Progress


No, not IT it. But I just found out I’ve been taking the wrong approach to query writing.

A friend and I recently exchanged query letters. Keep in mind that I’ve written my share of queries β€” and have read more than my fair share of advice on how to write a great one.

But the one she read was my first stab at a query for this particular manuscript β€” and apparently it’s no good.

What I have is more one-page synopsis than a query. Hmm … or should I say “harumph”?

My friend’s advice is to follow this formula for the summary graph:

First sentence about the heroine/hero. Second sentence about hero/heroine. Third sentence covers the conflict in their relationship. Fourth sentence either asks a question or teases the reader in some way.

I can buy into that advice β€” except for the very last part. All the things I’ve read say to answer any questions you ask.Β You shouldn’t leave the agent/editor hanging … or so I thought.

What say you, loyal commenters? Ask and answer or just ask?

P.S. On the bright side, I guess I have an even shorter synopsis I can send out. Why couldn’t I have realized that before submitting to the Golden Heart? I could have squeezed another page of excellent writing into my entry. πŸ˜‰

I can’t say this weekend has been perfect, but it’s close. Even though I was busy with the day job, I had a chance to get inspired again.

Last week was an “off week” for writing. I just wasn’t feeling it β€” not writing new words or editing already written ones … not any of it. I think I earned all of one point in the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Winter Writing Festival. I used the excuse of “decluttering” my bedroom to avoid feeling guilty for this lapse.

But this weekend, my drive was renewed. Thank goodness for that! I only have one uncluttered surface in my bedroom β€” dresser No. 2.

The creative juices started seeping back on Saturday, while I perused the latest issue of RWR as I stood in a slow-moving line at Chipotle (the first time I’ve seen the line move that slowly there). Then I attended a book-signing for one of my NARWA sisters. Glynna Kaye‘s new Love Inspired release, “Second Chance Courtship,” is new this month, and she had a signing in Flagstaff.

Home from work on Saturday night, I opened my WIP file for the first time in about a week. I read back through a few pages … but still found myself stuck. Those juices weren’t quite flowing yet.

Lucky for me, I still had plenty of other things to do when I met with our chapter president, Anne Marie Becker, Sunday morning for a write-in at Starbucks. We chatted a little, about NARWA business and “Only Fear,” the book she has coming out in September through Carina Press. Then we settled down to work β€” her on suggested edits from her editor, me on self-editing my NaNo story, “My Fair Fiancee.”

Juices running at full force by then, I also read through another of the GH entries I was sent to judge (just one more to go!)Β and reviewed my query letter for “Beauty and the Ballplayer,” the contest finalist.

Now, after I finish this blog post, I’ll transfer some of my Kenny & Kristi edits to the Word file. I was editing the old-fashioned way today … on the printed page.

Seems I catch more that way β€” especially when I go through each page with a highlighter to find all those pesky, unnecessary adverbs. Some pages had an embarrassing amount. I blame the NaNo mentality (more words, more, more, more!)

Of course, without that NaNo drive, I wouldn’t have another completed MS, now would I?

Jan. 10 will be here before I know it. That means it’s time to craft my goals for the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Winter Writing Festival.

But before I do that, I feel a need to create some writing resolutions for 2011.

2010 was a very successful year for me. I wrote more than 180,000 words, entered the Golden Heart in not one but two categories, successfully completed the NaNoWriMo with a 53,000-word story and scored my first-ever contest final.

In 2011, I want to build on that success and keep the momentum going. After all, I’m now less than a year away from the big 4-0 (the arbitrary date I set for myself to get published).

But how? That’s a very good question. I wish I knew the answer β€” but I don’t. All I can do is try to set some goals for myself.

β€” Keep writing. I wrote 180K+ in year because I sat down to write most days. I can’t say every day, mind you. However, I did write more often than not. I treated writing like a day job … a part-time one, at least. I took myself to Starbucks (where, until July, I did not have access to the Internet. Am I the only one who thinks free WiFi at the Bux is a bad idea?)

β€” Continue my search for the right agent. At our last NARWA meeting, I stated the intention to send out at least two queries a week. Hopefully my agent search will become easier in April, after I final in the Golden Heart. (A girl’s nothing without her dreams, right?)Β Speaking of GH dreams, I already requested the week of Nationals as a vacation week so I can go when I final. πŸ˜‰

β€” Finish the first draft on Beth & Cody’s story.

β€” Edit Kenny & Kristi, my NaNo novel. I started reading through it again last week and still thought it was excellent … meaning, of course, I haven’t been away from it long enough to see its flaws yet.

β€” Take at least two online classes/workshops this year, so I can can continue to hone the craft.

β€” Read more. Writers read. Conventional wisdom says you should read as many books in your genre as you can get your hands on. Now that I’m concentrating so much energy on writing, I don’t read nearly as much as I used to. BW (before writing), I could devour two to three books a week. Now, I’m lucky to finish two a month.

Hopefully, that will change soon. The Boyfriend is getting me an e-reader for Christmas. I’m hoping access to cheaper books will encourage me to read more. (Then again, I have shelves full of still-unread books, and that hasn’t been an encouragement. It just adds to the clutter in my room.)

β€” Build up this blog. My weight-loss blog is moderately successful, even if my weight-loss efforts have faltered. It’s doing so well that I pulled in more than 1,000 hits for two of the last 12 months. Love & Laughter, on the other hand, gets between 100 and 150.

One big difference is posting frequency. Here, I’ve been lucky to post once a week. There, I sometimes put up multiple entries in a single day.

Any other suggestions for me? What about you? What are YOUR 2011 writing goals?

 

I doubt this will be my last post of the year (I certainly hope not!), but I thought it was as good a time as any to look back at what I’ve done this year.

That’s right: I was catching up on my Word Count Countdown spreadsheet and realized just how much I’ve gotten accomplished since Jan. 17.

  • 185,287 words written
  • Wrote one complete series-length manuscript (during NaNoWriMo), finished up one that started the year 1/3 finished, expanded and edited two others; and wrote about 1/3 of my second single title
  • Sent out countless query letters and got a few nibbles; haven’t landed an agent yet, though.
  • Finaled in the FCRW Beacon contest (waiting to hear on the final results).
  • Prepped two Golden Heart entries (one in single title contemporary, one in series contemporary)
  • Started β€” and finished β€” NaNoWriMo
  • Volunteered to judge the GH (am waiting for a judging packet now)

I feel like I’m finally on my way. And I owe it all to the encouragement of my NARWA sisters, the gals at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood and, of course, Jennifer Ashley, the speaker who somehow lit a fire under my butt at the January NARWA meeting.

Thanks, guys. May we meet on bookstore shelves!

An e-mail arrived in my inbox today with the subject line: “Your Submission: …”

Since I was at work at the time, I had an argument with myself.

“You can’t open that! You’re supposed to be working,” the me with the Midwestern work ethic said. (It’s the same me that never calls in sick because I don’t want to leave my coworkers in the lurch. I have something like 140 sick hours built up because never feel like I can take it.)

“Open it. It won’t take long β€” and it might be good news.”

“No, really. Good news or not, you can wait until you get home,” the angel me insisted.

My impatient side snorted. “Yeah, right.”

No need to guess which side won. I clicked on that e-mail faster than a hungry dog scarfs down its dinner. I’m not even sure I took time to carry on that conversation in my head before I opened it. (I should have!)

Unfortunately, the news was not good. Another rejection β€” the second on the partial MS for “Blind Date Bride” … well, the third. Two agents and one publisher have taken a pass.

I still have hope, though. At least it was an encouraging rejection, complete with a “hang in there and stick with it.”

The agent’s complaint? Worry that the voice isn’t unique enough to stand out in the market.

Now that’s a little worrisome, because I don’t have any other voice to write in. And confusing, because in the Beacon Contest judges’ comments, they loved my voice.

Then again, the judges’ comments are on “Beauty and the Ballplayer,” not “Blind Date Bride.” Maybe BDB still isn’t ready for prime time.

And maybe I just need to continue my agent search. Somewhere, out there, is the agent who will fall as in love with my story as I am. I just need to find her (or him).

Lucky for me, my friends at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood wrote a blog post about just that topic today: the agent hunt.

It’s funny how wildly my mood has swung. I was euphoric about my contest final two weeks ago, especially after reading the judges’ feedback. I had a feeling it was the start of something big. I imagined myself on the verge of signing with an agent, selling a novel or both.

Now, I’m down in the dumps, questioning my story … my voice … even my writing talent. Yes, even a “good” rejection stings. (I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that.) πŸ˜‰

I know rejection is a β€” huge β€” part of writing. We all get them. Even the bestselling authors got them at one time.

Even so, I can say it definitively: I don’t like the downslope of the writer’s roller coaster.

It’s time to make something good happen so I can crest another hill. πŸ˜‰

 

Uh-oh. I think I’m suffering from a case of the “post-novel depression” my friend Mallory writes about.

That’s right. I went to my local Starbucks this morning when the Boyfriend headed off to tennis. I was all psyched to get back to writing. After taking a week off post-NaNo, I needed to write again.

Or so I thought.

I sat at the Bux for about two hours and managed to write … all of 200 words.

Aargh.

I could blame it on the fact that I stopped work on Beth & Cody’s story in the middle of a scene. I had a hard time picking it back up, having absolutely no idea where I’d originally intended it to go. (And I’m not sure I much like the new direction.)

Oh well. That’s 200 words I didn’t have this morning … and tomorrow is another day. Maybe I’ll eke out another 200 words (especially if I finish this scene and move on).

Remember the trouble I was having getting Kenny and Kristi to do the deed?

Well, I finally managed to get them into bed β€” yes, I was writing @ Starbucks at the time β€” and now I can’t seem to write them OUT.

A NaNoWriMo write-in begins in less than 20 minutes at Barnes & Noble, so I’ll do it … but it might not be pretty.

I added only a couple hundred words to my total on Friday. (Took the day off to run errands and do my usual payday shopping. Hit the new Super Walmart after work last night … at 1 a.m. it was super silent and empty. I got to browse to my heart’s content!)

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