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.

Ends & Beginnings.

Hello, blogosphere! (Is that still a thing? Do we still use “blogosphere,” even if just ironically?)

The semester is finally over, so my musings and writings on the humanities and the research process are over. That means we’re back to the regularly scheduling fretting about becoming A Writer, the caps implying published and not starving. One of my aims for this summer is to maintain this, documenting not only my journey as a writer but as a reader. I have a whole stack of YA I’ve borrowed from a professor of mine, and I’m more than happy to write about books.

Now that I’m not bogged down by my thesis, I can devote all of my time to researching agents and sending out more queries. My manuscript is currently in the hands of the aforementioned professor, who happens to be a YA scholar and a good friend of mine. I’m looking forward to her criticisms so that I can revise and put my best work forward when querying. Since my last update about my publishing journey, I’ve added about 13,000 words to my book, all for the better. Everything feels more solid and fleshed out, and I’ve never been more excited about or more proud of my work. Hopefully agents will agree.

I do have a partial out currently, which was a total surprise. In some finals week haze I sent out three queries and had all but forgotten about them by the end of the week. This weekend I got an email requesting the first three chapters of my book which was like a chorus of angels singing. I’m more calm about this request than I have been about others in the past, which might be indicative of personal growth on my part but I think it’s really the fact that I have no attention span in the summer.

All this to say that I’m going to pay more attention to my blog this summer now that I’m free from the shackles of thesis writing. Though, I have to say… my thesis kicked ass. And yes, that’s the academic way to put it.

Happy summer, y’all. Let’s get to reading and writing. No ‘rithmetic allowed.

Query Hell, Part 2: Doubt

Before you go looking for it, there is no part one. I’m just a huge liar.

First of all, I feel bad that I’m using this blog for two purposes. I try to make each reading response for my senior seminar class as accessible as possible, but unless you’ve read what I’m responding to, it’s just going to be a lot of noise. However, you get to see me as a student, so that’s cool, right? (Insert sound of crickets, pins dropping, etc.)

Anyway, so I’ve been querying again, and when I say that, I really mean that I’ve rewritten my query letter obsessively and have reached out to less than a dozen agents. (Self-doubt, you old, evil bastard.) I signed up for a webinar on writing query letters, which is telling because I regard most webinars as scams. The damn thing cost $89 and, because I’m an overworked college student (see previous entries), I slept through it.

Yeah. That’s a thing that actually happened.

Not all is lost; the webinar is on-demand for anyone who paid for it, and payment entitles you to a written critique of your query by an actual agent. I mean, I guess that’s worth $89, but I’m also broke and wracked with unshakable doubt–not about my novel but about my query letter and querying in general. Who thought it was a good idea to use a glorified elevator speech as a way to get a literary agent? It’s like, I dunno… literary hazing.

(Realistically, I totally understand why it’s done this way, but I’m insolent right now.)

The twisted beauty of the situation is that I’m now so distracted that I don’t have time to torture myself about querying. For instance, it took eleven days for any agent from my last batch of queries to even get back to me. I hadn’t realized it had been that long because I had been so busy. (I did, however, realize it was a rejection, but I was too exhausted to dissect the letter a thirtieth time.) It’s lovely not to check email obsessively, waiting for those responses, but at the same time, my classes are already picking up and it’s week three. At this rate, querying will be an even slower process.

So, tl;dr version is that query letters scare me and I nap at inappropriate times.

For any of you writers out there, how have your query letters evolved over time? Do you find it ever gets easier?