Friday, February 27, 2009

C'mon, I Know You Feel The Pressure Too

I stare at my empty Blogger box, panic welling up as I wrack my brain for a post. And not just any post (because who wants to read about my current obsession with chocolate chips and cherry frosting?), we're talking a funny post. The pressure is suffocating. Must. Be. HILARIOUS.

Because blog posts are supposed to be funny right? If you can manage to make people LOL or ROFL or (the much coveted) ROFTLMAO, then you've hit blog nirvana. People show up for funny. Heck, they might even STALK you if you're funny.

Problem? I'm not so funny, and I wish I was. Now, now—don't comment a thousand times to tell me I'm really funny. I'm just kinda funny and I know it. I'm no Kiersten...and I in no way reach the hilarity level of Stephanie. Just kinda.

So what's a girl to blog about when she's only kinda funny? Well, there's the whole inspirational/advice route, but the problem is I'm only kinda inspirational and my advice is only kinda useful. I'm no Michelle with her brilliant introspective posts that inspire her readers to post similarly. And I don't read enough books to write fun reviews like Lois.

Now I'm staring at my Blogger box full of, well, crap post once again, wondering if I've failed to be funny, inspirational, advisorial, or even coherent. Okay, not wondering. Knowing. And yet it's Friday, so I have little energy to be "awesome." Promise I'll make up for it with a killer sketch tomorrow.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You Know You've Been Querying Too Long...

When you get a rejection and instead of feeling sad about it, you're just annoyed you have to send yet another query.

When you don't have to "research" anymore because you know more than 50 agents by name (and have 50 more on your list).

When you think you've found an agent you've never queried before, but as you type in their email it suggests that agent's address.

When you pick agents that actually say they "don't reply unless interested" because you're tired of the monotonous form reject.

When a partial is just a nice perk, but you know it can just as easily be rejected as a query.

When a full is barely more exciting than a partial (but seriously, fulls always give you warm fuzzies).

When having sent 25 queries on one project doesn't seem like very many at all.

When you can joke about querying and sincerely laugh at the impossibility of the process.

When waiting 3 months stops sounding like FOREVER.

When you can write a blog post about querying and not even care if people think you're complaining. Because it's not complaining—it's just pointing out the obvious fact that the process makes you certifiably insane.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Quit Hedging

When first drafting, I tend to "soften" my characters' actions by using quantifiers. I don't do it as often as I used to, but it's still something I have to watch. I always have plenty to edit out in revisions.

If you have no clue what I'm talking about, let me give you a few examples:

• "Don't touch that!" he almost yelled. (ALMOST? You either yell or you don't, right?)

• She bounced a little. She scowled a little. She smiled a little. (Has she done anything A LOT? Do I really need to point out the amount? She smiled—the end.)

• He nearly ran to the door. (Could he just run? Or jog maybe? Ooo, sprint? What the heck is a "near run"?)

It's a disease, I tell you. It's like I don't want to force my characters to commit to their actions. Every time I take one of these babies out, the prose is instantly stronger and it reads less wishy-washy. Who wants to read a book where characters almost save the day, kiss a little, and nearly live happily ever after? That sounds like a serious downer.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Rejection Translator

I've seen a lot of rejections. Honestly, after a while they start to get a little funny. I mean, they all are saying the same thing, no matter how long or short. If you are new to the Query War, or if you are still stressing over rejection wording, let me play translator for a second.

"This isn't right for my list."
Translation: No.

"Your work had an interesting premise, but I'm afraid I'm not interested enough to pursue the project."
Translation: No.

"I regret to inform you that I will not be pursuing your project. I have many constraints on my time and must be extremely selective."
Translation: No.

Note: Any variation of the three above examples should also be translated as "NO."

"Rest assured, we read every query carefully before deciding."
Translation: Don't query again or reply to this with a complaint.

"We are aware of the work it takes to write a book, and this rejection doesn't reflect on the value of your manuscript."
Translation: Please don't flame me for saying no, I'm not trying to hurt your feelings.

"Opinions vary widely in this business, I encourage you to keep trying."
Translation: Don't put all your hopes on me. I may be an awesome agent, but there are many others out there.

"The business is very subjective."
Translation: The business IS VERY SUBJECTIVE.

"Don't get discouraged." (And all variants.)
Translation: I know it's a hard business, but the only way to find success is to keep trying.

Okay, so when you're reading your rejections, now you know what they say. You don't have to pour over them for any hidden gems of advice. Unless you get a personalized rejection, this is pretty much what every form is telling you—no matter the length.

It's not so bad, is it?

Full Translation: No. Don't get mad at us. It's not you, it's me. Keep trying! Best regards, Every Agent

If you have any other phrases you'd like translated, I'll be here all weekend.