Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nudging Agents

You know how when you apply for a new job, you wait about a week for the employers to look over your resume, your application, and then you call and ask for the manager, and call, and call, and harass and then get hired?

Landing an agent is NOT like that.

A writer friend of mine and I were chatting today and she has several partials out in the world that she's waiting to hear back from. It's been about three months, and we discussed what to do. Some people say "Never nudge the agent!" some say "A little nudging is okay". I agree with the ladder. But there are things to consider:

**On the agency website, they usually have a section where it says "Query response time: 2-4 weeks, Partial: 4-8" etc. Make sure they've had it for x-length of time before contacting them
**After you've deemed that they've had it for x-length of time and one day, contact them via e-mail. Phone attacking is usually a poor life decision and freaks out agents (or so I've read on their blogs... :) ).
**In said e-mail, be sure to include name of novel, the fact that you're nudging after the allotted response time, and what your novel was about (essentially re-sending the query letter so they know what you're talking about)
**Thank them

I've only ever nudged an agent once, it was a brief, "Hi. A few months ago you requested --Novel Name-- from me. Your agency guidelines say response time is X-LENGTH OF TIME and it's a little after that. My novel is about QUERY LETTER, and I was just checking in to see if you've had the chance to review it. Thank you again for your time."

I've read some agency blogs that say nudging is okay. I also understand that agents get busy and sometimes bogged down in the slush pile. Don't be overbearing. This isn't like trying to get a job at a Target, there is a lot of waiting involved, and professionalism. If you get antzy, start writing something new, get your mind off things.

But if you're asking how to handle editors who have partials....I have no idea. I'm still learning about how to handle those situations.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fear Journal

My sister last year got me Journalation, a book that has tips and things like that to keeping a journal. I still haven't gotten very far into it, but one of the things I picked up was when journaling to write a few things at the top of the page:

Date (I always write the date. If I don't, there's usually some significance why. I'm probably hiding something)
Location (Where are you? What are you doing? Are you with anyone? Why are you here? Music on?)
End writing time

And so, I kept my regular journal for a couple of months, daily lists of random crap I did through the day. Usually things of non-importance but I did like keeping track of who I interacted with through the day. (I have a really bad memory and these things would be lost otherwise.)

Then something happened and I started falling a little off kilter. I found a composition notebook that Laura had given me before I'd started college. I'd been saving it and bringing it along everywhere because I knew someday I'd need it. So, I started a Fear Journal. When I would start worrying about something, I'd write about it and specifically track what I was afraid of, possible outcomes, then probable outcomes. Entries are far between, usually once a month, maybe less. (I lost the journal in my trunk for a long while.)

Just recently, I've been writing just about every day. Today, I asked Laura if I could read her my entry from yesterday though it was a million pages long. She sat on the phone with me while I read. There's something nice about reading out loud, it allows you to detach if you just focus on the words and not the fact that something horrific has just happened to you. There was one point during the reading I almost cried, but I kept it together. Her response?

"That....was intense. I know someday you're going to write about this...."

Which I found funny, because hadn't I just written about it?

This is kind of my point. As a writer, we channel a lot of energy through our writing. I keep journals and write when things become too much because it's like releasing it. It can't eat me from the inside out if it's on paper. I try to write when wounds are fresh because it's much more honest and someday when I come back to it, I can face it again and turn it into a story of some sort. I don't have a lot of coping mechanisms, but writing is by far one of the strongest ones I have.

And so....when you're scared or overwhelmed, what do you do?

Bottom Line?
Fear. Nothing.

Monday, October 17, 2011

You And Your Characters

Do you ever learn from the plight of your characters? Do they ever shape you into a better person, like "Man, if he/she went through this, I can totally go do this!"?

My life is wigging me out a bit right now (sorry about the week long absence, I've been swallowed by something much bigger than me....it's taking a lot to keep me sane right now). Either way, I've written things about my characters that I'd never experienced first hand...but I'd watched friends go through it. And suddenly, now it's happening to me, and I can't help but to feel:

*Bad for putting my characters through it
*Bad because I don't want to deal with it myself
*Weirded out that I had written about it, and now it's happening
*Like...this almost can't be real life, you know?

So...I'm kind of clinging to the strength I wrote for my character, I mean....-I- wrote the way she is, obviously I have some understanding of her strength or what this takes.

So what about you guys? Do you ever draw from your characters? Do they ever help make you more sane?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Writers put a lot of stock into their character's settings...but what about their own?

I used to watch the show October Road (which is terribly depressing, be warned if you get into it. Oh--and they cancelled it, like mid-second season. Jerks). Anyways....so the main character is a writer, and in the first episode, he goes back to a place he used to live and asks if he can take a look around. The woman at the door (pleased that he's an author) is all "Please, please come in. It's the place you were once happy, of course you have to visit it again." And he stands there for a second...considering, "Was this really where I was happy" and thus the show began...him actually going home, seeing the girl he abandoned after graduating high school, etc, etc, etc.

So...do you write when you're happy? Do you get writer's block when you're upset?

Personally, I think I write better/more eloquently when I'm upset...more-so vengeful and pissed off. I once wrote a really intense murder scene after a fight with my sisters, because they were being buttheads. I don't think you need to be happy to write, but maybe...just maybe setting does have something to do with it.

Do you consider where your computer goes? Which light fixtures you use? Are you comfortable....

and once you are...

do you ever change it?

There's something strangely healing about stepping out of your comfort zone. Some day, when I live by myself again, I fully intend on locking Baxter in a room (sorry buddy, you don't need to see this) and trying to write naked. I mean, why not? I've heard of writers doing crazier things. This would be huge for me --I hate being naked....even stepping out of the shower--. But--could I write like this? I mean, isn't writing already exposing yourself quite a bit?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Glorious Book Sales

Where I live, twice a year (or so), they have these book sales. And I mean book. sales.

The last time I was able to go to one, they allowed me to fill up an entire paper bag of paperbacks for $5. Solid. Not $5/book, $5 flat for like...30 books. And then they discounted the hardcovers I got.

Today, the deals weren't as stellar, I ended up spending $30, but I still got some excellent books. Not nearly as many, but by the time I got out of work the pickings were slimming down. Nonetheless, I am very pleased.

So this is where I turn the tables over to you:

Where do you like to buy books? Hands down, these sales and day after Thanksgiving sales are where I go. Or, you know, used bookstores or thrift stores. What about you guys?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sink Or Swim

So....life is messy. You let people in, you get hurt (cue sound tech for debbie downer music...now). It's a viscous cycle. But you have two choices when the world gets you down:

(In all fairness, this isn't a real sinking picture. This is a heartwarming picture, my good friend Jen is a wee bit of a crier. This day, I had thanked her for being a good friend while she was housing me in Seattle.)

Or Swim
This is Murdock, my friend Stephanie's dog. She lives in Florida. My dog....is not a water dog.

There are times when it's okay to grieve and to hurt, and to be sad. It's okay to cry, to punch things... It's normal and acceptable to just lay in bed.

This is my water fearing baby, Baxter :) Just for you J.A. :)

But, if you're able to weather the storm, whatever it may be, you'll have a better tomorrow.

Jen and I after having a fantastic day and getting ready for an even better night
Something I've learned is that as writers, we feel...quite a bit. I think we may feel more than most people in the world, and that's okay. Give yourself time to function, to heal...and then get back to venting; writing. Life is what teaches you your stories.

Keep your head up, for any of you who are having bad days. Take care of yourself. Things take time, healing takes time.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Life, It Gets In The Way Sometimes

Hey guys,
Sorry I've been absent this week. Things went crazy (I went crazy). When things calm down I'll try to find something clever and witty to blog about. Or maybe a cute picture of Baxter or something, we'll see.

Sorry again.
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