I'm still thin but I have no muscle and no strength. Boo.

BUT. Manuscript. Family member's health scare over. New coat of paint in the living room. Hopefully some nice weather soon. TAX RETURN. For the first time since becoming LMT, I'm getting a return!

I'm also doing the April poem-a-day thing on HitRECord. Most of them suck, but once in a while I've gotten something good, and it's forced me to think, and to write, every day.

And CJ has finally got one tooth that you can actually see now. Every few days he'll say a word or two, then he'll stop saying it. “Fish” (“dick,) “book” (“guk”) “egg” (“ehh”) and the other day he said “Haku” clear as day. He's got some good sign language, too. (Eat, milk, cousin, hello and bye-bye.)

His first birthday party is coming up fast. Though, that is slightly depressing because after that, Jo-chan goes to work and we don't see her until next Fall. Summers are nice, but a little lonely because we get so few people coming by.

Maybe I'll try to get Mom, Boychild's Momma and Boychild to come with us on our Monday Summer walks again. That was really nice last year.

But here I am already thinking of summer, when it's 40 degrees today.

Come on Spring, get it the eff together!


la_belle_laide: (floating woman)



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Auwe, the agent who asked for an 8 week exclusive on my novel (after 3 months exclusive on the first 3 chapters,) decided she didn’t feel “passionate enough” about selling it. >_<

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Bleh. Oh well! Onwards and hopefully upwards!

I don’t think I’ll be giving any more exclusives, though. That came out to five whole months of querying that I’ll never get back.

Err, unless I was super duper into the agent I guess. :) Then I’d consider it.

Still, I think it’s a good sign that this is all totally subjective now. Like, lots of agents have said that they thought the writing was great, it just wasn’t necessarily their thing. And we know it has to be a perfect match.

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AND I’M NOT OUT OF CAKE.

Actually, I don’t have any literal cake. But I do have girl scout cookies. ^_^

Then tonight, my accountant came by to go over taxes with me. Since I pay at the end of the year, I need someone to do all the complicated stuff for me, and I need to dig through every write-off I can find. Like travel, insurance, college loan interest, etc.

And then I heard the tree frogs outside. I have to document that every year. First night of the tree frogs. :)
la_belle_laide: (floating woman)



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Note to self:

March 14 will be the 8 week mark since sending out my novel to the agent who asked for it after 3 chapters. She wanted an 8 week exclusive. (I've since read some notes from other agents saying that exclusives are the worst and we shouldn't grant them, but she was really interested and I got really excited. :D )

If I don't hear back from her by March 14th, then it's time to start querying again.

It does seem like each time I query, I get a little closer; a better reply. So, even if this agent decides to pass, then perhaps that "yes" is right around the corner.

And I have to keep reminding myself: The query letter works. The summary works. And apparently, the first three chapters work, too. Agenting is highly subjective, but some agents have liked the novel—or at least my writing in general--even if they ultimately decided not to offer representation. That's a pretty big deal, right?

So, March 14th, and then I'll stop holding my breath and sweating when I open my mail.

la_belle_laide: (floating woman)



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Today I heard back from an agent I'd queried in November, who requested the first 3 chapters exclusively in December. She wanted them for 3 weeks and when I didn't hear anything, I kind of forgot about it. I was just going to start querying again tomorrow.

But then, after work today, I GOT AN EMAIL FROM HER REQUESTING TO SEE THE WHOLE NOVEL. She wants an exclusive look for 8 weeks. Exclusives are kind of a bummer because you can't query anyone else during that time. But I also think it's worth it. If an agent is interested enough to ask for that, it's a pretty good sign.

This one is really special to me because it wasn't just a synopsis or first ten pages. It was the first THREE, which is 39 pages. Which means, to me, that she thinks the writing is really good. That I'm really good. And if she rejects after this, it's not because the writing sucks, it's just because it's not her kind of thing after all.

This is some really sweet validation. :D

And speaking of sweet validation, my Mom made employee of the year at her job, out of like, 130 employees. They had a party and announced it in front of everyone. It was really cool.

Work is about the same for me. Last week we were really busy, with all the post-holiday gift certificates coming in. But this week, tapering off again. Also, I had to miss yesterday because I had a monthly check-up. It's quick – you pee in a cup, get on the scale, then blood pressure and fetal heartbeat, end of story. But I met a midwife and stayed to talk with her for a while to ask questions. We discussed the fact that I want as little intervention as possible, unless it's an emergency. (Seriously, if I had my way, I'd go and crouch in the forest and bite on a stick till it was over.) She asked me if I was single or if I had a birth partner. When I told her I was single, she was so happy for me. She grabbed my hand and said, "That is so wonderful. Good for you. And I'll tell you something else. Even if you're not single, you're still on your own. There's only so much a partner can do, and in the end, they usually don't do much anyway."

Then I asked her about the flu shot. I haven't had that pushed on me at this place and I've been thankful for that. She said she personally hated vaccinations and flu shots, but that this year she would recommend it. But then I'm thinking, she works for a bunch of doctors. It's CYA; she has to say that.

I asked my boss (acupuncturist and TCM,) and my chiropractor (another doctor) and they were both against it.

I already know what the medical community says about it, because you can't swing a dead cat without someone yelling at you that you OMG HAVE TO GET IT OR UR STUPID AND HORRIBLE, but I wanted both sides of it. Not getting it seems the most rational choice for me, but we'll see.

Well, anyway, I should get back to fretting over the rest of this novel. You'd think this whole situation would instill me with confidence, right? Yet every time this happens, I go nuts trying to "correct" things I suddenly think aren't working. Even if I was totally happy with it last week.

And that's what's up this week so far! Woooot!

la_belle_laide: (Wildflowers)



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So a couple have things have gone on, some good, some bad, some still up in the air.

I'll start with the bad first, because it's what's on my mind. HitRECord, you know, is a nice little community - okay, it's really not so little, but you do get to know some folks. One of my pals there is a gal named Inky. She lives in Hawai'i and for a while we were working on some poetry translations on the site. Then she went away for a long trip, but had to cut her trip short because her boyfriend Niko (Honeyboy on HR) was very ill. Cancer at only 30, unable to get chemo due to a heart condition.

Inky and Honeyboy went traveling around the islands of Hawai'i together for a few short months. During their trip, they were taking photos, writing, tweeting, and exchanging packages of goodies and trinkets with other HitRECorders. Every Friday was Aloha Friday, where we would all send songs to each other on Twitter. Niko sent lots of my favorite music; I'd have fun identifying the singers and bands.

Just last week I went out and bought all sorts of Long Island goodies to send to them: local chocolates, trinkets, and some local honey for Honeyboy. I didn't have a box to send it in; figured I'd get to the store last Friday and bring it to the post office.

But Thursday night, Inky posted to let us all know that Niko had passed on Wednesday evening. She sent his last photo from his phone to his Twitter: a picture of the sunset out his window, titled "Goodbye Sun."

So everyone is heartbroken, and I have this package of stuff sitting here, addressed to both of them, and I don't know if I should still send it.

I came home from work today to find two packages had arrived. One was the HitRECord book that two of my writings made it into.

The other package is from Inky and Niko. It has a card from them. "Sending you lots of aloha and hugs and kisses, XOXO Honeyboy," and "Lots of love to you! XO Inky" They must have put it in the mail that Wednesday. And I just don't know what to do with myself over this. I think I should send the package anyway.

That was the most important, and of course the worst, thing that went on this week. Me, I can feel sad and cry and go about my business, but I know that his family and friends don't have that luxury today. My week still has some happiness in it. I get that.

Some of my happiness this week is, as I mentioned, getting that book in my hands. It's gorgeous, so much better than I thought it would be. The whole intro by Joe is about patriarchy and sexism, and why he changed the ending to the story. The second "intro" is by his Mom, which details the War On Women and why books like this are necessary. She talks for a while about the terrifying bills that are being put on the table (and some passed, barring women from testifying,) and then says,

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My two pieces are in here, surrounded by beautiful art. Here's the funny thing: the first one is on page 39 and the second one is on page 45. I have a thing about numbers adding up to 3 and 9 so I'm like "OMFG IT'S A SIGN."

I also finished up the revisions requested by that one rad agent. I "finished" them, I should say, and then I stressed and stressed, and hemmed and hawed and fussed and revised again, and then once again. And then, yesterday, I sent them out. Now, I'm convinced that I only made it worse. I could only have screwed it up more. I just don't know what to do sometimes, who to listen to!

But also, a few agents held a "Twitter Pitch" contest, which is what it sounds like. You reduce your novel to 135 characters (leaving room for the tag,) and pitch to them via Twitter. Well, the one agent who showed a little interest in mine has a thing against stories with a time travel element. BUT, she also said it sounded cool anyway, and I could go ahead and query her to give her more info. I know it's not the kind of thing she represents, but something must have sounded kind of good for her to say that! So I figured, why not? And queried her, too. Can't hurt. :)

I am running out of agents to query, though. I'm getting a few nibbles and a few "You're good, but I'm not in love with this." What if no one falls "in love" with it? Then, I guess, I shelf it, start up with some of my other books and such. Get one of those to sell. Then maybe someone will be like "Do you have any trunk manuscripts?" Haha, yeah. But I don't want this to be from the trunk. It's my favorite.

So that's more or less what's been going on, aside from the stuff I'm going to put in the locked post. Today is the first really hot hot day, and my first day in shorts (once I came home from work, that is.) About two weeks ago I fixed the aviary door. I just need to put another latch on the bottom, just to be on the safe side (didn't need one for ten years, but I'm not going to make that mistake again,) and then hose it out, set it up, and put my twelve bastard starlings into it. Will probably do that tomorrow. Then maybe I'll get my winter clothes put away. I did that much earlier last year, I think; maybe two weeks earlier. But it's been super chilly this month.

Oh, in the meantime, hey. You can order this gorgeous FEMINIST retelling of a fairy tale, with poetry, stories, thoughts, essays and really beautiful art. Scroll down to the $20 one. ^_^




la_belle_laide: (Default)
So here was my reply to the rad agent who asked me to revise and try again:


It is so heartening to hear back from you with this advice. I will be more than happy to revise and edit with this in mind. Is there a time limit I should keep in mind? Is it possible to get a few weeks before resubmitting? And, should I put anything specific in the subject line when doing so?

I really appreciate this feedback and chance to revise. Thanks very much.

Sincerely,

Jules


Is that right? Does it sound any good? I hope so, because I already sent it! It was that or "Mmmmm. Meditate on this I will." And I didn't think that would work out.

But now, I do have to meditate on it. Well, not meditate really, but take a shower, lie in bed in the morning, and think of different ways I can ground the story into this world. Pour cement on it and give some background info in a clearer, more direct way, but without info-dumping.

That has always been my challenge. I love writing about people, and what they do and think and the choices they make and how they react to things, but settings/places/histories have always sort of eluded me. That's the part of writing I really fret about, because I somehow never nail that.

It's taken me years to put that into words.

So I have to take a few days and concentrate. I'm not one of those people who can go in and start hacking things up. I have to think of some ideas first.

Also, I'm peeing my pants in a constant stream.



ETA: Her reply:

Dear Jules,

There's no time limit, take all the time you need, and the cleanest way would to just reply to this email.


SNOOPY DANCING RIGHT NOW.

It's just that, I love when agents are so nice and chill and helpful with things. It muh muh muh makes me happay.
la_belle_laide: (Leander)
This morning—day off because of the stupid holiday—I checked my email first thing, and was surprised (as I always am) to see another email in my inbox titled "QUERY: Qualia." I resign myself to form rejections every time I see that, and I don't expect much else because it's easier that way.

But it wasn't a form rejection! And when I read the first lines and they sounded, you know, personalized, my first reaction was "OMFG, NO, I CAN'T." More like panic than happiness, if we're being honest.

Anyway, here's what she said:

There's something your voice I like and I applaud the scope of your story, but I have to confess I got completely lost in your pages. It felt like I had stumbled into the middle of an ongoing series or novel, not started something at the beginning. You need to give readers a more intelligible introduction to your world, not drop them in with characters and rules they have no context for. I'm not suggesting you info dump but you do have to give us someframework to understand your world with. If you were to revise this or if you have another project, I would be willing to take a look.

Best,
LITERARY AGENT"


If you'll remember last year when I had a request, and then rejection of the ms, that lovely agent told me,

You're a wonderful writer, but in the end, this particular project didn't do it for me, in the sense that I didn't fall in love with it the way I need to with fiction. I think in the end that's entirely a personal preference thing -- I felt your world-building was a bit too abstract, and I wasn't as engaged in your characters' lives as I wanted to be, but that kind of distance and narrative style might very much appeal to someone else.

I AM HEARING THIS LOUD AND CLEAR.

Two things are at play here: One, I might have taken the "start where the action is" advice a little too literally. There are lots of stories out there that don't start in medias res. The Hunger Games (which I've been reading and madly enjoying,) starts with the main character waking up, in fact. And then going about her day. We of course learn early on that it's a Very Important Day, but still, there's about a half a chapter of her wandering around her world.

The world I am writing in is very clear in my head, but I'm obviously making the mistake of thinking that naturally, everyone's going to see what I see.

Two: It's quite possible that I write with too light a touch, since I'm always telling myself "You're too effusive; tone it down, reign it in." Maybe for the genre I'm writing in, I need it to be earthier or something. I am kind of like this in real life, too: sort of an airhead, I mean.

SO! The first thing I need to do is formulate a professional, polite, gracious reply saying something like, "I AM SO STOKED MY HANDS ARE SHAKING appreciate this feedback very much, and would be glad to LEGIT DO WHATEVER YOU SUGGEST make any revisions necessary and then resubmit to your every whim. Paint your house? Bake you cupcakes? Hop on a pogo stick and yodel? I will do this. Is there a time limit on resubmitting?"

Or something like that? I want to let her know how much it means to me that she's willing to give it a chance with some work, and that I'm more than willing to revise like crazy (because I really like revising, for one thing, and for another, if two agents are saying, in essence, the same thing, then this is obviously true!)

And then, to the revising! I don't even know where to start. Let's see; I sent her the first ten pages and a one-page synopsis. I was actually afraid I was dumping too much information into those first ten pages, so I'm stuck as to how I'm going to fill it out, and I know I need some help with this.

Should I go back to the sf/f workshop? Or somewhere else? I'm so flustered I don't even know where to start, even though before today I had it all worked out, what I would do if I needed to make revisions and try again. Someone please do the hard stuff for me!

AND! I also know that, plenty of times, writers make revisions and it's still not enough. That happens a lot. I'm also prepared for that, and anything she (or anyone) tells me will only help me become a better writer. So I'm not putting any faberge eggs into this basket, but I sure am excited!

And I'm also just happy because, this is twice now that a literary agent has said "I enjoy your writing" in one form or another. That means, you know, no matter what, I can do this. IT COULD WORK.

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I'm not a bad writer. I'm a good writer. (But I'm not good enough to explain in words how effing happy that makes me! Here, have another gif:

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Here's another wack thing. Last year, when I had that other agent's interest? That was right after HitRECord published my Tiny Story. This year, this came right after the Red Riding Hood stories.

Clearly, clearly HR is my good luck charm. OH YEAH.
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But anyway. I'm happy and freaked out and excited and I just don't know where to start, okay. Where do I even start?





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My dream last night was SO BAD.

It starts when this guy breaks into my Mom's house while I'm there alone. He somehow gets in through the window and he's coming to kill everyone. So I grab the fireplace poker thing and just start beating him with it. Blood is flying everywhere. Then I somehow lose the poker, but I keep finding different things to beat him with. He keeps trying to get up, but I'm not even looking at him, just trying to kill him because I know he's come in to do harm.

Eventually I realize that the bad guy is gone – he escaped out the back door somehow. I look down to find Haku in his place, all bloody. So I start freaking out realizing that I did this, and that if I had looked sooner, I would have realized that it wasn't the bad guy I was hurting, but my dog.

It just got worse from there and was so awful I can't even write about it.

After that I had a dream about the guy I met in school who I still see sometimes. In the dream, we're going on a date to Greenport (irl we decided on Montauk, when the weather gets better.) It's high summer and we get to Greenport and there's some kind of party on the beach. Bonfires and such, as it's night time.

My cousin joins us. (Note: My cousin and I lived together for a long time and were very close. We were always together and were, unfortunately, often judged as "The Pretty One" and "The Smart One." She was [is] actually gorgeous, which, sadly, precluded her from being thought "smart." Which was ridiculous, because she was totally smart – but people never looked past her beauty, which always ended up to her detriment. Anyway, she was very popular, while I was plain and, you know, sort of anti social.) Anyway, so she shows up, and she starts dating the guy I'm seeing. Strangely, I don't mind too much when this starts happening, thinking, "Well as long as they're happy." It didn't matter also because it turned out that I was dating the guy who played the psycho bad guy on Criminal Minds the other night.

The second dream was just uncomfortable and awkward, but the first one was so terrible that I had to wake myself up from it. Truly, that head movie made my eyes rain.

I think the thing with Haku had to do with the fact that he was in therapy again yesterday. He's not going for a whole 'nother round of it (I am out of money and that's the dang truth,) but I had one left over from the last surgery. So I figured, let me get my money's worth, and see what they think of his progress since the surgery.

The leg that recently had the surgery is doing fine, fortunately. However, the other leg—the one that had surgery last year—has major arthritis, and that is really what's giving him a problem. Also, his shoulder is tricky now because he's been using his front legs to carry all his weight, going on a year now. GDI!

Anyway, back to the dream: yesterday Haku was really unhappy with the therapy; he just kept fussing and whining and crying the whole time. When it was done I told him, "Okay, doggie torture is over, I'm sorry I did this to you!" So maybe that phrase stuck in my head.

The other dream, I have no idea.

So as I mentioned in my last post, I entered that promotion to get my query letter critiqued again. It'll be nice, if I get it, because the agent in question was one of the ones who rejected the query! It'll be super awesome to get some feedback and find out why. Until I do, I'm holding off on querying. Maybe there's something really wrong with the letter that I'm not seeing, and that other people are missing? Maybe it's a "feeling" thing that's causing it to be rejected out of hand, and having someone truly look it over will pinpoint the problem. It's really weird, because last year I had all sorts of good feedback--good rejections, if you get me, helpful ones—but in the last year, I've just gone back to getting form rejections. And I can't help but wonder why that is.

So maybe I'll get an answer! And that will be a tremendous help to me, you know? Cross your fingers for me, guys! :)





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Literary agent Meredith Barnes is doing a celebratory promotion! :) Which is awesome for her writers, and for aspiring novelists, too. These formerly out-of-print books are for sale on Amazon:

Deborah Camp (A mix of contemporary and Old West Historical romances…over 40 coming in the near future, but here is a list of 10 or so available now)

Lorena Dureau (Historical Romance: American Colonial South and West. Very Sexy)

Dan Streib (thrillers with a James-Bond-meets-Anderson-Cooper main character)

Barbara Keesling (her too-hot-to-blog nonfiction is here, here, and here)
(And dare I add that an Anderson Cooper/James Bond character sounds like a lot of win!)

So check them out! And also, this promo gives us as-yet-unagented writers a chance to refine our query letters. Sweet deal, right? The word gets out about books back in print, querying authors get a critique.

AND EVERYBODY WINS.
la_belle_laide: (Leander)
My "elevator pitch" got a good review from queryquagmire!

Who is "Queryquagmire", you ask? And I quote: Please don’t ask me who I am or what publishing house I work for. And if you know me, please try not to use my name on the blog. It’s not that I’m some super villain with a secret identity… actually, yeah. I am a super villain with a secret identity to protect, thank you very much.
If you’re an author or aspiring author visiting Query Quagmire, welcome! I hope you learn a little something from my slush pile tales and walk away unscathed. There’s no need to be offended when I poke fun at a query, and there’s certainly no reason to inform me I’m a heartless bitch. Trust me: I already know.
*Edit: No seriously, don’t ask me who I am. This includes questions about where I got my degrees, where I’ve interned, where I’ve worked, and where I currently work.


What's an "elevator pitch? An elevator pitch is what you say when you meet an agent/editor/publisher etc. in an elevator during a conference and you want to pitch your novel. Basically, it's supposed to be a brief, juicy summing up of your entire body of work, in one or two lines. Like a micro-mini-query.

My "elevator pitch" went like this:

A brain damaged, turn-of-the-century physics teacher travels back in time to prevent a despotic usurper from becoming a technological God in the future.

Queryquagmire said:

This is a great pitch. I would certainly ask for more. You can improve it by noting the market and/or genre. It’s steampunk, is it not?

This pitch works so well because it tells us everything briefly, specifically, and clearly. In other words, it tells me what I absolutely need to know about the book quickly and in a way that’s easy to understand. It would work just as well verbally as it would in writing. It is also lacking in query letter cliches, which is hard to do in such a short pitch.
“Despotic usurper” is a little redundant. But the good news is, you can change this to something that will give us even more juicy information.
~QQ


A;LDFGJHA;OFIGYAOD;IFGHAS!!

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Parts of that are actually the first line of my actualfax query letter, then I just took another word or two from the query to put into the pitch. So "despotic usurper" doesn't work – maybe I can leave it as "despot" or something.

ANYway. I am so happy! Because if that pitch works, then surely some agent is eventually going to really like that hook and ask for more. That did happen once, remember, and I got a request for a full. The full got a really nice, "helpful" rejection (which I will never forget: "You're a wonderful writer but this just wasn't for me...")

Dude, every day I'm closer. Every query sent out is another link in the chain. I am so excited!

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I DON'T KNOW! I HAVE A LOT OF FEELS ABOUT KENSHIN, OKAY. And this trailer gives me a lot of thinks to go along with my feels!

So I'm not sure yet. The cast looks very beautiful, and the action looks pretty badass too. I could love it, maybe, but it had better be damn effing good. You can't mess with a thing like Kenshin. And I hope they don't mess up Kaoru because she was pretty hardcore. So, we'll see about this!

Fangirling aside for a sec, I have a full schedule tomorrow which is rad, because it's been really freaking slow around there. I have one appointment on Christmas Eve and we're closing early, so I'll be losing most of that day, too. Hopefully I will get some good tips tomorrow.

Today I sent out three more queries. I sent them with mucho excitement and high hopes. Fly, little queries! Fly and find us a home!

All right, really I just wanted to put up that trailer. Time to go watch some Torchwood at Mom's, and then chill out here for a bit and get to bed early for tomorrow's appointments. I start at ten, because that's the earliest we ever start there (the owners, two sisters, are so NOT morning people for which I am profoundly grateful,) but with having to take care of the dogs etc. in the morning, I still have to get up at 8:15. Still! That's the earliest I ever have to get up for work and that's really nothing to complain about, is it? Especially after getting up at 6:45 for so many years working for The Bad Place, and at 6 AM on some days when I was in school over an hour away. God DAMN how the hell did I even do that? Eff that.

You know what occurred to me just now? I need some new icons.

Well, yeah. Okay, ta!









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Right, so I just got my 13th rejection on my query letter for my novel. Drat, and I was hoping 13 would be the one, for no other reason than that I really like 13. Triskaidekaphilia? 

So now I need some advice, because at first the query letter was getting good rejections (you know, “You’re a wonderful writer / this is great / someone else will love it, it’s just not for me,”) but now I’m back to getting straight up form rejections, and it’s (more or less) the same query. (You know, with personalized changes depending on the agent.) So I’m not sure if I should change it again or not.
It’s only the 13th, but I’m a little afraid of running out of agents to query, because it’s steampunk sci-fi, and I’m not finding a huge amount of agents who are into that.

But! You just keep on trying until you run out of cake! And I’ve got lots of cake left. It’s so delicious and moist. :D 

I am really holding onto those GOOD rejections, and to that one email from that one agent who didn’t represent steampunk, but offered (out of courtesy - one of his clients is a friend of mine,) to take a look at my ms. He said that the material was great. :) So, there is no way I’m losing hope! It’s going to happen. One of these days. 

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In other news, tomorrow is the first day of Autumn. I'm in the (messy, irritating) midst of getting my winter clothes out and my summer clothes put away (and trying super hard to get rid of some stuff that I don't wear anymore,) and all of a sudden, it's like 75 degrees again. Last week it was in the 40s, and now here we are, back to goddamn summer. I mean, at least make up your mind. Stop teasing me.

Monday was pretty fly. Jo-chan, Boychild's Mama, Boychild, Mom and I all went out Halloween shopping. All I bought was a few pieces to start my Weeping Angel costume, but it was really fun, just being out of the house with people.

Jo-chan is here for her half-week stay. I'm really glad this is working out, with her working for Boychild's Mama and spending half the week here. Last night we all watched the premier of Criminal Minds, and tonight we're going to watch Blink. It's little things like this that excite me. :D

Happy Autumn, my Halloween peeps!


la_belle_laide: (D)



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Haku had a seizure at 10 this morning, which is a really weird time for him. Well, I guess they are all really weird times, but I think that 10AM is a first. It was a short seizure, about two minutes, and he bounced right back from it, but still. I never get used to it. He forgets his situation for a short time after each seizure, and he walks around on his injured leg. Because he can't remember that it's supposed to be hurting him.

Aaaaand Sano had massive blow-out diarrhea and vomiting for two days straight. Seems to be over now since I just started giving him rice and sweet potatoes. Still, OMG. WHAT.

In better news! The place where I'm working has an upstairs studio where they teach Yoga. It's a really nice studio, with wood floors and lots of space. Bosslady asked me last week if I would be interested in offering Hula classes up there over the summer.

Extra money, and I get to teach, and dance, which is what I most love to do? YES PLEASE. I really, really, really hope this one works out. It's what I want. Hello, universe! *taptap* Let me have this!

Work is both predictable and unpredictable. I can usually guess how many treatments I'm going to be doing, but I can't rely on tips. Some people tip, some don't. The first week was insane, I made about $90 in tips. But, I was covering for someone who's been there for over a year. Now I'm not covering for her anymore, treatments have dropped off a bit. And actually, some people just don't tip. They don't know they're supposed to, I guess. Or, not supposed to, but that it's super nice if they do. And some people think that $3 is a suitable tip for a $80 service. I guess they just don't get it. So, you just have to learn not to actually count on them.

I'm just happy that I'm making actual, real money. It's not a lot, and I'm not being realistic when I'm thinking that this is going to solve my problems and keep me in my house. I know I need to make more. I'm hoping that within a year or so I'll get a really steady client base and that will take some of the burden off.

I also have the best friends ever. Remember last summer when the pool collapsed? Well, it's been sitting there in shreds all over the yard since then. Most of it was still standing, just a big empty ¾ circle of scrap metal. My Kung Fu brother, Homeslice, came over Tuesday while I was at work and started taking it down. He just PMed me, showed up with a Sawzall (or whatever it's called,) and cut most of it into manageable bits. Now, I can sell them to some scrap metal company! Then they recycle it, which is awesome. In return for Homeslice doing this, I give him some treatments and we're square.

I love bartering. I really think it's the way to get things done. :)

In writing or whatever news, I've got one query still out. I had two more rejections. I'm still hanging on to that one awesome one I got ("You are a fantastic writer and even though this isn't my thing, someone will love it.") I just know someone will pick it up. It's a matter of finding the right match, that's all. So, I'm waiting on a third, then if that one is a "no" (but my fingers are crossed! This agent has a client that I really like!) I go out searching again. I think I like to do 3 at a time. 3 is a lucky number. :)

Then, I'm also translating this epic poem on HitRECord into Hawaiian. It's so freaking huge. And it challenges everything I knew about the Hawaiian language. All the mele that I can so often understand is written in an entirely different idiom. There's no model for something like this. So I have to figure my way around phrases and patterns that I don't know. Hawaiian language patterns are hard for me. But I'm still glad for the challenge because I've missed speaking Hawaiian.

Other than that, the usual. Still spending a lot of time with Boychild, going to Kung Fu, hanging with friends, watching movies, making movies, dicking around on the internet.

But spring is here! So exciting! :)
la_belle_laide: (Leander)



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Today is intensely historic and I can't seem to quit watching Al Jazeera's live feed of Egypt's celebrations. I realize it's not over, and they've still so much work to be done, but the people are just letting loose and partying in the streets and it's a beautiful thing. Just playing the live stream in the background keeps giving putting me in a good mood.

What else is happy times? Well, I have another poem up at HitRECord.

And, freaking, CHECK THIS OUT. My friend RJ, an incredible musician, toon an awesome reading of the poem I did before this one, and set it to music. It's fantastic. It's like, iPod, driving music fantastic. ^_^ He put a lot of effort into it and it paid off.

One of the happiest things that can happen in HitRECord is when you load your own page and you see a new "results" tab under your work. I can't even tell you how gratifying that is. :D

So, and check this out. One of my longtime good friends, a fellow crow-lady, has another longtime friend who has a book published. She was talking to her friend about my attempts to find an agent, and her friend revealed that her agent is someone whose name I dare not even mention, and whose most famous author-client I dare not even name, whose ridiculously well-known and iconic SF books—one in particular—he sold, and I dare not even breathe. ANYway. Ends up that said agent is super fond of his client who is my friend's friend, and he said that he would be open to an email from me. He's not looking to sign any more writers right now; he is closed to queries and even if he wasn't (he made this clear to me,) he doesn't deal with unpublished novelists anymore. BUT. Because he is such good friends with my other friend, he would make some time to, I don't know, give me some tips, some pointers and such.

He allowed me to send him the first three chapters of my novel.

I was like,
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And that's how I still feel, awaiting his feedback. WHICH I WILL TAKE LIKE A HXC PRO. I actually kinda pride myself on taking all sorts of criticism as a writer and applying it instead of getting butthurt. There is something to be said for going through a writing program in college. If nothing else, it gets you used to having someone tell you, "This part blows, but here's what would make it better."

In fact in college, I had these two very stern teachers, stern in different ways. One was entirely old-school. He was this older gentleman with perfectly coiffed white hair, still wore 3-piece suits to lectures every day, and spoke in absolute perfect Northeast English. He'd offer devastating criticism with a smile, but wasn't above occasional vulgarity.

My other favorite writing teacher was of an entirely different sort. He was actually a published author of quite a few books, and he dressed in the same exact chalk-stained clothes every single day. He didn't temper his criticism with kindness. Or actually, he sort of did, but it was edgy kindness, like damn it, if you can't have a sense of humor about suckage, then why were you there? If I handed in something halfway decent to him he'd comment, "Fair enough, I guess. But what the hell was this part?" If something truly sucked he would just write, "Honestly?" in red ink. Or, "Must we?" He used to tell all of his students, "If you can only be intelligent for three pages, then please don't bore me with ten pages of filler."

I seriously didn't mean to get on this tangent. I loved college, (the first time, I mean,) and I miss a lot of my professors.

Anyway, today is a good day to send out another query. So I'm going to pick out one or two agents, tailor my stuff to their submission guidelines, and have another go.

I'm never going to run out of cake. :)

Here, look at some pics of my adorable crow with a heart crystal in his beak.

Take my heart from out they beak? )

AWWWW.
la_belle_laide: (Leander)



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Today is intensely historic and I can't seem to quit watching Al Jazeera's live feed of Egypt's celebrations. I realize it's not over, and they've still so much work to be done, but the people are just letting loose and partying in the streets and it's a beautiful thing. Just playing the live stream in the background keeps giving putting me in a good mood.

What else is happy times? Well, I have another poem up at HitRECord.

And, freaking, CHECK THIS OUT. My friend RJ, an incredible musician, toon an awesome reading of the poem I did before this one, and set it to music. It's fantastic. It's like, iPod, driving music fantastic. ^_^ He put a lot of effort into it and it paid off.

One of the happiest things that can happen in HitRECord is when you load your own page and you see a new "results" tab under your work. I can't even tell you how gratifying that is. :D

So, and check this out. One of my longtime good friends, a fellow crow-lady, has another longtime friend who has a book published. She was talking to her friend about my attempts to find an agent, and her friend revealed that her agent is someone whose name I dare not even mention, and whose most famous author-client I dare not even name, whose ridiculously well-known and iconic SF books—one in particular—he sold, and I dare not even breathe. ANYway. Ends up that said agent is super fond of his client who is my friend's friend, and he said that he would be open to an email from me. He's not looking to sign any more writers right now; he is closed to queries and even if he wasn't (he made this clear to me,) he doesn't deal with unpublished novelists anymore. BUT. Because he is such good friends with my other friend, he would make some time to, I don't know, give me some tips, some pointers and such.

He allowed me to send him the first three chapters of my novel.

I was like,
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And that's how I still feel, awaiting his feedback. WHICH I WILL TAKE LIKE A HXC PRO. I actually kinda pride myself on taking all sorts of criticism as a writer and applying it instead of getting butthurt. There is something to be said for going through a writing program in college. If nothing else, it gets you used to having someone tell you, "This part blows, but here's what would make it better."

In fact in college, I had these two very stern teachers, stern in different ways. One was entirely old-school. He was this older gentleman with perfectly coiffed white hair, still wore 3-piece suits to lectures every day, and spoke in absolute perfect Northeast English. He'd offer devastating criticism with a smile, but wasn't above occasional vulgarity.

My other favorite writing teacher was of an entirely different sort. He was actually a published author of quite a few books, and he dressed in the same exact chalk-stained clothes every single day. He didn't temper his criticism with kindness. Or actually, he sort of did, but it was edgy kindness, like damn it, if you can't have a sense of humor about suckage, then why were you there? If I handed in something halfway decent to him he'd comment, "Fair enough, I guess. But what the hell was this part?" If something truly sucked he would just write, "Honestly?" in red ink. Or, "Must we?" He used to tell all of his students, "If you can only be intelligent for three pages, then please don't bore me with ten pages of filler."

I seriously didn't mean to get on this tangent. I loved college, (the first time, I mean,) and I miss a lot of my professors.

Anyway, today is a good day to send out another query. So I'm going to pick out one or two agents, tailor my stuff to their submission guidelines, and have another go.

I'm never going to run out of cake. :)

Here, look at some pics of my adorable crow with a heart crystal in his beak.

Take my heart from out they beak? )

AWWWW.
la_belle_laide: (Leander)
Not gonna call it good, but can't call it bad, either. Actually I'm quite pleased. So that rad agent I queried decided that she wasn't the one to rep my novel. I had a feeling, because last week she mentioned in her Twitter that there were certain things in novels that she felt she couldn't rep, such as zombies (and mine has, well sorta robo-zombies.) She also felt that the world-building was too abstract. That's definitely something to keep in mind.

What she also said though, is that she thinks I'm a wonderful writer (that's an exact quote!) and she's sure that eventually I'll find a different agent who will really like what I do.

Meantime, I'm definitely going to go back over the whole manuscript with her words in mind, to see if I can make the world-building somewhat richer.

Still.

WONDERFUL WRITER. A LITERARY AGENT SAID THAT TO ME. :D

I have a good query letter, and the confidence that an actual agent thinks I have what it takes. I'll get there, I swear. I guess it's just not the right situation yet, and that's fine. Still, I can't help grinning like a freak tonight, just because she said that. ^____^

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