How does someone write a post like this? There are a million ways to try to convey the excitement. But I guess in the end the only way is the simple way, to just type out the words:
I am now represented by a literary agent. Natalie Fischer of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.
Now the above was my pathetic attempt to sound professional. I will now just tell you guys the story without any kind of pretense because you’ve known me too long to think I actually think like that.
I started my writing career with a story about a princess, locked away in a tower, waiting to be rescued. I was in second grade, and I added a few illustrations, folded the pieces of paper to open like a book, and proudly presented my novel to be read to everyone I could wrangle into listening. I never did get around to writing the “sequel” I had planned.
The Virginity Thief came after a few more attempts, some of which came with query attempts, as well. I brought characters to life, killed some, weaved some good plots and some bad; all until I got Mari Abdo’s voice in my head and I just couldn’t get it out. I knew I needed a plot worthy of Mari, and VT was born when I was 18 years old.
I started querying VT mid-January. I got a lot of rejections and a few requests, but in the end it wasn’t a query that got me an agent. Special thanks goes to Karla Calalang for this. Natalie Fischer joined AbsoluteWrite just as my novel was in the end of revision stages and I was to start querying. She was interested in Karla’s work and also in the work of any friends whose names Karla thought to pass on. At the same time, I got Karla in on an interview with Natalie for TWFT (read the interview here). It was a great interview and I learned a lot about the woman who would eventually be my agent.
Natalie found herself at my blog. She read VT’s description and asked me for the first 50 pages. I was ecstatic, and even more ecstatic when she sent me an e-mail a week later asking for the full. A week more and she told me she loved my novel (what wonderful words!) but needed a second opinion from a fellow Sandra Dijkstra agent to fulfill the agency’s check and balance requirements. Those were the toughest 2 days in my writing history. If anyone knows me, they know I am the most impatient writer alive. But then she sent me editing suggestions and told me if all went well, she’d love to represent me. Within a week I sent in my edited version and, today, officially signed with the agency.
I want to thank all my amazing Twifty and Oldies friends. Without you guys I would never have made it this far. To those of you reading this post who have yet to join AW, do so. It really is a fabulous site where you’ll get to meet people that will be an immense help to your writing.
And also, put yourself out there. I would never have gotten interest from Natalie if I hadn’t approached her for an interview and made sure I had a manuscript “blurb” on my blog. Don’t be afraid to share your story idea at the query stage!
And with that I’ll end this post.
Just one more… SQUEE.
Are you supposed to be writing?
Now, don’t expect a happy encouraging post here. The job of this little post isn’t to assure you you can “do it.” It is to make very clear that some people just can’t.
We’ve all come in some kind of contact with them. We either know them personally, have heard of them, or… shock… read their (sadly) published novels. They are the ones that make us say “Hey, listen, the people who are meant to do this don’t need you taking up our agents’, editors’, publishers’, readers’ time. We have a hard enough job as it is.”
These are the people that have no business writing.
They are the ones who have grand ideas of what writing a novel is. They proclaim to the world that in a year or so they’ll have enough life experience to write the next great American novel but, in fact, it is simply that they don’t have the natural inclination to start as soon as the story hits them.
They pretend that the moments of writing must be perfect… the laptop computer must be new or the notebooks unsullied with grocery lists or the new pens have the smoothest writing in dark bold ink.
They bring hot beverages and soft music, to smother themselves in the writing mood they pretend must be there.
They are the ones who think writing a book is an easy way to make money from home, just write and submit. Unfortunately for the readers, these non-writers sometimes succeed.
Their ideas of writing fiction are simply fictional.
These are fakes who want to get noticed, not writers who live and breathe their characters, and how these characters are affected throughout a novel. We talk to our characters as if they are real, play the music that fits their moods, torture ourselves for hours at the desk chair telling their stories. We are the real writers, be we published or not.
Take this quiz to see if you are really a writer or are writing a novel for reasons other than ones you should…
And I say it here: I’d rather be a real writer and never be published, than a fake one who forces the readers out there to read my garbage. But that’s just me… sadly.
Now, I know some of you have been looking forward to a review of We All Fall Down for this month’s book club post. Perhaps a Twifty will post one in the review section of this site soon. But for this post I thought we should instead take a moment to remember the author.
Robert Cormier, born in Leominster, Mass., once described himself as “a skinny kid living in a ghetto-type neighborhood wanting the world to know that I existed.” For writers like us, getting the world to know we exist is pretty darn important, but I don’t think anyone should take Cormier’s quote and think that is all writers desire. There is power in the story that is stuck in your head, stories like We All Fall Down, an edgy read that leaves nothing out in pursuit of telling the story Cormier imagined. Sometimes, there is nothing we can do but let that out on the page. And very few of us do it as well as Cormier.
As to why he tunneled this energy into young adult fiction? He wanted to show us the “strength of young adults—their resilience, their ability to absorb the blows teenage life delivers.”
Mr. Cormier died on November 2, 2000, but he’ll be forever remembered by young adult writers everywhere.
On the lighter side, some things you might not know:
He wrote a book called “I Am The Cheese” and thus wins Race’s award for most fantabulous book title.
The Chocolate War, one of his most beloved books, has a sequel, called Beyond the Chocolate War.
When you try to Google his name and first start to type “Ro…” Google Chrome immediately assumes you want to search for rotten tomatoes.
Now, this is a book club post and when you end your moment of silence for Robert Cormier take a look at this book down here. I know for a fact is it a popular read and I hope you all have fun with it. Look for the next book club post near the beginning of March!
The Book Thief.
Quotes and info taken from: site.
The TWFT book club is back!
First I’d like to apologize for not keeping up with the club recently. Secondly, I’d like to suggest we all read:
“We All Fall Down” by Robert Cormier!
“We All Fall Down” is a 1992 Edgar Award Best Young Adult Mystery Nominee (Linky).
As always, look for a post on the book in a month. Until then, grab a copy and enjoy!
Summary and Review can be found at Teenreads.com here.
Publishing, it has been said, is not for the impatient. Writing a novel can take months or years, getting an agent or publisher just as long.
Unfortunately, I am the heir to the throne of impatience (right behind my mom – yes, I blame the genes). All it takes is a well-meaning question from a friend or relative – “How are things going with the book?” – and all my suppressed nervous energy jumps to the surface. The truth is, my novel is progressing quite well – just not in any way that’s easy to measure or describe to non-writers. They don’t care how many words you’ve trimmed or how much better a storyline fits together. They just want to know when they can buy it (even if it hasn’t gone out to editors yet).
As a writer, it’s easy for me to fall into a similar trap. After finishing my latest round of revisions, I was tempted to send them off without having my beta readers look them over – despite the fact that I had made some major changes to the tone of the ending. I managed to resist the urge, but it was enough to remind me that impatience isn’t just an unpleasant state of mind. When we let impatience get the better of us – by rushing revisions, skipping beta readers, or developing carpal tunnel syndrome by pressing “refresh” on our email 40 times a minute while waiting for responses from agents or editors – the quality of our work is what suffers the most.
So how can we best avoid falling into the traps of impatience? I’m not entirely sure yet (as you can tell from this post), and I suspect different techniques will work better for different people. One thing that helps me is having another creative endeavor I can turn to when I start becoming impatient with my primary project – something that is not necessarily intended for publication and lacks the same kind of self-imposed urgency. Another is to read back through my work and remind myself of how much better it has become because of the time I have invested in revising it.
What about you? Do you suffer from writing related impatience? What do you do to avoid falling into its traps?
Tags: beta reading, Editing, Reading
Yes, I have a tendency to turn everything into a verb (something I may actually blog about some day!) But this post is all about being a beta reader. So, for the non-AW of you, what is a beta reader? Well, according to the Absolute Write dictionary, it is when:
“You’ve maybe had various individual chapters critiqued and you’ve edited your epic masterpiece to the best of your ability — now it’s time for someone to read the entire novel and see whether it flies. That someone is your beta reader.”
So, beta-reading. Beta-readers are so often invaluable to writers, but what are the pluses about actually do some reading of other people’s works yourself?
Well, there are many. One of these is that you get to read great books for free. AW has some amazingly talented writers, and you get to read their work before anyone else! Another is that you get that warm fuzzy feeling inside – you’ve helped someone! It’s probably pretty good for your karma too – he who betas will be beta’d in return.
I’ve beta-read a few novels, but never seem to have enough time for…well, anything, really. But I decided to find time, and took the brave step of putting down my name on the ‘Willing Beta Readers’ list. If you’re anything like me, you’ll read books and enjoy them, but there will be bits in many of them where you say ‘I would have done that differently,’ or ‘that character would not have reacted like that!’ Beta reading is your chance to point out the bits you feel don’t work quite as well, before the book is published – helping the writer notice things he/she maybe didn’t notice before. A new perspective, if you like.
But beta-reading can benefit you, the writer, too. You get to see what works and what doesn’t. You get to edit someone else’s work, and therefore gain valuable practice in editing your own work (I am a lot better at editing someone else’s work than my own, but hopefully I will improve!) They say good writers read a lot; I think good writers should also beta read. You’re helping someone else and helping yourself and, hell, it’s fun! Definitely a win-win situation. Now, I have some comments for my latest beta-read to finish. =] So, I’ll finish on a question: do you find beta-reading helps you, as a writer?