Friday, December 28, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Finishing Touches

At what point is a revised manuscript ready to be sent out? For me it's the point shortly after three and a half months of sleepless nights spent hunched over a keyboard. The same three and a half months I've also spent working a full-time job with terrible hours, and suffering through the stress joys which go along with going back to school. In those three and a half months I've completely reworked Zhukov.

Secret-sharing time folks. When I first agreed to do a revision, I was terrified. My mind went absolutely nuts. The request came on the tail end of other responses to material I'd sent out around the same time. While quite a few were positive, most of the responses I'd gotten up until that moment were rejections. As a writer, I am prepared for and ready to accept rejection. As a twenty-two-year-old female, that acception comes with it's own pint of Ben & Jerry's Americone Dream.

I read the email at least half a dozen times start to finish before I believed it. I'd heard of revisions, but what did they entail? I scoured the internets for answers and reached out to all of the wonderful people I'd met at writing conferences. What I found, was one giddy congratulation after another with little accompanying words of wisdom and reassurance which felt more like a pat on the head than anything helpful.

Please, don't get me wrong! Of course I was thrilled! Who wouldn't squeal and bounce around the living room after finding a request for a revision and resubmit in their inbox? Heck, I do that for partials! ((Maybe, if you ask nicely, I'll share my 'omg what do you mean you want the full manuscript' song and dance)). When you stop bouncing, though, it all falls into prospective. Someone believes in you and your work enough to give you another chance. Sometimes, as in my situation, they are even go so far as to specifically tell you what worked, what didn't, and what they want to see happen instead.

You're probably thinking "Psh, that sounds awesome! Why were you terrified?"

Because, grasshopper, with twenty plus pages of editorial notes in your hands and an 82,000-word manuscript on your desktop THE PRESSURE IS ON. Something you've poured your soul into must be picked apart, reexamined, and put back together in a way which both you and the person you're working with can agree on.

You've been given a second chance. In a world of *insert generic rejection*'s, you've been given a second chance. Keep calm. Take your time. Don't blow it.

Three and a half months might seem like a long time to spend on a revision, but it was the time I needed. At first I thought I could turn it around in a month. I probably could have, but it wouldn't have been everything that the editor who requested the revision and I believed it could be. My manuscript is a thousand times stronger than it was before and I am finally ready to send it back with my head held high and the confidence that the odds of me throwing up from nervousness as my cursor lingers over the 'send' button are only one in five.

As a writer, I tell myself to be patient. As a twenty-two-year-old female, I tell myself that checking my inbox every five minutes is totally not excessive.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Three Months & Some Change

It's done. It's finally done. Complete. Finished. BAM. Okay, now for bed. I have a final in nine hours and I'm not sure if it's in Calculus or 19th Century Lit....O I'm screwed....BUT MY REVISIONS ARE ALL DONE! NOTHING CAN BRING ME DOWN! (lol, insert a bad joke about my mood staying up and my gpa going down. follow with obligatory lols or facepalms)

And if anyone is curious, because I find this really grin-worthy, Zhukov in it's original version was 82K words. It's revision? 97K words. Kneel before my numbers! Or just hand me the ZzzQuil!

Expect a more comprehensive/less-silly posting tomorrow.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Whitman Whiplash (or some other witty 19th century literature pun)

This whole "going back to school" thing is killing me. Terrible hours at work. Early classes. Wrapping up final edits. Chaos...

And you know, I really should go over the 12-page essay I just wrote. Even at a tired glance I can see that I misspelled Dickinson repeatedly (variations include 'Dikenson' and 'Ickinson')... Think I'll just post a facebook update about it and go to bed instead.

Rant Complete. Powering Down.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Halfway There

Page 146 out of 269. Jesus Christ this is a long process and I feel like a literary masochist for loving it so much. I just finished taking a week off of work to focus on the revisions for ZHUKOV. In that time I finally managed to train my body not to totally reject coffee! Achievement unlocked! I also bought a papasan for my deck and it has more or less become ground zero for writing-mode. It's also excellent for napping.

Mommy's Fluffy Support Team

I got another full manuscript request today too. This one came from Vickie Motter, another agent I pitched to at the PNWA conference. I am all sorts of excited about her being interested in my story since she's definitely one of my ideal agents. She's huge on darker YA, steampunk and dystopian, which puts ZHUKOV right up her alley. And her blog, Navigating the Slush Pile, is full of great material for writers of all levels.

Still no word back on the fulls I've sent out to anyone other than Entangled. It's a good thing I love fishing, because boy does this waiting game wear on you.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Three Chapters Down, Twenty-Four (?) To Go

I wish I had words of wisdom. Instead all I have is a 16oz. Red Bull and 22 pages of editorial notes. It. Is. Awesome. Entangled sent me the most detailed, helpful, and encouraging set of notes a writer could ever hope for. There were a lot of big suggestions made which will require a lot of work. I'm hoping to plow through a chapter a night and get a revised manuscript back to the great and awesome Tahra Seplowin in about a month.

Some chapters are being more or less COMPLETELY rewritten. Let me say this right now: nothing is harder than getting back into the swing of a book once you've already written, edited and revised it. I love my novel, I do, but it took almost three days to really get the feel of the characters and voice back like I used to know them. For so long all I did really was eat, breathe, and dream ZHUKOV! Getting that inner drive/obsession back took some work. Rereading the story start to finish, sifting through old idea journals I kept, and even a couple of character sketches helped get it all back home in my heart.

So now I'm powering through! I've done a major scene totally different after toying with one of the ideas Tahra offered up and I absolutely love the direction it ended up going in. I also am thrilled that she specifically asked for more scenes with Nik and Dr. Halliburton. Who loves twisted mind games and psychoanalysis? This girl, right here.

And now for something completely different:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

If Your Fingers Are Crossed, Just How Are You Supposed To Type?

So things have been looking up. Cold queries I emailed out MONTHS ago finally started coming back with overwhelming responses. Two partials were upped to fulls and on top of those, one of my I sent out three months ago caught the eye of Entangled Publishing enough for them to request a rewrite and resubmit. I should be getting editorial notes back from Entangled by Saturday and I can't wait to get started.

Those are just cold query responses. I'm not sure what the proper term is for queries which you send out to agents you've never met, but my days of helping out in political campaigns have tricked me into wanting to call them cold queries. Someone smack my wrist if that's wrong.

Requested material I sent out to agents I met at the PNWA conference has slowly been coming back, too. It is all a waiting game. A very, very exhausting waiting game. I'm shamelessly excited about the five fulls I have floating around right now while remaining quietly giddy over the x or so number of partials. Fingers crossed...or maybe I should uncross them and type more.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


"Bow, mortals, to your almighty overlord." - what I would scream if it wasn't 1AM. Why? Oh, I don't know. Maybe because I:
  1. Rewrote my query.
  2. Sent out requested material.
  3. Found a new song I'm in love with. ((The entire album is amazing, but this song in particular makes me want to throw on my combat boots and go save the world...or send out requested material))

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Aftermath

This past weekend was the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Summer Conference. I attended last year with high hopes of getting My Bad Luck, the story I was working on at the time, picked up by an agent. Even though I snagged almost a dozen requests for material I knew my work wasn't ready. I thought it was until I attended the workshops and presentations at the conference. My work was good. It was not quite great. Despite that I sent out the requested material, waited, and took the rejections as they came back to me.

This year was different. I took everything I'd learned last year, everything workshops and critique groups had offered, and all the notes the editor I'd hired gave. I took it all and marched in there ready to conquer.

Since I registered early - something I recommend everyone do - I was given not one, but two power pitch blocks. The power pitch setup was new to me and a bit intimidating when explained. Basically they had a bunch of agents at one table and you waited in line to talk to them. Each pitch was three minutes and each block was ninety minutes. In the first block I pitched to six agents and two editors. In the second block I pitched to five agents and one editor. All in all I loved the power pitch blocks. There were a couple of hitches with them, mostly just inconsiderate people who didn't want to budge when their time was up and the agent or two who had eleven people waiting in line for them.

Now, the events leading up to the first pitch block were a bit dicey. I had a pitch prepared. One I felt pretty darn good about...and then I began to over analyze. I heard feedback from other writers like 'it's a bit wordy' or 'can you clarify this part better'? Constructive criticism is my best friend. I rewrote. I repitched. Same response. I tried again. It got worse. Towards the end of the first day I'd been through seven drafts and finally called on my friends, bribing them with alcohol after diner to get them to help me write my pitch. Maybe it was the Merlot, but I went to bed that night feeling awesome. The next morning was bad again.

My friends (old and new) told me it was all in my head. I was too wrapped up in it. I disappeared for hours, wallowing in self-loathing and wondering why I'd wasted so much money on a conference I didn't have a pitch prepared for. I loved the story I'd written. I loved it more than anything I'd ever written and I knew there was a place for it in the market. I just needed to convince agents of that without throwing up all over them in the process.

Finally I threw my hands up. I resolved to just go in there and wing it. I knew my book. I knew which points I wanted to hit, and if need be I had a dozen different pitches memorized if I choked. My power pitch block rolled around and I walked in there, fully prepared to kick butt.

And I kicked butt. On my desk right now I have fourteen requests for material, three of which are requests for the full manuscript. So if you're choking when you're preparing a pitch, get out of your head. I am a very confident person and I was somehow reduced to a depressed heap of flesh sitting in the corner contemplating slitting my wrists with my note cards. Deep breath. Relax. That's what everyone around me was telling me to do but I didn't listen until I was on the verge of going home. I loved my book too much to give up on it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Forty Dollars In Postage Later

It's there! A hard copy of my manuscript arrived at Sangeeta's door early this afternoon! And now I wait...

On an unrelated note, Seattle's having a heat wave! I can remember back when 70 degrees was light sweater weather. Nowadays that's prime sundress weather. I guess I've acclimated to the west coast finally!

View from the top of Seattle's ferris wheel.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

That Awkward Moment...

So I hired an editor. I even thought I was hot stuff when I sent out the check today. Then I told her how she'd have the payment by Tuesday and she replied with 'great! hope you put a hard copy of the ms in there too!' I stared at those cheery words for a long time. Any and all desire to eat the slice of cake I'd been looking forward to celebrating with disappeared. I was left with a horrible pit where cake-hunger had been.

Guess who made the mistake of reading an important email at 5AM. I have a horrible sleep cycle. It's very unhealthy but I've always thought I manage just fine on a handful of hours of sleep every night/morning. Until now. My tired eyes glossed right over the words 'include full hard copy of mss.' That's right. Me.

So finally, after almost half an hour of staring out the window in self-loathing, I managed to reply. I apologized like I'd personally vandalized her home, shaved her dog, and offended her mother all at the same time before hurling all over her best shoes. So embarrassed. So unprofessional. So much for getting things off on a good foot.

As if that wasn't bad enough, tomorrow's Sunday. No mail. I will be camping out in front of the post office until Monday morning, clinging to my manuscript and sobbing salty tears of a shameful writer. That is, of course, if I don't cave and buy a plane ticket to New York City so I can deliver it to her door myself tomorrow.

In my defense: I am exhausted. This last week has been awful. I've been hosting guests from out of town, working extra shifts, and nursing a fever. No excuses though. It was a very, very unprofessional for someone who wants to be a writer and I will return to my corner now to wallow in my shame.

Friday, July 6, 2012

2AM Rambles

The view.

Killing some time. Fighting off levels of exhaustion bordering on delusion. Pardon my French/grammar boo-boos/rambling mon amie.

Well yesterday was the 4th of July. Had a spectacular view of the big show over Lake Union. For what I'm paying in rent I deserved a good seat! On the topic of seats though, some jerk broke my couch. By some jerk I mean a friend who's just an idiot I let drink too much. Poor couch. Thank goodness I wasn't quite sober enough to get as mad as I should have been. Loved that couch though. Polar bears weren't too happy with the fireworks. It was sad watching them bounce and do laps all night. For the record, you can totally give Benedryl to dogs. It's 1 milligram per pound, so an 80 pound dog gets 80 milligrams...assuming that after you force it down his throat in a ball of cream cheese he doesn't throw it back up. Too panicked to even keep a hot dog down, poor pups.

And, I'm going to just throw this out there, I thought Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter was an amazing film. It's one of those ones I'm actually going to buy when it comes out on DVD. Magic Mike, however, can be one of those things I'll say I saw but never ever allow myself to spend another dime on.

Oh! And I saw a guy juggling a chainsaw today. Just going to leave on that note.

Au Revoir.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dog Toys Dilemma

So this is just a ramble of some strangely poetic comparison I made between me and my younger polar bear. He's actually a Samoyed, but at 80lbs full grown I call them my polar bears. Truthfully I think they think they're Pomeranians. It makes for fun trips to the dog park.

Mama's bears. Yuki (bottom) and Kai (on his head).

Back on topic though! My younger bear, Kai, has a bad habit of picking one toy out of the hundred or so sitting in the corner and loving it to death. These are the big durable ones for tough dogs too mind you. He's just kind of a cute beast. As I was throwing out pieces of Mr. Crab this morning I saw him searching through his toy box for his next victim. I don't think he means to kill them, he just loves them too much and they can't handle all his love/teeth.

Maybe it was the glass of wine I'd had with breakfast (poor life decision right there) but I was suddenly having this weird idea that, like Kai, I was loving my work too much. With seventeen days until the PNWA summer conference, every spare moment I have has been spent at a computer combing through my manuscript. Chopping. Rewriting. Reading things I wrote the night before and hating them. I was killing it. It took a puppy polar bear and a glass of Coco Rosso to make me see that.

I love Zhukov. It's my seventh complete novel and my favorite so far. I was going through my older work and of course there are bits which just make me smile, but never have I felt so confident and fully committed to a story as I have with this one.

So I took the rest of the day off. I called out sick from work, got out with a friend I haven't seen in a while, played with the polar bears and cuddled with my boyfriend. At the end of the day I sat down at my desk and opened Zhukov back up. It was like I had a new set of eyes and a full tank of energy to face it. That said, I'm going to try to take a step back for at least a little while every day. I know it's crunch time but I feel like if I don't take a breath every now and then I'm going to just rip my story apart like poor Mr. Crab.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chasing The Sun

That's what it feels like some days. And now there's this new song by The Wanted which just makes me want to run a few hundred miles or do something of equal intensity. Like edit 81k words. Not quite as much of an adrenaline rush to be had there, though it is almost as exhausting.

With less than a month to the summer conference it's crunch time. This is my fourth round of going through the manuscript with a fine tooth comb and I'm trying new editing techniques this time around. I'm even managing to get some work done while I'm at work thanks to my handy-dandy Kindle. I've found looking at something other than a computer monitor, even if it is just another screen (tablet, Kindle, etc.) I notice all sorts of things I wouldn't if I was just sitting at my desk. Give it a try! Even your phone has programs you can export documents to!

Now here's something I've been seriously considering. Even though I feel completely confident in my work I'm still worried there might be things I'm missing. Having a writers group has helped tons but since none of us are published yet I wonder if I shouldn't seek professional help. Hiring an editor has been an option in the back of my mind for a while now and after a talk with Jason Black, check out his blog:, I think I'm going to do it. Hiring an editor is expensive. I'm looking at right around a grand with the word count I have and that's only for a developmental edit. More on the different kinds of edits later.

My point with this post is that when it's crunch time, when you've almost reached the sun, explore your editing options. There's only so much you can pick up on at your computer. Get out. Go to a park with your e-reader. If that's too adventurous just grab a pen, print off some pages, and sprawl out on your sofa. I guarantee it will read totally different. Find a writers group. If that's too much to ask, there are plenty of online peer-editing groups which are totally free and offer concrete feedback. And if you're like me and just plain exhausted after exploring other options extensively, consider hiring a professional editor.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

That Time Again

Just over a month until the PNWA Summer Conference. July 19th will mark the one year anniversary of when I ventured out into the publishing battlefield with shaky hands and five-inch Steve Madden pumps (poor life decision right there). It feels like just yesterday when people, who are now dear friends of mine, were shoving me out of line in the direction of Vickie Motter. Let me tell you, no amount of public debate, theater, or confidence will make that first pitch any easier. You'll still feel like you're going to throw up all over the poor agent as you stumble through your pitch. After that first pitch though it's smooth sailing. You walk away feeling like a boss with a swagger in your step and a request for fifty pages. I think last year I must have pitched to almost twenty different agents and editors. So here are some notes to bear in mind if you're going to attend a conference based off my experience.
  • Research! Like a fool I found myself pitching to anyone with an agent name tag, some of which didn't even represent my genre. It was very embarrassing to say the least but more importantly it was rude. Agents and editors are very busy during these things and I felt like I was wasting their time pitching to them.
  • Make friends! Odds are everyone there is a little tense. We're presenting our babies and it's nerve wracking! Find people, even if they aren't in the same genre as you, and network. There is always something you can learn from them. I ended up finding all sorts of great people who now makeup my writers group.
  • Comfortable shoes! Learn from my mistakes. You can still look fabulous in flats, and your feet will thank you.
  • Seminars. Are. Awesome. These things aren't just about pitching. There are TONS of classes being held every hour and if I wasn't busy in a pitch session I was all over them. The best part is there are classes for everyone and every genre of writing, so be sure to look through the schedule ahead of time to plan out your days.
  • Be prepared! I can't tell you how many people I met last year who were pitching unfinished work. These conferences are very expensive and I don't know why you'd bring something to pitch which isn't even done. Hello? You have to go back and edit it all too! Take your time. Get together something you're proud of and ready to show the world.
  • Lastly! Take notes! Self explanatory. Especially if someone is requesting material from you! Note how they want it sent and how much of it they want. Last year, a week after the conference, I was getting texts from people I'd met, asking "Do you know what Mr. Agent's submission guidelines were?"
And above all, breathe. It's scary. Believe me. I think of myself as a very confident person, to a fault at times, but the first day of the conference nearly gave me a heart attack. Keep calm. Pitch. Have fun.