Since I started writing, I’ve wanted to see my name on a cover.

I wanted the surge of joy, of knowing I made that! I started this blog in 2007, and it’s always been my-name.com. Because, this is me. I have a thing about being real and I don’t want to hide anything about myself. (Yes, I recognize the irony of including my web address name on the image. Wait, is that irony or idiocy?)

In the last few months, though, I’ve started to feel a little discomfort.

Writing is highly personal. I’m not saying I act out the risque scenes in my novels at all, but I do fill every sentence with a bit of my soul. And that, for me, is far more personal. Do I really want to deal with people being able to climb inside my head that way?  Not people, reader people or other writers–they get it. But, say, those I come in contact with at work or who attend church with me.

The argument in favor of #writing anonymously. #pennames Click To Tweet

I just keep bumping into this wall.

Don’t post that, someone who comes into the office might take it the wrong way. Don’t talk about your feelings, you have to look people in the eye. And then, I feel fake. It’s not about being fake, it’s about the freedom to be MORE real because there’s a seperateness. My personal life, my professional life, my writing life, my basketball mom life–all different. My life.

And, in the end, it’s my choice.

So, I’ll give you plenty of warning. If you get here by RSS, email, twitter, or my Facebook page, you won’t have any trouble finding me.

siglori

P.S. On the writing side, I’m writing a novella for a submission call. It’s romance set in the 1950s, which I adore. If I don’t get picked up, I may publish it here. Someone’s going to read the damn thing. ;-)

Image was created using images from elitebackdrops.com and Mel’s Brushes.

CJ Redwine, whose query workshop I’ve mentioned before, got a great new book deal. Unfortunately for the rest of us, she’s only going to be doing one more query workshop and then she’s calling it quits.  She says she still has room and the last one starts Monday!
You missed your chance. I hear she’s creating an eBook with this info. I’ll update you.

I said earlier in the week I’d post my queries, before and after my workchop with CJ Redwine.  I’m not looking at my notes (from more than a year ago) to see why I did this–I’m just comparing the two because I don’t think that would be fair to those who have paid for and benefitted from the workshop.

Below, the very first query I ever sent out.

A very public flighty heiress and a TV exec with a past he’d rather keep private work against each other to create a talk show while falling crazy in love.  ON A BET is complete at 82,000 words and targeted as a single title contemporary novel with comedic elements.

Justine Montgomery is a tabloid baby, daughter of a television tycoon and a beauty queen.  She is compelled to ask her estranged father for help when her mother mortgages her grandmother’s home.  Her father proposes a bet: if she can produce a talk show, he’ll pay the mortgage and finally give her a job.  If not, she’ll marry the creepy ex she despises.

Once Justine agrees, her father offers Sawyer the promotion of a lifetime to just sit back and let Justine destroy his show.  Immediately at odds and deeply attracted to one another, Justine and Sawyer travel together to find an aging movie star to play co-host.

Can Justine and Sawyer’s growing feelings survive a controlling father, a drunken co-host, tabloid stories, a crazy ex-boyfriend, and enough emotional baggage to sink the Titanic?

This is my first novel and I am working on a new manuscript now.  In addition, I have two other novels connected to this one outlined.

I would be pleased to send you a partial or the full manuscript upon your request.  I appreciate your time and consideration.

Here, my basic if-they-don’t-ask-for-anything-else query.

Justine Montgomery is an infamous heiress, the daughter of a divorced beauty queen and TV magnate, and a tabloid disaster.

She’s never finished a thing she started, but now that her mother dumped the news in her lap that she mortgaged the family home and foreclosure is only a week away, Justine has little choice.  She must make a bet with her father to either produce a talk show without quitting or marry her creepy ex so that her father will pay off the mortgage.  Just Justine’s luck, her creepy ex is the son of her father’s late business partner, and Justine’s father wouldn’t believe the ex did wrong if he watched it happen.

Justine’s co-producer, Sawyer, is under strict orders to watch her fail so that Justine’s father can see Justine settled and out of the tabloids. Justine. however, grabs Sawyer’s interest like no other woman. Her life is messy, and she may just be crazy, but he can’t seem to stop thinking of her.

Justine must persevere beyond the disaster of a drunken co-host, the bitterness of a rejected ex, the controlling actions of her father, and the half-truths she and the man she may just love are telling one another. If she can’t stick it out and find a way to make her show a hit, she’ll forfeit her dreams, end up married to a man she despises, and lose the man who could make it all worth it.

I’m currently a social worker in West Virginia with a B.S. in Social and Behavioral Science.  I’ve always found people and relationships fascinating and witty banter sexy.  Romance has been a perfect fit and, at times, a wonderful respite for me.

On a Bet is a contemporary romance complete at 81,000 words.  Thank you for your time and consideration.

In the first paragraph (original), you’ll notice I moved the name and length to the last paragraph (final).  This brings my reader (the agent or editor, in this case) right into the story.  I see right off that  my original query shot straight out of the gate with a cliche (*shudder* “crazy in love”).  Beyond that, it isn’t deep enough.  Check out my the last query: she’s a person, with a name and parents and a past.

In the second paragraph of the original query, I introduced my heroine and her GMC.  I did the same thing in the last query, except I went deeper.  I explained why these things matter and are relevant to her.

The third paragraphs are, again, similar.  They both introduce my hero and his own dilemma.  But instead of glossing over it (original), I delved into exactly how he feels for her.  On comparing the two, I do see that I’ve removed his goal (promotion) but left the motivation and conflict.  Is this something I should slip back in there?  (She writes, as if slipping info into a query is not at all like adding a unicycle to an already stressful tightrope act.)

And paragraph four is where the change shines.  In the original I ask the hypothetical question, can their feelings survive?  In the last query, I detail exactly what’s in the way, what’s on the line, and, most importantly, what happens if she fails.  Now it matters.

Paragraph five is the obligatory “About Me” section–difficult when you’re unpubbed.  Difficult as in terrifying and intimidating.  Instead of focusing on my inexperience (in the original) I tell more about who I am and why I love writing romance.  If you’re grasping for something to put in there, it might as well sound like you’ve given it some thought instead of just sticking it in there and hoping they don’t notice.

And the final paragraph sticks those novel stats back in there instead of giving the original’s obvious info (naturally, I’d send them whatever they wanted–be it a partial or handwriting the whole thing on parchment and walking it to their office).

I found it really interesting, comparing the two, that they have the exact same number of paragraphs.  I guess I did figure out the basic set up, at least.  But I also see bare bones in my original and a lot more meat in the final draft.

Still, agents aren’t knocking down my door–I welcome any ideas, comments, whatever.  And feel free to share your experiences in the comments!

I don’t know how I ended up in my archives.  Something I read had me coming back to see if I’d written something on the same topic and, well.  Here we are.

About a year-and-a-half ago (oh-my-God: have I been here this long?), I wrote about my plans to send out my very first query.  I was nervous, of course.  I expected rejection, but in that way where you know it happens, but if the universe lines up just right, it won’t happen to you.

A few months later, I wrote this post about handling rejection and how to use it to figure out where to go from there.

I remember being excited when I got my first rejection letter.  A form rejection letter and I was happy because that meant I was a real writer.  A few months after the second post, feeling like I was still flailing about in the process of submission, I took a great query letter workshop from CJ Redwine (@cjredwine on twitter).  (I recommend it; registration is open and a new workshop begins April 4.)

In my next post, I’m going to compare my pre- and post- workshop query letters (which you should feel free to comment on!), but that’s not why we’re here.

What I saw, looking back, was a bit of naivety.  We all have it.  I still have it.  Just not about rejection.

I have now accrued 23 rejections.  I did manage to get one request for a full.  It didn’t happen.  I still don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

Maybe, it doesn’t even matter.  I knew, although I was hoping for that universe-lining-up thing, that I was very unlikely to sell a first manuscript.  Writing a novel is a learning experience.  I knew exponentially more when I finished than when I started.  Like… I went from first day of Kindergarten to rocket scientist kind of learning.  I’ve tried to take submission, and rejection, as an opportunity to learn as well.

And, wow, it’s taking me forever to get to my point.  The point is this: what happens after The End–from editing to synopsis to query to agent and beyond–it’s still The End.  And while you’re doing all of those other things, the absolute most important thing you can also do is keep writing.

Start another novel.  Write short stories or flash fiction.  Do something.  But keep writing.  It’s the only way to grow, it’s the only way to learn, and–I’m going to go out on a limb here–it’s the only way to stay sane.  It’s the only way to keep your dream close to you, it’s the only way to still love writing.

Rejection will sting.  But writing makes it better.

Dory: “Hey Mr. Grumpy Gills… When life gets you down do you wanna know what you gotta do?”

Marlin: “I don’t wanna know what you gotta do.”

Dory: “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.”

If I haven’t convinced you, read this Guest column by JM Tohline on How Do We Know When It’s Time To Quit Being A Writer?writersdigest.com.

Found the first agent I’m going to send the new and improved, dedicated query to.  FYI: I found a list of agents here.

Here’s my first quandry: I planned to submit to a publisher who requested a query, a 10 page synopsis, and 3 chapters.  I buckled down and got my synopsis finished.   This agent wants a query containing a one or two paragraph(!!!) synopsis and the first 3 chapters/50 pages.*  Now, I love when agents will accept pages.  I feel like I’ve skipped the request for a partial and gone for the good stuff.  But how am I supposed to condense 10 pages into one or two paragraphs?

I wonder if the agent is referring to something more like back cover copy as opposed to a synopsis, which–as I understand–tells the entire story.  Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could input some info and some website would generate award-winning, sure-to-get-pubbed back cover copy? *sigh*

Update:  Sent it today.  Also found a very cool website for tracking submissions and finding agents–litmatch.net**.

*Another update: I’ve adapted my query into one that includes a synopsis by using the first 2-3 paragraphs of my synopsis if they ask for a brief synopsis in the query.  Maybe that will help you.

**Litmatch.net is now authoradvance.com.

Quartet Press is no more. I had high hopes for the publishing group, after reading their blogs, their proposed plans on how to do business, and the hype.  Oh, the hype.  All I can really say now is that they came on the scene with a bang, and left with a whimper.

Read what people are saying about it.

I got my first no from an agent today.  It’s actually more frustrating than soul-crushing.  They didn’t say no to my writing or to my manuscript.  They said no to a one page description of my story.

I’m going to work some more on that one page description.  It’s only bad when everyone says no.