Representation Settled: Bad Fairy

Today I accepted an offer for literary agency representation and signed a contract for my novel Bad Fairy.  I am officially an agented author.

What this means: Once we get the contract finalized, we will develop some materials to introduce and present my book (and me) to publishers.  It’s a lot like authors querying agents to find representation, except that the agent is querying acquisitions editors at publishing houses based on what they’ve purchased in the last 12 months.  The goal is to find editors eager to buy books that are similar to those they’ve recently sold. If they like the idea, they’ll ask to see the book. If they like what they see, they’ll offer to buy the rights.  Negotiations begin.

We’ll be approaching publishers soonish.  I hope to be able to share good news when I have it.

In the meantime, please continue to tune in for blathering on any other projects I embark upon as well as news on this one.

Everyone, please meet my agent, Michelle Johnson.  We both like coffee and books and spend too much time on the computer.  I can’t wait to start working with her, and I’m so happy that she’s on my team.

Results of Querying: Bad Fairy 2012

I know 2012 isn’t over yet, but I have to stop querying agents for Bad Fairy

Happily, it isn’t a depressing reason, though (like it was the last time).  It’s because I’ve been offered representation.

I don’t want to go into detail because I still have some decisions to make before I sign with an agency, and I have a bit of a dilemma I don’t want to discuss publicly, but I will have specifics ready for you soon.

In any case I thought I’d show you this year’s track record so far, since it stops here.

Agents queried: 20.

Query rejections: 10.

The rest were not rejections.

One was a partial request that turned into a rejection after 100 pages.  That agent had puzzling feedback which I won’t share here.

There were also three full manuscript requests.  Ffffffffffff.

Once I actually sign a contract, I’ll share more . . . and I’ll be sure to keep everyone in the loop on what happens next. Which hopefully will involve a book deal.  (Yay.)

Whew!

Editing, tweaking, clipping, fixing

Editing of the new book (Stupid Questions) is going well with the help of my massive test audience. (Okay, maybe not so massive. Twenty-two people volunteered and confirmed. Exactly half of them have given me comments.)

It’s interesting how consistent the comments are. Nearly everyone who is commenting on which lines they like best identifies the same lines. Nearly everyone who didn’t like a certain scene in the third chapter had the same reason. Nearly everyone has said something about the dialogue that was at least somewhat in the ballpark with what everyone else was saying. And most of the readers seem to really like my characters and concept.

There are always a couple I don’t know what to do with, though, and so far I think it’s just two:

One person says a guy character needs to be presented as less layered and multifaceted and whatnot because guys aren’t very complex. (The reader clarified when I disagreed, but I still disagreed after the clarification, and so far the other male readers who have commented on that issue explicitly appreciate the choices I made supporting him NOT being the stereotypical straightforward disconnected guy.)

And another person has noticed that this story includes people with psychic abilities, and is indicating in the commentary that he’s looking forward to finding out the “explanation” for it. I wonder how many people get disappointed at the very small percentage of these kinds of stories that don’t have an “explanation” and don’t happen to be about why or how? (Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever written a story about such things that DID include an “explanation.” Maybe I’m weird.)

I’m not criticizing my critics, though—I’m grateful for input. Just kinda rambling here and pointing out that sometimes the comments or criticism I get confuse me. 🙂

Editing Hell: Bad Fairy

One of the agents I’m talking to asked me to scale my Bad Fairy book back from 146,000 words to 115,000 or less because that fits the length that’s commonly accepted in the market for first novels.  If I can do that then she’ll look at it.

I considered it for a while and decided that even though it’d likely be hell, she’s probably doing me a favor.  I’ve had a couple full-manuscript-reading agents end up passing on my project citing a saggy middle or problems with the pacing.  So . . . maybe an ultimatum like this is the best way to help me tighten it up, like it or not.

It’s just frustrating because I already got it down to 146,000 words from its original 171,000 words (mostly with Jessie’s help), and I thought THAT was monumental.  The ridiculous word count was part of the reason I never entered this book in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition; they have a word cap of 150,000 words.  I was astounded when I slipped below that for the first time.

And now I’ve gotta do it again.  I’m not looking forward to it but I need to roll up my sleeves.

In the meantime, I made a comic about it for So You Write.  Haha.

Character doodle for Stupid Questions

I have this problem when I write first person . . . I tend not to know what my protagonist looks like until or unless someone else comments on it, unless it’s significant. So in order to figure out what people look like, sometimes I have to draw them.

In celebration of completing my book yesterday, I completed this doodle of the main characters. It came out pretty cute. And now I know what my protagonist looks like (though I already knew what the girl looked like since, you know, he likes her and he mentally comments on/observes her a lot).

They’re texting each other because the story is mostly about a long-distance relationship. 🙂

I might try drawing something in color sometime, but this was my first crack at drawing them and I like the way it looks in black and white.

Completed New Novel: Stupid Questions

Finished writing the novel version of Stupid Questions!

Genre: Science fiction romance

Length: 25 chapters/350 pages/~95,000 words.

Tag line: “How do you have a down-to-earth romance with a girl who can fly?”

Keywords: SCIENCE FICTION: speculative fiction, romance, ESP, telekinesis, modern, relationships.

Protagonist: Nick Harris.

POV: First person, past tense.

About:

Nick Harris, news station cameraman, gets the shock of a lifetime when a guest on his show nonchalantly demonstrates apparently superhuman abilities. Intrigued by the enigmatic Summer Astley, he finds himself stumbling into asking her out after the show, and though her telekinetic powers are amazing, he’s quite a lot more interested in who she is under the mask.

After a weird couple of dates, Summer and Nick begin a long-distance relationship and try to figure each other out, but Nick is still struggling with baggage from his last relationship and Summer has no social skills due to growing up in isolation. Summer also believes that Nick has an uncanny ability of his own and is borderline obsessed with making him explore the possibility, but Nick insists that his unusual perceptiveness is just an offshoot of his observational skills. As these two rather unique people try to figure out how to fit into each other’s lives, they find themselves answering as many questions as they ask.

Next up: Lots of editing! The following people have volunteered for the test audience:

Victor, Mommy, Jessie, Cara, Mike Lee, Jay, Kim, Corinne, Shelby, Becky, Clare, Ryan, Alasdair, Robert, Elise, Fred, Alicorn, David, Stas, Amanda, Reeny, and Sandy.  We’ll see how many actually read it.

 

Twitter Pitch Contest: Finding Mulligan

Mónica B.W., Cupid’s Literary Connection, Brenda Drake, and Krista VanDolzer collaborated to put on a contest called The Writer’s Voice Twitter Pitch Party.

Basically it involved getting on Twitter with some agents who had agreed to participate, and then trying to pitch your book in a message short enough to fit in a tweet.  Challenging, eh?  ESPECIALLY for someone as wordy as me!

I decided to take the challenge and came up with seven short little tag lines to describe Finding Mulligan.  Then I asked my pals on Facebook to vote on them and used the pitch they liked the best.  Here were my choices:

  1. If your two personalities are in love with different guys, does that count as two-timing?
  2. Falling in love with the guy of your dreams? Awesome. Finding out he lives in your head? Not so awesome.
  3. Dream guys are the best. Until you wake up. [I don’t like this one because it’s too vague.]
  4. The world’s strangest love triangle begins when Cassie’s other self meddles in her romantic life. And then it starts to get weird.
  5. Can’t a gal and her other self have a good old-fashioned reality-crossing romance anymore?
  6. Love triangle, shmuv triangle. With three guys in two universes chasing one girl with two personalities, this is at LEAST a love pentagon.
  7. Cassie’s other personality shares her life, her dreams, and all her memories. You’d think she’d be willing to share her boyfriend too, but noooo.

Pitch #1 was elected as the best, so I used it during the pitch party.  And got no attention.  Boo.

Then I re-read the rules and they’d updated them.  Turned out that since the agents would be drifting in and out of the feed all day, we could not only tweet our pitch more than once, but change it if we wanted.

I tried a few times, modified a couple of them and tweeted, but nobody nibbled.

Until finally I was feeling contrary and tweeted #5, the one nobody liked except my friend Joy.  Immediately one of the agents asked me to send her a 40-page partial.

Go fig.

So that worked out well for me.

The Writer’s Voice Contest: Finding Mulligan

Mónica B.W., Cupid’s Literary Connection, Brenda Drake, and Krista VanDolzer collaborated to put on a contest called The Writer’s Voice.  It was a pretty cool contest for writers seeking agents to enter their polished novels and get a chance to have agents bidding on them to see partials and full manuscripts.  I figured I had nothing to lose, and I was lucky enough to actually make it into the competitive link pool, but then I had to hope one of the ladies above would choose me for their team.  They didn’t.

None of them are agents (as far as I know)—just other writers—but I figured if one of them picked me and I got a chance to get seen by someone who wouldn’t have otherwise seen me, it was worth it.  But since they chose other writers, I didn’t get to participate.  That said, Krista approached me after the contest, having said that she would let people know if their entries had been one of her favorites despite not being picked.  She left the following comment on my entry:

Just wanted to let you know that yours was one of the entries on my short short list. I thought the premise here was really intriguing, and your first page had a lot of mystery. I just worried that the concept would seem too similar to that new TV show Awake. I know you’ve probably been writing this since long before the show premiered, but I worried that people would find it derivative. It stinks when something steals your thunder like that.

Best of luck to you and FINDING MULLIGAN, because this is just the sort of thing I’d like to read.

I don’t actually think this concern is too worrisome, because my book is literally nothing like the premise of that show (except that they both involve falling asleep and having a different perspective), but it was still nice to hear what she had to say.  Thanks Krista.

Other nice comments:

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Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2012, Semi-Finals: Finding Mulligan

Finding Mulligan was cut from the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition at the semi-final round.  I will not be moving on.

Here is the (again, unflattering) Publishers Weekly review:

Just quirky, or crazy? That seems to be the question at the heart of this overblown, confused romantic fantasy. Cassandra’s life pales in comparison to the extremely realistic dreamland she often visits. There she’s known as “Dia.” Unlike Cassandra, Dia is beautiful, endlessly talented, and beloved by all dreamland’s denizens. When Cassandra, a college freshman, moves into a new apartment, she grows fascinated (some would say obsessed) with the lifelike portrait of a man painted on her bathroom door. She’s convinced this man will appear in dreamland as well, and sure enough, Dia meets the man (named Mulligan) and falls instantly in love. Mulligan must have a real-world counterpart, Cassandra reasons, and so she remakes herself into a version of Dia to make herself recognizable to him. Disturbing flashbacks about Cassandra’s chronically-ill younger sister are meant to explicate her mental state; her consistently kooky behavior, however, itself more than accomplishes that purpose. Cassandra’s ultimate recognition of the “real” Mulligan bears little heft or drama and could certainly have been accomplished in fewer than 381 meandering pages.

Hm, it’s kinda offensive to say a possibly mentally ill person is “kooky” and “crazy” because some of her attempts to figure herself out seem on the extreme side. My character’s “kooky” behavior isn’t disordered and random. It follows directly from the way her reality is. Boo.

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Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2012, Quarter-Finals: Finding Mulligan

Finding Mulligan has been chosen as one of 500 quarter-finalists in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition.

My “prize” now is to go on to be judged in the semi-finals.  Publishers Weekly will be judging my novel—the full manuscript—and they will decide whether I get to be one of the 100 left in the semi-final round.

Rating me and recommending me were two Amazon Vine Reviewers.  Here is what they said about my first chapter:

Reviewer #1:

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?
Cassie is an interesting character, and the author does a fine job of letting us get to know her and her parents. She expertly introduces the family dynamics and sets the stage for her story in an authentic and believable manner. With the exception of a couple of the introductory paragraphs, the author’s prose flows smoothly and she handles the dialogue very well. Cassie clearly comes across as a teen about to be on her own, exhibiting all the frustration, nervousness and excitement common to that age.

What aspect needs the most work?
My one problem with this excerpt was the author’s introduction of the chimes in Cassie’s head. She is introducing a very important element here, and it just seemed like a clumsy way to introduce Cassie’s alternative dream world. The story recovers nicely when Cassie begins to talk about the boy in the painting, but getting from regular teenager to girl who has another identity just didn’t fly.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?
I think this was a fairly strong excerpt and I liked where the story was going. I didn’t really understand the chimes in Cassie’s head, and wish more explanation was provided. The strength of the excerpt lies in the very strong characterizations. I hope the author is able to maintain Cassie’s strong voice during her dream life sequences. That will surely make for a memorable story.

I enjoyed the author’s prose and felt that it was very readable. I liked the hints of romance to come, and am very curious how the remainder of the story will play out. Nice, original idea that will be sure to hook plenty of YA readers.

Reviewer #2:

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?
It’s intriguing, well-written, with believable dialogue, and the pacing is good.

What aspect needs the most work?
I can’t think of anything. It’s not clear what Haley’s issue is, but perhaps that’s clarified later.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?
Excellent.

Dude, #2 was just phoning it in like mad.