Monday, June 29, 2009

Query Letters

It had to happen sooner or later. I mean, what aspiring writer doesn't put a post about query letters on their blog at some point?

This post has, of course, been prompted by the fact that I am currently drafting the first-ever query letter for my still-untitled YA novel. (Yes, I'm going to have to think of a title before I send the queries off.) Since there are a bazillion websites and blog posts on how to write a query letter (believe me, I know; I've been looking at them all) and because I am by no stretch of the imagination good at writing query letters, I'm not going to talk about how to write one. Rather, I'm going to rant about - er, point out what I think are some of the most common difficulties when it comes to writing query letters.

1. Finding an Agent to Query

Again, there are a bazillion sites to help with this. But it does take some time, and often you have to do some specific research on particular agents to see what books they've repped, maybe even read those books, and find a way to personalize your query to them. All of this = time consuming, but necessary.

2. Writing a Synopsis

It's hard to sum up months of work, with all of its remarkable characters and brilliant subplots, in a paragraph. It's even harder to make it sound good. I can't offer any pointers here. When I figure out how to mash thousands of words into about a hundred, I'll patent it and let you know!

3. Tone

It's always safer to air on the side of professionalism. But sometimes it can be tempting to try to be funny/glib/cute/otherwise more appealing than a boring old professional. It can be especially difficult to resist when the agent you're querying has a witty blog, the tone of which is so captivating that you just HAVE to match it. (i.e. Nathan Bransford *flatteryflatteryflatteryjustincaseIlinkmyblogintheemailandheclicksit*) As of right now, I'm still leaning towards DON'T DO IT! (Try to be clever and witty, that is.) It's too risky. No agent (presumably) is going to reject you because your query letter was too polite and professional. They might, however, reject it because you were too unprofessional. Even if you are hilarious.

Alright. I'm pretty much done complaining about discussing the hard parts of query-writing. Now I should get back to actually writing them. *procrastinates*

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Sun Was Coming Up...

After watching the first twenty minutes of The Hitcher last night, and getting totally freaked out, and then Googling the ending and deciding I didn't want to watch anymore, I wrote 7.1K words in my WIP! *is proud of self* For any of you who don't regularly count the number of words found per page of a word document, that's approximately 13 pages. (For me with all my one-liner dialogue, anyway.)

To accomplish this, I had to stay up until 5:30 in the morning! (I was getting such a rush writing, I wasn't even tired.) The sun was on it's way UP when I went to bed. I contemplated getting breakfast before going to bed. It amuses me.

Anyway, those 7000 words were the product of a decision to start re-writing the last 170-ish pages of my WIP. I realized I'd spent the whole half of the book talking about how horrible it would be if X happened. Then X happened really wasn't such a big deal. So, now it is a big deal! I'm making my characters' lives more difficult and it's FUN! Muahaha!

That's about all I have to say - although I did feel oddly inspired to do one of my Calculus assignments yesterday. It's all done now. All I have to do is submit it to the drop box.

Then I really must get on with editing my Untitled YA (or trying) to edit it, so that I can send it to my wonderfully marvelous betas. I might just send it to them as is. I've been looking at it for so long I don't know what to do with it anymore. To change the ending, or not to change the ending. To water down the MC's clumsiness, or to leave her as a practically lethal weapon...Questions, questions, questions.

Alright. Now for real, that's all I have to say.


Friday, June 19, 2009


*sounds like she's quoting Braveheart* (Did not enjoy that movie, btw. We Were Soldiers was good, though.)

But I'm not quoting Mel Gibson. I'm merely rejoicing because I wrote my Chem exam and I am DONE SCHOOL! (At least, in-school school. I've still got three online courses to finish, but I'm determined to ignore those at least for today. Especially because my online teachers ignore me so diligently. *bitter grumbling*)

Now I can WRITE! (And look for a job.) But mostly WRITE!

Except I'm worrying my WIP is having problems. Which I will list here, both because I'm procrastinating and because it's all I can think about right now and therefore all I can blog about.

1) It sounds like I'm preaching about the health risks of smoking. (Which I'm not trying to do!)

2) One of the major characters is probably using too big of a vocabulary, given his lack of formal education. But I'm not sure.

3) The relationship - or "relationship" - between my MC and her love interest (the same troublesome character mentioned in #2, actually) might bother some feminists. But I can't help it that my MC is a slow learner and is at the bottom of the metaphorical ladder, while the LI (love interest) is nearer the top and might occasionally come across as controlling because she'd get herself blown up/shot/arrested/involuntarily pregnant if left to her own devices. *wishes her MC was more aware of her surroundings/not so sheltered*

Anyway, I'm off to mull this over a bit more and then WRITE! (Or revise, perhaps. Shrink LI's vocabulary, make the conversations about emphysema and lung cancer less preachy and more snarky...)

Tootaloo! :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

<3 Historical Fiction

Instead of studying my Chem review like I should be, I'm on here, writing Blog Post #4!

I just finished reading REMEMBRANCE by Theresa Breslin. It's an historical YA fiction set in WWI. Without going into too much detail, because I really should at least glance at my Chem before I go into class for the review, it has made me develop a liking for historical fiction. 

It also made me remember my grade 10 history classes, because when you're reading along and Soldier Character #1 writes a letter saying something along the lines of, "We're heading for battle around Passchendael..." you have to stop and think, "Passchendael? That gives me a bad feeling for some reason." Then it dawns on you and you think, "Oh, bugger. There goes Soldier Character #1. Man, I liked him, too." (Not that he necessarily dies. Not spoiling anything here. That's just what I thought when they were at the Somme, or Passchendael, or Ypres.)

Okay, well, maybe I'll add some more/make this slightly less incoherent later, but I really must go and do something productive now.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

5 Days Later...

It's definite: I'm going to be a horrible, inconsistent blogger.

But the sad thing is, nothing much has happened in the past 5 days. Hmmm. Let's see...

News Update

Good News:
- I didn't fail my Chem test! Hallelujah!
- I got a perfect on the evil titration lab we did a few days ago
- I found someone to beta read my book*
- The bee is out from under my windshield**

Bad/Mediocre News:
- I have to go back to school at 6:30 to do the sound and lights for a dance recital. Wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't already had to sit through the show at an obscenely early hour this morning. (Obscenely early = 9 am)
- We're almost out of fish food for the fish
- I'm coming to the conclusion that the MC in the Book* is static, rather than dynamic, and therefore lacks a decent character arc
- And, um...I didn't win the lottery. Not that I bought a ticket, but it would've been great if a winning ticket had magically materialized on my doorstep.

* This book is the one I entered in the Delacorte Press Contest. It had a title, but I'm beginning to get embarrassed by the title - which was only really good when paired with a sequel, which might not happen now - so I think I'm changing it. When I get around to querying, after my lovely beta finishes with it, maybe I'll post a synopsis. 

** The bee news could've gone under either heading, really - good news, or mediocre - but I decided to be positive and put it under good news. Because it is good. In the sense that it's now gone. The bad news is that it's gone because I forgot about it this morning and turned on my windshield wipers. (It was raining. It had to be done.) But the bee carcass ended up flying up and getting stuck on the windshield for a minute, until the wipers swiped it away again (possibly mashing it onto my hood - I haven't looked). It scared me, and I nearly drove into a ditch. But I didn't actually. So that's good.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dead Bees and Writing Crises

I should really be studying for my Chem exam right now, but...

I was just reading Nathan Bransford (the literary agent)'s blog, and he had a post today about how the economic crisis is basically making it a heck of a lot harder to get published. Which is great news for me! (Yes, I'm being sarcastic.) 

So, in an effort to step up my game (also in Mr. Bransford's post), I went and took another look at the book I'm getting ready to query with. And now I'm thinking the hook may not be hooky enough (even though I chopped off the mundane beginning in the hopes of digging the hook in quicker), my MC is lacking a character arc, and the ending is funny (not in a good way). Part of the problem, I think, is that I wrote this book to submit to the Delacorte Press Contest and it had to be between 100 and 224 pages. I took this to be the page count after it was formatted, so, single-spaced, it had to be under 112 pages, approximately. This may have led to a rather abrupt 'I've only got twenty pages left to wrap things up in! AH! *throws climax at readers*' sort of ending. And it didn't leave a lot of room for my MC to arc.

Anyway, the point of that all is I'm having a complete panic attack and I really need a beta reader and the obvious option is my little sister, but when I asked her to read it she said, "Sure! For $23." ... Money gouger. So now I need to look elsewhere. 

And my WIP is alarmingly long. Over 167k now. Apparently agents get nervous about things over 120K and downright terrified when they see anything over 140K. Oops. So, I either have to get out the editing sheers or split it into two books. Especially 'cause it ain't even finished yet!

*shrivels up* 

In other news: there's a dead bumble bee stuck under my windshield wiper. How it got there, I do not know. I drove to school yesterday and when I came out to drive back home, there it was with one leg stuck under the wiper, wiggling around and generally distracting me from things like oncoming traffic. 

I tried to let it out when I got home, but I've never actually tried to lift a windshield wiper before and it didn't work out too well. I think I lifted it off the windshield, but I didn't have a great vantage point (was trying to stay as far away from the bumble bee and its stinger as was possible). But for whatever reason, it didn't move, so either it was slightly smooshed and stuck there, or I didn't lift the wiper enough. Anyway, I had a minor girlish freak out at the grossness of the situation and I accidentally dropped the wiper so that it snapped back onto the windshield. 


It's possible that the bee got killed then. Or it died overnight. (I'm sorry, bee!) But for whatever reason, it's dead now, and still stuck under my wiper. I'm not sure how to get rid of it. Most of my plans involve long sticks and biohazard suits, neither of which are readily available. (You think I'd be able to find a stick somewhere, considering the number of trees around here.)

Anyway, I really should be getting to work on that Chem review... (We watched Captain Kirk fight the Gorn today in class. There were redox reactions involved somehow. It was very entertaining. *loves the progress we've made with special effects*)

But seriously. I should go...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The First Post EVER

On a whim, and because I procrastinate far too much, I decided to create a blog. 

However, I was by no means intending to post something instantaneously. So, for now, this pathetic excuse for a first-ever blog entry will have to do, while I muck about with settings and features and all that fun stuff that lets me avoid my Physics homework. 


Okay. So. This blog was intended to be partially used as a tool to increase my marketability, and so on and so forth. This gives birth to some problems, such as: what background do I use? I have to look somewhat professional, so I think all the gothic, glittering, swirling backgrounds are probably out, no matter how alluring I find them. Also, for readability, I think it has to be somewhat light-coloured, but not neon bright, and not too distracting on the sides...

Sheesh. Blogging takes up almost as much brain power as Physics.

Even later:

*does a happy dance* I made the pretty banner work. You wouldn't believe how difficult that was to do. Way more trouble than it should have been. 

Anyway, I've decided to do a halfway decent post now. I really ought to focus on more literary subjects, maybe, but I can't think of anything at the moment (probably because it's 10:18 pm) so I'll tell you about the Beef Broth Incident. 

My sister has a cold. 

So, when she said she was hungry, I offered to make her some chicken noodle soup. Trouble only arose when I went out to the kitchen, raided the cupboards, and discovered that there was onion soup, mushroom soup, cream of celery soup...but no chicken noodle.

Feeling very clever, I thought to myself, I'll just boil some pasta in chicken broth and voila!

I saw a can with the word 'broth' on it (chicken broth is the only kind of broth I have ever seen in our cupboards until today), grabbed it, opened it, and poured it into a pot. However, as I was adding water, it dawned on me that the alleged chicken broth was a rather odd shade of dark brown.

I looked at the can again...and discovered it was beef broth. No chicken broth to be found anywhere in the cupboard. (Nothing much to be found at all, actually, in the cupboard or the fridge, because it had been a while since anyone had been to the grocery store.)

I glanced around. My sister was safely in her room. She hadn't seen the can. So I chucked it and kept cooking, since I had nothing else to make her and I figured she might be feverish enough to not notice the colour.

Ten mintues later:

Sister: What's wrong with it?
Me: Nothing.
Sister: Why's it black?
Me: It's not black. 
Sister: Yes it is.
Me: It's brown.
Sister: It's black. You burned the soup!
Me: I did not! That's just...what it looks like.
Sister: Is not! What's wrong with it?
Me: Nothings wrong with it. Just try a bit.
Sister: No! It's black! It's probably old!
Me: It's not old. There's a perfectly good reason why it's that colour. Just try it.
Sister: What's the reason? Tell me the reason!
Me: ...You'll like it.
Sister: Why is it black?
Me:'s not exactly the regular chicken broth, per se.
Sister: Then what is it?
Me: (from behind my anti-germ mask) Beef broth.
Sister: Beets?! I hate beets!
Me: No, no. Not beets. (wait for her to look relieved) It's beef.
Me: You eat chicken broth. Chicken is meat.
Sister: But that's chicken. Beef is like, the meatiest meat of all!
Me: Ugh.

And the moral of the story is: Don't try to fool vegetarians who eat chicken broth into eating beef broth.

But anyway, I really should get to bed. Have to get up bright and early in the morning!