September 26, 2012

Lucky Blog

I am over at The Lucky 13s blog today talking about quitting and the key to publication. I'd love it if you stopped in to check it out.

AND if you haven't already, I'd love it if you'd stop over at Goodreads too and put THE SILO on your to read list.

AND if you haven't checked out my latest Fiction Femme Fatale short story, it's up RIGHT NOW.

I'm just sending you all over Blogger today, aren't I?

September 24, 2012

Five Things To Keep In Mind Once You're Querying...and Beyond

Just a quick post today listing five things that not everyone considers once they've finished their novel and start sending out queries. (I know I didn't) I'm not talking writing queries or picking agents or any of that really wonderful advice type stuff. I'm talking the underbelly of things, the stuff you don't always hear about or prepare for.

1. The genre of the novel that you're querying to agents and hoping to get out on submission will probably be the genre that you'll need to stick with for awhile. I know that this isn't the case for everyone, but for me, it was absolutely true. If you get an agent and your manuscript goes out on submission, the editor that considers it seriously or picks it up is looking to round out the publishing house's list. It's not the only thing that they consider, but it helps them make a stronger case for picking up your book to other in house editors and the marketing team if you fill a hole in their current list and look to be someone who'll continue filling it. For example, your editor may already have several parnormal authors signed on, but is lacking a contemporary one...or is in need of someone who does dystopians. Chances are good that if you want to pitch the editor that picked you up again for the next book deal, they'll be hoping that you'll pitch a book in the same vein as the one you've just written and therefore keeping that hole filled. SILO is what I like to call a contemporary with a twist which really means that I just sprinkled in dystopic themes/elements, but all in all it is one hundred percent something that could and does happen in this world right now. For the book that I'll be pitching after I've completed the sequel for SILO, I'll be pitching another contemporary, this time with hints of the paranormal, but still one hundred percent real and possible in this world. I have ideas that fall out of SILO's genre, but for now I'm pursuing the contemporary ones because they serve to build the audience I'll hopefully attract with SILO. As a new author it only makes sense for the publisher and for me to write in a similar vein for awhile before I veer too far off the path into something else. Or if you write quickly and are really good at multitasking, you can always consider writing those other ideas under a pen name so that you can write them along with the others and sell to an additional publisher.

2. You should have other ideas that have nothing to do with your current book that you could write synopses for if your agent or the editor asks you to (which they will do and will even sometimes ask you to complete them in a short period of time, say a day or a few hours-you're out on submission after all and you have to strike while the iron's hot). I wrote SILO as a stand alone always knowing that there could be a sequel. I just wasn't going to write that sequel unless the editor expressed interest. Which was the right way to go considering that out of the two editors that were the big front runners for picking up SILO, only one was interested in a sequel. Luckily, I had already been toying with two other ideas and had started writing one of them. I also had a sequel synopsis for SILO that I sent as well.

3. You may have an extremely short wait or an extremely long one while finding an agent and neither is always an indicator of how fast your submission process will be. I got my agent pretty quickly. She read SILO and offered me representation in less than twenty four hours. I'd queried her the month before, but it was the holidays and so I think my process was extremely fast. She asked me to do some very simple revising, like I only needed a few days to do it kind of revising, and then we were out on sub by the beginning of the next month. Which is really, really fast. But once it went out, I was rejected by one house almost immediately and then it sat in editors' slush for a month before anyone else had an opportunity to pick it up and read. BUT once one of them did and offered, everyone else read in a hurry and things sped up. I've had friends who signed on with an agent and then revised for almost a year before going on sub...but once they were on sub, got picked up in less than a week. I've had friends that went out on sub not long after getting an agent and were on sub for almost a year before they got picked up. And I've had friends that spent a year querying before signing with an agent and then once out on sub, got picked up almost immediately. I wish I could say that there was some formula to it, but so many factors go into how an editor prioritizes their slush, how an agent prioritizes theirs, and how all the right people for one book finally find each other. AND just because you're waiting periods are short, doesn't mean that your advance will be big. (although in my experience, most of the writers I know that had fast sub times also had larger advances, just not all)

4. You will feel emotional and needy and mildy hysterical on and off basically from now on. Querying is just the beginning of your rollercoaser ride. If you think you're tied to your email waiting for agents to respond, just wait until you're waiting to hear from editors. So take up some kind of intense physical exercise and prewarn all family members that many emotional break downs are in all of your futures: you'll have them and they'll have the unfortunate task of witnessing them. And if all goes well and you get an agent and an editor, your angst won't disappear, it'll intenisfy. Being picked up by an agent and/or a publishing house is win the lottery big. And it feels like that. Getting my agent call and the call with editor offers were the two times my life most closely resembled a movie, it was that dramatic. It is a high that I can't possibly describe except to say that it felt like my body was splitting apart and soaring in every direction. I have never, ever been so completely joyous save for the birth of my two daughters and the day I married my husband. It's a joy that you just want to experience over and over again, a realization of a long standing dream. Which is where the emotional needy thing comes in. It feels so good that you immediately become terrified that somehow it won't work out in the end, like somehow the editor/agent will change their minds. I think it's the pessimistic nature in all of us...the this has to be a dream because there's no way I get to have this for real kind of stuff. And so I know I have to fight the urge to get constant reassurrance from my agent or editor or both of them, especially when the writing of the next book isn't as smooth as I'd like, because otherwise I would literally be emailing or calling them EVERY SINGLE DAY.

5. Querying, being out on submission, and ultimately writing under deadlines will mess with your will whatever you write next. I had an extremely difficult time writing during every phase of this process. It was unbelivably tempting to just brood and hover over the email all day stuffing my face with chocolate. BUT weirdly, pushing myself to do it anyway always helped. You can't actually hover over the email all least not after about a week or so and when you do, it makes for incredibly slow days. Still, what I managed to write was nine times out of ten not very good. I did it anyway, though, and so should you because it's good practice, this persevering in the face of high anxiety for what comes later. At least for me the writing of the next book, the one under contract has been some of the most difficult writing that I have ever, ever done. I want to stay published so badly that it's almost paralyzing. Failing when no one's looking isn't nearly as embarrassing and frightening as the concept of failing when ALL THE PEOPLE YOU ADMIRE are. This is where the determination that it took to hang in there no matter what comes in handy. It's why having to wait months and years to get to this point is a good thing. It gives you time to develop some giant brass you know whats.

September 18, 2012

What My Writing Day Looks Like

I know that before I was able to write full time from home I was always fascinated by other writers who could and what their day might look like and I thought maybe you might be too. So, I figured that I might give you a glimpse of what my day looks like. Here goes:

6:30 ish-I aim to work out at this time....sometimes I make it...other times I hit the snooze. A LOT.

7:30-9:50-Get dressed, make kids' lunches, unload/load dishwasher, make my bed, check emails, make breakfast for the kids, fold a load of laundry, put a load away.

9:50-10:00-Twitter/internet time...when I'm writing I try to keep this to a quick look see until lunch time...but sometimes I fail and am still online a half hour later.

10:00-12:00-Writing time/banging my head on the computer/scribbling out words on my legal pad/angsting time. I try to keep this time sacred, BUT sometimes it's interrupted by sick kids or unforseen tasks like cleaning up cat puke.

12:00-12:30-Lunch/reading time. I dive into a book with my Lean Cuisine. I'm exciting aren't I?

12:30-2:30--type in/revise as I type what I wrote in the am (I draft initially on legal pads). If I'm lucky, I don't want to erase it all...if I'm not...I'm rewriting as I type, sometimes from scratch.Since I do this everyday you'd think that I would finish a novel extra quick...but no such luck. I am usually forced to throw out LARGE amounts of what I write before it gets good enough to keep.

2:30-3:30-Check internet, maybe blog if my brain's not fried. Run all errands like a crazy woman with ten tasks and only an hour to do them in.

3:30-pick up the kids from school so I can then: help with homework, make dinner, clean up dinner, give baths, blow dry hair (and with two girls this takes FOREVER), start dishwasher, check email, take the kids to their various extracurriculur type activities, read with kids, get everyone ready for bed. It's like a marathon of tasks until about 9pm

9ish: Hubby and I sit down to read/work a little more/watch an hour of television...between requests for water, heating pads, cool cloths for foreheads, etc.

I usually fall into bed about 11ish with a book and am out by midnight.

It's a pretty great schedule, I'll be the first to admit it. I'm a lucky, lucky girl. I still pinch myself just about daily. As you can see I'm still pretty first book isn't out yet and I haven't had any heavy revision sessions for it so far. I'm assuming that the above schedule will start to evolve into something a little more hectic and crazy once I get closer to my debut time and after I have multiple books to focus on at a time. I'll keep ya posted. 

September 14, 2012

Guest Blogging

I am over at The League of Extraordinary Writers today blogging about dystopians and how the present can help inspire them.

Also, my CP, Krystalyn, has a terrific flash ficiton piece up on our blog: The Fiction Femme Fatale. Check it out, it's beautiful and heartbreaking...and if you haven't ever wandered over there before, there are a lot of great short stories there written by myself, Krystalyn and my other two CPs, Stefanie and Jenn.

September 13, 2012

Once You Have The Book Deal: 5 Things I've Learned

As most of you know by now, I was lucky enough this past March to get picked up by Random House Children's for a two book deal. Well, I thought now might be a good time to summarize what I've learned to date about the process (at least how it's worked for me). I know that at least for me personally, I did a TON of research on how to get an agent and the submissions process, but I did little to none on what comes after. So, without further ado, I'd like to share what I've discovered with you. I've compiled 5 things that I didn't fully know or understand about this process before I was actually in it.

1. It can take months and months after your deal to get your contract signed. There's a lot to hammer out when a contract is put together and sometimes it sits on someone's desk while they're on vacation or working on other people's stuff or your agent has to negotiate some items on it. You will feel like that after the initial flurry of excitement surrounding the deal there's nothing but crickets talking to you and you might end up spending a lot of time rereading your Publisher's Marketplace announcement trying to convince yourself that it really happened. Bank on anywhere from one month to up to four or even five before you finally sign. I was on the long side of things, but well within the normal range at four months. This also means that any advance that you may be getting won't come until a week or two at least after the contract is signed. In other words, don't quit your day job just yet.

2. There will be long periods where you won't hear from anyone. Agents and editors are busy, busy people who can barely squeeze all that they have to do into any given day. Expect updates when they have them on your book and it's progress, but don't expect daily or weekly emails all the time. This is important to know because after you get a deal, you will go from ecstatic to scared crapless in the space of the first twenty four hours after your deal and will be looking for reassurrance and guidance and as much information as possible about your book at all times. But here's the thing: after the deal's made, chances are that your book won't be out for at least a year and a half, but probably longer. There's nothing going on with your book right after the deal because you still have a LONG way to go before anything needs to be done. Your editor will be working on your editorial notes, but that's about it and that can take her some time, think months here. Use this time to get your internet presence together (Twitter, a blog, Tumbler, a website) and to start working on your next project, especially if you have a two book deal. (this is what everyone's hoping you're doing which is sometimes why they don't bother you with updates until they need to). The only time you should be worried is if you send emails to your agent or editor and they consistently don't get back to you within a few days to a week.

3. Support groups made up of other debut authors and/or published author's is key. I joined The Lucky 13s AS SOON as my deal went through and am so glad that I did. Hearing about their experiences and realizing how similar they are to your own will save you many, many times from composing a paranoid, angst filled, and weepy email in a moment of weakness to your agent, or worse, your editor that makes you look less than professional and more than a little crazy pants. You will be insecure about 99.9999% of the time during this process. Embrace it and make friends who are in the same boat. It will save your life and your career, I promise.Publishing is a SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW process most of the time and you will have long periods where you are isolated in your little writerly hole waiting on news or fretting over edit letters or fretting over cover concepts or release dates or marketing. Other writers can help you figure out how to deal when you're just too close to the situation to see the forest from the trees.

4.Give yourself EXTRA time to write your second book. Here's why: there will be days when the highs or lows you're experiencing with the book that sold will keep you from being productive. You are going to be published now and so the expectations you have for yourself and the expectations that others have for you will mess with your head. It can be a real struggle to get anything good on paper and you may have to do more writing than you've had to do before just to get a novel you're statisfied with and want to show to your agent/editor. Add to that balancing the revision work that you still have to do for the soon to be pubbed book and the learning curve you're facing with marketing that book and a book that might've only taken you six months can take twice that now.

5. There will be authors with very different experiences from your own and that's okay. I know people who have editors that send them other author's books and little gifts whenever they send them something in the mail and others who barely hear from their editors except in the most business-like ways. I have friends who've toured their publishing house's offices and others who have yet to and their books are about to come out. I have friends who've had an accelerated schedule from the deal to the release date and others whose debut experience stretched out well over two years. Some people's books get a lot of marketing, some don't. Some people have IBN numbers and are on Goodreads the day after their deal and others wait months and months for these things. You will have days where you are getting all the love and people are green with envy over it and days when you'll be the one green with envy.

There's more. I mean there's lots more, but this is the big stuff. So, what about you? Learn anything important that you'd like to share? Jot it down in the comments, I'd love to read it!

September 7, 2012

Just a Quick Hello

Okay, I've got nothin'. No really. SO for today I'm just going to be all chatsy and tell you what's happening in my neck of the woods.

1. I bought a new sofa which is HUGE for me considering the fact that the current sofa has been in our house (or several of them, actually) for the past twelve years. It was time. That baby had seen A LOT of life. BUT I'll miss the loose cushions on the back that we used to throw across the floor like lily pads across a pond for the kids to jump on. New sofa has no loose cushions, so we'll have to make our lily pads a new way. But I'm okay with it. Especially after we moved the old one, turned it on it's side and it sounded like a rain stick because it was so full of random junk that slipped into the interior of the sofa itself. Am now enjoying my shiny new sofa that's quiet and junk free. Can't even tell you how excited I am about this. The kids--not so much. They wanted the loungy media room black leather lazy boy type grouping with the cup holders built in and I went over their heads and picked one that was comfy, but cute. The absolute coolest thing about this sofa? We bought it with money that I earned from my book. *puffs out chest*

2. I started reading Tessa Gratton's new book, THE BLOOD KEEPER, and OMG, it is AMAZING so far. The writing, the story. She had me by the end of page one and now I'm resenting all tasks/happenings that keep me from reading it. I liked the first book in the series, but this one is I'll review it more thoroughly when I'm done, but I can say without having finished, that if you haven't gone out to get this book yet, you should. Seriously. GO NOW!

3. A baby snake got into our house. Hubby convinced my two VERY snake-phobic daughters that it was an extra large earthworm. It most definitely wasn't. Now I'm wondering if there are more where that one came from....

4. We're starting to gather Halloween type stuff for next month. My family takes this holiday pretty seriously and decorates to the hilt. We made an entire haunted room last year and an alien invasion scene in the front yard complete with fog and an extra large UFO (I'll post a pic as soon as I can dig it up). The theme this year? ZOMBIES.

5. I went from a blonde to a redhead--a sort of auburn/brownish red red head. Still not used to myself in the mirror, but the change is fun.

And that's about it. How 'bout you, anything good happening? Let me know.  Have a great weekend!