Friday, November 21, 2008

Fun math time!

Novel math! It's the only math I like!

Goal length: 80,000
Words per week: 6,000
Weeks till the first draft is done: 13.3 (so 14)
Best of all worlds finish date: Feb. 28
Realistic finish date (assuming Christmas, panic, and scrapped chapters): March 30

That leaves about 3 months for revisions, which should be more than enough to get it whipped into usable shape (especially considering I actually know where I'm going this time).

If I'm going to stay on top of these deadlines, I'm going to have to write 7 days a week. Now, that's ok, because I do that anyway, but I'm going to have to be way more on top of distractions than I've been in the past. Having my writing office back up and running is going to help a lot with that, though.

Ok, Rachel, you can do it. Just stay cool, remember the secret to greatness... just don't suck and you'll be fine.

Here we go!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Well, yesterday really, but the win continues!

So yesterday I got a call from my wonderful agent, Matt Bialer, and his wonderful assistant, Lindsay Ribar, *waves to Lindsay, and mad props* with wonderful news! There had been an offer on my book!

And not just any offer... a REALLY GOOD offer. Orbit, the UK based SciFi and Fantasy house, had come through with a 3 book deal and a larger number than anyone (or at least I) expected.

A 3 BOOK DEAL, GUYS! With enough money behind it where I could quit my day job!

I made it, I did it, I'm now a real writer by anyone's estimation. Life long dream achieved!

It wasn't quite as HOLY SHIT exciting as the day I got my agent, because that was a call out of the blue I was much more obsessed about it. This was also unexpected, but I don't think anything could beat the sheer joy of agent day (I also don't think it's physically possible for me to be that excited ever again).

But best of all, I get to keep writing my favorite books ever. I am the president of planet win!

What makes me doubly happy about all of this was I did it the normal way. I didn't have any ins in publishing, I don't live in New York, I've never been to a conference or pitched my book. I just wrote something, then despaired over it, then wrote it again. Then queried, waited, got rejections, queried again, waited, got rejections, (etc. etc.) until one day I got a response, then I rewrote it AGAIN (with very helpful input), and then waited some more, and then, everything happened.

There was no magic bullet, no secret society. Just me, my novel, and the faith that I could do it if I just tried. I'm sure I'm not done getting rejected, and I'm definitely sure I'm not done angsting about it, but yesterday I made it, and, as the unicorn said, no sorrow will live in me so long as that joy.

Thank you Lindsay, thank you Matt, thank you Travis and Matt and Krystina and Mom and Dad and Cindy and everyone for everything big and small. I'm so happy I could pop!

But I can't pop now, I have to go get started on Eli 2! :D

Friday, November 14, 2008

killing time

Still no bites on my novel from editors. Of course, there are millions of reasons for this - they're busy, only a few have actually said no, the economy isn't the greatest for taking new business ventures, etc. But the pessimist in me wonders... maybe I'm just writing books that can't sell?

I think this year's long line of false starts have taught me that I can only actually write one kind of book - light, adventure fantasy/comedy, which I keep hearing doesn't sell.

Of course, all of this is horribly negative. My new book (which I need to update the side bar for) is going to be AWESOME. It's hilarious in my favorite kind of way, very tongue in cheek, fantasy meta humor. It's actually fun to write, and I'm having a great time...

But I also dread that it won't sell. Ever. Still, you do what you have to do, and for me, that seems to be sticking to my roots.

I just hope someone reads it someday!

Monday, November 3, 2008


Deep down inside (ok, maybe not so deep), I have a pretentious streak a mile wide. I was an English Major! I can't help it!

I've spent the past year trying to write a serious novel. Eli (novel 1) is light fantasy with comedy elements. There's a serious plot, but it's overshadowed by my funny guy, Eli. But I've always wanted to write Serious Fantasy(tm)... trouble is, I don't seem to be very good at it. If you took all the unfinished novels I've started this year, you'd have almost 200k, not to mention the piles and piles of world building notebooks lying all over my home office. But finally, I think I'm beginning to get what my subconscious (and the evidence) has been telling me all along. I may have great ideas for serious fantasy, but I'm really lousy at writing them. I just can't get into the story.

So I'm going to just stop trying for a bit. Head back to my roots.

I think I'm going to write something funny. Even if it flops, well, at least I'll be writing. At this point, I'll take what I can get.

Monday, October 27, 2008

plots, ponderings, and NaNoWriMo

Due to many factors (my novel not selling, work being crazy, Warcraft being fun) which wouldn't matter if I was truly as HARDKOR about writing as I like to think I am, not much creative scribling has been going on. However, I have been very slowly and steadily building up notes and characters for a story I've been on-off working on for years. And as the timing works out, I am coming up on the end of my planning just in time for NaNoWriMo.

My relationship with the program is cold at best. I've always thought it was fairly silly. If you want to write a novel, there's nothing and no one to stop you except yourself. Writing is the most self sufficient art. It requires nothing except something to write on, regularly applied time, and the ability to push yourself forward once the 10% inspiration has bitten the dust and you're in the long, dry valley of the 90% perspiration. There is nothing more heart breaking or depressing than being 20,000 words into a novel and realizing that it's broken. It's dead and stupid and you can't fix it. Sometimes I make it over this hurdle, and those are the novels I finish. Sometimes I don't, and those are the novels that fall by the wayside while I move on to greener, less retarded pastures.

Everyone's path to storytelling is different, but for me, it is the ability to jump this hurdle, not word count or getting to the end, that makes me a novelist. An ability, I might add, that has been failing me of late.

NaNoWriMo takes the mack truck approach. Make your numbers, get it done. And it's true, if you sit down and make yourself write 1800 words a day (which I think is a ludicrous number. On my best days, when I'm going full steam, I get 2000 words in 2 and a half hours. Most days I'm happy if I get 1k in the same amount of time. I know I'm not the fastest writer, but if I made it my goal to get 1800 words a day, I'd have to spend 5 hours writing on average. My creative brain doesn't function that long.)

But NaNoWriMo, while an interesting tool, and I must admit a good get-up-and-go for getting people who've always wanted to write a novel to actually sit down and experience the day to day slog (because believe me, it's not roses and princes every day. Most days it's staring at the miles of empty white screen and trying not to panic), but in terms of helping people tell a story, it's a wobbly crutch at best, more likely to burn out potential novelists than create them.

If you're going to write a book, it isn't about the numbers, or how fast you go. It's about having a story strong enough to plow through the chasm of despair that you know is waiting for you somewhere in the middle. It's having characters who are strong enough to stand up and pull you out when you get stuck. If you can grasp those things, then the numbers will come by themselves so long as you take the time to write every day.

This is what I have learned through two novels. I hope it helps someone.

Now, back to the book.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

long time, no ramble

Hello all, I'm back and going to be trying to update this blog more frequently. For anyone who was wondering, yes, I've got my agent. Matt Bialer at SJGA. His wonderful assistant Lindsay scooped me out of the slush pile, which just goes to show it's all true: you don't need to know anyone to get an agent, you just need a book that can get their attention.

My book (which duh, I've never actually named on this blog), The Spirit Thief, is an adventure fantasy about a wizard thief who can sweet talk anything, the wizard cop on his trail, and the kingdom teetering on the edge of destruction because he can't keep his hands to himself. Right now it's sitting in an ever growing number of editor inboxes, and I'm trying to write a new book (trying is the operative word in that sentence).

I was moping over my foibles with book 3 when my husband quoted me something interesting off his blog-reader, "Story is the study of relationships over time." This goes along with the realization Sarah Monette gave me years ago, that story is different from plot.

I've always been an exceedingly plot driven writer. Plot and world always come first, then characters. How interesting, then, that the novel that actually won my agent started with the characters, or, more specifically, one character, Eli.

Eli is the main character of the Spirit Thief. There are many other characters in the book, some of whom I love so dearly, but it was always Eli's show (I only actually made up the title during the second draft, before that it was just "the Eli Novel.")

I don't have an Eli for my next novel, and it shows. In the Spirit Thief, I barely scratched the surface of real story telling, where the characters stop being plot devices and stand up to speak for themselves. If I'm going to make this happen again, I have to start with characters, because the characters are the story, not the world, not the plot. Plot without story is a hollow shell, and story is characters reacting with themselves and each other.

This is my discovery. Like so many other truths of writing, millions of writers have discovered it before me, but that means nothing. True understanding could only be gained by discovering it for myself.

Maybe now I can really start writing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Can't say too much yet, BUT...

Today I got the call. THE CALL.

I am now agented, and I could NOT be happier!

Hard work, it pays off!



Friday, June 20, 2008

Only I could turn good news into writer's block :P

So I've got a very good thing going for Novel 2, yay!! However, the prospect of maybe MAYBE actually getting an agent and selling the book is deep sixing my work on my current project. Because who knows? Maybe I'll have to drop it and work on edits/the sequel for book 2?!?!

Hahahaha.... right.

But the nagging thought it making it very hard to focus on the 2 novels I'm writing right now (yes, 2, because I suck and can't focus on one for whatever reason). Writing two novels has had unexpected benefits, however. Even on my worst writing days (like today) I can still find at least 200 words I want to say for one of them, and 200 words are better than no words at all.

Gotta get my pigs in a pile and keep going. I'm bogging down!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Things that drag me away

Novel 2 Update: No word on fulls, siiigh.

Gentle reader, please forgive this self-absorbed, rambling entry.

I've always had jobs that didn't require much from me, stuff where I could chill at work, not think too much, and then come home early or on time and get to writing. That's worked pretty well for the first 4 years out of college, but now I've gotten this new job, a kickass job in an area I really like, but hey, what's all this work I have to do? Now, for the first time, I have to work late to get things done. Real life has been steadily encroaching on writing time for years now (and it's so sad, by the time I get old enough to handle my free time in a disciplined fashion, all my copious free time vanishes!), but with this new job, it's become an all out trench war to protect my few precious hours in the morning when I actually get things done.

It doesn't help that I've been jumping between projects again. Or that I'm actually interested in the work I do, which makes me think about it when I'm NOT at work, hence not supposed to be thinking about it. Even worse, I have to type all day at work, and that's giving me wrist cramps, which hurt the most in the morning when I actually WANT to type! Curse you, traitorous wrists!

I'm really hoping this is just the entry blitz, and that once I get through the massive backlog and learn the enormous mountain of shit I don't know, things will settle down and time will clear up again.

But, in the mean time, argh.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Done with the rewrite for Novel 2! I'm still not 100% happy, but I'm happy enough to print this sucker and give to my readers for one last go over. Then I'll fix any problems they point out, give it one last (VERY QUICK) look, and send it out.

It's a lot better now. Honestly, even if it never sells, I'm so proud of this book. So proud of all the work I've done. Moments like this make it all worth it!

Monday, May 12, 2008


Despite the lack of updates, the rewrite is going. Very slowly, very badly, but going. The edits have forced me to face some of the major shortfalls of the book, and MAN, was I hoping no one would notice those.

Note to future rewriters: Don't dodge the hard stuff because you think you can cover it with a glossy sheen. If people do like your book, they will make you fix it. You can't shove it in your closet and hope Mom doesn't notice.

Ugh, back to the grind.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Requested rewrites

First, good news! An agent with a full liked it! YAY!

Semi-bad news: She's the agent's assistant, the agent in question hasn't actually seen it, and she wants a full rewrite.

She was nice nice nice as could be, and she really seems to get my novel. Also, she read all the way to the end, which makes me happy beyond belief. Her suggestions are all very good and would certainly make the book better, really fantastic even, but I'm still struggling, and here's why.

I love novel 2. Love love love. This is not why I'm skittish about a rewrite, rather, I'm afraid that, after almost a year spent on this novel, I'll never move on. I'm afraid to put more time into something that may never sell. I'm afraid I'll lose my current novels in the malaise of constant rewrites.

But, then again, part of being a writer is writing every word with the absolute knowledge that it may well never sell, that no one but you may ever see it. You can think something is amazing and wonderful and have no one share that opinion, it's all part and parcel of playing the letters game. But that's ok. That's how it has to be. I'm happy I got this far.

That said, I'm going to do the rewrite. I'm going to throw myself back into novel 2 like it's brand new, and I'm going to rip it apart to make it stronger. I love that book so much, it deserves nothing but the best I can give.

So, heads up, here we go.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

talking to people who don't exsist, it's not just for crazies anymore!

Obligatory Query Update:
Getting many nibbles on Novel 2 - no bites yet, but still some exciting things! Gotta keep on keeping on! I swear I shall join you in agent land, Cyn, in this life or the next!

As you see, Novel 3’s word counter has been steadily counting up. Writing’s been going well, but I'm treading a bit more carefully as I get into uncharted waters. Not plot-wise, mind, I've got that covered up until the very end, but person-wise. Every writer gets a freebie at the beginning, mine was the ability to pull an awesome cast out of thin air (main characters, on the other hand, are a bit more trouble). Still, traditionally my characters come to me complete. They know who they are and what they want and my only job is to built the course they're chomping at the bit to run.

This time, however, things are different. See, the problem with these fully made people is that it's very hard to get them to change. They just sort of are who they are through the whole story, with no real development. I've always felt this was my weakest link as a writer. I write strong characters, but not fluid ones. They're pretty much the same people at the end of the book as they are at the beginning, and while those people were and are awesome, I always feel like I'm cheating myself out of a depth of story I know I can reach.

That’s why, when I chose my story for Novel 3, I made character change an integral part of the plot. I’m not talking about how the plot can’t move forward without the character’s action, every book worth the name has that. What I mean is that the events slated to happen at the end CAN NOT occur if the two main characters have not changed from their starting personalities. Or, rather, I’ve set it up so that what's going to happen will happen whether the cast is ready or not, so it's up to the characters to change enough to survive the ending. Overly dramatic? Probably, but by doing things this way I'm holding a gun to their little fictional heads (and, thusly, to my own swollen one):

“Change or get chunked,” I whisper as I flip the safety, “the choice is yours.”

I just hope I know how to fire the damn thing.

Monday, March 31, 2008


Haha, this is actually one of my favorite things. So being all caught up in novel 3, I kind of forgot I'd sent some more queries off a few weeks back. Well, today I check my email like usual and boom, two partial requests from agents I'd actually forgotten about querying...

This was just what I needed today. Thank you, fate-type god-people!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

back in the saddle again!

Finally found my third novel after all the false starts and it's going to be awesome.

Everyone's favorite fun time, new novel math!

Goal: 5000 words/week (what I know I can get even when things are bad), 100k total.
Timeline: 100,000/5000 = first draft done in 20 weeks, or the beginning of August (I'm cheating here a little, I actually already have 10k from a previous false start on this novel, but since I'll probably have to rewrite it anyway, I'm going to act like I'm starting from scratch.)

There's a lot going on plotwise in this novel, a lot of information to be packed into a relatively small amount of space. Looking at my notes, I could easily ramble on for 200k. However, 200k is unacceptable, so I'm going to do my best while writing to think "how is this important to the story? Could I do this better elsewhere?" Experience has shown that I am a piss poor editor, so doing more of this thinking during the writing phase of things might just make things easier. ANYTHING to avoid chopping a 200k novel down to 100k. That's just cruel and awful.

My end goal is to really take my time with this one, to get it written, then let it sit and cook while I do other things. Then, when I've forgotten how much I hate it (I hate every book I write for weeks after I finish it, and as soon as I type "The End" my fingers get physically itchy with the urge to go and fix all my mistakes right away. It's like I'm worried they'll become permanent if I let them sit, kind of like wine stains.) Well, not this time! This time I will restrain myself for AT LEAST a month.

I'm not even going to write out a time line for my edit. It'll just get done when it gets done.

Ah, it feels good to be back in the game. Watch the wordmeter, here we go again!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Ode to a wiki

My all time favorite world building tool has to be the humble wiki. What other tool lets you spill out ideas, link them to other ideas, edit at will, track changes, keep all your world building notes online, easily accessible from everywhere, and is, best of all, free, simple, and easy to use? (Answer: Nothing)

My favorite at the moment is dokuwiki (linked in the side bar to your left), which I like because it is clean, simple, and PHP based with no database so I can keep it on my cheap hosting plan. Still, dokuwiki is just one of hundreds of free wiki programs out there, and there’s all kinds of awesome, fun things you can do with them.

When I start a world building wiki for a new novel I generally begin with the front page, carving my proto-novel up into neatly labeled divisions: themes, characters, settings, plot, magic systems, whatever I need. Then I just go down the list, clicking on each division to add a list of articles for that area, character names, for instance, or a list of places, anything I want to get to fast. Once I’ve listed everything, I go in and start filling in the blanks. For example, under my characters heading I now have a list of characters. I click on the character name to make a link, go in and start writing. I don’t worry about anything else right then except that character, what they look like, what they want, what their role in the story is, cool scenes where they appear, etc. As I go, I toss in links for important words (other character names, important places, themes, anything that looks good). Then, when I feel like I’ve got a good bit down about the character, I start filling in the new links. For example, if I mention that character A is the son of characters H and G, I’ll click on those new character names and start filling in their stories. This creates a whole new scattering of links, and so I click on THOSE and start filling THEM in, and organically, magically, the world of the story beings to emerge.

Because everything in a wiki is based on relationships, world building in a wiki is also a fantastic way to see where your world is thin. For example, when one of my main characters has a 2000 word write up and tons of links to other characters, places, and plot elements, but my other main character has two paragraphs and no links, it’s pretty obvious where I need to a spend some brain time. But even when everything’s been fleshed out as much as you can stand and it’s time to actually tell the story, the wiki continues to be insanely useful. Once I start writing, I refer to my wikied notes constantly to make sure I’m not forgetting things (or getting things wrong). This in itself is not unique, notes of any kind are made to be looked at, but the real gem of it is when things change.

Say I’m writing along and suddenly, one of the characters does something he’s not supposed to, something that changes the story. Even with the best planning (sometimes because of the best planning) this happens all the freaking time. Now you’ve got a new story with a new twist, and things have to change to survive. Back when I used to world build on paper, this generally meant I was screwed. I’d either have to go back and rewrite things (boring, time-consuming, by this point I want to WRITE, not world build) or just wing it and let my notes become outdated. Of course, if you don’t update your notes to incorporate changes, they become useless by the time you REALLY need them, which is when you have to tie everything back together at the novel’s end. One minute you’re right on track, writing away, then something changes and the next thing you know you’re winging through uncharted plot jungle on a few napkin notes and a prayer. This, to state the obvious, is not a comfortable way to work, and often leads to fumbling the ball, dropping the ball, or losing the ball entirely.

But a wiki saves me from ending panic, because with a wiki I can change my world notes on the fly as the writing changes the story. And not only do you make changes to the notes on the specific incident (e.g., a character does something that changes him from ally to enemy, so you have to go in and revise his part in later plot sections), but the nature of the wiki itself forces you to consider everything that links to the bit that’s different, spreading the changes throughout the work and making the whole world building web stronger.

Because my whole note system can change organically, flowing with the story instead of remaining stationary, fundamental changes become more manageable and your notes stay relevant and, most importantly, correct. What that mean in reality is that by the time I reach the end of the book I’m standing solid on a battle-tested mountain in interlinked, indexed ideas that have been with me through the whole process, and not on a napkin. And, trust me, it’s a much better place to be.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The 10 year plan, revisited

No tremendous news to report on Novel 2 - 2 partials rejected with kind words, one more full requested, but no real dustups on either side of the reject/accept coin.

My 26th birthday is coming up (March 8, actually, send happy thoughts my way!) and this, coupled with my attempts to tame my home office, have sent me into some deep thinking. Many moons ago, when I turned 20, I drew up a ten year plan for myself. This plan has survived 2 hard drive crashes and 3 computers, which is more than I can say for most of my files (Obviously, something in the universe wants me to remember how stupid I was at 20) and it’s pretty funny (not to mention humbling) to look at now.

According to my timeline, my fourth book was supposed to be coming out this month. To put that in a little perspective, I was also supposed to be working for a high powered design firm and living on the west coast. As it is I'm married and living in the same town where I went to college. Marriage wasn't even ON my plan!

So I've fallen just a little bit short of my starry-eyed aspirations, but I didn't miss them entirely. I have written 2 books, each better than the next, and I'm still writing daily, which is more than I could say for myself at 20 (those early years were heavy on the talking about writing and light on the actual writing bit).

The best part of my ten year plan, though, is the finale: "2012: Quit job to work as a novelist full time."

Well, it's not 2012 yet, I've still got time to finish big! But to do that, I've got to actually sell something, which means I have to write something people want to buy, which means I have to write, and I have to write well. There's the catch. Over the last six years I think I’ve proved that anyone with a little discipline can apply butt to chair and write a beginning, middle, and end. But when life is so short, and 20 to 26 passes before you realize it, you being to understand that more is needed. It’s not enough to write a novel, it’s not even enough to write a good novel, I have to create a story that’s worth my time to tell it, a reader’s time to absorb. I didn’t hit that in my first novel. I did better in my second, but there are still plenty of places where I leaned on convention and didn’t offer anything truly new. Maybe by 2012 I’ll have it down, maybe I’ll hit it in the novel I’m working on right now. Who knows? All I can do is keep trying, keep writing, and then, maybe, when I really do reach the end of the obsolete 10 year plan, I’ll be able to look back at my decade of fumbling in the dark and see that, even if I’m not where I though I should be, the view is worth it all the same.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My love of what I can not have

(AKA, my Sarah Monette obsession)

Sarah Monette is my favorite author, hands down. She’s followed closely (but in no particular order) by Ellen Kushner, Jeff VanderMeer, and China Mieville. All of these authors inspire me deeply, and when I hit walls with my own writing, I know it’s time to close the laptop and go pick up Melusine or Perdido Street Station. A few hours later I’m fired and fresh and ready to go back to my own stories.

But the strangest part about these authors is that none of them write in anything close to my style. I write quick, fun fantasy – heavy on the swordplay, larger than life characters, and skippy plots, light on the sort of deep, velvety description and fathomless imagery found in the novels listed above. If Sarah Monette writes Victorian drapes heavy with brocade and the blood of forgotten murders, and China Mieville writes impossibly beautiful alien balloons floating over the ruins of a mad city, I write IKEA sofas – colorful, fun, not necessarily minimalist, but they get right to the point.

Yet when I read stories that are closer to my own voice, I enjoy them, but I’m not inspired in the same way. My mind is always teeming with "I could have done that" and "wow, they did this a lot better than I did." I can’t see the novel for the words, so to speak. But Monette, Kushner, VanderMeer, and Mieville are removed from the reality of my daily writing. They operate in a different world with different rules where I am a stranger, and my only duty is to be amazed.

So why can't I write the kind of stories that inspire me? Well, when I’m being cruel to myself, I think it’s because my weak brain can’t function in the dizzy heights of meaning these other, better writers thrive in. But when I’m being kind, like I am today, I hypothesize that the real reason I love Sarah Monette and the others so deeply is precisely because they write the stories I can not, freeing me to unclinch the deathgrip of my writer mind and just be a reader again.

When I’m stuck on a story, more often then not it’s because I’m letting my writer brain, with its silly worries about publication and pride and grammar and pacing, do all the talking. But my writer mind only knows the plot, the turns and road signs along the path. My reader mind is the one who knows where we’re actually going, and it demands rest stops and detours through places it’s never been. So, when my directions lead me down another dead end, little bit by little bit I’m learning to step back, take a detour, climb up to a high place and look around. After a sufficient amount of oohing and ahhing at the countryside, I’ll find my road again. Works every time.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

throwing the baby out with the bathwater

Sorry for the long silence, no new information has surfaced, and a writing blog is kind of dull during the actual writing part of things.

If you really want to know what you missed, here's the abridged version:

1) Worked on Novel 3 for about five minutes.
2) Checked email for news of Novel 2’s queries.

Just highlight those two lines and hit ctrl+v, then open a new word document and hit ctrl+c until you get carpel tunnel. There you go! Minute by minute updates!

So, no new news. Work on the next novel goes slowly, mostly because this novel takes RESEARCH. I've never done a novel that needs research, so this is a new experience (yay for libraries and wikipedia!). But as I write, I keep running into walls, and this is where the title of this post comes in.

Writing Novel 1 was this crazy rollercoaster time where I was sure that all I had to do was tell a cool story and people would read it. After I finished my first edit, I read every how-to-get-an-agent blog/post/FAQ on the internet. Then, when I had my chapters ready and my query letter in top shape, I gleefully stuck everything in the mail with the absolute certainty that there was NO WAY IN HELL anyone could reject my wonderful, wonderful novel.

Apparently hell has many ways I was unaware of, because the rejections rolled in at a brisk clip. I had quite a few partial requests and one full, but that was mostly because I had a really killer query. Once people got the actual book, they were less enthusiastic. Looking back when the dust had settled, I could see the novel’s problems (it was way too long, too slow, and the beginning was terrible). I tried to fix them for a while, but by this point I'd been working on this novel in one form or another for a year and a half. I was bored with the story, and, anyway, I had tons of new ideas! After a few false starts (actually, right in the middle of one particularly long false start that had cleverly disguised itself as an amazing idea), I hit upon the core of the story that grew into Novel 2.

That's when I started this blog. Novel 2 was going to be completely different than Novel 1. It was going to be quick! Exciting! And, most of all, I was going to get it done fast. No pussy footing around. Only serious footing, like jackrabbit feet, would be allowed. I stuck to my guns and cranked out Novel 2 in just under 6 months, and it was not only eons ahead of Novel 1, it was the best thing I'd ever written. It was funny! Exciting! I’d let other people read it before sending it out.

This time, I KNEW, there was NO WAY IN HELL it could be rejected…

Damn hell and its endless invention of ways! But, despite the rejections, I've gotten farther with this story than I ever got with Novel 1, and I still don't know how it will end up. But the specter of rejection looms over me while I work on Novel 3, and it's leading to some perhaps unwise second guessing.

See, when I wrote my other books, it was all about the story. Sure I was thinking about how I'd sell it (I'm a goal driven person. I can't write just to write, I have to have an audience in mind), but that took back seat to the writing. Novel 3 is different. This time I can't get the publisher in my brain to shut up and sit down long enough for me to write two sentences together. After every paragraph I write, I find myself pausing. Is this idea good enough to sell? Why am I bothering? Has someone already done this? Did they do it better? Why did you write that? You're fucking it up, aren't you? REAL writers don't write like that. God, they'll never buy that. Then I look over at the publisher in my mind, and she flicks her cigarette and tells me to do it again, but try to suck less this time.

Sometimes I tell her to go soak her head, but other times, too many times, I toss out the paragraph and try again. Every time I give in, I get the creeping spider feeling that, when I let my hopes for publication make decisions about my writing, I'm losing the real story.

It's times like this when I feel like those months at the beginning when I didn't know what I was doing were the only months where I actually had it right.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

the good news and the bad news

First, good news! I've got 3 partials out, and today the agent who requested the first of those three emailed back and said she wanted to see more!

(Intermission for Snoopy dancing!)

But (and you knew there was a but, right?) before I send her more, she wants some changes. She said she really liked a lot of stuff, but had some plot issues. Everything she brought up was well reasoned and appropriate. I have no doubts the changes will improve the novel, and I can't express how awesome it was to have someone who is a big agent in Fantasy talking to me about MY novel with the words "there's a lot I like"... I mean, that's going on my wall, right there! But, I'm so nervous about the changes. She was pretty specific about what she wanted, and I think I know how I could do it, but what if I fuck it up? What if I do all this work and she's like "on second thought, no thanks."

Of course, that could happen, but if I don't make the changes, she won't request it at all. She obviously sees something there, or she wouldn't be putting time into asking for changes. Time seems to be an agent's most valuable resource, and if she's willing to invest it in my book, then the least I can do is go at her changes whole heartedly.

Mostly, I'm afraid that I'm going to shoot myself in the foot. I've wanted this for so long, my confidence in my own abilities is shaken, and that won't do at all. After all, it's my story! If anyone can fix it, I can.

All this author nonsense is turning me into an obsessive twitch-case. Believe it or not, I'm NORMALLY very laid back.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

who knew I had it in me?

And while the queries for Novel 2 languish under piles of their brethren in lit agent inboxes, I start a new story.

It's something I haven't done before, a love story. Novel 1 had a side romance, but it got lost in THE END OF THE WORLD, which was slightly more pressing at the time. Novel 2 had no romance at all - not even so much as a weighted moment or longing glance. I've tried to write love stories before, but they always putter out. I thought it was because I'm not a romantic at heart, and I don't find love stories to be interesting in and of themselves. But then I look at my obsessive shipping of certain couples, and I realize that's bollocks. I just hadn't found the right story yet.

Around Christmas, the right story found me. Wonked me upside the head and broke open like a plot piƱata, more accurately. All the candy scenes landed in more or less the right order, and I knew, I KNEW I had to write this. I knew it would take a lot longer than anything I'd done before, and I knew it would be a total bitch to write, yet I'm certain, if I can find that timbre I'm looking for, this will be the best thing I've ever done.

A week later and I'm 7000 words in, 5000 of which were written last weekend in a fit of joy I've never experienced in my writing before. I know it won't last. This novel, like every novel, will hit a rock, or a whole mountain range, and there will be issues, days when I loathe it, but, for this moment, I adore every the story with a passion I didn't think I had in me, and it's such a wonderful, strange, beautiful feeling.

At a time in my life when I spend 23 of my 24 hours obsessing over publication, a moment of writing just for the sheer joy of it is worth more than words could say. This is why I write. Sometimes it takes a sound thrashing to get me to remember of that.

Monday, January 7, 2008

I hate synopsisesessses

I also hate the word "synopsis," moving on.

By the end of December, I finally got a query I was pretty happy with, but, after days of trying, no synopsis worth a damn. So I queried agents that didn't require a synopsis (a temporary solution), and, lo and behold, I get 2 partial requests (YAY!), both of which wanted a synopsis (BOO!). So I sat down and wrote one in a night, and it's horrible as I knew it would be, but it works. I wrote a much funnier, wittier one, but it was seven pages long. My rule of thumb is that you can go on for as long as you're entertaining, but that no one is as entertaining as they think they are, so keep it short. Seven pages, while entertaining (to me, at least), was not short. So I chopped it and made a 3 page version, which is terrible, but might just get the job done.

This let me query a whole glut of new agents. Right now I've sent queries to about 1/2 the people on my agent list. If they all say no, I guess I'll just go find some publishers who take unagented submissions. This feels like horrible failure to me, but I really love this book. I love the characters so much, I couldn't stand sticking them in the drawer. So I'll keep trying, for their sake if not mine.

But we've only had 3 rejections to date, so there's still plenty more to go!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Right on schedule!

Queries are out!

UPDATE - 1/8
One more rejection, one more query out!

Queries sent: 14
Rejections: 4
Partials: 2

Moving along with Novel 3. Stop hovering, Rachel, and write your damn book.