Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Intarweb Tuesday: Inspiration. I has it.

Now go forth and write, people! Yar!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Part 10: OMG the Synopsis is Attacking the City!!!1!

It's pretty much a given that if you're looking to be published, you're going to have to write a synopsis of whatever you're submitting. And the first thing that I learned on my publishing journey is that writers are scared of writing synopses. (Synopsii? Synopsises?) RWA taught me to fear the synopsis by using words like "dreaded" and "scary" in conjunction with it. They told me horror stories about how editors might base whether or not they'd read my submission on the strength of my synopsis alone. Of course they also said things like the synopsis might not get read at all. But above all they stressed that synopses are made of evil and eat babies and OMG IT'S BEHIND YOU RUN!

Right. So, as a n00b author, I was appropriately afraid of writing a synopsis for Blood, Smoke and Mirrors, and I avoided it for as long as I possibly could. When my rejection from the agent arrived, I realized I couldn't run anymore and had to get down to business. To begin, I did what I usually do. I bought a book about it. Specifically, I bought Writing the Fiction Synopsis: A Step by Step Approach by Pam McCutcheon (which if you're a writer you too can buy from Gryphon Books For Writers, and if you don't already own Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, pick that up too while you're there). I'd already taken Pam's workshop based on the book, but I figured it couldn't hurt to own the book too. Really I just love books on writing. I also love character questionnaires, plot charts, and other related writing exercises. I'll wax poetic on why I love WriteWayPro another time.

I think the problem is--and this goes for pitches and loglines and blurbs, oh my!--is that a writer's head is so full of the world of their novel that it's hard to boil it down into a few words. My mother once commented on how she was amazed by J. K. Rowling's ability to think up the million and one details of the world of Harry Potter. I told her that's not the hard part, at least not for me. My brain runs on epic when it comes to stories. I know all the side stories of all the minor characters and have story arcs that'll last over several books, regardless of whether or not I ever write those books. (I blame Star Trek and Star Wars for damaging my brain in this way.)

The synopsis is not the place to regale someone with the brilliant plans for your 12 book series. (No, I don't have a 12 book series. But then again I can think of more than a few authors who probably thought that with book one and then just kept going as long as the books were selling, even after their series jumped the shark...) It's your opportunity to explain who does what to who and for how many jellybeans, and perhaps why they did it and what plans they have for those jellybeans. And that's about it. And really, that shouldn't be scary. Unless you hadn't thought all that out. Then it's cause for "OMG, my story is made of suck!" Luckily you can usually fix that with some editing. I know as a reader I'm annoyed when a character does something for no apparent reason and you're left wondering "did that just happen? what the hell!"

So really, the synopsis is a good thing. Embrace the synopsis. Lurve the synopsis. Because what's really scary are query letters, which we'll talk next.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Intarweb Tuesday: Can has flamethrower?

see more There I Fixed It

This reminds me of LARP. Don't ask.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Intarweb Tuesday: Steamed

I <3 Katie Mac's books, and I can't wait to read this. :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chapter 9: In Which I am Rejected!

I like book signings. When I hear that one of my favorite authors is going to be in town, I'm one of the nerds who shows up when the store opens so I can get my ticket/bracelet/badge of fangirldom and be one of the first to get my book signed. I've been to more book signings than I have concerts. I'm sure that says something, but I'm happier not knowing what that is...

In attending these events, I've learned that many of the fans who show up are also unpublished authors, and these fans want to hear the story of how the author got published (usually in the hope that said knowledge will somehow help the fan become published as well)(which is a little annoying, because hey, we're there for that author, no one wants to hear about the ms you've been working on for 10 years about ninja cowboy space pirate monkeys trying to take over the world)(so don't be that guy). I've read books on writing where the author devotes some time to the stories of their rejections, I've read author interviews, blogs, watched YouTube interviews, and so on and so forth. Every published author has been rejected, and knowing that gives unpublished authors some sense of comfort. We know that we may hear "sorry, not interested" a handful, a dozen, or even a hundred times, but we can remind ourselves that hey, people told [Favorite Author] the same thing, and now they're a bestseller.

Now, as I have mentioned before, I am a geek. I love sci fi and fantasy, I play mmorpgs, I'm happier watching Food Network and the Discovery Channel than I am network TV, I own several sets of gaming dice. (Bonus points if you what a d20 is, extra points if you have several of them, raging kudos if you have one that's "lucky" and several that have been banished to your dice bag for being "cursed".) As such, rejection is something I'm rather familiar with. Hearing "sorry, not interested" about your book has the same sting as being last picked in gym class. You're not wanted. You'll never be popular. You suck.

But after the conference I was on cloud nine--I'd won the contest, and the agent I'd pitched to wanted to see more of my novel, so clearly I was on my way, right? She would love my story and get me a fabulous contract and I could quit my day job and write full time and live happily ever after.

Not so much.

It was a very nice rejection, and not a dreaded form letter. It was encouraging, and I do feel grateful for that. But it was still a rejection, and I was crushed. What was worse, it made me realize that I'd have to keep submitting, and in order to do that, I'd have to do something I'd been avoiding. A terrible, awful something that strikes fear in the hearts of writers everywhere.

I'd have to write a synopsis.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Intarweb Tuesday: I Has a Hotdog!

funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures

Both of my goldens would chase snowballs, and then be confused as to where they went. They loved snow.

Monday, January 4, 2010

It's a Brand New Day

I've decided to cave and do the obligatory New Year's post today, so we'll continue with the story of my path to publication another time.

There are many ways that 2009 was made of suck. Epic suck, in fact, but there were highlights to it. Among the best are that I became an aunt (and my itteh bitteh niece is really adorable), and that I signed a contract for my first book. I won NaNo for the second time. The husband and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary, and, in my humble opinion, our wedding still stands as being the best wedding ever. ;)

2010 holds the promise of being a good year. Blood, Smoke and Mirrors will be out in May. I'm working on the next book in the series, and I have high hopes for it. In April I'm attending the Chicago-North Spring Fling conference. My local RWA chapter continues to be supportive and made of awesome, and I'm looking forward to another year with them. I'll take more online workshops (currently I'm taking one on creating your own space military, which aside from being interesting I'm hoping to use in the space opera idea that's been kicking around in the back of my mind). Read more books. Hopefully see a Cubs game (it'd be even better if they win when I do).

I'm not going to make any resolutions, because I've learned that I never stick to losing weight or quitting smoking. Instead, I intend to take things as they come, do my best, and try to think positively. And write. A lot.