Saturday, October 30, 2010

Get Down Goblin

by Jan Teri

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

My Query - Again

Fewer cliches, fewer words (223 down from 262), some different words, here is lucky version 13.

Twelve-year-old Skully longs for the kind of excitement missing from his family's stuffy old mansion. The day he finally meets his father, the abhorred pirate, Captain ‘Mad Grave’ Smith, Skully embarks on an adventure destined for a horrible end—his own.

Skully never heard of a long dead ruler named Grimstoke until his mom died protecting the secrets of his accursed ring. Taking refuge among pirates, Skully finds Captain Smith isn’t such a bad guy after all. But when Grimstoke’s ring ‘accidentally’ finds its way onto Skully’s finger, his dad ends up cursed. Grimstoke’s evil spirit possesses Captain Smith and starts sucking souls from the inhabitants of pirate-controlled San Iguana. Grimstoke will only last so long in Captain Smith’s body. As Grimstoke’s last living descendent, Skully possesses the one thing that can prevent his dad’s death. Torn by his dad’s fate and guilt over his mom’s death, running away looks pretty good. But souls are disappearing fast. The only way to save everyone is to give Grimstoke what he needs—Skully’s soul.

SKULLY THE PIRATE AND GRIMSTOKE'S CURSE is an upper middle grade adventure sprinkled with humor and a dash of paranormal fantasy. It is complete at 60,000 words. I am a member of SCBWI and several critique groups. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Query

Nervous about putting this out for the masses?  No.  My mother-in-law is visiting for a week and a half.  Sharing my query is a piece of cake.

Just remember, I'm fragile...

Dear Agent,

Blah, blah, blah...

Twelve-year-old Skully longs for the kind of excitement he’s been denied living in his grandfather’s mansion. The day he finally meets his father, the abhorred pirate, Captain ‘Mad Grave’ Smith, Skully embarks on an adventure destined for a horrible end—his own.

Skully never heard of a long dead ruler named Grimstoke until his mother died protecting the secrets of Grimstoke’s accursed ring. With no choice but to take refuge among pirates, Skully realizes Captain Smith isn’t such a bad guy after all. But his newfound father soon falls under the ring’s curse. Grimstoke’s evil spirit possesses Captain Smith and begins sucking souls from the inhabitants of pirate-controlled San Iguana. But Grimstoke will only last so long in Captain Smith’s body. As Grimstoke’s last living descendent, Skully possesses the one thing that can prevent his father’s death, but the cost will be high. Torn by his father’s fate, and guilt over his mother’s death, running away looks pretty good, but Grimstoke always finds him and souls are disappearing fast. It seems it’s up to Skully to save everyone. The only way to do that, is to give Grimstoke what he needs—Skully’s soul.

SKULLY THE PIRATE AND GRIMSTOKE'S CURSE is an upper middle grade adventure sprinkled with humor and a dash of paranormal fantasy. It is complete at 60,000 words. I am a member of SCBWI and several critique groups, as well as the author of the wildly popular (okay, that might be a stretch) blog, Pensive Sarcasm. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Back Together Again

Thanks for all your kind words last week.  I'm feeling much better now.  Amazing what a few days on the road with nothing to do can accomplish.  I keep trying to write something new, but not much headway there.  Instead, I spent the day honing my synopsis.  Frustrating, but more and more agents want to see these things.  A brief synopsis, they call it.  How brief?  Not clear.  I ended up with 1700 single spaced words on three pages.  How does that sound?

And I'm thinking of posting my query.  Anyone want to read it?

Friday, October 22, 2010

I'm Falling Apart

What a horrible day I'm having.  I've been waking up around six AM all week.  Not because I've been working.  Six comes, I'm done.  Yesterday seemed promising, but I'd committed to flying with my friend Joe.  I hadn't been in a small plane in years, and didn't really want to go.  And guess what?  Small planes behave much differently from large, automated ones.

Then, today, waking early again, I checked email on my iPod.  Another rejection.  Normally, I shrug them off, but this was the earliest I've ever gotten one.  To start the day with it was not good.

I'm depressed.  Ready to quit.  Wasting my time.  The Mrs. and I took a good long walk, which is usually therapeutic.  She's good for stuff like that.  Listening to me whine about why I'm bothering with all this when I have a very good job and why can't I just be happy with that?  It was decided writing is my passion.  That which I do for free.  For love.  With or without recognition.  Which should be something.

But at the moment, it isn't.  Because walking six miles on my feet generally results in some sorry-ass pain.

I have heel spurs -- little hooks of bone on the bottom of each foot, straining tendons that aren't designed to strain.  Standard treatment is a cortisone shot, which was scheduled pre-walk.  Pre-rejection.  A four inch needle plunged into my heel.  Slowly, ever so slowly, the cortisone seeped into the tissue.  Round and round, twisting and pushing, the needle found more and more nerves to terrorize.

The result:  Nothing.  Typical.  I'm the 1% of people typical treatments don't work on.

And November is looming.  I hate November.  I'll be working Thanksgiving.  Again.  I have to study all month for my checkride.  Again.  So I don't lose my job and have the privilege of working on Thanksgiving taken away.  This November, Joe is getting married.  At Disney World.  Thanksgiving weekend.  I can't think of a worse place to go at a worse time.  I want to do NaNo.  Too much going on.

Life sucks.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Something Only You Can Write

I came across an agent's website the other day, in which she described what she wanted to see in a query letter.  It was the standard stuff, until she came to the bio section.  She was quite adamant that your query should include why you are the only person who could have written your book.

That line really struck me.  I'm no expert in the things I write.  I think I'm a pretty good storyteller, but beyond the fact I was the one who came up with it, I couldn't think of a decent reason I was the only one who could write my book.  So I started thinking about what I am an expert in.  Not much, but there is one thing I do know about probably better than most other writers.  And pretty quickly a new story started forming.  It's just a lump of wet clay right now, and who knows what it will end up looking like, but I've often thought, if I could include some expertise in my bio, it might make a difference when querying.

Having said all that, I still need to tell a good story.  And I still need to love the story, otherwise it won't be very good.  So, with NaNo coming up, I may participate after all.  Of course, I also have my recurrent check ride, which has yet to be scheduled, but will be some time in November.  So I'll be doing a lot of studying, but you can also consider it research for my next book.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

...And Stop Calling Me Matthew

My irritation level has soared as high as my plane over the past three days. I can normally tell within 30 seconds whether or not I can stand someone, and while my partner is nice enough, he keeps calling me Matthew. This despite introducing myself as Matt, to him and everyone we've both met. This tells me he hasn't been paying attention to anything, but is reading my ID badge.

I thought I had it licked when the flight attendant, who calls me Matt, yelled 'Matthew' to get my attention. The ID reader commented, "You said that like you really know him."

Aha! An opening.

"Actually," I said. "People who really know me call me Matt."

No effect. Frustrating, but I may be to blame. After all, I once had a neighbor who called me Dwayne for two years. After a while, there's no correcting it without making yourself look like an idiot.

Alas, this trip ends tomorrow. No more Matthew. No more bad jokes or spoken word renditions of obscure songs. And for dinner tonight, Big Boy.

Now, I'm very excited about Big Boy. It's one of those things you take for granted until you move across the country and can't get it anymore. And it's right next to the hotel.

But he says, "We don't have to decide right now, We'll figure it out. We can find someplace nice."

He can do what wants.

Matthew's going to Big Boy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thanks For The Funny

The first rejection came in today.  From an agent I'd assigned to the non-response rejection pile after a year of nothing.  I queried him again, using the same email address from last time.  Only this time it bounced back as a bad address.  Apparently one missing letter makes all the difference.  Oops.

So this time, having read an interview in which he laments the success of Stephanie Meyer against the odds every other writer faces, I threw in what I thought was a funny line referencing what he'd said.  The rejection came back as follows:
Thanks for the funny query letter. I'm afraid this is not what I'm looking for, but I wish you much all the same with your agent search.
At first I thought he appreciated my sense of humor.  Then, like any thinks-he's-a-good writer, examining the long corridor of rejection, I began to wonder what he really thought was funny.  Was it the query itself?  The heart of it?  Did he find it laughable that someone would not only construct such an abominable collection of words, but that they would send it to an expert, who no doubt called in every member of his staff for a group guffaw, forwarded it to every agent and editor in publishing, posted it on a myriad of social networking sites, and is most certainly basing an entire lecture series on that one horrific letter?

Sadly, I may never know.  Much as I may never understand the last line - I wish you much all the same...


At least it's not just me who can't write.

In happier news, today is Mrs. Sarcasm's birthday.  If you come across her, wish her

                          생일 축하

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

No Response

I've been through the query ringer before.  Now, as I dive back through, and conduct my research yet again, I find a good deal of agents these days subscribing to the non-response method of rejection.  While I can fully appreciate the amount of work these folks do, and reading hundreds of queries per week, in addition to any manuscripts they have, plus editing, and actually selling these projects, certainly counts as busy work, I can't for the life of me understand this non-repsonse.

How hard can it be to set up an automatic I DON'T LIKE IT email.  Heck, just have your interns do it.   I've been scouring the threads on Absolute Write and by gum, some folks are complaining they even get no response to fulls and partials.  Seriously, what gives?  You mean to say you're going to take the time to read something that you requested knowing full well that author is biting their nails just waiting to know what you think, and then...nothing.

But we, the querying writers, are expected to maintain professionalism at all costs.

Now, this may seem like an angry rant, and I suppose it is, but it's something of a two way street.  When I see that no response is a no, I lean toward no query.  Of course, leaning is still going, it only results in a more crooked path.  In other words, I still query, because I still want that agent, and lets face it, if we think we're good enough to query, we certainly don't expect rejection.

Except that we do.  And that part really sucks.  In the land of the query, a ten percent request rate is pretty good.  Without trying too hard, I can't think of too many other circumstances where abysmal failure is considered success.  But I suppose that's something to write about.

Monday, October 11, 2010

It Turns Out I Am A Moron

So I'm not writing 10,000 words this week, at least not yet, but I am sending queries.  And after all that work, and all that research, and knowing all the stupid things people do, I went and did one.

Getting an agent's name wrong in a query is often regarded by agents as a surefire path to rejection.  I, of course, to ensure staying on the the path, not only put the name of the agency owner in my salutation, rather than the actual agent's name, which I knew, and had even spelled wrong a few times whilst Googling, I also sent it to the wrong email address.

So I followed up with a quick apology, letting said agent know I was resending my query to the proper address.  That's when I noticed I'd addressed the first, and subsequent second, query incorrectly.  So I sent another one, apologizing yet again.

I expect after four emails, in the span of two minutes, this particular agent will either see through to my gritty determination, or will request a restraining order.

Let's just say, I'm moving on...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I'm Thinking Of A Challenge

How about ten thousand words in a week?

As an airline pilot, I have lots of downtime in hotels. I'm on a four day trip right now that could almost result in ten thousand words a day. Two long layovers in Washington DC followed by an even longer layover in Detroit. The problem is I have friends and family in both places. And it's not acting like October up here, which means Im not getting any writing done on this trip.

So I'm thinking next week, or some time in the coming weeks, I will challenge myself to write ten thousand words in one week's time. The kind of momentum that would result in would be awesome. I just read an article with Danielle Steele where they asked which of her 113 books was her favorite.

Excuse me? What the frak did they just say?

113 books? In one adult lifetime?

And they must not suck either because apparently half a billion people have read them.

So I'm thinking ten thousand in a week wouldn't be a bad start.

Anyone game?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The First Query Is Away came back pretty quick.  Not a rejection.  Instead, I got an auto reply that the agent in question is on personal leave for a couple of months and for further assistance please contact so and so.

So and so the question is, who is so and so?  Another agent?  What about the agent I want?  The one I researched and fell in love with.  Who I know, without a shadow of a doubt, will fall equally in love with my story.

And what do I say to so and so?  Do I forward my query and say, I really wanted her, but I guess you'll do?  Or maybe so and so is the agent's assistant.  Perhaps all queries are being directed her way anyhow.  But if that's so, why direct me to her for further assistance?

And, suppose I was already a client of this agent, but my book hadn't been sold yet?  What happens during these months of personal leave?  Does my book go on leave with her?  Or is so and so now out trying to sell the book someone else fell in love with?

Oh I'm going nuts!

Time to send the next batch out.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Halloween Is Around The Corner

And this is in my backyard.

Hungry for a bee...

It eats the bee.  And, for good measure, a sense of proportion.

And in writing news...

Today is the last day of Patti Nielson's Keep Track of How Much Time You Spend Writing Blogfest.  My total for the week - About 9 hours.

With lots of helpful suggestions, my query is ready to go.  And I wrote such a good query, it helped hone my story just a wee bit better.  I figure I'll wait til Monday morning.  Who reads queries on Friday night?