Monday, November 24, 2008

A Great New Agent Blog

Rants and Ramblings is Rachel Gardner's blog about books, agenting, writing, and the literary world. She's fun and informative and there's a great crowd of commenters, too. Rachel posts on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. No weekends.

Here's a taste:
(This post on November 17th got 47 comments if you want to read the discussion.)

And heeeeere's Rachel . . .

I was having lunch with a writer friend of mine, and she didn’t seem like she was in the best place emotionally. “I’m starting to question whether this is really my calling,” she said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because some days… it just isn’t fun.” (She said this with a straight face.)

“Hmm,” I said. “Is your marriage fun everyday?”

“Uh, no.”

“Every time it’s not fun, do you question the entire marriage? Do you consider divorce?” I asked.

“Of course not.” My friend rolled her eyes at me.

“Well, I think your calling as a writer is similar,” I told her. “Every time it gets hard, you certainly have to look at the issues and see if there’s something you’re doing wrong, but you don’t question the whole darn thing every single time. Every time you have an argument, the whole marriage doesn’t fall apart. Every time you have a bad day writing, you don’t have to question your entire calling.”

“But…” she argued, “I thought God is supposed to give us passion for the things He calls us to?”

“Are you passionate about your husband?” I asked.



She laughed. “No, not everyday. I get your point.”

Obviously my point was that your calling to be a writer is bigger than simply a “feeling” that shifts with the wind. Once you decide that you are indeed called, you have to avoid using every roadblock as a reason to question it. Instead, look at whether your calling is being confirmed.

Here are some ways to know you’re on the right track: You’re taking little baby steps toward possible publication. You know that your writing's improving. Someone important has given you encouragement. Rejection letters are getting nicer and more complimentary. Your critique group is saying good things and they know what they're talking about and you don't think they're blowing smoke. You've published something smaller like a magazine article or a contribution to a book. You’ve got an agent interested in your work. Any of these types of things can serve as confirmation of your calling.

Unless you have a total lack of anything resembling confirmation... stop questioning your calling and get to work!

My personal thoughts . . .

I think the marriage analogy describes the process well. Some days you just do not "feel the love", but you don't give up or get divorced at the first sign of trouble or a bad writing day. BUT I worked on my writing for years without much confirmation.

During those early years when you're just beginning to learn the craft of writing and story and trying to discover how the publishing business works, you do have to "feel the calling" and get your love out of the writing itself.

You have to love writing. You have to enjoy the process. You have to take joy. You have to WANT IT. And after you've done that for a few months/years, then you'll start getting your "confirmations" that will keep you going.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Teaser Tuesday

So my mailbag is HUGE, absolutely BURSTING at the seams with people asking me what my three books are about that just sold to Scholastic Press. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but I get to because I'm still bruised from all the pinching, K?)

VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION : No, the three books are not a trilogy, they are all stand-alone novels, although the two Middle-Grade novels take place in the same setting and one of the characters is the same . . . the mysterious swamp traiteur. But I still have to WRITE that book, oh my! To have a book sold merely on the basis of a synopsis is still REALLY WILD to me.

I thought I would feel more pressure over this fact, but I'm just really excited because I love the idea and I think it's going to be a fun book to write. AND I just got the idea in September and whipped up a synopsis in a couple of brainstorming and writing sessions. I think all that synopsis writing and rewriting I did for my queries gave me an edge. See, nothing goes to waste, even if the learning curve is extremely painful. So keep writing those query synopses. One day you'll be glad you did!

The novel actually opens with a Recipe for a Healing Spell, but I'll save that for the published book - or maybe later . . . can't decide. Aren't I so mean?

Brief Synopsis of THE HEALING SPELL:
Deep in the Louisiana bayou country, Livie Moulaison’s mother arrives home from the hospital in a coma. Daddy is determined she will only get better surrounded by the people who love her best, but Livie is terrified of her mother’s lifeless condition and wracked by a guilty secret.
The household is turned upside down when Aunt Colleen comes to nurse Mamma, but Livie and her younger cousin Thibodeaux clash from the get-go. It drives her crazy how this annoying kid seems to know what her worst fears are - and plays on those fears to torment her.
Mostly, Livie is afraid she and her mother will never be able to heal their hurtful past if Mamma never wakes up again. Summoning her courage, Livie travels into the forbidden recesses of the swamp to seek out the mysterious traiteur, hoping that if she buys a healing spell, she can bring her mother back to life.

Ta Da! Here is the First Page:

"What in the world is J.B. thinking bringing Rosemary home from the hospital? What a foolish old coot!” Mrs. Guidry talked in one of those loud whispers, like someone who pretends they don’t want anyone to hear, but it carries across the room anyway. “If you ask me, there ain’t no way a man with a sixth grade education can care for someone with a coma.”

There was that word again. I plugged my ears wishing Mrs. Guidry would stop saying it. Mamma looked like she was dead, but she wasn’t really dead. More like stuck somewhere between life and death. As if her body didn’t know which direction in the road to choose.

“Just old, traditional Cajun, Charlotte,” Mrs. Martin answered, a pink flush creeping up her neck when she saw me listening. “It drove J.B. crazy having to leave the hospital when it was time for his shift at the oilrigs.”

Headlights swung into the gravel driveway and Daddy tooted the horn of his Chevy. The dark blue truck looked like a bruise in the dusk. Finally he was home. And this time he was bringing Mamma with him.

My chest got so tight felt like a gator squeezing my heart between his jaws. Drooling to eat my innards up and then spit me onto the muddy bayou banks, leaving my brand new Montgomery Wards red sneakers floating in the hyacinth. That happened to a little boy down the Bayou Teche last year. He was only three years old, and his mama cried her eyes out for more than a week straight.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

My hands are shaking!


I'm thrilled, stunned, crying, laughing and pinching myself purple.

I just sold a THREE-BOOK DEAL TO SCHOLASTIC PRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Actually, my AMAZING agent did. But I sweated over them!!! Over the last 6-7 years that is.

I've had so many rejections It would take me an hour to count and list.

So I'm not.

I kept failing. But I kept failing BETTER. Rewriting so many times I can't even tell ya that either.

Please celebrate with me!

There's tons of food, drinks galore, a whole table loaded with every kind of dessert you can think of! Please eat - it's all non-caloric - throw balloons at each other, high-five with me. Toss confetti, dance, wiggle your hips, cry, weep, laugh. OH YEAH, BABY!!!!

I am blessed to know you all and to have gained so much wisdom, advice and much-needed doses of perseverance over the past couple of years when I was seriously ready to give up.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

For Writer's Only

The book by Sophy Burnham: FOR WRITER'S ONLY. (You can buy it used at Amazon for only a penny!)

It's a lovely book with advice for writers to get through each day and to know that they're not alone in their singular, lonely occupation to bring a story alive. And to know that what they do is important and worth it. No matter what the outcome or the struggle.

Here's a couple of quotes:

Gustave Flaubert said: "Writing is a lonely life, but the only life worth living."

Not so lonely anymore with all of you lovely, lovely LJers and Blogspot friends. I wrote for 15 years all by my lonesome without knowing another single writer - before the Internet boom (Um, I started as a toddler - ha!)

Samuel Beckett said: "Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail BETTER."

That has been my motto the past several years. And my non-stop failure is finally being rewarded.

My promised *news* IS coming . . . been waiting for the go-ahead! (I've never known it to take so long with anyone else! I've had butterflies for weeks!)



Winner of The Southwest Book Award!

Time travel, war, love, rattlesnakes, magic . . .

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