Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Writing Again!

Although I have been "working " on a novel for well over four years now, I started writing another romance recently. I say another because I did have that short story published last year. 
(In case you have no idea to what I refer, it's called THE LIFE SHE DIDN'T TAKE. It's available on TorridBooks, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Bookstrand. E-book only, of course.)

I feels good to be starting another story again. Something fresh and new to leap into and swim around in. I feel like I've read and reread my other stuff so often that I can't even really judge if it's crap or not anymore. The line between what I think it says to the reader and what it really says has grown hazy. Actually, I'm pretty sure it straight up sucks.

So time to move on, clear my head, and try something else. This new story will be one of the first that doesn't involve vampires, post-apocalyptic futures, winged people or cyborgs. I usually stick to fantasy and science fiction because that's what I enjoy writing. But it isn't what sells and it's not getting me any bites. So back to what I'm decent at: naughty romance.

Well, some could call it romance but it's labeled under PWP in my book. Porn with a plot. Erotica. Now before you get all up in arms and start picking out nice, heavy stones to throw, this really does have romance. The publishing company that I'm writing this for does naughty stories. Hell, they take straight up dirty stuff. But the main thing is, it has to have an element of romance in there. There must be love there.
And there will be.

Aside from the "fun, fun" scenes, I'm enjoying fleshing out new characters and creating some drama. Because every good romance has a bit of drama to liven things up story-wise. And though the story line has been done before (let's face it, there are no new ideas) I like to think of it as more of a tried-and-true plot as opposed to an overdone-and-worn-out one. 

I won't go into any great detail because it's far from finished and needs lots of editing, but I think it's going to be a fun read for men and women. Yes, I actually think men would get a kick out of it. And if any of you men do decide to sneak online to check it out one day, don't worry, your man-parts won't fall off. You won't grow boobs. You just might enjoy yourself. Hell, you might even find yourself laughing a bit.
And entertaining the reader is what it's all about.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Querying Process

I wanted to share my querying process with you guys just in case it helps someone else who is searching for an agent/publisher for their unpublished novel, short story, etc. I've done this before and after trial and error, I have it down to a process which works for me. Let me state now that this is my process and it may not work for everyone.
At this point, I have a general query letter written. Here's what to do with that letter.

1: Do a search on literary agencies that are interested in your genre.
Use a search engine or a one of the many helpful sites like to find the agency that is a good fit for you.

2: Scope out their website.
It's pretty important that you make sure you are not trying to sell a science fiction story idea to a company that only deals with romance novels. Most company websites will give you all kinds of information about how they work, who their clients are, what publishing companies they have worked with, who their agents are and guidelines on how to submit your work.
Some agencies don't have websites. Or web pages. I find this strange in this modern age but I won't hate on people who like to do it old school. Hell, I prefer real books over e-books.
If you do find a good website that looks promising, bookmark or favorite it. Write it down on a list. Just make sure you have it handy to come back to when you're ready to start sending your stuff off.

3. Scope out their agents.
Make sure you read up on the agents for each agency so you know you are sending it to the right person. Just because an agency says they take fantasy, doesn't mean you should send it to just any agent. Some might prefer urban fantasy, another epic fantasy, still another might only like dark fantasies. If you find one that you think would appreciate your work, maybe follow them on Twitter for a bit or if they have a blog, check it out. This is who you are writing your letter to, so make sure you know you can get their attention in a way they prefer. Get inside their heads so you can better help them get inside yours.

4. Make some lists.
I used Microsoft Excel once to make a list for my queries. I no longer have Microsoft Office on this computer (argh!) so it's back to pen and paper for me. Either way, it's good to have some kind of list you can go back to. 
Some websites offer to keep track of your queries for you. That's cool too. I prefer to do it myself, just in case their server crashes or something. Call me careful. Or paranoid. Whichever.
My categories usually go something like this: Agency, Agent, Date Queried, Response. That seems pretty self explanatory. This time I'm also taking that extra step to put a few details about the querying process for each agent. Which leads us to the next topic.

5. Research each agencies querying process.
Some take emails, some snail mail. We know this. But it's important to make sure you are sending them exactly what they ask for. Some literary agencies may ask for just a query letter. Some may ask for a letter and the first chapter of the novel, or the first ten pages, etc. 
If it's a short story, they may ask for the entire thing now. Others may ask for a synopsis to go along with your letter. Letter, manuscript, synopsis; make sure you understand which ones they are asking for the first time you contact them. I'm now keeping track of this info along with my querying list.

6. Check the website once more.
It never hurts to go through each page of the agencies website one last time before you send off your letter. You know, just in case you missed something. It would suck to realize later that you sent a letter to a company that only publishes e-books when you want an actual book published. Or that you sent off a letter and a chapter when you were only supposed to send a letter.

7. Match your letter to the agent and send!
A lot of agencies frown on writers sending the same letter to every agent in town. Especially if sent to all at the same time. Double check your letter and make sure that it includes the name of the agent you are currently querying and not the name of the last guy who rejected you. That would be a big oops. I try to change my letter up a bit for every agency I send it to. I say I try to but it doesn't always happen. If two agents have similar tastes I might send them both a very similar letter.
Now that you know what they want and you have it all ready, send that joker out! You may want to make an extra draft of the email just in case they do not receive it. Keep track of the date you sent it and who you sent it to. And now folks, it's time to play the waiting game.

I'm not exactly a very patient person so waiting for a response sucks. It's almost worse than actually getting the rejection letter. I'm pretty used to getting them. I've been rejected from agencies, publishers, magazines and writing contests. It happens. Does it mean you give up? Hells no! You have to keep on because it may be right after that 120th rejection that you get the letter asking to read your manuscript. Oh joy! Does it mean you will get published? Maybe, maybe not but someone was interested and that is enough to push you to keep on.

The best rejection letters are the ones from agents who take the time to tell you why it wasn't a fit for them. Or perhaps they give you a tip about your letter and how you can improve it. Agents who take the time from their busy schedules to do that are awesome in my book! Maybe their advice can really help you with your writing process. Just think of each rejection as a learning experience and grow from it.
Yes, the waiting game sucks but now you can take the time to work on another project or, in my case, go back and edit old projects. Keep yourself busy and the time will fly. Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Immortals After Dark

A friend first recommended this series to me a year or two ago. I thought "Eh, it's romance. I'll get around to it." When I did get around to it I was surprised. Holy hell in a handbag, this woman can write!

If I read romance novels there has to be an element of fantasy in there or I get bored. No worries about that with these novels: we have action, drama, romance and humor. The characters are relatable whether they are witches, demons, vampires, phantoms, valkyries or werewolves. I love how she takes us into their minds and makes us really feel their tension and sorrow. Oh, and of course, lust. 
We sometimes take trips into the past for history lessons on the heroes (or villians) but these are urban fantasies taking place in our modern world right under our noses.Which makes for more drama because they have to hide their true identities from the humans. It also makes it easy to throw in fun pop culture references.

There are a few wars going on between different clans and/or species but that doesn't stop a budding romance between, oh, a lycan and a valkyrie. Or maybe a demon and a witch. Each couple finds themselves drawn to one another, whether they like it or not, and soon feelings develop. But it's never as simple as that, is it? It can be difficult to spend time with the guy you're falling for if your sisters want to kill him. It's hard to hold the woman of your dreams in your arms when she's a phantom. And beneath each romance is an underlying story of the coming of the greatest war of all where all races will be forced to battle each other to the death.

I can really see how her writing style has improved from book to book and how she gets more and more in depth with each character. Each novel can stand on it's own and features a different couple but other charcters involved are, that's right, couples from another book. So to really know everyone's story and what's really going on, you have to read them all. Trust me, it's worth it.

Once I read one I ran out and bought some more. I plan on purchasing the entire collection because I enjoyed them enough that I will read them over and over again. I seriously recommend the IMMORTALS AFTER DARK series by Kresley Cole to any chick who loves a good romance. 
Or hunky werewolves. 
Or dastardly vampires. 
Or kick-ass valkyries.  
Pick one.