Monday, February 17, 2014

It's Been A Battlefield, but I Survived!

That's what I've looked like the past few months. Okay, well, maybe a few pounds heavier and without a gun, but you get the picture. Why did I look like that? The holidays were upon us. I barely survived.

The latter half of the year stresses me out beyond belief. It seems like all of the birthdays in my family and my husbands family converge in the last few months of the year. Add in a surprise Thanksgiving dinner, cooked by yours truly, three Christmas dinners, a ward Christmas party for our LDS church and Young Women activities and I've been going non-stop. I barely found time for any sort of pitch or writing contests, most of which I missed, to my disappointment. Ugh.
Now that the holidays are over, and the birthdays, and I've been released from my Young Women's calling, I've got a lot more time to post. Yay for you guys! So I figured I'd catch you up and what I've been doing while I disappeared into the depths of holiday darkness.
I finished my latest manuscript, Briar. It's a Robin Hood/Sleeping Beauty role reversal with a smattering of Alice in Wonderland. I'll post an excerpt in a separate post. I've had it requested by a few agents and editors, some of whom I got requests from during #pitchmas. None of those worked out so it's back to editing, but that's okay. I entered it into Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award contest. It opened today and I believe submissions run through March 2nd.
The rest of the time, when I wasn't breaking through lines like a football player at Wal-Mart or baking until the house felt like an oven itself, I was sorting through query letters from the slush pile of the literary agent I intern for. Boy was that ever surprising. Let me share with you a few things I've learned about slush piles.
1. People are weird.
Okay, there were a lot of manuscripts that I adored, even if the writing wasn't ready for publishing yet. I have a few favorites myself that I can't wait to see in print some day, but there are some things I read that left my jaw hanging open. It's a scary world we live in.
2. I'm the next best thing that will ever happen in the publishing world.
Really? You want to start out with that? Immediately it's a turn off. How do you know you're going to be the next big thing in the literary world? I can't read the minds of every human that may possibly read my book to know if that is even close to true. It's cool that you have that much confidence in yourself and your writing. I wish I could say that I'll be the next Suzanne Collins, but I don't want to run around telling the world that. Some people may be a little put off by stuff like that. Make darn sure you have the writing to back it up though.
3. Research your agent.
I'm sure every literary agent who has posted on a blog or answered questions has said something similar, but I'm going to say it anyways. The agent I work with doesn't represent YA. At all, but for some reason at least three out of twenty queries I read through are YA manuscripts. That's an automatic rejection unless the writing is so amazing it sparkles and angels sing in a choir with lights radiating in a blinding shaft on the laptop screen. Research the agent. Find out what they like and don't like, what they rep and don't rep and what books they're into. A lot of agents do Ten queries and the like on twitter. Use this knowledge to go forth and find the right sensei grasshopper.
4. Follow the Submission guidelines.
Wow, this submission is amazing, wait. Who wrote it? Where is their personal info? There are so many queries out there that have nothing more than the pitch and that's it. Several queries had to be rejected because it didn't follow the guidelines. No name, summary or ten pages. It's hard to judge something if you don't know anything about who wrote it, what it reads like, other than a small blurb, and sounds like a teenage boy trying to figure out how to get into a prom dress. Awkward.
Alright, so I needed to get those things off my chest. I'm not an agent, I don't know much about being an agent so you can take my words with a grain of salt. They were simply things that bothered me, but I will say that most agents seem to feel the same way.
Back to writing, I'm getting myself prepped for Brenda Drakes #pitchmadness coming up March 10th. Are you ready to submit?

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