Tag Archive: novel


Writing a great novel doesn’t guarantee publication. The publishing industry is brutal, highly subjective, and has no room for the weak-willed. I’m relatively new to the novel pitching game, but I’m already learning it takes a lot of determination and thick skin. Four rejection letters and two beacons of silence are all I have to show for The Muse, despite months of querying.  Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? I can go on and on about how important it is to be tough, but I think the bigger lesson is to remember to have a little fun with it and don’t take anything personally.

I’m not an expert by any means, but I have pick up a few nuggets of wisdom along the way …

1. Agents are not evil-doers who love to say no.

I’ve read horror stories of vicious rejections letters and negative interactions with agents, but so far my experience has been quite positive. The rejection letters I’ve received have all been very encouraging even though they all said “no.” I don’t know if this is because I only pitched to super nice people or if my work is good enough not to elicit venom. Honestly, I like both possibilities equally.

2. Sometimes a response can take months.

We all like to think literary agents have the superhero ability to stay up all night and read really fast, but the fact is they are human. They need sleep and they like to read carefully while considering someone’s work. The last response I got from an agent came four months after I sent the query letter. I had already marked the agent’s space on my spreadsheet with “no response!” It just goes to show you never know when a response will come. Patience is everything.

3. Finding the right agent takes a lot work.

There are literally thousands of agents looking for a good book. And they all want different things! It took months of research to create a list of six agents I though might be interested in my novel. As much as I hate using a cliché on this point, the process of looking for the right agent is exactly like looking for a very tiny needle in a huge haystack. In the end, I’m hoping all relentless research will be worth it when I find the perfect agent.

4. Writing a synopsis sucks.

I know as a professional writer I should be able to write anything, but squishing my entire novel down to a single page is pure torture.  Moreover, it’s ridiculous that I can easily write a short synopsis for a book I just read, but not my own! It’s been six months and I’m still editing a synopsis for The Muse. I’m either being too picky or I’m a moron that can’t write a synopsis.

5. Persistence will pay off.

Every account I’ve read from a published writer reinforces the reality that persistence is everything. Agents don’t go looking for you, so you have knock on their door with a kick-butt query and novel. Getting published is all about self advocacy and seizing every opportunity. If you skulk in a corner and refuse to speak, your writing will never see the light of day. Persistence is everything … and so is a little luck.

Write those queries and believe with everything you’ve got!

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c.b.w. 2014

Playlist For A Sequel

As I wait to hear back on the query letters I’ve sent out for my novel, I’ve been keeping busy with another little project.  Over the last couple of months, I’ve been filling up another Novel Notebook with research, brainstorm blocks, image collages, sketches, research notes, and a playlist  for the sequel to Novel #2.

At the core of my writing process is music. The playlist for Novel #2 proved to be an immensely powerful tool in helping me shape characters and mood. Overall, 94 songs served as the soundtrack for the “movie” playing in my head from start to finish. As I embark on writing the sequel, I intend on using this tool once again to create a stronger emotional sense of my characters as they undertake new journeys and to aid me in creating an atmosphere that is a bit different from Novel #2.

Novel #2 is all about falling in love and fighting for what matters most in life. There is struggle, but also strength and determination. Therefore, the music on my playlist was often ethereal to reflect the nature of Ian’s identity, but also to emulate the euphoria of falling in love. In addition, songs with a strong beat and empowering lyrics dominated the latter portion of the novel to represent a fierce conflict that rages both internally and externally for my characters. Aside from storyline songs, the playlist also included music for individual characters. In particular The Beatles, Junip, and Death Cab for Cutie represented my main character, Amanda.

The sequel follows a different plotline in that it’s a step beyond the “origin” story for Amanda and Ian. They now find themselves in a new struggle that is defined by several factors:

  • Falling in love is great, but it’s not always easy
  • Confronting past “demons”
  • Once you have what you’ve always wanted, it isn’t what you imagined
  • Issues of identity

A new journey means new music, but there still has to be ties to the familiar in order to maintain continuity.  The mood is a little darker, but it’s not overwhelmingly heavy. As for my characters, they are experiencing growing pains, but they retain their core personalities. To make a playlist to accommodate these issues, I started by selecting songs on the old playlist that I consider to be overall theme songs. These are songs that will work for the entire series as they reflect Amanda and Ian’s bond and the big picture journey they are traveling.

For example, Firefly by Delerium is the ultimate song that inspires Amanda and Ian’s journey as a whole:

At the same time, I am selecting songs that are unique to the plot and character development of the sequel. To achieve continuity, I’m looking to the same bands for new music that has a familiar feel. Delerium was the central component of Novel #2’s playlist so I combed through all of their albums and found a perfect new mix. Additionally, the band Junip has since come out with a new album, which is great news for Amanda!

Here’s a selection of what I’ve got so far . . .

Delerium – Semantic Spaces

  • Flowers Become Screens
  • Metaphor
  • Resurrection
  • Incantation
  • Consensual Worlds
  • Metamorphasis
  • Flatlands

Delerium – Single Tracks

Junip – self titled

Tempted (Conjure One Mix) – Collide

The Beginning – Joey Fehrenbach

Kaleidescope of Memories – Simmonds and Jones

The Cedar Room – The Doves

Russia – Magna Carta

First Snow – Emancipator

The Daydream – Tycho

Once I get this playlist loaded on my iPod, my muse will have the juice it needs to start writing the first draft!

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For more posts on creating the perfect music mix, see The Daily Prompt: Mix Tape Masterpiece

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c.b.w. 2013

2013 Goals: September Status Report

September is the month where I dug deep and found some courage . . .

1) Complete final draft of Novel #2.

I am still in the middle of re-reading the edited draft of Novel #2. So far, I’m happy to find it’s a pretty clean draft.

2) Work on converting Novel #1 into first person.

Still on the shelf (and that’s okay).

3) Submit 5 pieces of writing.

I wish had a better excuse for completely ignoring this goal for the bulk of 2013, but my muse has been very stubborn and single-minded. Apparently, I am only allowed to work on Novel #2, it’s sequel, and lines of poetry!

4) Submit three query letters for Novel #2

This is the goal where my courage showed up in a big way.  After such a positive experience with WriteOnCon, I decided it was time to send out my query letter.  I made a list of five agents that might be interested in my work and personalized my query letter to their specific preferences. Then, I took a deep breath and sent three queries into the wild!

With this little surge of courage, I can proudly say I’ve achieved my goal of sending out three query letters!

Better still, I’ve already received a response for one of my query letters. While it was a rejection, it was still encouraging to receive a response! Anything is better than being totally ignored.

5) Continue building author platform

Work has been a little crazy, so I’ve been a bit absent for social media and even blogging. I apologize for my lack of participation on other blogs, but I will make up for it in October!

My Facebook Page has grown from  330 to 335

On Twitter, my followers have grown from 541 to 546

Thanks so much to all my followers on social networks and on this blog. Your support and encouragement means so much!

6)  Read three books on the writing/publishing process.

Maisie Dobbs and an awesome history book are currently stealing my attention away from this goal! On the up side, I am one book shy of completing my 2013 Goodreads Reading Challenge.

7) Inspire others to keep writing.

As always, I can only hope I am a positive presence!

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How are you doing on your 2013 goals?

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c.b.w. 2013

2013 Goals: August Status Report

August turned out to be a pretty amazing month in terms of my writing goals!

1) Complete final draft of Novel #2.

Done!

I downloaded the final draft to my Kindle Fire to do another quick read through. Furthermore, another beta reader has the most recent draft.  So far, the response has been very positive. Yay!

2) Work on converting Novel #1 into first person.

Still on the shelf (and that’s okay).

3) Submit 5 pieces of writing.

This goal is still technically on the shelf, however, my muse is still going crazy with poetry. I am writing A LOT of lines! Some are good and some are bad, but I’m finding the journey interesting. I’ve noticed my voice is changing as I explore different themes.

4) Submit three query letters for Novel #2

Thanks to WriteOnCon, I found the courage to Twitter pitch my book, (see WriteOnCon Rocked!) The experience was nerve-wracking and terrifying, but the end result made me realize its better to do something scary than nothing at all.

I got the attention of an editor and received a request for a query letter. I’ve since sent my query and now I’m in the waiting stage. It will probably be a while before I hear anything back, but whether anything happens is beside the point. I’m proud of myself for finding the courage to put my book out there. Better yet, I can say I’m one query down on my three query goal!

The WriteOnCon experience has given me the confidence to push even further. Between posting my query letter in the critique forums (where I got great advice and positive responses for my story concept) and learning about how to navigate the YA publishing industry, I feel a little more prepared to pitch my book.

I’ve already got a list of five agents that will be receiving query letters from me in the near future. All I’ve got to do now is finish that darn synopsis!

5) Continue building author platform

I redact everything I said about Twitter last month. Ever since going back to work, I’ve been spending more time scrolling through my Twitter feed. As a result, I’m discovering more connections and have a new appreciation for the platform.  I’m sure finding success via a Twitter pitch had nothing to do with my new attitude, (hee hee).

My Facebook Page has grown from  322 to 330

On Twitter, my followers have grown from 531 to 541

Thanks so much to all my followers on social networks and on this blog. Your support and encouragement means so much!

6)  Read three books on the writing/publishing process.

Maisie Dobbs continues to be my main source of reading pleasure. The last two books arrived this weekend and I will be reading them before I jump back into this goal!

7) Inspire others to keep writing.

As always, I can only hope I am a positive presence!

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How are you doing on your 2013 goals?

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c.b.w. 2013

After more than year of working almost non-stop on Novel #2, I decided to take a little break after completing the third draft. I needed time to work on my query letter and synopsis, so it felt right to put it aside and simply let it breathe.

Too bad my novel didn’t get the memo.

Instead of leaving my brain for a little vacation, my characters and story decided to set up a permanent camp. There is no rest for characters dying to tell their story and a world that can’t wait to be imagined.

I learned a long time ago to never ignore those little voices or creative surges, so I pulled out my trusty novel notebook this week. It has all my notes, sources of inspiration, and outlines from Novel #2 and now it will house all my scribblings for the sequel.

The brainstorming has begun as I piece together a working storyline. The trick is making sure the story picks up where the first book left off, yet is strong enough to stand on its own.  I’ve always had a basic framework for two sequels in that I know happens and how they will end. What remains fuzzy is how my characters will reach those end points. I need to figure out details and fun plot twists!

I began by re-organzing my notebook to ensure the first half will always be for Book 1 in the series. I moved all magazine clippings, images, and outline drafts to make room for whatever I collect for Book 2. Furthermore, I added tabs to separate one book from the other.  For a brief moment I considered moving to a separate spiral, but then I realized some of the inspirations from Book 1 are still in play and I need them to stay close.

Next, I started compiling all the random notes I’ve kept over the last year concerning Book 2. They are hiding on two hard drives, a notepad app on my phone, and throughout my original handwritten notes for Book 1. I’ll be rewriting every single notation so they’re all grouped together in one place. Call me old fashioned, but I like to write my initial notes by hand when starting a novel. It makes me slow down and think carefully about what needs to happen in the story.

I’ll be honest in admitting that the brainstorm stage is my absolute favorite part of the novel writing process. I get a little buzz from from making things up without any limitations. While the work is sometimes grueling, I love the surprises that come as I dig deeper into my fantasy world.

The process has only just begun and there is much to do:

  • Construct a detailed outline (with room for changes)
  • Create a playlist
  • Create inspiration collages (images and text that relate to the story and themes)
  • Fill pages with free write notes
  • Create new character profiles
  • Research (places, historical references, mythology)

There’s at least a couple of months of work on this list, but I’m giddy just thinking about it. This is going to be fun!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2013

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