Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thursday Update

Britney, what have you been up to these last few weeks?

Honestly, I'm recovering from rejections.

Yup. I said it, r-e-c-o-v-e-r-i-n-g. 

You'd think, at this point, I'd be a tough cookie with skin thicker than leather. What's one rejection compared to the million other ones? It's all the same, right?

Exactly. It's all the same, and what sucks is that it is, indeed, a rejection. And I don't care how much anyone sugar coats it, a rejection is still a rejection and it hurts. Because no matter how hard you try, there's always someone telling you that you're not good enough. It's not right for them at the time, or he/she doesn't feel like they're the right agent.

It's a rejection. It hurts.

But I'm not going to give up. I've never been the one to throw in the towel. Ha, I guess I'm addicted to those love/hate relationships.

I must stay hopeful to survive in the business.

Other than that, I've done some painting. I haven't touched a paintbrush in years, so it felt so good to exercise other talents.

I've also been doing some good old fashioned letter writing.
Knowing me, I probably shouldn't be writing anyone any letters--especially boys and non writers. (No offense to the guys reading this.)

But sometimes, those two specific types of people don't get it, nor do they understand. And I'm just like, "Don't over-think it, just read the words! Let them sink into you. Breathe them in..."

    Then I realize that I'm just some poetic, love-struck, twenty something year-old who's obsessed with     her own words and how romantic they can be.

    More or less, I need to stay away from words.

    Yet, here I am, writing another blog post.

    Also, I can't find my Ipod, so . . . yeah.

    Welp, that's all for today, ya'll.

    Happy Writing Days!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Should you re-query agents?

I find myself thinking of this question often.

There are times when I have the query itch. You know, the feeling to query right after you've finished the manuscript...before anything is polished.

I've actually done this a couple of times, and my advice to you is to steer as far away from the query itch as possible. Take a cold shower. Go for a run. Do anything that gets you far away from your computer. And please, don't think about it.

But for those of you who have already been affected by the query itch, this post is for you.

So you've blown your chances with a few of your favorite agents, eh? And you're curious to know if it would hurt to send them the new query with the better version of your polished manuscript? Or maybe it's been months, or maybe even years, and you want to give that same agent another shot?
Below are answers to a few of the most-asked questions about re-querying agents.

1. The agent that I queried receives so many submissions. He/she probably won't realize if I've sent another query. 
This is totally untrue. Agents are people, too. They are masters at the query process, and if he/she finds a query they like or didn't like, it'll stick with them. One of the agents I follow on Twitter said she has a folder with over 14 queries in it from the same person. Not only that, but the query isn't personalized and it's sent with absolutely no feeling--it's like clockwork. In most cases, if the agent didn't like it the first time, they probably won't like it the second or third time, either.

2. But it's a new manuscript. 
If, in fact, it is a new manuscript, it is definitely okay to send a new query. Just because they dismissed the last book, doesn't mean they'll dismiss the new one. Some stories just can't be sold at the time because the market is over-flowing with it, or it might just be a hard genre to sale to publishers. This happens sometimes.

3. Same story. Different query. 
In this situation, I wouldn't recommend re-querying. Like I said before, If the agent didn't like it the first time, they probably won't like it the second time either.

4. It's been a very long time since I've queried. 
What's your definition of long? If it's been 2-weeks to a couple of months from the previous rejection, I'd say don't query the same project. However, if it's been six months to a year, I--and this is solely my opinion--think it would be okay to resend the query IF you have made a decent amount of changes.

5. I've done a lot of A LOT of editing. 
If your manuscript and query are completely different from the previous version--like you probably wouldn't recognize it if you put the two together--then I'd say it's okay to re-query. Sometimes all a manuscript needs is a hard polish. And if that first sentence and paragraph hooks the reader in the new query and the new manuscript, then you're golden. However, I would probably state in the opening paragraph that you'd queried before, but that the manuscript is completely different from the previous version.

I hope this helps. Again, every agent differs. Some agents are more lenient than others, and some will throw your email address in the spam section if you query too much. It never hurts to try, but it also never hurts to check out that agent's web page either. They may address how they deal with certain issues like this one.

And remember, stay away from the query itch. In most cases, you have one chance to get it right. Don't sacrifice the manuscript because you want to scratch the problem. Just don't.

Till next time blog world!

Monday, July 28, 2014

What I'm Reading

Between queries and scribbling on manuscripts, I read.

Yes, there are actually some--please add an extra emphasis to the word some--days when I have time to read an actual book with words I didn't write.

And I love reading. Before I knew that I wanted to pursue a dream in writing, reading was the best thing (I mean, it still is.)

However, lately, whenever I find myself reading a book, I would get excited and anxious about my own. Then, before I know it, I'm working on my manuscript, not even finishing the first chapter of (insert any book here that's been published in the last 50 years.)

With that said, I've forced myself to get over that barrier. Not only that, but now that I've actually finished The Willow Tree, it's been easier to enjoy a novel other than my own.

Which brings me to the point of today's blog post:

What, exactly, am I reading?

As of today, I am reading The Notebook.

If you live in America, you've probably seen this movie a million times. It's one of those mesmerizing, tragic, I-want-that-kind-of-love stories. It's almost as popular as the story of Romeo and Juliet (maybe...)

And though I have seen the movie, I decided to read the book. Many people don't know, but The Notebook was Nicholas Sparks's first published book. (Read the story here.) And I love reading debut novels because it gives me hope--like that could be me one day--and it's easy to tract the author's growth from the first novel to the most recent novel. But the best part is seeing how far they've come. 

Hopefully I'm able to finish this book; it's a really easy read, and it moves at a nice pace. Ha, wish me luck. 

Are you struggling with reading books other than your own, too? Share below!

Till next time blog world. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Agonizing First Chapter

Why in the world is it so hard to write the first chapter of a book when it's the initial reason for our motivation?

That's the thing. It's not hard to write the first chapter of a book. It's hard to get it right.

The biggest mistake writers make is starting the book in the wrong place. It's so innate for us to stick with the first thing we put down and call it golden. But it's that first chapter, first five pages, first sentence, that pulls the reader in, and if we're starting in the wrong spot, we're getting absolutely no where.

Fact: agents don't want to read through the first few thousand words to find your 'true' beginning. (That's paraphrased, of course, but I read that in Carly Watter's book, Getting Published in the 21st Century.)

Now, you might be asking, "How the heck do I get it right?" First, I'll admit. I don't know everything (I'm actually glad that I don't,) but here's how I got my first chapter in tip-top shape.

The first thing I did was research. I read a million blogs--especially those of agents. At this point, I'd already had a critique reader go over the entire manuscript. Though she liked my first chapter a lot, I didn't. It felt wrong to me, so I started chopping out bits and pieces that I didn't feel comfortable with. Which leads me to my next point, trust your gut.The reason why I didn't like my first chapter was because it had too much back story. Not only that, but it was starting in the wrong place, and I wasn't sure how to fix it.

It wasn't until I had one of my good friends from AQC look at it, when I changed it to my liking. She pointed out where the high point of the story really was. And once she did that, I began to soar to new heights.

After I changed it, I read a few more blogs posts and did more editing. Then, I had three people look it over--including the one who'd been really pleased with the original version. And after their approval and suggestions, I did more edits. (See, the editing never ends, ya'll.)

Long story short: I added a hook. 
Why didn't I have a hook in the first place? I don't know. But it consists of three simple words, and it carries the theme throughout the chapter.
And Lastly, I made the reader feel for my MC by adding more stakes, and starting the story at a pivotal moment in her life.

And that's it, folks. Seriously. After endless editing, I like my first chapter a lot. Maybe it's not perfect--there's a chance it could change after I get an agent--But I like it, and I don't have anxiety over it anymore.

*Long sigh.....I need a glass of iced tea.

Below are a few links and blogs that have helped me with my first chapter.

Suzie Townsend--agent at NewLeaf
Carly Watters--agent at P.S Literary
And, oddly enough, Twitter--not kidding. I follow a handful of agents and writers who tweet links to helpful websites and blogs all the time.

Good luck! I hope this helps!

Till next time blog world!

Three things you don't know about me

So last night, at about ten pm, I decided to send a query out. Go ahead, call me crazy, but I was ready to do it. This time around, I felt different. I wasn't overly-anxious. I don't have second day regrets. And I'm quite confident with this version of my manuscript.

It felt right to me, so I did it without blinking.

And the woman I queried is in my top three. Whether she passes or accepts, I will do a review of my query experience with her on here.

Until then, it's back to the waiting game!  Furthermore, here are three things you don't know about me!


I have crazy, curly hair.  Sometimes I like it . . . sometimes I don't.


 I'm growing a mint plant, so I can put it in my tea. :)


After camp ended, I cried the entire way home--not kidding. And it was an hour drive. 

This was the last sunset.

And this was the moon on the night that I left.

And there it is, people. That's three things you don't know about me. (But now ya do! Wink, wink)
Bonus fact: I was listening to Hunter Hayes first album the night that I left. 

That's it for today's blog post. Wish me query luck!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Tea Ain't Cutting It

I'm at my parent's house for a few weeks before I can move back on campus . . . just imagine all the fun I'm having.

Ha. Well, anyway. I've never been so bored in my LIFE. I'm actually one of the top posters on AQC because I have nothing better to do. 

For some bright reason, I decided to re-do my query--which was suicide--only to find out that it was fine the way it was before (Yeah, I'm that girl.) I don't know why I did that. Granted, the query is better than it was before, but not by much. I added and removed a few sentences. 

I'm going crazy over here. I just want to send my query letter out! Is that too much to ask? But I'm trying to patiently wait for my last content reader to go over my manuscript . . . which I'm not even sure he/she received. Isn't three beta readers enough? Do I actually need four? Can I just send my query out already? Please?!?! Is that too much to ask? Seven months of editing has been far too long. 

Plus, the tea ain't cutting it. Yes, I said tea. I purchased a great amount of tea yesterday from the the dollar store down the street. It was cheap, and it was their brand. But it's terrible (sorry, dollar store.) And yet, I'm drinking it anyway because I'm broke, and I'd feel bad if I let it go to waste. 


Can I just send my query out already?

Please enjoy a photo of me trying to do the duck face.

Till next time blog world. Also, please send help. I'm going crazy over here. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

How do you know when you're done editing?

That's the age-old question.

Truth is, you are never really done editing. And after you get a literary agent and editors, more edits will be made.

After my manuscript was polished--like agent-ready--I had one friend who didn't believe me. When everyone else was as excited as I was, he questioned me. And I was almost upset by it, but after speaking with him, I knew why he didn't believe me. He'd seen me work countless hours editing my book for the last two months--I even changed my title a few times. There was one point when he asked if I'd ever stop editing it, and I told him the truth. I simply said, "No."
Because if you're really dedicated to your manuscript, editing is always an option, no matter what.
So here are a few checkpoints that I've collected from various sites and books that will help you get your manuscript agent-ready.

Also, I would go ahead and suggest buying Carly Watter's book, Getting Published in the 21st Century. She's an agent who know's what she's talking about, and the price of the book is fairly cheap. So worth it!

The checklist:

-- Step one: Have you had a beta/critique reader? If not, you've got soo much work to do. Refer here.

-- Step two: Have you killed your darlings? If you're unfamiliar with this quote by William Faulkner, like I once was, you're not alone. Basically, a "darling" is an author's personal/favorite element. This may hold special meaning for the writer, but for the reader it's just annoying gibberish.

--Step Three: If you haven't yet, check out Kristen Lamb's blog. Here, she helps writers identify the over-kill of adverbs, physiology, stage direction, and alien-body movements.

--Step Four: Are the voices of your character's easy to point out? Is it too forced, or not there at all?

--Step Five: Are there places in your manuscript that you keep second guessing? Maybe you should cut it out completely, or have a second pair of eyes go over it.

--Step Six: Lastly, does your beginning and ending work? Does the beginning start with a hook and a conflict that rears the reader in? Does that plot line carry to the ending? Does the book actually end? Are the problems SOLVED? These are things you need to consider if you want your book to be round in the right places.

I hope this helps. I know all the links on this page have helped me the most. Here's the last link. This has a huge, more in-depth check list.

Till next time blog world.