Thursday, May 28, 2009

More Zen!

One more photo from Hawaii. I'm trying to be zen because I've sent my queries out and while I've received a few rejections already, one agent I've always wanted to work with is currently reading the full manuscript. Seriously, I couldn't believe he was interested. It was one of those what-the-hell-I-have-no-chance-but-let's-give-it-a-shot queries. And I got a request for a full. I know the chances are slim of it going any farther than that, but yes, I'm trying not to freak out. Hence the photos of Hawaii. Hawaii is very calming.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Your Moment of Zen #2

Busy week.

Here's another photo of Hawaii, this from the inside of Kilauea Iki Crater, which last erupted in 1959.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Your Moment of Zen

I'm in the process of querying now and as always, it's a stressful time for me. So here's a little something to take my mind off it and that I hope you'll enjoy too. I present to you, a shot of Hualalai taken from Waikoloa on the Big Island, from when I last visited in '07.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Revised Query Letter

OK, here is the revised query based on your suggestions. Thank you very much! By the way, my process with queries is that I usually solicit feedback from a couple of different places (in this case I posted it on as well), then I take the feedback and just think on it for a little while. Walk the dog, go food shopping, something like that. Then usually while I'm in Aisle Seven, staring at cans of tuna fish, I'll have an A-ha! moment and realize how I can fix the query. Finally, I cut and paste the feedback into my query document and as I go along making changes, I check off what I've fixed. I don't always make every change that is suggested, but in this case, I pretty much did.

And if that process seems relatively straightforward, understand that there was much gnashing of teeth and yelling at the computer along the way.

So, here it is:

Sixteen-year-old Justine Kwiatkowski never planned on becoming a modern day King Arthur, she’s always preferred a good brawl to a sword fight and she’s got finals to worry about at the end of the month. But when her best friend Gwen is kidnapped outside the town of Avalon, she’ll do whatever it takes to get her back, even if it means questioning suspects, believing in magic, and pulling a sword out of a stone, even if it means risking her life by picking a fight with Morgan le Fay.

Because her best friend happens to be the reincarnation of Guinevere, and fifteen hundred years after the fall of Camelot, the Knights of the Round Table have returned, reborn as New Jersey teens. Now Morgan le Fay, with a little assist from Mordred, is killing the knights before they can remember who they were, kidnapping Gwen to draw out the last few survivors.

Not that Justine believes any of this is real. Reincarnation? Magic? She’s not a knight, she just wants her friend back. Making the connection between Gwen’s kidnapping and the murders of bright and promising area teens, she investigates the teens’ deaths, discovering the secret of who they once were and racing to track down the rest before they become the next victims.

She’s helped along the way by Gwen’s boyfriend, a loner from the wrong side of the tracks searching for redemption. Justine doesn’t know if she can trust him, especially when he claims to be Lancelot du Lac, but after she’s attacked by the Green Knight and pulls Excalibur from a stone, she’s starting to think he might be on to something.

To save her best friend, Justine will have to bring together Lancelot and the other knights and defeat Mordred. For Justine, that’s not a problem, and she just might save the world in the process.

Knights of Avalon, a YA Urban Fantasy, is complete at 65,000 words. While intended to be a three-part series, the first book is stand alone. If interested, the manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your consideration!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Query Letter Returns

When last we left my query letter for Knights of Avalon, it looked like this. Not bad. Decent. But I felt it could use a little more personality. A little more pizazz. So I covered it in hearts and sparkles left the query alone for a couple of weeks, thought about the tone and feeling I wanted to convey, and did some revisions.

Here's my latest draft, what do you all think?

Sixteen-year-old Justine Kwiatkowski never planned on becoming a latter day King Arthur, she’s always preferred a good brawl to a sword fight, but when her best friend Gwen is kidnapped in the town of Avalon, she’s determined to do whatever it takes to get her back. Canvas neighborhoods. Question suspects. Believe in magic. Pull a sword out of a stone. Maybe even pick a fight with Morgan le Fay.

Because her best friend happens to be the reincarnation of Guinevere, and fifteen hundred years after the fall of Camelot, the Knights of the Round Table have returned, reborn as New Jersey teens.

There’s Gwen’s boyfriend, the loner from the wrong side of the tracks who blames himself for bloodshed that happened over a thousand years before he was born, the self-professed drama nerd whose only fighting experience is in West Side Story but finds herself able to take down a champion black belt with ease, the troubled artist who obsessively paints images of the Holy Grail, and the star football tackle who only wants two things in life, a giant battle axe and to keep his brothers and sisters safe.
Problem is: Someone’s killing the knights before they can remember who they once were. If Justine can’t help them discover their pasts and join together, there’ll be no future, not for Gwen, not for them, not for anyone.

Knights of Avalon, a YA Urban Fantasy, is complete at 65,000 words. If interested, the manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your consideration!

Why I Need an Agent

I get asked on occasion if I'd like to work with an agent. This is sort of like being asked if I'd like to work with a pretty, sparkly unicorn. Sure, I'd love to work with a pretty, sparkly unicorn, especially one that was good at contract negotiations, but I don't know if I can find a pretty, sparkly unicorn.

I've also had it pointed out to me that writers don't need agents to get published. This is true. That said, I need an agent. And here's a little hypothetical scenario to show you why:

Publishing House: O hai there! We love your story about a beagle who's secretly a ninja, fighting to save the world, and we'd like to offer you a two-book deal.

Me: Oh wow oh wow oh wow! Where do I sign?

Publishing House: Here, you can use this bottle of red ink. Just sign on the dotted line.

Me: Wait a minute. That's not ink, that's blood! And Paragraph 18(b), right under the part about electronic rights, says I'm selling my soul! And there's nothing in here about payment.

Publishing House: We're glad that you asked about payment. In return for us giving you a two-book deal, we are prepared to give you this here Slurpee, cold and refreshing, along with this piece of string and a brand new paper clip.

Me: Paper clip. Oooh, shiny. (bats at the paper clip, taking a sip of the Slurpee) Deal!

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Truth About Agents, Revealed!

If you haven't already, I highly recommend you read Jessica Faust's recent post titled, "Agents Aren't the Enemy."

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're probably saying to yourself, "Wow, that Jessica Faust person sure is reasonable and fair-minded, patient and kind. She probably rescues kittens out of trees and travels to foreign countries to help orphans in her free time."

Don't be fooled my fellow writers! I link to her post to show you just how devious these agents can be. Let the truth set you free! We have nothing to lose but our royalty checks! Don't let these agents, with their free advice, and taking time out of their busy schedules to answer questions they've already been asked over a hundred times, lure you into a false sense of security. Because I'm here to tell you right now: Agents feast on the tears of rejected writers. That and massive doses of caffeine.

They do.

We now take you to the agents' evil lair under the IHOP in Queens.

"What do we have here? The writer claims this
revolutionary literary fiction about a frustrated
writer who travels to Alaska to find himself, only
to get bitten by a vampire and become an undead
nature documentary filmmaker, will be the next
Twilight. And you know what, it surely would be!
Especially with all the basic spelling and grammar
errors, those really give the manuscript an authentic feel.
Hah! Who needs to earn a living? Let us crush this
writer's precious dreams underfoot."

"Ah, the distilled tears of a frustrated writer, mixed
with some pomegranate juice. I feel my power growing
already. Nom nom nom."

"So, now that we're done fostering mediocrity and
stifling the creativity of unappreciated literary
geniuses, who do you think is going to win America's
Next Top Model?"

Thursday, May 7, 2009

When Writing Gets Hard

I've heard a lot of writers say the middle of the book is the hardest to write. For me, it's the end. Not so much coming up with an ending, more that I tend to have these mood swings when I write, going from 'My book is great!' to 'My book sucks' in a matter of minutes. The closer I get to finishing the book, the stronger the mood swings get, until I'm pretty much staring at my computer, convinced I've made a terrible mistake and thinking I should just trash the manuscript and start from scratch. Of course, I know better than to do that, but that's how I end up feeling.

Now here I am, a day or two out from finishing Knights of Avalon and feeling like a complete failure, which I know isn't true. My way of coping with this? Chocolate. Mass quantities of chocolate, and perhaps a Coke Slurpee later tonight.

I bought myself a pound and a half bar of Belgian milk chocolate a couple of days ago just because I knew this would happen. Seriously, the bar's huge, as big as one of my cats (though not as heavy). It's sort of my "In case of literary emergency, break glass and eat chocolate" bar. And you know what, I'm eating it, right now! It should get me through these last few chapters, then maybe I'll post a preview for you guys.


In case you all didn't believe me.

Friday, May 1, 2009

When My Book Grows Up...

It wants to be Cindy Pon's Silver Phoenix. OK, I have to admit, I haven't read this book yet, having been busy with a job, and writing, and rescuing calico kitties, and did I mention my beagle had another seizure but she's doing better now, but I have a very specific psychic gift, I can read Amazon reviews review books just by their cover, and I can tell you, truly, honestly, this book is amazing. Not to mention, everybody who's read it seems to agree.

I don't really know the author, but back in the days when I was lurking on AbsoluteWrite and VerlaKay (nowadays I go by LiteraryMouse there), I remember her getting turned down by almost every YA agent out there (I think she was turned down over twenty times alone for Silver Phoenix), even though you could just tell there was something special about her book. I even almost asked her if I could read her manuscript, it sounded so good. And now I don't have to ask her for the manuscript, because I can go to the book store and get myself a copy. So congratulations, happy belated book release day and best of luck!

Now here are some links. And yes, this is part of a contest (because blog contests are my crack), but I'd post these even without the contest.

Cindy Pon's Blog

Cindy Pon's Web Site

The Awesome Cool Book Trailer for Silver Phoenix which I've now watched about 100 times

Note: Author reserves the right to revise this post once she's had more than a few hours of sleep.