Thursday, April 29, 2010

The real submission process?

so, back when i was a young, naive, and optimistic writer, i used to think that simply writing a novel was enough to ensure that your name would soon be on the shelves of every Barnes and Nobles in the country (and maybe the rest of the world, too).

okay, so i'm still young and optimistic and pretty naive, but in the past year, i've learned a few things. (and please, correct me if i'm wrong because i'm basing everything on these surmisations.)

first, with a little research, i discovered something unbelievable: very few authors actually get published. (this shocked me. i was horrified. but eventually, i accepted the frightening truth and realised that high school writing projects just aren't gonna cut it.)

second, i discovered something even stranger: publishers don't look at an author who doesn't have an agent (although i think there are some exceptions).

This led me to the obvious question, just what is a literary agent? i did a little more research and came to my third conclusion: if i ever want to get published, i'm going to have to woo an agent instead of a publisher. (okay! great! does one do that?)

(don't worry. this is all leading somewhere. i am not just ranting.)

my research ultimately led to two important conclusions: to get published, one must get an agent by writing a phenomenal book. AND agents like authors who have been published elsewhere already.

what?!? agents are supposed to help authors get published--how are authors supposed to get published somewhere else first??

and then, with even more frantic research, i discovered fantasy magazines.


but, i still had a couple of questions, and who better to ask than my amazingly brilliant, clever, omniscient writing friends?

so here goes:

how important do you think it is for an author to gain recognition before approaching an agent,


is writing short stories for magazines the best way to gain this recognition?

if you agree that short stories are the way to go (in addition to writing that instant best-seller), then what advice do you have for an aspiring fantasy author who is planning to write said stories? because, i have to admit, i often find short stories to be, in a word, baffling, and i'm not really sure how to go about writing one...

this is definitely one of those times when i want to know what you think.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

a little dose of truth and humility...

for those of you who haven't seen it yet, Nathan Bransford is hosting what he calls Be an Agent for a Day (II).

i personally think it's a brilliant idea.

before i read any of the queries, i thought, "okay, really, how hard can it be to sift through all these queries and pick out the good ones to request? i mean, the good ones should stand out. it should be obvious, right?"

yes. i really thought that.

then, i read the five, randomly-selected queries (fantasy genre).

oh, man. they were all good. and, like several other Agents for a Day, i was blown away by the fact that they were randomly-selected. that meant that probably out of the 150+ query entries for the Agent for a Day contest (thingy), most of them were probably just as good. (i'm guessing here. i don't know. but i think it's likely, considering the random part.)

and here-in lies the brilliant-ness. in one short, 10 minute period, i had completely re-evaluated my opinion of agents' jobs. okay, i already thought it would be hard, but that was just because i knew that agents held the dreams of hundreds (thousands?) of authors in their e-mail inboxes, and letting so many hopeful authors down certainly couldn't be easy (unless you happen to believe that agent wake up everyday, check their inboxes, and say "Oh, boy! I get to crush the dreams of 276 authors today! My job rocks!!", in which case, you should probably read this). but i have to confess, i just didn't appreciate how hard their jobs must be until I was asked to evaluate 5 great queries and only pick one.

only then did it hit me. what agents do is not easy. i also began to blush in humiliation. (agents, please forgive my ignorance. i am young. but i am learning!!)

so, i am officially revising my former opinion. Nathan Bransford (and all other agents), you must have the hardest job in the world.

how do you do it??

and if you (readers) haven't yet, you should definitely give Agent for a Day a look. and then come back and tell me what you think!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

are you ever too old for role-playing?

No, i am not talking about games.

i'm referring more to that age-old idea of "I want to be like them when I grow up".

when i find writers that i really like, i think, i wish i could write like them someday. their writing not only displays wonderful technical detail, but they also have this way of making their story come to life. their books are beautiful, and when i read them, i wish i could be that author.

so here's my question:
if you could be any author,
who would you be?
(or, if you don't like that question, which author is your role model?)

which author never fails to make you laugh out loud with his/her devilish wit?

which author has that indefiniable talent for bringing his/her characters to life so that you feel you have met several dear, invaluable friends?

which author can tell a story so well that you find yourself turing page after page, desperate to know what is going to happen next?

these are the kinds of authors i want to be one day.

how 'bout you?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

writing is so fun!!!

i just had this exciting story idea a couple of days ago, and i've been trying to get it down on paper--or at least, a Word doc--ever since. i wish i could write as fast as some of you--like Tahereh. but i guess i'll just have to settle for whatever i can manage! i'm afraid i'm being even more antisocial than normal--not even blogging, hardly--but sacrifices must be made for the greater good. (you can tell i'm totally suffering, too)

so, anyway, how are your Saturdays so far?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

when prose doesn't translate well...

okay. i'm sure we've all been here. but how many times have you waited (in impatient agony) for the release of a novel-based movie--and it completely fell short of your expectations?

what makes it so hard to traslate a book into the expressions and words of the actors on the screen?

why does the movie often lack the same heart and spirit as the book?

why are the books so much more powerful, or funny, or exciting, or magical?

can it really be blamed on bad actors, horrible screen writing, or inadequate special effects?

do we perhaps bring in too many of our own personal expectations? (ie. i saw that scene running differently in my head, no he was supposed to say it with a different/deeper inflection, OMG that is not what [insert beloved character's name] is supposed to look like!!)

now, this isn't to say that disappointment is always the case--sometimes the movie does translate very well. but then that raises the question of why did this movie work and that one didn't..?

i don't know the answers. im not even going to pretend. so i'm asking you, what do YOU think?

*note: pictures are meant to inspire thoughfulness, not anger. i am not saying any of these movies are bad, so if you like them, please don't be offended.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

what a beautiful day...

no, it really is. i woke up this morning to gloriously stormy skies--we might even get rain!!! i love rain.

anyhow, i had this thought.

somebody mentioned something about wanting to find a book that is wonderful and captivates the heart and mind like those books that first kindled their love of reading as a child (okay, so i might have tweaked their words a smidge there. but that was the basic idea.)

so i was thinking...

maybe everyone could list the top five books that they have read, judging by the lovability of the characters, the imaginative-ness of the plot and setting, and just the overall quality!!

sound good?

i'll go first.

i am an avid Harry Potter fan. how avid--i will leave that up to your imagination. (*cough*practically memorized first six books*cough*)
but since probably everyone has already read these books, i will leave them off the list (Harry Potter, you will always be first in my heart...)
okay. moving on.

1. The Host

*(disclaimer: mild spoilers may follow, but i'm pretty sure that they're things you can read on the book sleeve anyway).

okay, so you might not be a die-hard (or should i say twi-hard) Stephanie Meyer fan, but, come on, this book was great! it had a depth to it that was sometimes lacking in the Twilight books. after all, what is more serious and thought-provoking than the end of humanity--brought about by creatures that it is very hard to hate? i thought that the characters displayed real human flaws that only made them more lovable. i also thought that the sci fi premise made for a very interesting storyline--although i'm glad that Meyer didn't turn it into a full-blown sci fi (no, am i not a sci fi fan. sorry to those of you who are). i was hooked from the beginning (well, after the first 20 pages were over and i figured out what the heck was going on). After all, humanity is on the brink of extinction--how in the world do you solve that?? and the setting was very effective and realistic (trust me, i live in phoenix).


wow. picking number two was hard. i had to peruse my book shelves and cry over all the poor rejects. but i finally did it.

actually, i couldn't do it. i had to change the criteria. instead of your 5 top (favorite, best) books, i am changing it to 5 favorite book recommendations. phew. i feel better. picking top favorites is way too hard.

2. (finally...) Pride and Prejudice

this is a perfect book. it has already been reviewed so many times that i don't think i can really add much, but if you haven't read probably should (unless you don't like ANY Romantic British fiction).

3. Howl's Moving Castle

to those who say that this book does not make sense or is just plain weird, i say: well, that's Dianna Wynne Jones for you. i don't think it changes the fact that this is one of the best books i have ever read. (okay, i am probably just a sucker for Howl's character..i guess i can see why my ex-boyfriend wasn't smitten). i don't want to give away any spoilers, but i loved both the quirky characters and the quaint setting.

4. The Fox

yes. i am cheating. this is the second book in a series (which i did not think was very good after this installment, btw). but i had to mention it. this-is-the-second-book-in-an-intricately-woven-fantasy-series-by-Sherwood-Smith.-the-characters-are-complex-and-troubled-and-the-plot-is-VERY-exciting.


4. (for real this time, mwahahahaha) The Truth About Forever/This Lullaby/Just Listen

yes. i am cheating again. but this is my blog, so i make the rules anyway.
i loved all three of these books by Sarah Dessen. i thought that the characters were completely believable and realistic, and i personally identified with all of them (in different ways each time, though). while i certainly wouldn't recommend these to a guy, they make wonderful reads for a teen girl (i even made my mom read them!).

5. Eldest

i don't know about you, but i thought Eragon was flawed in a lot of ways. while Eldest still wasn't perfect, Paolini's writing really matured between books. i thought that this was the best of all three books (which apparently isn't the end of what was supposed to be the Inheritance trilogy...) book choices may kind of give me away. a lot of them are fantasy. yes, i love reading fantasy. it is also what i love to write. (also, did you see how i sneakily got 6 entries in there?? smooth moves like that are why...well, why my family doubts my honesty. the unfairness.)

(note: don't miss the favorite novel genre poll over on the side--i want to know what your fav genres are too! ---------->)

oh no!! is that a ray of sunshine peeking peeking through the clouds?? urgent matters call! i must depart!

until next time...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

i hate alarm clocks

so...last night was an interesting, momentous occasion.

(i should probably post a pic so you know what the heck i'm talking about. look below)

i know. i know what you are thinking.


no!!!! no!!!! not that part!!! not even the part about Tahereh commenting!!! i mean the part about this being at 12.27 AM and how i had to wake up again only 8.5 hours later!!


see?? alarm clocks deserve my wrath. no person should have to wake up at 8:57 IN THE MORNING!

okay. enough whining. i will get my comeuppance this afternoon when i sleep in the sun. besides, i recovered as soon as i saw that i had my second comment and MY FIRST FOLLOWER.

today marks a very important day.

it is the release of my first official, real, GENUINE QUESTIONNAIRE

are you ready?


question number one.

when you leave for vacation, what is your formula for calculating the number of books to bring?

a. [days gone]x[250]/[number of pages rounded to nearest hundred]. plus one extra. just in case.

b. oh, i keep it simple. one book a day.

c. are you kidding me?? one for the flight there and back--vacations are for R&R!!

d. a formula? like math?! no way. i just stuff some favorites novels in whichever of my 5 bags has room and i'm good to go!

question number two.

is your head still spinning from question number one?

a. nope. i'm good.

b. head...number...question...spinning....spinning...spinning

question number three.

should i refrain from asking any mathematical questions in future?

a. math? was there math? i didn't notice

b. yes! what kind of person asks mathematical questions on a writing blog??

c. whatever...i just go with the flow...whatever makes you happy*

*(just a hint: this is the correct answer) i the only person who answers 'a'? (except on the question where the correct answer is 'c', of course)

don't spare my feelings. i want to know!!

okay, okay, in all seriousness, i will be making several(?) poll(s) available, after i figure out how... ; )

*one last little note. sorry it took so long to get the post out...i had issues with transferring the pic...i blame BlackBerry. i had to write it out on the computer instead.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

i want to hear from you!!

HEY! (whoa, sorry, didn't mean to startle you. sheesh.)

anyway...straight to business.
this is a shout-out to anyone who has ever had a book-related opinion that they wanted to share. this is a summons for every bookaholic who—

wait—who am i??

okay, i suppose that’s a fair question if i’m going to be asking you to share all your deep dark secrets. in fact, i’m rather flattered that you asked :D


i am that girl who is always eying the comfy chairs at bookstores (which are invariably filled with senior citz who never acknowledge my presence…or consider giving up their snug seats--just because i am younger. i mean, come on. it's not my fault.)

i am that girl who instead sprawls awkwardly in abandoned book isles, waiting to trip unwary browsers (btw, i guess this is my chance to apologize to all of you who i have tripped in the past. (sorry…))

i am a girl with far too much time on her hands (actually, not really true) and far too many books (oh, yes, that’s true) who wonders if she is the only one out there with far too much time and far too many books:

enter you (i hope)

which bring us to...


(this one’s easy…)

have you ever read a book so mind-explodingly wonderful that you spent the entire subsequent week telling anyone who would listen about it?

do you tick the days off one by one on your calendar as you await the long-awaited release of a favorite author’s book??

do you find yourself increasingly outnumbered and outmatched as books begin to form insidious—and shocking large—piles around your home??? (yes! yes! yes! this is ME!!! ….oh, wait. sorry. ahem. i was supposed to be asking you)

and lastly….

do you ever secretly carry books around in your purse when you leave the house? (i know, i know, it's scary to admit it, but don’t worry. i swear i won’t give you away. contraband books are always ardently revered here.)

and yes, i mean YOU!!!!

i want to know what you think! i want your answers to my forthcoming questionnaires! Some of them may be—indeed, will be—difficult (tears are almost guaranteed when i ask for your all-time favorite book, but do not fear, i will not think less of you for them), but please this is for the greater good.


“….[edit edit edit]…this is for posterity, so please, be honest

because we—i—want to know what you really think.

real questionnaires are coming soon. please stay tuned.