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Pitching an Agent – Someone Please Read My Book!

Pitching an Agent – Someone Please Read My Book!

The Opportunity: Pitching an Agent

All we writers want is that single opportunity to give our book to an agent. To have one person be intrigued enough to ask for a full manuscript.

It’s the first step, to traditionally publishing a book. You don’t interview agents and pick the one you want to work with. You pitch the book with a query letter, and a small sampling of the book, usually the first 50 pages and a short synopsis. If you’re lucky, they’ll respond and ask for the whole book.

I’ve sent cold queries. Lots and lots and lots of them. I’ve come close. I had an agent tell me she wanted to like the book but couldn’t get into the first three chapters I was required to send with the query. I was crushed.

When you find yourself with an opportunity to pitch an agent, you take it. I’ve been set up with agents through friends. I’ve been unsuccessful. I’ve gone to book conferences where I’ve met agents who have asked for more.

It was my weekend activity. I had the chance to pitch my book to several agents, four to be exact. Now the first pitch when badly in that I was all over the board and in the end realized I had mislabeled my genre. Who knew I wasn’t urban fantasy. I am indeed, contemporary fantasy.

But I digress.

The Stress of Pitching: The Reward

The reward is to give enough information about your book that someone will ask for more; more chapters and the ultimate goal, the entire manuscript.

So back to this weekend. I had a total of four pitches. The first not so good. However, the second, third and fourth went better than expected. All agents asked for me to send them a pitch. One wasn’t specific on requirements, I looked them up online. One agent was specific, I sent her what was required; the first 50 pages of the book to the address she requested.

Now the last agent was unexpected. She asked for the synopsis, my author bio and wait for it…. the manuscript. The holy grail of pitching the book. An actual request for the actual book.

The Aftermath

In the aftermath of a successful pitch; there’s a down side. The feelings that come with sending your book to the agent. After hitting send, the feeling of dread that you’ve sent the book off and it wasn’t ready. It sucks. It needs more work. “What was I thinking?” The process is a painful one for writers. It’s sending your baby off to be critiqued, to be hated, or hopefully to be loved.

Thankfully, I was fortunate. Three of the four requested additional info, from synopses, to the entire manuscript.

I just sent my baby off to the agent. I hope she likes it.

 

 

 

 

 

Writing: The Process – It Goes Round and Round

Writing: The Process – It Goes Round and Round

Once upon a time…

I had a story to tell, my own story of writing. I sat down at the computer and began to type. My fingers flew over the keyboard and the words poured out of me. And in six weeks’ time, I had a book. The End.
Only, it wasn’t the end. It was really the beginning. After that first draft, I must have made 30 more sets of changes. I was a total novice to this process. I used an online self-publishing site to create my book from cover-to-cover. I self-published the book in 2010. The End.

But this wasn’t the end either. After working on Book Two of the series, I hired an editor who suggested that I re-work the first book and re-release it. It had been widely reviewed and very well received. After a blog tour, my book was #1 in occult fiction on Amazon. The End.

The Writing Process Sometimes Doesn’t End

Only, once again, I wasn’t at the end. I released what was then second book in the series called “She Wulf.”* And the writing process completely stalled. I realized that changes needed to be made to the whole series. I decided to rewrite the ending of The Day of First Sun and finish up story lines such as what happened to all the dead bodies and discuss what happened to the zombies.

As I read through the book, I saw many different things I hadn’t seen before. I added scenes, I added conflict, and in the end, I completely rewrote the last half of the book, putting Annie in some serious situations she’d have to work through.

I also added more changes on the advice of my editor. She told me to put in more of the “beginnings” of the relationships rather than having all established relationships in between the pages.

In the process, one seemingly minor change, set the whole tone of the book with the addition of a dead body outside the bar. This new beginning unveiled the theme of protecting the secret of magic from the non-magical world. Lastly, I added a whole new character to the story that will play a big role in the series someone wanting to expose her and magic.

The Final Product

All of these changes led to a fuller, richer story. At least I hope so. In the end, I’m guessing that there were about 40 or 50 different drafts of the book. The current published version of The Day of First Sun is very different from what I sat down to write in 2009. And the process has been very different from I expected it to be when I had the dream of writing a book. It takes flexibility and the willingness to open your heart to change. It takes the advice of experts and listening to the inner voice within yourself about direction of the story and conveying the truth about the characters that you create. And, of course, it takes patience. The End. (for now…)

* She Wulf was shelved for a time and will be rewritten to fit the new timeline as Book 4 in the series. A new Book 2 was then written and published, Black Market. Click here for more information on this exciting chapter in the Wizard Hall Chronicles.

Theme Writing – Saying Something with Purpose

Theme Writing – Saying Something with Purpose

Do My Books Have a Theme?

As a pantser, not a plotter, a writer who writes without plotting the story, I very rarely chose the book’s theme before I begin. I actually don’t think I really planned on a theme for any of the stories. To be perfectly honest, my goal has always been to write an entertaining story, one that leaves the reader happy they spent an afternoon with my characters.

I wanted relatable, real characters, a female lead who would be strong, and vulnerable as she navigated her life. I suppose for all intents and purposes, that was theme I was writing about.

After writing and publishing Black Market, I realized I was writing about so much more.

The Review that Got Me Thinking of my Book’s Theme

Black Market – Beautifully and eloquently
combines themes of empowerment,
social justice, resilience, balance,
strength and vulnerability.
Erin – Good Men Project

Yes, I wanted Annie Pearce to be a symbol of empowerment, a woman in a man’s world, navigating difficult men who called her “girl”, vampires who treated her like a dolt. Set in the world of the police procedural you’d even see the theme of social justice and what does good vs. evil look like.

Wizard War – Book Three – Theme of Justice

I hadn’t realized when I wrote Wizard War, that I so heavily discussed the meaning of justice. What it is and how do you determine if justice was served. For example, it’s much like the debate, the death penalty vs life in prison. Though I’m not here to discuss that, I do examine how the magical world makes deals with the demon to further the course of the investigation.

In this story, was justice served if the investigation techniques fall in the ethically gray area?

My characters aren’t perfect and are oftentimes faced with decisions that affect the outcome of the case or challenge their existing beliefs.

I don’t think I could have planned for the story’s themes to blend so beautifully if I tried. But the reader or in the case the reviewer of the attached quote, saw what had been floating around in my head. A book so much more than an afternoon adventure, one that might even have a message, something important to say.

I’m always amazed by what I see in my stories as it compares to what others take away from the book and I’m glad that I can offer something more complex than just a stake through the heart.

 

 

 

 

If Magic Were Real Would We Have to Share

If Magic Were Real Would We Have to Share

Protecting Magic at all Costs

It’s a common trope in supernatural books: magic must be hidden from the non-magical world, no matter the cost. In Harry Potter’s world, the Ministry of Magic would punish offenders for exposing magic. In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, protagonists Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein were threatened with execution when it was thought that they conspired to release a dangerous Obscurus on the unsuspecting citizens of New York City. When destruction and chaos followed, the American version of the Ministry of Magic repaired the damage and removed all memory of magic from the minds of “non-mags”.

There’s a Plan In Place

In the Wizard Hall Chronicles, my characters are also charged with protecting the secret of magic; a theme important throughout the series. The Wizard Guard has a team of experts, led by Graham Lightner, who come in immediately after an event to clean the scene of all traces of the supernatural. In book one, The Day of the First Sun, kicks off with a vampire attack discovered before Graham’s Vampire Attack Unit can conceal the aftermath. In book two, Black Market, it’s a race against time to keep magic a secret as the barriers between the two worlds are threatened.

But even as I have created this world and bought into the theory that the secret of magic must be protected at all costs, it makes me think; what would happen if the non-magical world knew that magic exists? There are so many benefits that magic could bring to humanity – curing diseases, ending poverty, saving lives…Is it fair to hide these valuable benefits from humankind?

Should the Gifts be Shared

This debate really hit me after watching Black Panther. In the movie, the country of Wauconda has prosperity and incredible technology due to the resource that they possess – vibranium . They can heal, build powerful weapons, and protect their people with this element. For generations, they chose to keep it a secret in order to safeguard their way of life. The moral debate: open up their country and share their “magical” secret with the rest of the world. As they heal an outsider from the brink of death, it’s hard to argue that their abilities should not be shared with all of humanity.

Ethics of Sharing

Even in my world, magic has healed severely injured characters. So why not reveal the beauty and power of magic? For me, I think my characters realize humankind cannot really process and accept magic as a safe way of life. Even as far back as the Salem Witch Trials, we have seen that fear and ignorance can be dangerous. Also – there are nefarious individuals in this world – what would they do to have magic at their control? Right now, the magical world of Wizard Hall uses their magic on a finite group that is considerably small. If we added the rest of humanity into the equation, is there enough magic to take care of the billions more involved?

These answers are not easy. What do you think? Does the magical world have the moral imperative to share their abilities with the non-magical world? Or do you think exposing the secret of magic would be a disaster? Share your thoughts with me .

STORIES, THE COMPULSION TO WRITE: BRINGING WORLDS TO REALITY

STORIES, THE COMPULSION TO WRITE: BRINGING WORLDS TO REALITY

The Young Dreamer

When we are young, I think we all made up stories in our heads. Maybe when we were playing with dolls or building forts in our backyards. We made up the good guys and the bad guys. We made up the winners and the losers. We made up the fairies and the elves. We made up the happy ending. But at some point, for many of us, the stories stopped. Life got in the way — We went to college. We got a job. Kids needed to be fed. Dinner had to get on the table. Bills had to be paid. We no longer had the time to create princesses or dragons. The worlds we had created would simply fade away from reality.

Stories Are Still There

For some of us, however, the stories never went away. In fact, the worlds we were building in our heads became more and more solid, more real. The characters we were inventing compelled us to give them a voice. Every spare minute became lost in the world we were creating. Downtime became the cherished moments to let our imaginations reign free. Driving to work, scrubbing in the shower, breaking eggs over the stove – our heads would be writing dialogue, figuring out ways to save our heroine or mapping out the various paths our characters might take to resolve conflict. For us individuals, we became authors – compelled to make these worlds a reality.

So this is how I became an author. I realized that my daily musings were the foundation of a complex, interconnected world, with stories that I felt compelled to forth to others. When I daydreamed about Annie Pearce, it wasn’t just that I thought of a strong, interesting woman who balanced precariously on the seam between the magical and non-magical realms. Her life, dreams, abilities, family, fears, etc. all became apparent to me. I began to develop her story that would eventually span what would be a five book series. I felt compelled to make her world a reality.

How Far it Goes

Recently, I was explaining this frame of mind to a friend. I told her that I knew the back story to every single character – no matter the size of the role they play in my books. I know who marries who, the names of their children, the names of their grandchildren. Their lives have already been mapped out in my head, developed as I washed the dinner dishes or drove my kids to practice. I can see their stories so clearly and I know that they want me to share their journeys with all of you. And I guess that is what makes authors different from an imaginative child – we want our dreams into reality.

Are you still building worlds in your head? Do you want to make them into reality and don’t know where to start? Feel free to contact me I’d love to chat!

Here’s to the Strong Female Character! May we know them; May we be them; May we raise them; AND MAY WE WRITE ABOUT THEM!

Here’s to the Strong Female Character! May we know them; May we be them; May we raise them; AND MAY WE WRITE ABOUT THEM!

March is Women’s History Month

It brings me back to a familiar topic here on my blog – the strong female character at the heart of an interesting, complex story. As a fan, I look to books and movies that feature kick-ass women as their lead. These ladies are the ones who don’t wait until their boyfriends show up to save the day – they kick down the door and take no prisoners.

As an author and as a woman, it was important to me to create such a protagonist. I wanted to imbue Annie Pearce with a sense of fierceness, intelligence and bravery usually associated with heroes like James Bond or Indiana Jones. In MY story, other characters look to Annie for guidance, intuition and answers.

Why I Created a Strong Female Character

Annie Pearce is who I would be, if I could snap my fingers and be anyone. In Annie’s world, magic is a comfortable tool to help her solve crimes. She dares to go in dark, dangerous places to hunt down clues and witnesses – never afraid to step into places like the Black Market filled with vampires, dark magic practitioners, and beasts not seen in our everyday world. When faced by treacherous villains who may have been responsible for her father’s death, she digs deep inside herself and finds the inner strength needed to confront these individuals. When her own life is threatened, she doesn’t wait for someone to come and save her – she finds her own way out of the situation and manages to save others at the same time.

Annie is also compassionate and thoughtful. She has endeared herself to her fellow members of the Wizard Guard and different magical creatures that she meets along the way. She has even garnered the loyalty of some questionable characters that are willing to put their lives on the line for her.

Real Women

You see, strong women have the unique ability to blend the tough and the tender. I wrote the character of Annie to show the importance of both of those traits. Annie is in the front of the battle, but she follows behind to check on those affected by the fray. I hope that she is an inspirational role for young women as they are developing their sense of self. I hope they find the strength to be “Kick-Ass” while being nurturing and loving individuals.

A Year in the Life of the Tree Beside My Window

A Year in the Life of the Tree Beside My Window

Life – Less

I can’t see much outside my window at work. It’s high on the wall, it tilts inwards, leaving me a view of the sky and of the top of the tree just outside my window.

As a dreamer, I take time outs, day-dream of a story idea, fulfilling a wish and often times my attention turns to the tree outside. I watch with great interest, from season to season, that tree.

From the tiny buds that sprout in the spring, hiding the new bird’s nest, to the lush fullness of summer where the birds hide from the mid day heat, to the bright orange contrasting against the bright blue fall sky.

It’s barren now, with only a few dead leaves swaying in the breeze.

Ice collects on the ledge between the glass and the cement window ledge. Snow collects on the glass only to melt by the mid day sun, even as the temperatures plummet so close to zero. I stare all day at the grayness outside my window, dull and lifeless as I long for the coming spring.

Today I saw something different, unexpected, the first sign of the changing seasons. Several cardinals, several lady birds and their mates, red against the gray sky. They’re pecking at the water that collects near the base of the window, heated only by the heater in my office space. They keep at it for many long minutes, preparing for the gathering storm. I watch with interest as they fly to the barren tree and back again, lapping up the water as if it will be their last for some time.

Surviving Life

A simple act of survival, and I stood there and watched until they flew away.

When they were gone and I was alone in the grayness, I turned and walked back to my desk and waited for the gathering storm.

Motivation in a Pool of Nothingness

Motivation in a Pool of Nothingness

Motivation

What is motivation? Have you ever been far, far away from your happy place, searching for the spark of motivation to get you past the darkness? Your spark will be different then my spark, a thing as unique as you are.

The things that motivate me can be as simple as a motivation quote, a song lyric, an unexpected note of gratitude. My greatest professional struggle is my attempt to become a better selling author, have a strong following, so that I can do what I love for a living. It hasn’t been an easy road. As I scratch and claw toward this goal, I find myself searching for a motivational spark that propels me forward, that keeps me writing, tweeting, blogging and marketing.

Lately I’m motivated by women succeeding in their life’s work. Specifically, Lorelei Gilmore opening her own inn. Every time I watch that story arc I choke up. I cheer for her, sitting on the edge of the sofa, even though I know that by the end of the season, she’s successful, she happy, she’s free.

Better Things

Yeah, I know it’s a television show. If you know me, you know I’m a self-proclaimed television junkie. I love the medium. Besides books, I think tv is a great medium for telling a full, rich story. There’s time, in several hours, or weeks and even months. You have a chance to meet the characters, get more than a glimpse into their lives. You feel something for the characters even though you realize they’re not real. But for a few hours a week or a night, they are real.

Kids are work, they’re hard and they come with both good times and bad times. I have two. I’m tired, emotionally exhausted as I deal with a child who has crippling anxiety and another with transgender issues. Most of the time I question my decision, feel like a failure because I can’t keep up and it leaves me overwhelmed. And in that whirlpool of emotions I land on activities, books, movies or television shows that offer me a sliver of motivation, that make me feel as though I’m not a failure, like I oftentimes feel that I am.

Currently, my new favorite is Better Things. It’s a story about a working mom, raising three daughters alone. Sam is a working actress, fulfilling her lifelong dream and in the process, she struggles to raise her children, keep her career successful and deal with the unusual issues that her children manage to come home with.

As I watch it almost at times feels as though I’m with a friend and I don’t feel as bad as I did when I start. Maybe I’m not so far from being okay as I sometimes feel that I am.

Being a little unfocused and overwhelmed won’t be able to derail me.

Motivation

My motivation is different then your because I have different dreams, different desires, different needs. I desire to be in a different place, to be a better person a good mom.

I write because I can’t do anything else. It’s who I am, it’s what I do. Better Things, Gilmore Girls, the song Set Fire to the Rain (that’s for another blog), they motivate me. They inspire me to continue forward, to achieve me dreams, to raise successful, happy children. To accomplish that I find my own motivation, different from yours all to the same purpose. Find that thing and run with the spark and never lose sight of the meaning behind it.

 

 

 

Living for the Weekend – Living a Satisfying Life

Living for the Weekend – Living a Satisfying Life

Living for Precious Moments in Time

Why are we living for the weekend rather than the living in the present moment? Is the thing we spend most of our time doing, that distasteful to us, that we long to be any where but where we are?

I don’t enjoy living for the weekend. Living for the sweetness of lazing around, taking my time to drink a tea, watch some mindless television, to not rush awake before the sun rises so that I can get it all in before work. Because realistically, I’m still not getting it all in.

It’s time to enjoy the time in between doing what I love to do.

I Was Born to Write

I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, when I was seven years old. I never once wavered from the dream. I wanted to be an author. I wanted to create worlds of my own making, make my own schedule, feel the sense of accomplishment and freedom you get working from home. It is a great dream and during those periods of time when I’ve been at home, in between full-time paying jobs, I felt that freedom, I experienced the sense of accomplishment as I finished 5 book drafts. As the book series worked itself out.

And then I got a job.

Full Time Writing for Cash

It’s boring. It feels like a time suck and I find myself living for those moments in time, in between being at work where I can finally sit down and write. Where I can feel productive and proud of the work I do. Unfortunately I haven’t fully found my audience and the reality of life was such, I needed to go back to work.

My daily struggle, rising before the sun and rushing out the door al the while knowing that I’d rather be at home being creative, letting that side of myself stretch out and explore. I don’t have that opportunity writing procedures.

I sigh. The dream is still the dream, the book, is still being written. Creativity is my escape from the mundane as I explore options for not letting myself get sucked into the living for the weekends. There is so much time wasted, longing to be where we are not.

It’s time to not live like that anymore. I make a vow to myself.

It’s Okay to Not Accomplish Everything

It’s time to let go of the desire to be perfect. It’s time to create priorities. Yeah, something’s need to get done. Dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, seeing friends. Something has to give, a plan needs to be constructive, sleep needs to be had.

When we let go, not hold on too tightly, we can live in the moments in between where we want to be. Life is too short to work through it, to miss the other moments in time. I forced myself to go to yoga tonight, even though I wanted to come home and write before I became to tired to think. Because I know, I needed that hour and 10 minutes to be alone with myself. To recharge and stretch. Something had to give. Tonight that thing I let go of, laundry.

I can wear dirty pants one more day. Can’t I?

 

 

 

Confidence – Shall We Pretend Until We Believe?

Confidence – Shall We Pretend Until We Believe?

The Greatest Confidence Boost

The greatest boost of confidence that I have ever experienced was writing my first book. The greatest loss of confidence started when I tried to sell the book.

Being confident is like riding a roller coaster. There are so many highs and lows, twists and turns, and big-ass drop that turns your stomach as you purse your lips to hold back the vomit.

Trying to sell books is that same roller coaster. There’s tiny bits of good luck and lots of down turns-Much frustration and then the high when the story comes together in a way you did not predict when you first started writing the book.

The Confidence Struggle

I’m not the only one who struggles to remain confident. Life gets in the way, we all have problems, situations that are so overwhelming, all of this can attack our total being.

That’s where I am right now. Honestly, my confidence, at this moment is low, I feel as though I’m the worst writer ever, not only as a fiction writer but as a technical writer. I sometimes feel as though I can’t string words together to form a complete sentence.

I struggle to find something to change the tide of emotion, that one thing to make that upturn. Basically, I am looking for the path that leads me to a place where readers find me and read my books and get enjoyment from the story.

Though there’s been some positive movement, there’s been much disappointment. So much so, I’ve been researching options in which to find that boost, that change, a way out of this perpetual rut I find myself in.

At first I thought I’d, try some self-help books. I’m not great at self-help books. They may inspire for a moment, but I can’t carry it through to a conclusion. They just don’t get me.

Next I’ve opened myself to new experiences. This one is a work in progress. I’ve joined writer’s groups. And as my schedule opens up, I plan on participating and trying to glean something from the experience. I hope this will finally convince me I’m actually a writer. If I keep telling myself that, maybe one day I’ll believe it.

There’s Always Something Positive

As I open to new experiences, I need to remember to acknowledge those moments. Single moments in which I feel confidence. When I feel fierce and indestructible. When I look in the mirror and confidence radiates from my face, in my clothes, in my psyche, there’s no more brushing it off as if it doesn’t matter. It’s time to work toward the greater good. The more I tell myself I’m confident, the more I’ll start to believe it.

Never Give Up, Never Give In

I keep plugging along because I so believe in myself at times, regardless of the underestimation that comes my way. You can’t win, if you don’t play; you can’t succeed, if you don’t try. I can because I do. Join me on the journey, because someday is almost here.

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