Ready to Query: Finding Mulligan

Okay, enough editing.  Thank you to the following people who helped me in the test audience:

These people read the whole thing and gave comments: Mommy, Fred, Ronni, Mike Lee, Reeny, Jessie, Laura, Victor, Cara, Meggie, Alicorn, Amanda, Rob, Patricia, Jeaux, Daddy, Stacy, Kim, Jeremy, Kalinda, Corinne, and Jay.  These people read part of it and gave comments: Jack, Deborah, Mikey, and Jessika.

My basic query letter (with personalized agent stuff at the beginning, and modified if needed):

Nobody understands the meaning of “a double life” better than Cassandra Howard.  A smart, sarcastic student by day, she becomes a different person at night; Dia, her charismatic second self, is the darling of a fantastical dreamland where she can do anything.  And while Cassie and Dia share their memories, they prefer to keep their lives separate.  That changes when they fall in love.

Mulligan, dreamland’s delicious drummer boy, sets his eyes on Dia.  But Cassie is pretty sick of her other self getting everything good about their life, and she talks Dia into helping her find the waking-world version of her boyfriend.  A mysterious portrait of Mulligan leads Cassie to two candidates: is it Terrell, the model who posed for the painting?  Or is it Jamie, the artist who painted it?  Maddening maybes play tug-of-war in her mind until she finds herself attracted to both guys, and she fears betraying her dream love if she picks the wrong one.

To test her contenders, Cassie begins to impersonate Dia in the waking world, but gets the shock of her life when her counterpart’s magical charisma and talent actually work in her favor.  When lines of identity start blurring beyond their comfort, they’ll have to uncover the nature of dreamland and deal with the repercussions of this love triangle.  (Or . . . love pentagon.  Whatever.)  And one thing’s for sure: dreams of happily ever after do sometimes turn out to be nightmares.

Completed New Novel: Finding Mulligan

Finished writing Finding Mulligan!


Genre: Young Adult (Crossover?)/Modern Fantasy/Romance/???

Length: 26 Chapters/420 pages/~120,000 words.

Tag line: “What if you fell in love with someone who might not exist?”

Keywords: YA: Fantastical, young adult, romance, dreams, psychological, alternate-world, college, interracial romance, magical realism, young-adult crossover, chronic illness (in a family member).

Protagonist: Cassandra Howard.

POV: First person, past tense.

About:

Cassandra Howard lives a double life—literally. She spends her days worrying about school, hanging out with her best friend, and sulking in the shadow of her chronically ill (and pampered) younger sister. But at night, she’s busy with her charmed life in an alternate universe. In dreamland, Cassie becomes a charismatic, carefree girl named Dia, and she prefers to keep her two lives separate. That changes when she falls in love.

Dia kicks off a fairy-tale romance with Mulligan, dreamland’s delicious drummer boy. But Cassie is pretty sick of her other self getting everything good about their shared life, and she talks Dia into helping her find the waking-world version of her boyfriend. All the clues point to Mulligan existing in both worlds, just like Cassie does.

A mysterious portrait of Mulligan leads Cassie to two candidates: is it Terrell, the model who posed for the painting? Or is it Jamie, the artist who painted it? Maddening maybes play tug-of-war in her mind until she finds herself attracted to both guys, and she fears betraying her dream love if she picks the wrong one.

To test her contenders, Cassie dresses up like Dia and tries to act like her, but gets the shock of her life when some of Dia’s practically magical charisma and talent transfers to her. When lines of identity start blurring beyond their comfort, they’ll have to uncover the nature of dreamland and deal with the repercussions of this love triangle. (Or . . . love pentagon. Whatever.) And one thing’s for sure: dreams of “happily ever after” do sometimes turn out to be nightmares.

Next up: Lots of editing!

Gather Contest: Bad Fairy

I entered a contest at Gather.com back on February 13.  It was called “First Chapters” and novelists with a completed manuscript were allowed to enter and possibly win a publishing contract.  I figured I had nothing to lose, but the experience was pretty terrible.  Because whoever came up with the rules for the contest must have been smoking something toxic.

Contestants were allowed to vote on each other’s entries.

The “points” everyone was getting were visible to everyone, with the site adjusting the top entries to always be at the beginning.  (This was not only unfair, but it encouraged people to vote down whoever was in the lead.)

The reviews were visible for every entry.  This was especially bad because Gather was bribing people to offer reviews by saying star reviewers would be chosen to receive $500 in store credit to Borders, and you were supposed to be able to win by being “insightful,” so having the previous reviews visible to readers obviously influences the opinion AND gives reviewers tips on what to say for their own review.

Can I just say again that contestants were allowed to vote on each other’s entries?  And that the rules specifically said they were allowed to do so as long as they did it “in the spirit of the competition”?

A vote-decided competition absolutely cannot have its participants voting on each other.  I was appalled.  Especially since every single entry in the contest had a 3 or 4 out of 10 by the time the voting closed because of all the really determined serial downvoters.

And yet, without addressing these issues whatsoever, Gather announced their 20 winners—one of whom was a guy whose profile page said he was a paid contributor for Gather—and opened the next round with all the same rules.  (I wasn’t picked, but that doesn’t surprise me.  My entry was regularly on the front page of highest-rated entries, and then it would get attacked with downvotes and disappear, and then it would appear again every time I got a good review.)

Anyway, I also got some grumpy guy telling me I was obviously ripping off Wicked—yeah, man, that’s likely, since I wrote the story before I’d heard of it, and after all Gregory Maguire invented the concept of a retelling, right?  And then some other snotty reviewer tried to tear me a new one claiming I’d contradicted myself because I suggested it’s possible to be original while still telling a technically derivative story (like a fairy tale retelling).  “Well if it’s derived from another story then it can’t really be original then CAN IT??”  Uh, I sure hope there’s a degree program in Missing the Point, because that guy’s got a Bachelor’s.  I’m pretty certain nobody who reads Bad Fairy is going to come out of it thinking what a copycat piece of crap it is.

So . . . yeah, good riddance to THAT contest.

Results of Querying: Bad Fairy

I’ve decided to stop querying for this book because I need to go back to the drawing board based on the feedback I got.  (And it wasn’t unexpected.  I know a 255,000-word book has a snowball’s chance in Hell.)

Of the seven agents I queried, these were the results:

  • 1 non-response
  • 2 form rejections
  • 4 partial requests

Two of the partial requests turned into full manuscript requests.  One of those turned into an overnight rejection because of the length.  Well, I can’t say I’m surprised.

The relevant part of that letter:

I love the premise of this tale, and did enjoy the writing, however it is way too long for publication as it exists. And it is not a problem you can fix with a simple solution like cutting one book into two. Then you will not have a story. It needs to be pruned severely so it can blossom. Right now, we see too much of the day to day of Delia’s life and it gets a tad boring. If you can cut it down to 100,000 – 125,000 words or so, an editor might give it a look. Otherwise, you will not even get past step one in the publishing process.

Another alternative is to self-publish and attempt to market it yourself. When/if you sell a significant number of copies, thus proving to the NY publishers that you have something special, they might give you serious consideration.

Best of luck and please do continue writing. You have a wonderful voice.

She’s right.  I’ll have to think about what to do here.  Will probably just work on my other book for a while and try to find representation for something shorter.

New Novel: Finding Mulligan

Started a new book!  The working title is Finding Mulligan.

About:

Finding Mulligan is the story of Cassandra Howard, who somehow manages to fall in love in an alternate universe.

Cassie’s excited to escape to college, where she can be free of her attention-seeking chronically ill younger sister and can finally stop feeling like a nobody.  Cassie just so happens to have another life in a universe she travels to in her dreams, and there, her alternate self Dia is falling in love.  Her drummer-boy boyfriend, Mulligan, might just exist in the waking world, too.

Finding Mulligan is going to be about Cassie trying to find the boy who’s the “real” version of her dream man, figure out her relationship with her other self, and wrangle her college life.  While determining how weird things from her past have affected her.  It’s gonna be neat.

But I’m not going to speed-write this one because I’ve got too much going on.

Completed New Short Story: “Wind”

Finished a new short story called “Wind.”  But it’s more of a novella than a short story, like most of my stuff seems to be.  It’s about 20,000 words.  Modern fantasy romance.  With a lot of sass.

Thomas, alone on Christmas Eve and missing his recently deceased mother (and her cookies!), is startled out of his funk by a knock at the door. Enter the mysterious Windy, a beautiful and apparently magical girl who claims to be Thomas’s personal fairy.

Windy enters Thomas’s life in a big way and becomes a special part of it even as he tries to figure out where she fits and whether she’s really what she says she is. But Thomas isn’t the only one struggling; Windy has some doubts and confusions regarding her existence as well. After realizing how they feel about each other, they have to figure out what to do to make being together possible. But can magic fit into Thomas’s life? And how real is she anyway? They might just have to pull away to find out how close they are.

I might eventually try to publish this, but it’s kinda long.

 

Ready to Query: Bad Fairy

After years of editing, processing feedback, and researching what I’m supposed to do to submit manuscripts and whatnot, I’m ready to query for this book.  Thanks to the following people for helping me edit:

These folks read the entire thing and gave comments: Jeremy, Mike Lee, Fred, Keggernaught, Meggie, Ronni, Cara, Stacy, Mikey, Jan-Martin, Daddy, Dorian, Jessie, and Victor.  These folks read part of it and gave comments: Jeaux, Laura, Miriam, Steve, Dan, Whitney, Sarah, Dieter, Adam, Phil M., Brian, Zack, Trisha, Chandan Aubel, and Dan B.

It’s ridiculously gigantic.  But the fairy tale retelling thing is popular.  Maybe I’ll get somewhere.  Unfortunately, some agents want my query letter to mention its length and I feel like that is going to kill me before I have a chance to get my foot in the door.

Scenario: Agent of interest opens package containing query letter, synopsis, and first thirty pages. Agent scans query and drinks coffee. Agent is spurred into spitting coffee all over the the pages in either horror or wild amusement (you pick).

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Quoted: Contemporary Sexuality

Jumping off some quotes I made to Salon earlier this year, I seem to have found myself quoted a bunch of times in AASECT’s newsletter, Contemporary Sexuality.

Asexuality Gets More Attention, But Is It a Sexual Orientation?

aasectI wasn’t specifically asked about having my quotes appear here, but I was represented pretty well. Sadly, the article does spend a lot of time suggesting asexuality is a trend and what danger asexual people pose to other people exploring their sexuality since, you know, it’s such a fad and it’s probably about repression. Oh well.

New Webcomic: Negative One

I love the old Ivy stories I wrote in college—from my modern fantasy series, The House That Ivy Built—but her story just isn’t cohesive enough to survive as a marketable novel, so I think one cool thing I can do with it is make a webcomic about it.  So . . . that’s exactly what I’m doing.

This alternating-story webcomic will update every Friday for the foreseeable future.  And since it’s pretty much my own thing, you can expect a lot of sort of indulgent narration.  But if you like that sort of thing, perhaps this webcomic will be up your alley.