Wednesday, October 28, 2009

First Rejection!

Yup, that means what it says... this morning when I opened my email account, I had my VERY first rejection letter! Eeeeek!

Now why--might you aks--do I sound excited about that? Well, because more often than not, agents won't even bother sending back a rejection note. They'll just throw your junk in the "slush pile" and move on with their merry little ways, not even bothering to acknowledge that you're back home waiting in frightful anticipation for a reply. Professor Dooling told me the other day that if I get a rejection letter/email/note, I should feel highly complimented, because that means the agent actually read through my material and thoughtfully considered it.

I have to admit, though, I was surprised at how fast this particular agent responded. I sent him my stuff yesterday morning. And no less than 24 hours later, I had a response. I can't help but wonder if this was because he just glossed over everything without really reading it... It doesn't really matter, I suppose. Like Dooling said, a regection note is a GOOD thing, not a bad ( : Also, I do believe J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter was rejected upwards of 29 times before getting an agent. So I have at LEAST 28 more rejections to go before I have a good excuse to fall into the depths of despair! (Haha)

This is the email. Short, simple and to the point:

Thank you for your query letter. We've had the chance to review it and, unfortunately, this project is not right for us.

Best of success to you in all your literary endeavors.

Seems good to me. He didn't say anything about my writing totally sucking and or anything... just that it wasn't a good project for him. (At least that's how I'm reading it!) He also said "best of luck..." what a saint! Way to let me down easy on my first rejection ( :

Monday, October 26, 2009

As a side note...

On a side note that has absolutely nothing to do with the progress I'm making with the agent process, one of the titles I was considering for my book was:

Marionettes and Puppeteers

I liked it because throughout my book I try to create the picture that the government is actually controlling the American people. Like they are literally pulling at the strings of helpless puppets. One of my characters actually says something like that in the book. This is what he says:

"Don't you see, Shawn? The government you know today is not the government that was established in 1776. Power hungry men have become so corrupt and twisted by their own appetites, that our structure of government is a mere shadow of what it used to be. Give it a few more years and there won't even be a shadow left. Americans are nothing more than puppets, controlled by the greedy, wicked, vicious hands of their puppeteers, the officials of the United States government. 'The people' lost their executive power over the government a long time ago. This charade of freedom and liberty," Colby said, "its nothing more than a show. We aren't trying to overthrow the government that Washington, Adams and so many others have given their very lives for. We're trying to protect that system of government."
A long silence filled the tiny kitchen. Shawn didn't know what to believe. On the one hand, what Colby said made sense--sort of. But on the other hand, his brother sounded seriously paranoid.
"Puppets, Colby?"
Colby rolled his eyes. "Its a figure of speech, bro."

... to be continued...

That was really the only reference I made to marionettes (another word for puppet) in the whole book, so I wasn't really sure if people would "get" why I titled the book that. I also wasn't sure if it was powerful or flashy enough to get someone to want to read it. Now that I think about it, I'm not even sure my current title, Keepers of the Flame, is any good either... but it's the best I could come up with ( : If my publishers and editors don't like it someday, I'll gladly let them put their creative juices to the test to come up with something better.

Anyway, I DID, however, really like the quote that I chose to go with the book. It doesn't really makes sense now that I'm not using puppets in the title, but it was pretty powerful when paired with the other title:

"There are many advantages in puppets. They never argue. They have no crude views about art. They have no private lives."
--Oscar Wilde

I think that Keepers of the Flame is a better set up for the book and what it is about, etc. However, I can't help but nurture this sentimental attachment I have to this former direction on the title and theme. I just thought I'd share with the crowd ( :

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Its off to the races!

I've just spend the better part of my Saturday afternoon going through Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents looking for some agents! I already had a few in mind, but I went through a chunk of the book (its a BIG book) and found a few more.

But you know what? I won't lie. I honestly have no idea how to look for an agent. Short of finding one that is kinda sorta interested in a political thriller/young adult/aldultish/fictional novel there isn't much to go by. You'll never really know if you're going to "click" with that person until you start working with them. And lets be honest, with my charmigly abrasive personality, it'll be a rare find for me to find one that gets along well with me! So basically what I'm trying to say is that it's mostly just pulling names outta the hat at this point.

But the good news... I just sent out my first two query letters! (Cheer!) No, I haven't heard back from Dooling just yet about my synopquery letter, but these particular agents were only looking for a short introductory letter. If they are intrigued by the letter, they'll ask for a plot synopsis later. Since I already had a handy dandy little query letter on hand (see one of my previous posts for that letter) I just tweaked it a bit to meet their requirements and sent 'er off in an email!

So now begins the period of dreadful anticipation for the responses.Hopefully I'll still have nails left by the time its over.

Meanwhile, I'll be working on the synopsis letter that Dooling is reviewing right now. He said he'd have it back to me by Monday. If it IS back by Monday, and I don't have hours of problem spots to work out, I'll be able to shoot out a few more queries. Yikes! Thinking of all the potential rejections that are about to be sent my way, I can't help but be reminded of a line by George McFly in Back to the Future...

"What? Well what if they don't like it? I just don't know if I can handle that kind of rejection!" Yeah. Well. Me neither!

I used to suck at taking constructive criticism.... who am I kidding?? I still suck at it!! I have to admit that I've been getting better. But the argumentative side of me always kicks in when people try to criticize my work.


This could be a VERY long process! When the time comes, please kindly remind me not to talk back to any potential agents...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Synopquery burning effigies

Yesterday was one of those frustrating bang-your-head-against-the-wall-horrible-case of-writers-block-I-feel-like-I'm-getting-nowhere kind of a day. Okay. Maybe I'm exaggerating

But only a little.

I spend hours yesterday revising my synopquery letter. It was truly torturous. I swear I revised every single sentence like 10 times... and each sentence took about 10 minutes. It was incredibly slow, painful work, and honestly, I felt really discouraged. I thought I had made little or no progress on the entire thing--despite the hours siphoned into it. It was extremely frustrating.

So when my hubby asked me how my day was last night, you bettchya a gave him an earful (poor guy...)! I frustratingly related how much I hated this stupid-no-good query letter writing stuff and how I just wanted to burn the whole letter and start over kind of a thing... blah, blah, blah. But instead of agreeing with me, and accompanying me on an effigy burning of the query letter crusade, Rob, being the sweet, supportive, awesome guy that he is, he offered to read over it for me. He offered this, even though he had just barely reviewed it on Sunday and his comments only two days earlier had left me a lot of work to do. Considering the stress and frustration I'd had all day during the revision process, and the fact that I felt like I had made little (if any) progress, I honestly didn't think he was going to be able to give me any comments that were different from Sunday to Tuesday. But since he was being so sweet and supportive about it, I grudgingly allowed him to read it for me.

But then... SHOCK!

He only had two comments! Two! And they were little comments, not big revisions like his suggestions on Sunday!!! I was so wrapped up in the minuscule little details and stress of revising the letter, that I didn't even notice that as a whole, I had a pretty dang good finished product. I prodded Rob for several minutes, trying to determine if he had any hidden criticisms he wasn't telling me about, but he didn't have anything! His only two comments were about the structure of two of the sentences. He thought they needed to be reworded, that's it! "Other than that, Julie," he said, "You have a very solid letter here."


So I spent another twenty minutes or so working on those two sentences, and....

Bada boom, bada bing! I have my synopquery letter!!

I've just sent the second letter off to dear old Professor Dooling for review. If he approves of what I've written, I will officially feel secure enough to start sending it to agents! And of course, that is really the only really way to know if your synopquery letter is any good, anyway, right? Whoopeee! Things are actually starting to get exciting!!

Stay tuned!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ennie meanie minnie moe...

So I'm trying to figure out which quote to use at the beginning of my book, and, I need some help in deciding which one should represent me. Thus, I'm asking you, faithful fans, to help me decide! Now, at this point, those of you who are smart out there should be saying something along the lines of: "Julie... you moron... why are you even worrying about that?!" Because honestly, theres a good chance that somwhere down the line, an agent, editor or publisher is going to think its crap and change it anyway. So why worry about it?

Answer: Because I can.

No seriously, it really is JUST because I can. I love messing around with all the little details--like font size, type, hypothetical book covers, etc.--because it makes me feel like I'm working on a REAL book, rather than just a REALLY long school project. Its a kind of guilty pleasure, I suppose.

My excuse being counted for, here are the two quotes (Keeping in mind that the title of the book is Keepers of the Flame):

Quote 1: "Though the Flame of Liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire." --Thomas Paine


Quote 2: "The flames kindled on the 4th of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume those engines and all who work them." --Thomas Jefferson

There is the large possibility that both quotes are "crap." In which case, please feel free to express the "crap" opinion if you would like. Or, if you have a DIFFERENT quote to offer, please feel free to express that quote as well (although, I'll warn you, I'm extremely indecisive... giving me another option might be a bad idea). I'm really just interested in hearing what other people have to say, so please (all five of you out there) tell me what you think!!

Also, on a side note, if you have no idea what all this "flame" and "liberty" stuff is about and how it has anything to do with my book, I do believe I posted a query letter a few posts back that will sort of give you an idea of what the book is about.

On ANOTHER side note, "synopquery" writing is going much better... its amazing what a good night sleep will do for your creative juices! I have the plot outlined the way I want it, and now I just have to go back and make it interesting. (I'll be honest, I'd probably even put myself to sleep reading it the way it is right now...)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Like running through water... not quite as bad as running through a brick wall. My mind is sluggish. Actually, I don't know if it is my mind that is sluggish, or its just really freakin' hard to write a synopquery (my new name for my delightful little synopsis/querry letter combo). I feel like I'm trying to run a marathon through waist deep water. Its not quite as bad as writter's block (akin to running through a brick wall, I should say--quite solid) because I think I'm making tiny minisculed amounts of progress at a time.... still, it's incredibly slow.

Uhg.... back to work. No more blogging. Its distracting me.