Monday, June 28, 2010


Over eleven hours. One-hundred-eighty-three games. Two relentlessly determined athletes. One match the broke record after record. It was the longest match ever in hours, days & games, had the most aces ever recorded in a single match, and for me, the most admirable display of perseverance ever. Last week at Wimbledon, John Isner & Nicolas Mahut put in their bid to steal some of the limelight away from the World Cup action and write their own names in the sports history books.

A writer can learn a lot from a match like that. It was an eleven hours struggle spread out over three days (called on account of darkness twice, but never called off for the sheer exhaustion of the players). Each player had winners and missed opportunities. And every time they fell behind, they battled back to even ground - again, and again, and again.

Anna's suitcase story, of the author bringing hundreds of rejections to that RWA workshop, puts me in mind of this kind of struggle. Spread out over years and countless manuscripts, we submit and submit and submit. Contests, query letters, partials, fulls. There are ups and downs. Moments of validation and frustration. But we keep going. We believe in our ability to win and we push ourselves past the rough patches with nothing more than faith and hope.

And then, after all of that, hopefully one day we get here:

And it's all worth it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Query Tally

If you've noticed my previous blog references to querying agents with The Soldier, you might wonder how that's going. I loved it when Vivi's other blog, the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood, did a "By The Numbers" Golden Heart post, so I'll share my stats here with a little analysis.

Queries sent since October 2009: 15

No Reply as of June 22: 5 (33%) (Pending since Dec. 29, 2009, April 29, 2010, May 30, June 18 and June 20)
Form Rejection: 5 (33%)
Personalized Rejection from Queries that Included Pages: 1 (7%) (I like this number.)
Partials Requested by Agent: 3 (20%) (I like this number better.)
Full Requested by Agent: 1! (7%) (I like this number best.)

Offers of representation: 0 (Is that 0% offers or 100% rejected? Which sounds better?)

Two years ago at National RWA in San Francisco, one of the luncheon speakers wheeled a rolling suitcase to the podium and dumped hundreds - thousands? - of rejections on the floor. I can't remember who she was - it's that suitcase that stuck with me - but her motivational speech worked. My fifteen rejections do not compare with a suitcase. I can track these queries, narrative comments included, in a three-page document. I'll keep going, constantly having five pending queries, until I darn well find an agent that clicks.

If you're a writer and want specifics about agents I've queried, feel free to email me off the blog and I'll share the nitty-gritties. I have notes. Many. If you want to know more about queries, go to The Query Shark. She bites, but it's all for your own good. If you want a grown-up merit badge like this one, you need The Merit Badger!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Crazy Week

Hot on the heels of Chassily's time management article (scroll down), I must confess that poor time management skills last week kept me from blogging, querying agents or writing. My week was completely routed by a bad case of the romance heroine syndrome TSTL. And what, you ask, is TSTL?

Too Stupid To Live.

You know the heroine who goes into the basement rather than locking the door? TSTL. The one who leaves the car and decides to walk alone along the deserted road? TSTL. Or the classic Pacific Northwest TSTL heroine - the one who leaves her car sunroof open overnight.

It rained. I opened the car door Wednesday morning to an inch of water in the cup holder. I had to leave my coffee on the front porch while I drove Big Boy and Miss Bossy Boots to school.

Right, that would be merely a head-pounding dumb mistake, except that it was the second time this particular heroine has done that with this particular Subaru. In Seattle we have auto-detailers who specialize in dry-outs. I am now a valued repeat customer. (Readers, the real test of a hero: not whether he knows your morning coffee, but how he reacts when you call and say you left the sunroof open ... again. Mr. Richland was very polite, rather like a classic Amanda Quick or Julia Quinn hero. Perhaps he left his office and pounded a villain to a pulp before catching his bus home, but he was a prince about this.).

Do I have any TSTL sisters out there, real or fictional? Please help me feel better and offer a story to share with Mr. Richland, who kindly let me drive his convertible for the past five days. So bring on the dumb mistakes, the TSTL sisterhood, the "how could I?" moments. Thanks!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Time Management How-To

Chassily Wakefield, a local author, has a great article up at 1st Turning Point. It's all about time management for the unpublished author. If you've never checked out this website, you really should. It's authors sharing tips on promotion. Good times! And Chassily's article is fabulous. (My favorite line: "Map out a 24-hour day and a 7-day week. Sorry, that’s all you get.")

Check it out! And let me know what you think.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Epub Questions?

Today I'm hosting a Q&A over at the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood blog about epublishing options for aspiring authors. Got a burning question? Curious about what the whole epublishing rigamarole is? Want to share your epub expertise? Swing on by at and join the discussion.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


What makes a book a keeper for you? What puts an author on your Auto-Buy list? For me, the answer is one word: style. Writing style, to be exact. If I like the way you tell your story, there is very little I won't put up with.

Unlikeable characters? Far-fetched plots? Utterly ridiculous leaps of logic? Senseless misunderstandings? No worries. For me, whether or not I really love a book is a case of it ain't what you do it's the way that you do it.

For the truly stylish author, I could read their shopping lists and be enthralled. Jennifer Crusie does that for me. Eloisa James and Julia Quinn knock it out of the park every time. And don't even get me started on Christopher Moore and Laurell K. Hamilton.

Of course, conversely, I am likely to be very critical if your style doesn't engage me. You can have the world's most likeable characters, most unique plot, beautifully thought out, but if your style is wooden, I won't make it past the first chapter.

That author's voice is intangible, hard to pin down and impossible to duplicate. And whether or not an author's voice will resonate with a reader is impossible to predict - so editors looking for the next stylish author have their work cut out for them, don't they?

My question for you - what do you look for in a book? A storyline or theme you like? A character you can relate to? Or, like me, are you a sucker for style? What makes an author hit your auto-buy list?