A lot of writing conferences let writers sign up for a critique or pitch session with an agent or editor. There’s usually an extra fee for those sessions and they tend to fill up fast so when a writer finds out she got a coveted spot, her first emotion is usually excitement, happiness, the OMG-this-is-the-first-step-to-me-becoming-the-next-JK-Rowling feeling.
And then the reality sets in.
“Oh *insert naughty word of your choice*! I am going to be sitting right in front of an agent or editor and have to talk about my book and not only sound coherent but make it sound like I’ve written the next Harry Potter. I’ll feel like I want to throw up” may run through the writer’s head.
Well, folks, I’m here to share a little story about how it can actually work out really well if an agent almost makes you throw up.
One morning I checked my e-mail and saw an e-mail from an agent. It said she was about halfway through my manuscript and really enjoying it so far. I SO WANTED TO THROW UP. Yes, I was thrilled that an agent I would love to work with was enjoying my novel. Yes, I was excited that maybe an offer was around the corner. Yes, I felt like my dreams were about to come true.
BUT what if the second half of the manuscript just didn’t hold up? I spent the rest of the day wanting to puke and valiantly fighting the urge to re-read the second half of the manuscript to see if it was up to snuff.
The next day I woke up, ready to hunker down and do the two things we writers do best, wait and incessantly check my e-mail. All that e-mail checking was for nought, because that evening I got the call. With the offer. From the best agent ever.
In all my years (and totaled it actually is YEARS) of querying, corresponding with agents, and even being represented by another agent, no agent actually made me want to throw up until the day I received that fateful e-mail from Weronika Janczuk. I know a lot of writers say they have a great agent but I truly do. So the moral of the story is: based on a minute statistical sample with significant margin of error, if an agent makes a writer want to hurl, the agent will represent that writer and represent her well.
I look forward to the day an editor almost makes me throw up ;)
1. I didn’t sleep last night because I didn’t want to miss a minute of the Royal Wedding coverage (and that’s really saying something because my entire life I’ve hated actually going to weddings). Anyway, I started watching live coverage from London at 2 a.m. eastern time but before that I watched an internet clip showing Prince William (and Prince Harry) surprise the crowd outside Clarence House the night before the wedding. Awesome! The clip was replayed several times on TV, too.
2. I was most excited when I first saw Prince William and Prince Harry in the car leaving for Westminster Abbey. Although, when they got out of the car, my first thought was “it looks like Prince Harry’s wearing shoulder pads.”
3. True confession time -- when I first saw glimpses of Kate’s dress as she got in the car, I was not impressed. When she got out of the car and I saw it properly, I still wasn’t impressed. I liked her sister Pippa’s dress MUCH better. And the um, top half of Kate’s dress sort of reminded me of those cone bra things Madonna wore back in the day.
Happy news -- the dress has now grown on me. From a distance, you can’t really notice the cone bra effect. Up close, I still like Pippa’s dress better.
4. Aside from my issues with the dress, I thought Kate looked absolutely gorgeous. Way better than a real-life princess -- she looked like an actress playing the perfect princess.
5. What I liked best: both the bride and groom looked really, really, really happy :)
No, I’m not just blogging about the YA Mafia because I want people who google “mafia” to check out my blog. Really, if I was just trying to attract new followers, I’d make gratuitous references to Justin Bieber who most of my future MG readers are probably smitten with or Jimmer Fredette who some of my future tween readers are crushing on as we speak.
Anyway, as soon as I heard about the YA Mafia and read about what it means (because at first I thought it meant that mafia books were the next big thing in YA -- move over dystopian and vampires), I thought “What would Justin Bieber and Jimmer Fredette think about a group of children’s writers who put out career hits on aspiring children’s writers?”
Okay, seriously, I’ve always thought that book-bashing may backfire, but not in a the-YA-Mafia-will-put-out-a-hit-on-my-dream-of-being-a-published-author way. More in the if-someone-or-several-someones-say-a-book-sucks-bigtime-and-has-absolutely-no-redeeming-qualities-whatsoever, then it kind of makes people want to read it just to see if it really is that bad. Which means the bashed author will (probably) have hurt feelings and (possibly) have a bigger royalty check. And since the book-basher (presumably) didn’t want to help the sales of a book they thought sucked, it backfires on the book-basher, right? Thoughts? Anyone? Justin? Jimmer?
In honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s my list of guys from books I wished were my boyfriend:
1. Todd Wilkins, Sweet Valley Series. Yep, back in the day, I crushed hard over that gorgeous Studley Do-right, good twin Elizabeth Wakefield’s boyfriend, Todd. I’m very excited about Sweet Valley Confidential coming out next month which promises to show us what happened ten years after the end of the Sweet Valley series.
2. Carlisle Cullen, Twilight Series. Okay, so I know the big question is Edward or Jacob, but why does everyone forget about Carlisle? He’s a gorgeous vampire, too, Edward fans! I wasn’t jealous of Bella, I was jealous of Esme.
3. All the guys the main character winds up with in Mary Higgins Clark’s books. I LOVE Mary Higgins Clark. She’s the only writer of grownup books whose books I always read. But I’ll only start a MHC book if I have nothing to do for a few hours because once I start reading a MHC book, I can’t stop. And yes, that’s mainly because of the mystery, but it’s also because I start crushing on whoever the MC is crushing on.
I loved puzzles when I was a kid. Apparently my nursery school teacher remarked to my mom that four-year-old me always did puzzles while other kids drew pictures, played with toys, and raced around the room yelling at the top of their lungs.
Revising a novel is like doing a puzzle.
Rearranging scenes or sentences so things work better, flow better, is like having a bunch of puzzle pieces jumbled up in front of you and putting them together so they fit.
When you finally figure out (or it’s pointed out to you by Best Beta Ever or Awesome Agent) that there’s a scene or character trait or storyline not quite working, it’s sort of like discovering your puzzle is missing a few pieces. Frustrating? Of course, but how happy are you when you find the missing puzzle pieces? And then once you figure out where they belong, your puzzle is really shaping up.
But, you ask, doesn’t it hurt to get rid of a character you love, a scene you love, an entire sub-plot you love in the course of revisions? Well, when you’re doing a puzzle and you find pieces of other puzzles, do you throw the extraneous pieces in the garbage? Of course not! You put them aside, because when you’re working on another puzzle, those may be the very pieces you need. Likewise, there’s no shame in a writer looking at the outtakes file from her last novel when her brain ceases to come up with material for her new novel ;)
*other writers, please don’t throw cyber tomatoes at me -- let’s all get together and throw cyber tomatoes at those freaky writers who love writing first drafts or synopses or, heaven forbid, query letters
**however, anyone who wants to throw cyber tomatoes at me because my analogy sucks should feel free to do so