Today I came across a blog article by one of my favorite bloggers, Carly Watters, the article was called “5 Things You Didn’t Know About Querying as a Debut Author” First and foremost, if you are a debut author looking to find an agent, check out that article. She makes 5 very excellent points!
In fact, what she said in that article really helped give me some perspective on agents. First, and I think this is the most important part, agents are individuals with individual tastes that are as varied as readers’ tastes. Keeping that in mind, chances are good there is an agent out there somewhere who would love to see and represent your work (and mine :D heheh.)
Second, agents aren’t “creatures of the night” or scary monsters. They really are people. More to the point, they do what they do because they love to read. Which means agents, good agents, want to read debut authors. They are excited about finding new talent to bring to the world, not just for everyone else’s enjoyment, but for their own as well.
However, another thought occurred to me as I read through Ms. Watters’s article: relief.
Relief that my choice to self-publish The Sword of Dragons means I don’t have to worry about refining my query letter or synopsis. I don’t have to wade through the vast sea of agents to find one whose interests may coincide with my story. Relief that I don’t have to hit that dreaded ‘send’ button when I query. Relief that I don’t have to get any more rejection letters.
Well, no more rejection letters for The Sword of Dragons. I do still want to one day go down the path of traditional publication for one of my works. Why? Because I want to see my book on bookshelves at Barnes and Noble or The Tattered Cover (it’s a Denver thing :) ) Right now, print-on-demand doesn’t really allow for that, nor do eBooks.
So there will still be query letters in my future, and, I hope (crossing my fingers) an agent :)
But I just have this incredible sense of relief that I no longer have to query for The Sword of Dragons. My writing future, this novel’s future, it’s in my hands.
I kinda like that :)
I do know that I have a ton of work ahead of me. I also recognize that I probably don’t even know the half of it. I’ve already put in more work than I anticipated just formatting the novel for createspace.com.
But it’ll be worth it in the end. Of that I am certain :)
Oh and I know I promised the abstract last week, but I had to be sure it would fit in the cover’s back page. Well it didn’t, so I have pared it down. If it fits in with the cover, this will be the first place I post the abstract, I promise!
First I want to apologize for how long it has been since I wrote a blog entry. Two weeks to the day! :-\ It has been a very busy couple of weeks, and a bit of a roller coaster. Okay more than just a bit!
But, on the bright side of things, I have completed the revisions to Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy, and only need to finish up a query letter and synopsis, and then I’m ready to send my pages to Ms. Diver! I’ll post the manuscript’s stats at the bottom of this article :)
On to the subject matter for today’s article! And this has a lot to do with becoming published and/or finding an agent.
The Other Half of the Job
Now before anyone says anything, no, I am not down-playing the importance of writing skill. No matter what, you must have a quality piece of writing in order to have a chance at either mainstream publication or making your self-published work sell.
Having said that, I have learned this year just how important it is for a writer to get out from behind the pen and actively work on getting your name out there, or going out and meeting other writers, meeting publishers and agents face to face.
In general, writers are by nature introverted to some extent. (This is not a universal truth, however!) And I used to have the naive impression that all writers had to do was write, and then leave the rest up to the ‘professionals.’
I was wrong. I’ve been learning all about what a writer should do beyond writing this year, and honestly is part of the reason I started this blog, and started my facebook page. Whether you’re self-publishing or going main-stream, it is chiefly the writer’s responsibility to promote themselves and their work, to get their name out there.
Beyond even that, however, is the ‘mingling’ part. And yes, RMFW’s Colorado Gold Conference and my experiences there is a big reason behind tonight’s blog!
If you haven’t read it yet, read my blog that details my experiences there! I met so many different writers, which in and of itself was incredible! More than that, I got to meet editors and agents, and pitch to one, which led directly to finding an agent interested in my work!
The lesson learned there was that my one weekend at the conference was far, far more productive than cold-mailing query letters out. Now of course, there is no guarantee that you’ll have any success going to such conferences. You really must have a good product to sell, be a person an agent or editor wants to work with, and have a good pitch!!
There’s also something else that I am going to highly recommend all writers do…
Writing Critique Groups
While I was at the conference, I was encouraged by Kevin Wolf to join a local critique group hosted by RMFW. I’ve now been to two sessions, and I have to say that it is an incredibly helpful resource!
Not only do you get to meet and collaborate with other writers regularly, but you get multiple eyes on pieces of your work, which allows for a wide range of view points, opinions, and suggestions! Plus if you’re lucky, you’ll have published writers in your group that could potentially give you advice in other aspects of the industry!
Having said that, I should caution that not all critique groups are alike. I was lucky to have found a great group my first time out, but I’ve heard horror stories. So I would recommend checking around, and if your first venture into a critique group doesn’t go well, look for another one, but don’t give up!
I know that those of you who live in a small town might not have such a group. I have two recommendations. First, there are online critique groups, so just do a search on the internet! Second, try to create one in your area! I would be willing to bet that there are at least a few writers even in the small towns :) And even if that’s not the case, it can’t hurt to try!
So what do you all think? Are there other resources ‘out there’ that you would recommend on top of this? And if you do go out and find a critique group, or are already part of one, I’d love to hear about your experiences with them! So please leave a comment below :)
Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy Revision
So as promised, here are the stats for the revised version of Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy, now marketed as an Adult Modern Fantasy novel :)
Word Count: 75,237
Page Count: 231
It’s a marginal increase, not the 80,000 words I was wanting, but I was grateful for the opportunity to flesh it out without worrying about making it too long. I feel like anything extra added to the story would be arbitrary at this point. This increase doesn’t come from big chunks tacked on here and there, either, every single chapter has been modified to some extent, little modifications here and there.
This includes fleshing out Alycia’s character more, so I am very pleased with that :)
I’ll be sure to let everyone know when I finish my query and synopsis and send it out! Thanks for reading.
Today’s excerpt is a little special. As I’ve been going through my latest revision before sending 30 pages to Ms. Diver, I’ve started running the NASA HDEV in the background, to give myself a great view while reading.
Tonight I caught a sunset while reviewing chapter 12, and thought I’d share it with you all, while at the same time giving you a full page of an excerpt :)
In this scene, Emmi is in her cat form, which I have posted an excerpt from before. This is after that scene. She is exploring the Sentinel facility, when she comes across a most curious section…
(Click the image for the full-size)
I hope you all enjoyed this! It’s definitely more of an excerpt than I usually give, with the bonus of some eye candy ;)
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to finish my revisions today like I had hoped. I came down sick on Friday and ended up doing next to nothing on Saturday except lay in bed :(
But that’s okay, it’ll give me a chance to finish this, write up a query letter, and get that query letter reviewed by a critique group I’ve started attending! :D (more on that in a follow-up article later this week)
I hope you all had a great weekend! Thanks for reading :)
So yesterday the Colorado Gold Conference hosted by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers concluded, and it was an amazing conference! I don’t even know where to begin! (and some voice in my head just went “From the beginning! Duh.”)
It was a whirlwind weekend packed full of epic goodness, I met so many incredible people and learned so much! Plus, there is some really good news about Chronicles of the Sentinels! Shall we call that foreshadowing and leave it until the end? As the good Belt said, “Dun dun duuunnnnn!”
There’s a lot to talk about, so bear with me!
Thursday Night – The Newbies
One thing I can say about the members of RMFW, they were all incredibly welcoming to all of us newbies! Starting with the night before the conference actually began. Kevin Wolf had sent out an invitation for any of the newbies showing up at the conference Thursday night to meet in the hotel lobby, and about fifteen of us showed up.
I was a bit nervous at first, but as I came down to the lobby and found a few of the other newbies sitting and chatting with Kevin, I was immediately welcomed by such warm, open people! Furthermore some of the bigger names for RMFW happened by while we were chatting and stopped to welcome us as well :)
When everyone was set and Kevin had given us some great tips, we went to the bar and had drinks together, exchanged business cards, and had a great time! While I had been nervous about the conference before, that night made me feel so welcomed and so confident that I had made the right choice to come!
Friday – Masters and Coaches
Something I actually didn’t realize, because I didn’t actually read carefully enough: the conference didn’t technically start in the AM on Friday. There were, however, Master Classes as they were called that started bright and early, 8AM. When I found out they were optional and cost extra, I happily paid for the “So You Want To Write a Series” class, and I was not disappointed!
I learned so much from speaker Susan Spann! This was a particularly helpful class for me because I have always written my stories as series, starting with my fan fiction. I seriously don’t know if I’m even capable of writing stand-alone novels! (Although that could be an interesting future challenge.) I know that what I learned from her will help me immensely in the days to come.
Shortly after that 4 hour class and a quick lunch (okay that was a lie, I forgot to eat lunch that day…) I had my pitch coaching session with Heather Webb. Naturally I was extremely nervous, and although I had prepared a pitch several days prior, when I sat down in front of her, my mind went completely blank!
But that was okay, because she started asking me questions about the characters and story and helped me come up with a much, much better pitch! More than that, as soon as I started telling her about Chronicles of the Sentinels, her eyes lit up, and she was immediately hooked! That is an awesome feeling when an established author who writes in a completely different genre finds your story idea intriguing :D
From there, I attended a couple of seminars, including an uplifting “Rejection is a Four Letter Word” seminar :)
Friday Dinner – I Found My Home
Friday night’s dinner was just as phenomenal! I ended up sitting at Heather’s table and met some phenomenal Historical Fiction writers. More than that, however, was the feeling that had started to build that day, and entered my conscious mind at dinner.
This is going to sound cheesy, but: I found my people! lol. Seriously, though, everything that had happened, I felt like I had found people who could truly understand me. I felt like I had found a home, of sorts. The funny thing is, about a half hour after I had that very thought, someone up on stage said something very similar :)
It occurred to me that I don’t actually know many writers in my personal life, or at least, I didn’t before now. To be surrounded by 400 of them?! And unlike the attitude I got from certain people at a certain university I attended almost a decade ago, everyone from every genre, including Literary Fiction, were open, warm, curious, and creative. Everyone accepted everyone else with open arms.
Why? Because we’re all writers. And I’ve learned just how special that really is :)
Saturday – Pitch #1
Saturday was another full day, 14 hours non-stop just like Friday, but it was a truly nerve-wracking day! Saturday was when I had my first pitch! *gulp* Worse than that, it wasn’t until 11:20AM, which meant I had the whole morning to freak out over it!
Thankfully my fellow writers came to my rescue :) When I entered that waiting room, the first thought I had was, “I’ve seen photos of things like this, when actors and actresses are waiting to audition for roles.” I sat down, and looked at the person next to me, who looked as nervous as I felt. So what did I do? “Hi, I’m Jon!” Just like I’d already done dozens of times at the conference.
Striking up random conversation with everyone around me soothed my nerves, and seemed to help them with the same :) When the time came, I was still nervous, of course, but the editor I pitched to, Kerri Buckley, was extremely friendly and patient! And while Kerri was not one who represented Fantasy, she encouraged me to submit to her coworker, and said she would tell him to expect me :)
After that I had lunch, where I met even more awesome people, and finished the day of conferences optimistic and quite happy!
Saturday Night – Who Needs 2 Forks?!
The dinner Saturday night was probably the most formal dinner I had ever attended. I’m not kidding, 2 forks, 2 knives, a dainty looking spoon, and some…interesting fancy meals. I felt wholly out of place in my Hawaiian shirt and jeans. But, as always, writers came to the rescue, and those at my table made me feel quite welcome :)
The Keynote Speaker was Mark Coker of the famous Smash Words website, an insanely fast-growing self-publishing eBook website! His speech was pretty inspiring in some parts, while other parts were a bit degrading to traditionally published authors, but all in all I was impressed. And there was one thing he said that I really loved hearing: printed books are not going away! There is an equilibrium being created between eBooks and printed novels, and for someone who has always dreamed of seeing a hard-backed copy of my novels, that’s good news :D
Sunday – The Big Day!
Sunday was when I had my 2nd pitch to the agent I was most looking forward to meeting: Lucienne Diver of Knight Agency! And thankfully, I was considerably less nervous after the incredible amount of support and interest I garnered from everyone throughout the conference!
I was totally unprepared for what happened next: I went in, met Lucienne, and at her request I dove right into my pitch. A minute later, it was done. Without blinking, she handed me her card and said, “Ok, I’d like you to send me 30 pages and a synopsis.” I was completely blown away, and I can only imagine the look of surprised glee on my face!! She wanted to see my work!!!!! An agent was interested in my novel! Wait, let me repeat that in it’s own paragraph for effect:
Lucienne Diver wants to see my work!
It was exactly what I had hoped for! :) There is more to that short, 10 minute meeting with her, but I’m going to save that for my next blog article: it deals with genre, target audience, and something about Chronicles of the Sentinels that I am most excited to share :D
After attending one more session about Theme, there was a final lunch with another inspiring speech, where I got to say goodbye to all of the fantastic friends I had met. I have to admit, as exhausted as I was by then, I was really sad to have to go. I felt like I was leaving my new home, just when I had found it.
Next, I have some work to do on Chronicles (again, more to come on that later! This is already a too-long article…) I am looking forward to submitting those 30 pages and the synopsis to Lucienne, and who knows, in a couple of years, my first novel may very well be on bookshelves!
No, scratch that, I’m not going to say may. I’m going to say will. In a couple of years, Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy will be on bookshelves all over the nation! The power of positive thinking, right? ;)
If you’ve made it this far, kudos! This turned out to be my longest blog article yet, but there is so much material for more articles.
To anyone who attended the event, and to RMFW, thank you for an amazing weekend, and for making me feel at home! :)
Excited, terrified, anxious, hopeful, energetic…a whole slew of words, I could go on and on. (No really, I’m a writer with a BA in English, I can go on endlessly! ;) )
It’s an end and a beginning all at once. Without even having realized it, this conference was to be a major milestone even before I decided to attend. Even if I don’t attract an agent this weekend, I know that this is going to be a huge step in my career as a writer. I have the panels I want to attend picked out, and they’re exactly what I think I need right now as a writer.
Plus I get to mingle with a bunch of other writers, something I confess I haven’t really had a chance to do before! That in and of itself is exciting, to meet those who are going through or have gone through the same struggles I have, who have the same hopes and dreams.
I think I’ve mentioned it before, but what really started me on this course was when I attended a Lindsey Stirling concert on May 30th. A combination of doing something I had never done before, and was terrified to do (go to a major event like this alone,) and the music and her story just moved and motivated me, and left me with an incredible energy that, even over 3 months later, still hasn’t dissipated!
There’s much more to it than just the concert, of course, including finding myself, learning to believe in myself, becoming comfortable in my own skin. Not to mention coming up with my best idea for a novel so far definitely helped :) But one thing I’m really just constantly reminding myself tonight: relax, have fun at the conference, and above all, don’t be afraid to be myself, even if that means being a little goofy/funny!
So here we go. The next big step is before me. And tonight, just now, I finally feel ready for it :) Care to keep going on this crazy journey with me? Because believe me, my story is just beginning, and I intend to take you all along for the ride!
One last bit of exciting news: today I was asked for my autograph for the first time in my life! And not just by one, but by two people!!! :D
To begin with, I have some exciting news! I’ve registered for the Colorado Gold Writing Conference hosted by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers! This will be my first ever writers’ conference that I’ve ever attended… *gulp*
Having said that, has anyone else who reads my blog attended a conference? Any tips on what I might expect, and what I should have to be best prepared? I’m going to research like crazy online too, but personal experiences would be helpful :)
One of the coolest parts about this is that I get a free pitch session with an agent! Personally I think this will be a great thing! It doesn’t guarantee that I’ll land an agent, but I think that my in-person excitement will help me sell my story. Furthermore, I know that agents aren’t just looking for a good story, they’re looking to see if a writer is someone they could see themselves working with, and if that person would provide a positive image for their agency.
This does, however, bring me to the title of this blog. You see, when I found out I would be able to pitch to an agent, I had a decision to make. Do I pitch The Sword of Dragons, currently my only completed manuscript? Or do I try to finish Chronicles of the Sentinels in time?
When asking around, I pretty much got a consensus: the story of Chronicles (and its genre) combined with just how excited I’ve been for this story ever since I first thought about it makes it more likely that I’ll be able to convince an agent to at least ask for the full manuscript.
This puts me on a deadline. I have to have Chronicles as finished as possible by September 5th!
I am no stranger to deadlines in general. I was an English major in college, and that meant having essays due by certain dates. Lots of them. Including long and involved research papers. I also took every creative writing class I could, and every single story we had to write was due by a certain date, as were revisions.
But I have never had a deadline for a novel before, so this is a new experience. It is true that I could always fall back on The Sword of Dragons, but you know what? I’m not going to. I’m not even going to consider that an option. Why?
First, I want the experience of writing a novel under a deadline. I don’t know what kind of deadlines I’ll fall under when I am finally able to write full-time, but I don’t ever want to be late with a manuscript or revision. But more than that, because I know I can do this. I’m already well on my way to it. I just started writing chapter 10 tonight, and it’ll be a 25 chapter novel.
So, I have created a schedule for myself, one which I believe I’ll easily remain ahead of. It’s as follows:
17 August: First draft of manuscript completed
19 August: First proofread completed, print out hardcopy
22 August: Second proofread completed
23 August: Complete digital revisions based on hard-copy proofread. Email copies to beta readers.
03 September: Final Revisions
I already have a few beta-readers who have volunteered to try to read as fast as possible once I get a copy to them. I’d like to ask if anyone who reads my blog would like to volunteer as well? I know a week and a half isn’t much time to read, but honestly I think I’ll have it ready much sooner than 23 August. It is also my intent to make Chronicles a fun read, and being geared towards YA or YA Crossover, it’ll be relatively short.
I don’t know how I know, but I know that this is the one. The more I write this novel, the more I feel like this is something special. I’ve kinda felt that way from the get-go, but now, 10 chapters into it, I am certain.
The story, the characters (especially the characters,) everything is coming together so well! I think I’ve found that balance between serious and light, comical and emotional, the same kind of qualities my favorite novels, movies, and TV shows have always had (think Stargate SG-1 :) )
Even if I don’t get signed on to an agent in this conference, there will be valuable experiences and valuable contacts made. But I truly feel like this is the novel that is going to make my career take off.
I’m certainly not saying that The Sword of Dragons isn’t a great novel in its own right. Just this week two coworkers started reading it, and both of them were hooked in the first few chapters! The email one sent me after just reading the first four chapters was so encouraging and made my day! I know TSOD will do well once published, but getting that first agent, that first publisher, that is the hard part.
I think for the first time in my life, I truly believe that I can do this. I can make it as a writer. :)
After receiving encouragement to create a Facebook Author’s Page, I finally did! I’m honestly not entirely sure what I’m supposed to do on it, but I’ll be learning as I go, just as I have been with this blog :)
I’ve read from various sources that agents and publishers are more likely to consider writers who have a presence in social media, including Facebook and in the blogging community. Not only do I see the wisdom in doing this (after all, an author with a lot followers in social media is more likely to have buyers for their novel), but I’m also excited to have multiple platforms to connect with readers and other writers! As I stated when I first started my blog, that’s the kind of author I want to be :)
Please check out the page and click Like to follow me on Facebook!