The great search for an agent…

Yesterday I started seriously sending out queries.  Scary.  It’s not even that I’m devastated when I get a rejection.  I’m not, really.  It’s more worry that all I’ll get is rejections.  You only need one yes, but what if it doesn’t come?

I have quite an extensive list of agents who represent young adult authors, and who don’t specifically state they won’t accept fantasy.  My question to all of you is:  What names do you have of agents in this category.  I’ve looked at all the websites and data bases.  I’ve checked books I like and found who their agents are, and yet I still find names I’ve never heard of before.  I’d love anyone’s input.  Even smaller agents or newer agents would be fine.  (Sometimes they’re the best because they’re still building a client list.)

And thanks in advance to anyone who replies.

Stephenie Meyer’s “Midnight Sun” Leak

I don’t know if any of you follow the “Twilight” series.  I personally love it, but I know it’s not for everyone.  Whether you like it or not, every writer out there can understand her anger at the posting of a portion of her “Midnight Sun” manuscript.  It’s about 12 chapters, and looking at how far along that is in “Twilight,” I would guess that’s about 1/3 of her book.  Here’s a link to where she talks about it on her web site.   Personally, I hope she can let go of her initial anger and annoyance and finish the book.  Everyone who would have bought it before will still buy it.  I’ve read the chapters she posted and it doesn’t finish the story.  There’s still so much to be told.

In other news, my editing has gone well this week.  I’ve done chapters 9 and 10 and think I will finish chapter 11 today.  That brings my chapter percentage up to about 33, but if you look at the actual page numbers, it’s almost 40% completed.  Yea!!!!  I guess some of my later chapters are shorter.  I think it’s going really well, and I love the changes I’ve made and the different dynamic it adds to portions of the story.

Advice from an Agent

A few weeks ago I was reading a blog post on Nathan Bransford’s blog about author websites.  He said that a googleable presence is definitely good.  And then came the question about whether or not to post excerpts from a novel you want to get published.  He didn’t have a problem as long as there was control.  As many of you know, I have posted the prologue and chapter 1 of my novel.  I have control as far as taking it off at any time.  However, I don’t have control over who reads it or what they do with it.  Therefore, (and I really hate to do this) I have made both pages password protected.  If anyone wants to be able to view them, you’ll have to contact me.  I can then send it or not.  Anyway, sorry about that, but I want to make sure I do this the right way.

Also, for any of you following them, I’ve added a few quotes on the “quotes” page, along with a new beta reader comment.

OK, OK, I love Chapter 8, and the revisions were definitely worth it.

Because I’d worked so hard on chapters 7 and 8 I was feeling a little edgy on whether or not they were good.  I mean, did I really fix the problems my betas had pointed out?  Would they still have concerns?  Trying to get a clearer answer, I sent the two chapters (fully edited) back to one of my betas and asked her to skim through and see what she thought.  It was great news.  She really liked the changes, thought the scene and characters were a lot better developed, and even pointed out a few particular details she really liked.  So now I’m happy again and confident that things are going well.

I’m sick of chapter 8!!!

I’ve decided the set-up part of writing a story is one of my weakest.  I see the connections in my head and I know they’re there, but I don’t tend to show them enough that a reader feels connected.  Anyway, I addressed this problem in the first few chapter of my re-write, and I think it was very successful.  Now I’m addressing it again in chapters 7 and 8.  The problem being:  my MC (main character) moves locaitons, meets a whole bunch of new people, and starts falling in love.  In other words, set-up.

I’ve been pouring over both of those chapters for almost a week now, and yesterday I finally finished.  I think they’re better.  In fact, I think they’re good.  I changed a lot of stuff, even how some characters act or react.  I added a whole new scene and changed 70% of what was left.

Was it worth all the work?  YES!  And now I’m ready to move forward to less intimidating sections.  Hopefully, it will go much quicker.  I don’t really have any more huge set-up sections.

What really is good writing?

About a month or so back, Kristen Nelson blogged about how good writing is sooooo subjective.  She was specifically addressing those books that are million dollar sellers but that get a whole lot of criticism about the quality of the writing (i.e. Stephenie Meyer, Dan Brown, Christopher Paolini).  Here’s a link.

Her conclusion?  “Millions of readers can’t be wrong.”  And I would have to agree.

Let’s face it, most people read to be entertained.   I know there are those exceptions who read for good writing, who will read almost anything if it’s written beautifully.  I won’t.  I’d much rather have a great story, written well enough, than a beautifully written but not that captivating classic.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I do think that if you can have a combination of both:  a great story and something that’s written well, then you’ve got the perfect mix.

Personally, I don’t think my writing will ever win a pulitzer prize or anything, but that’s not my goal.  My goal is to entertain, to make people love my world and my characters — and my story.  Still, it has to be good enough to sell to an agent and publisher, and that’s why I am working so hard still, even though the story is actually complete.

Along these lines, I have to admit I can hardly wait for Stephenie Meyer’s “Breaking Dawn” release this weekend.  Say what you want, her story is fabulous.  (And yes, I am a little obsessed!!)  My husband will be out of town Friday night, so I’m hoping to get a copy at midnight and read a little that night and the next morning.  And for those of you rolling your eyes right now, I can live with that.

A few thoughts on my writing…

The process of writing a novel is interesting.  The first thing I do is write a rough draft.  I have so many ideas swirling around in my head that I want to get them all written down, even if the writing is terrible and the story isn’t quite smoothed out yet.

With my first book, I took that rough draft and fixed punctuation and the sentences that weren’t good and I had a few friends read it and like it.  I figured it was good.  The story might have been.  The writing needed work.

After having a few beta readers go through, I realize it’s the same.  The story is good.  The writing, although much better than before, still needs work.  However, I have leanred to notice what needs to be fixed, and things I don’t notice, the readers generally do.

The prologue I have posted is a lot better than the original.  Chapter One, which I will be posting tomorrow or the next day is a lot better than what I have up there now.

What makes them better?  Imagery, for one.  When I first wrote the book, I was so interested in the characters and the story that I kind of forgot about their world:  what it looked like, smelled like, sounded like, etc.  I have gone back and added that.  I don’t think it has to be much.  Books with paragraphs of descriptions aren’t my favorite.  A lot of time I find myself skimming over all the words.  Another thing I’ve tried to change is something anyone who’s ever written fiction will know:  SDT (show don’t tell).  A third thing I’ve discovered I really like is to get inside the characters head.  Instead of just telling the reader what they’re thinking, show their thought process.  I’ve liked the changes where I’ve done this.

I know there are a number of other things I’m forgetting to mention, but as I’m going through chapter one, these are the ones I’ve really focused on, and hopefully, the ones that will make it better.

Comments from another Beta reader…

I had another one of my beta readers send me back the entire manuscript.  Again, she had some suggestions and a few things that bothered her, but she liked it!!!  Here are a few of my favorite comments.

“Thanks for the fun read.”

“Overall, I loved this and would buy it if I saw it.”

“I’ve actually had the past two days to get through this and haven’t stopped reading.”

I was soooo excited.

In other news, I’ve been working hard on getting the first chapter finished.  I’ve read through and tried to incorporate the suggestions made by my readers.  I’ve even rewritten the entire first scene, but I think it’s a lot better now.  Hopefully, I’ll have it posted here within the next few days.

Update

For anyone interested, I have posted the revised (and hopefully final) version of my prologue.  It is under the “My Book” tab at the top.  Then click on the link to “revised prologue.”  Tell me what you think.  I’ve had so many people give me suggestions and I’ve tried to address them all, even if in the end I decided to go wtih my own heart.

I love the first draft!!!

There’s nothing quite as rewarding as writing the first draft of a manuscript.  It’s so fun to get all your ideas finally on paper, to see how they fit together, and to see the characters taking over.

When I was writing my first book, I couldn’t believe how quickly it went.  I think the first, really rough draft, was done in about four months.  Now I’m onto book 2, and it’s going just as well.  In fact, even better.  I learned a lot of things while writing the first book.  I had to go back and fix a lot.  With book 2, I’m trying to avoid those things as I go.  Consequently, the first draft of book 2 is so much cleaner.

And now I come to the real news, and why I wanted to post in the first place.  I’m up to 30,000 words in the second book.  That’s over 100 pages!!!  I can’t believe that scenes I thought of almost a year ago are now in print (at least kind of).  Some of them are even better than I’d hoped, and a lot of them still need more work, but they’re there, waiting to be read.