An Apology and Some Advice

I had every intention of updating my blog with more consistency, but… I haven’t. I’m sorry! I was going to do a lot of reading in my genre and do book reviews of sorts, but to be honest, I haven’t had time to read much. Instead, I’ve been working on writing and publishing, which is my passion anyway. Even so, I should have blogged about it. (So now I will!)

Twitter. That’s been the name of the game the past few weeks. I’ve never been all that active on Twitter before. It’s taken me a long time to get my footing in the writing world. For many things in my life, I’ve had the luxury of having mentors to help guide me until I find my own way—training wheels, of sorts. However, with writing, I’ve had to figure things out on my own. That hasn’t always been easy; I’ve had to make a lot of mistakes to get to where I am now, and I’m still far from where I’d like to be. It’s a process. The best thing I’ve been able to do for myself, though, is to get more involved on Twitter.

It’s hard to understand how Twitter can be beneficial. 140 character commentary? Come on. But really, it’s true what they say about the importance of networking, not necessarily for getting a step up but to find people who are walking the same path you are. I’ve learned more in the last month about the writing community than I had in the year or so before. Because of the Twitter community, I’ve entered three different writing contests, found an online critique group, won a free five-page critique, gotten invaluable feedback, and gotten to know some incredible writers, editors, and agents.

If you’re not involved with Twitter, I would seriously suggest signing up. Most agents have Twitters and post their manuscript wishlists as well as comment on some of the queries they find in their inboxes. Of course, it’s also a place to commiserate with other writers trudging through the query trenches. If you get yourself on Twitter, check out the #10queries/#tenqueries, #MSWL, and #askagent hashtags to get started. And, if you’re interested in contests, right now the #PitchtoPublication and #NewAgent feeds are bustling! (They also have great advice for ALL writers.)

As for the status of my publishing journey, I’ve gotten a few agent requests and my fair share of query rejections. Overall, I’m happy with where things are. I’m starting a new WIP, which is terrifying, but my main focus is getting my finished novel in the best shape possible.

What tools do you utilize in your writing journey? I’d love to know! I’m on the hunt for great resources.

Keep on Keepin’ On

I’ve been MIA mostly because there hasn’t been much to report. I have three full manuscripts out with agents and have received quite a few query rejections. The fulls are thrilling, addicting occasions. The rejections? Usually I can handle them, but when a whole slew of them comes one after another, I find myself depressed. I know I shouldn’t; this is my first book, and I’m 22. I have a whole career ahead of me, so I shouldn’t sweat this first learning experience. However, this book means so much to me, and I want to give it a chance to be heard.

I revamped my query letter based on some sample ones I’ve found. I’m a huge fan of querytracker.net, which has been an indispensable tool during this crazy process. They have success stories posted. Someone sends the same interview questions to anyone on QT who has signed with an agent, and one of the questions is if the user would be comfortable sharing their query letter. Most do. I realized that mine was a little off the mark–I had more information about the market of the book and its themes rather than a back-of-the-cover blurb like most other letters I saw. Interestingly enough, though, my original query has generated more positive responses than this new one. Such a confusing game.

I’ve been trying to query in batches, waiting to see how my query letter is doing now that I’ve made some changes to it, but it’s so hard to keep any semblance of patience. I’d really love to hold off querying until I have at least one response on a full, but we’re entering into the holiday season, which means that soon enough I won’t be able to query. To keep my mind off of the endless conundrums, I’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo, which I’ve never done before because I’ve never really had an idea worth fleshing out. I’m happy to say that I’ve already got a bit over 3,000 words on paper, and I don’t hate them. Success! It would be delightful to have a second project to labor over, but sticking with things hasn’t always been my forte. I’m working on it.

Luckily, I’m the master of distraction, so when I’m not writing, I’m binge-watching American Horror Story or playing vintage video games on an emulator I downloaded last week. (Pokemon Blue, anyone?) The waiting has definitely gotten easier, but I still jump every time my phone chimes with a new email. Still, it’s progress.

Baby’s First Rejection

This morning I awoke to my first rejection, and you know what? It felt great. It’s hard to navigate through this process when most agencies adopt a “no reply means no” policy. That open-ended crap just serves to torment the writer. Did they get the query? Did they even read it? Should I send it again? Am I so terrible that they won’t even bother to respond?

I understand that it’s sometimes necessary for the agencies to conserve their resources and only reach out to potential clients whose projects sounds like a good fit, but it’s definitely not easy for the writer. I haven’t been waiting long on my queries, but I can imagine how I’ll feel in a month or two when the only emails I’ve gotten are automated confirmations of “yes, we got your query.” Being in the dark is difficult, especially when it’s something so personal and important to you.

I use QueryTracker to stay on top of the queries I’ve made (only seven thus far), and I find myself more drawn to agencies whose response times are quick, even if they reject almost all of the submissions. I’d rather be rejected and know it than sit and twiddle my thumbs for a few months. My impatience will be the death of me–I’m sure of it.

In other news, I’m hoping to start with a freelance editor sometime in the near future, so I will try to hold off querying until I’ve addressed editing the manuscript. That’s probably what I should have done in the first place, but OH WELL. Live and learn and then get Loves, right? (No one will get that reference because my brain is a circus.)

For the rest of the day I suppose I’ll organize potential agents into categories so it’s easier to make queries down the line. I am the least organized person, but when it comes to this, I just want to feel like I constantly have forward motion. I don’t want to waste time and get behind, or worse, become unmotivated. I assign myself busy work so I stay in check. Then I reward myself by playing Skyrim. Hey, it’s a good system, okay?

So, moral of the tangential story? Rejections are good because they mean you can cross one more dead end off of your list. Live to love that silver lining, baby.

The Waiting Game

I’ve never been a patient person. That’s a lie. I’m patient with situations that drive most people crazy, like long lines at the supermarket and getting brought the wrong order at a restaurant. I can roll with the punches. I understand that people are human, and humans make mistakes. That’s all within the realm of my being able to be patient.

However, when it comes to things that only affect me, I’m one impatient little lady. I couldn’t sleep last night. I have a bad thyroid, so I could probably sleep through any number of apocalyptic events, yet have me send out a few queries and I’m wired for a week. Ridiculous. I’ve never been so excited and nervous in my life. I check my email compulsively. It’s disgusting.

I really hope I get better at waiting, because if I don’t, I’ll drive myself into psychosis within the month. (Appropriate for Halloween, maybe, but not much else.) The only saving grace I have is that Gilmore Girls is now on Netflix, so when I feel particularly antsy, I go and watch that. God bless you, Lorelai Gilmore.

I love this and hate it so fiercely. It’s like Christmas, but instead of Santa bringing presents, he gives you a 1% chance of making your dreams come true (and a 99% chance of crushing your spirit). I am exhilarated. I am scared. I am in need of a stiff drink.

The Brave New World

I am a writer. No matter how many times I tell myself that, it doesn’t sink in, probably because I have nothing to show for it. I know it’s who I am–let’s be honest, I knew when I was about six–but it’s not an easy thing to commit to.

This comes hot on the heels of having finished my first novel, a story steeped in grief, empowerment, and a really fucked up urban legend. It’s something I’m proud of, and it’s the first time I’ve ever believed in the idea that I could not just be a writer but be A Writer. And while that’s all great and cheerful, I am a 22-year-old lost in a landscape of oh-God-this-is-scary bureaucracy.

There are certain things I know I have to do in order to continue on the path to not being homeless while writing, but what I lack is guidance. I know I need people to absolutely tear my manuscript apart, but friends and family only serve to gush and do some great back-patting, not to give solid criticism. (I mean, getting patted on the back is awesome and everything, but a literary agent isn’t as… gentle.) Last night I started looking into agencies. Holy fucking terrifying. I sent out two queries before the self-doubt set in, which I know is normal, but I feel less equipped to understand this industry than the average person because I really, truly have no idea what I’m doing.

I just want to write, y’know? But beyond that, I want people to feel my writing and have the opportunity to carry it with them. My market is young adult, and I know that by having a market I’m already a step ahead, but I am also completely unpublished and young. Young might not be a bad thing: agents and publishers see potential for a long career, which means $$. However, young also means not being taken seriously, and I’ve had enough of that in my life, thank you.

So the purpose of this blog becomes documenting my way through this brand new world in the hopes that, should I ever get some footing, it might help some other young writer holding their manuscript and saying, “Now what?” Maybe with some luck I’ll be able to answer that, but for now, I wait.