glitter_n_gore: (midori sours)
Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season! I sure did. Better than last year, anyway, and I have a new job that I actually really like, which is quite exciting.

On the writing front, I haven't stopped working on any of my various projects, but I'm thwarted by technology and its failings. (Translation: The lappy is D-E-A-D, and I'm borrowing my stepdad's mini to work on my manuscripts until I can get a new one.) This has been an issue since mid-October, and has been in a state of flux until recently, when it became a state of D-E-A-D.

Anyway, I finished the first draft for "The Candelabrum" and have had two beta readers look it over.

Got another rejection back on "Doppelganger," and I'm holding back on any more submissions until we actually hit January, because that's when all the magazines open up for new material again.

For the novels, I'm 17k into "Demigeists" and getting a slightly better handle on the plot. (Yay!) I also have a plot bunny I've decided to feed--taking my 2010 NaNo, "The Time Ghost," in a different direction, and that one has about 4000 words on it already. Lastly, "Early Risers" is at a standstill, but I've passed the 10k mark so it feels like a real manuscript now. Something about hitting that fifth digit is encouraging.

Nothing further in the works right now, but I think that's plenty.

I do have resolutions for the New Year. Let me show you them:

1) Hone my synopsis writing skills.

2) Whiddle down my TBR pile. This means no buying any more NEW books until I read all the ones currently stacked up in various piles around my room at this very moment. It's 54 books. I know I can do it. I will post my reading list here shortly after the new year so I have something to cross stuff off of.

Speaking of lists, the final count for Books Read in 2011 stands at 78. Coming in last is John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids--the heartwarming story of a world being slowly taken over by seven-foot-tall man-eating space plants. To tell the truth, the narrative tone is wretchedly sexist and ablist, but the concept and execution is brilliant. It's one of those pulpy, sci-fi classics that people like me simply must read at some point their lifetimes.

I'll do a blog with my top ten books I read this year some time later.

Anyone else have resolutions they'd like to share? I'd love to hear 'em.
glitter_n_gore: (romy)
Greetings! I have many updates in my adventures in querying, and writing in general because I just don't seem to be satisfied unless I'm working on about three or four things at once. (I don't understand it either. I just can't stop myself.)

In Query Letter Hell: I have a response from the agent who read my full. It's "no." A very polite form rejection, they have too many clients to take on anyone else right now, thanks for sending it to them and being so patient, etc.--the usual deal. I knew what it was and what it would say the second I saw the letter. This one stung a little. I imagine this is how it works in the querying process, though. The further you get along the path of "maybe," the more disappointing it is when you eventually get the "no." Also, because this one actually took the time to read the manuscript, that says to me that my query letter is good, but the story itself might be lacking. Which means I might have more revising to do.

And here is where that little voice in my head pops up and chirps, "Does that mean we can put off the synopsis some more?" and I sternly tell it, "Dammit, NO!" I will figure this mess out if it's the last thing I do. (Which it might well be.)

So, speaking of the synopsis: I put a better one together, more lean, that makes a little more sense, and got some excellent feedback on it. So now I have a clearer idea of what I need to do with it, and how to make that happen. Still don't want to though. I think most writers hating doing these things.

As far as my other works-in-progress go, here's the word count tally:

LUCID, my YA urban fantasy/horror story: 28,000.

DEMIGEISTS, an older idea that's been knocking around my head for a while, a ghost story set in a school: 3,000.

THE TIME GHOST, my NaNo from last year, going in a decidedly different direction: 600.

Now, let me talk about THE TIME GHOST for a moment here, because it's my most substantial WIP right now apart from LUCID: I wound up with a grand total of 75,000 words once I finished my rough draft, making it the longest story I've ever written, ever. However, since I have a tendency to write short, I was struggling to make that word count and wound up with a LOT of padding to fill it out. I haven't yet mastered the art of writing economically and still making the story last long enough to fill a book.

However, here's what I discovered after looking at the manuscript again: the plot is wretched. It's messy, incohesive, hard to follow, and doesn't make sense. It's only towards the very end that it starts to get interesting, but after that it quickly falls apart again. What I did well with the manuscript was world-building, getting a handle on the government and species of my futurist, interplanetary peoples, and creating a top-notch monster. The characterizations are....not my best. I have one that I like enough to keep. So he's staying. Everything else, I'm rewriting from the top. Hence the low word count.

Also, this newer approach is veering into romance territory. I don't read much romance--meaning, I can count the romance novels I've read on one hand, and can only think of one that I actually enjoyed. It's just not my genre. With that in mind, if I'm going to write a story that blends sci-fi and romance, I need to do some research.

So I asked for advice from the good folks at AW, got some reading recommendations, and a brilliant suggestion: read a couple of the shorter, category romances and study them, not for style or wordplay, but for plot structure and pacing. The goal is to see how the romance/courtship plot fits in with the other half of the plot, how they mesh together, the amount of time spent on each, etc.

I don't see myself becoming a romance writer on the whole. But this is fun--I haven't had homework in a long time, and I've bought myself some black and white composition books to take notes in, because I love those things.

The first book on my required reading list is Ann Aguirre's Grimspace, a futuristic romance that I found shelved in science fiction. I actually bought Grimspace last week, because Aguirre is one of the authors who publically supported Jessica Verday in that YA anthology fiasco I blogged about last time, and in turn I wanted to support her. The fact that she's on my list of recommendations is just lucky. It's a space opera type novel, which spaceships and distant planets and government-issue androids. So far, it reminds me a little of Star Wars and a little of FarScape--both of which equal WIN.

Ending with Jessica Verday's The Hollow, which I finished just this week, I have now read 16 books total this year.
glitter_n_gore: (underworld)
Happy almost-weekend, folks!

I have one more rejection under my belt, and now all but two of the queries I sent out have responses of some kind. Them's pretty good odds, and a very quick turnaround, which makes me happy, even though all I have to show for it is a "maybe." (So far.)

More doors will open once I get this synopsis hammered out. I've pared it down to four pages. It needs to be shorter. It needs more voice. I haven't gone overboard with character-naming, and I've trimmed out a lot of scenes. It's almost down to the bare essentials, and once it's as good as I can make it, it'll go into the ringer for polishing, and then hit the submission process.

My new goal, because I seem to respond well to goals with dates on them: Have 6 submission packages, synopsis included, in the mail by March 31st. It's coming right up, but the plan is to have this polished by the end of next week. After that, it's just a matter of double-checking individual guidelines and putting stuff in the mail. No problem, right? (Deep breaths.)

So, that's what's going on with "The Carrion Girl."

In order to keep myself sane, and to keep the Work to Fun ratio nice and even, I've decided to feed one of the plot bunnies. This is the story based on Sleeping Beauty that I was playing around with a while ago. It took quite a different turn than I originally envisioned, but I like it. I'm calling it "Lucid" for now, as in lucid dreaming, and it's a young adult horror/urban fantasy. I'm still fuzzy on the difference between those two sub-genres, but it's dark and weird and all my characters are teenagers. I have 7,000 words so far. (Fifteen pages.) And I'm attempting to format it correctly from the get-go this time, so I don't have to waste all that time reformatting before I submit it anywhere.

Wish me luck!
glitter_n_gore: (stargate snark)
Happy Humpday!

Here is my progress thus far on the submission package for The Carrion Girl: I have the first fifty pages printed, as per the guidelines for one of my snail mail agencies; the query is now entering its third draft, and getting juicier by the minute (I hope); the manuscript itself is almost fully reformatted to the standard specifications (double-spaced, courier new 12 point font, my name and the title at the header and page numbers at the footer, etc.); and I'm just a handful of chapters away from being finished with the synopsis.

What I seem to be struggling with the most query-wise is wanting to hook whoever reads it, but also not wanting to spoil anything. In other words, I'm thinking of it like a book-blurb , which you're supposed to hold back for. One of the pieces of (sometimes conflicting) advice I've gotten concerning queries is that you should do that--write them as if they're book blurbs, like the thing you see on the back flap, to get people to read it. However, with a query, it's a little different. You're trying to get someone interested in buying the book who will then either shop it around to publishers (agencies) or publish it for you (publishers). Depending on who you're querying. Anyways, the query is really not where you want to hold back--whatever's unique and exciting about the book, you have it put it out there. What's screwing me up is that the unique, exciting thing about The Carrion Girl is a very big plot twist. It's revealed gradually, so this isn't something that I'd put on the back cover (which I will eventually have to write as well, assuming it sells).

It's a dilemma.

So instead of using the Book Blurb model of query-writing, I'm going instead with the Three Questions:

1) What does your MC (main character) want?

2) What does s/he have to do to get it?

3) What happens if s/he fails?

These are the things I'm trying to touch on, and the answers span the entire book--not just the first few chapters, which is what they'll be reading in the submission package once I send it out.

Bottom line, the goal with the query is to entice whoever's reading it to want more. A few chapters, for example. Then the full manuscript. Then, if they like the manuscript, the offer of their services to get it out to the general public and get it on a shelf.

So, I'm still hammering it out. I'm getting closer to my deadline, so this is worrying me slightly, however I also feel like I'm closer to having it right than I was before, and it's becoming more fun than work again. So this is a good thing.

Onwards!
glitter_n_gore: (chiaki)
Hey, look at that--we're halfway through January already!

I am here to inform those of you whom I didn't tell personally already that my New Year's Resolution is to submit something. (The full resolution is actually, Submit Something, Goddammit, but I foresee it being a pain to type that every single time I bring it up.)

The manuscript under the gun right now is The Carrion Girl--yes, again, because it's the furthest along and closest to query-ready of the projects I have going. (There are three.) This time, at the nudging of one of my fellow members of AW (not directed at me, specifically, but I think it's a good idea), I made a date at which to get things done: March 1st. By March 1st, which is now a month and a half away, I will have at least half a dozen queries out to my top-choice literary agents and/or publishers.

The steps that preceed the query-writing are getting all the edits done, perfecting the query letter itself, and checking my top-choice list for various guidelines and addresses. I have a box of 100 9x11 manila envelopes for mailing the first however-many pages, I'm dreading but researching the synopsis-writing process, I have a fresh book of Forever stamps to put on SASEs for their replies--some of which may not be necessary, because most queries are submitted electronically these days. (Speaking of which, my next task should probably be to clean out my email inbox.)

Bottom line: I'm ready. Let's do this. You can write for years if you want to, but until you actually put something out there, the whole publication thing won't happen.

There's a weekly check-in thread at the Horror section of AW, which helps keep me on my toes--project weekly goals for all your projects, then follow up the next week to see how you did. It doesn't do your work for you, but it holds you accountable. And for someone like me, it helps.

On a different note, I've decided to participate in the 100 Books Challenge this year. The challenge, if you can't tell from the title alone, is to read 100 books in a year. I mentioned this to Mom, and she went, "Pfft--you can knock that out without even trying." But honestly, I have no idea how many books I do read in a year, and this'll be a fun way to keep track.

As of today, I have read Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars, Jodi Piccoult's My Sister's Keeper, Thomas More's Utopia, and with any luck I'll finish K.A. Stewart's A Devil in the Details tonight. So that's 4 so far. And as I said, we're midway through January.

Wish me luck!

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