Monday, May 31, 2010

How to lose an Agent in 30 seconds part 1

Saturday I'm going to a writer's convention, I haven't been to one in over a year and for the next two entries you will see why.

I wrote this last year after to be a warning to other writers but I never got around to publishing it. So since it was sitting on my hard drive I figured I would share.

How to lose an agent in 30 second.

I’m one of those judgmental jerks, who snickers and laughs when people make colossal mistakes in their writing. However whenever I get too full of myself, life has a tendency to bitch slap me. When I am in a socially awkward situation, I tend to revert back that snotty middle schooler who lives deep inside of me. Possibly the most socially awkward event is a writer’s conference. It was my first one, I was alone, I was sick and my middle school self was in hyper mode.

The conference started out fine, I introduced myself to a woman, we chatted, we wrote similar styles. She was nice and I instantly liked her

Then we moved into the first session where an overzealous, overachieving, high schooler sat down next to me. Behind us was the agent he had a session with. He turned to her and asked her if she would read his stuff now, because, “Ten minutes is not a lot of time.” Jackass. No, ten minutes is not a lot of time, but agents are people to and you should respect their time, follow the goddamn rules, you’re not entitled to more time because you think you have the next great novel, or whatever the hell you’re writing. Surreal poetry I think it was. Everyone in this room has a novel, poem or non-fiction book they think should be published, just because you got your pubes yesterday doesn’t make you special. Did you note my pretentious attitude? My middle school self also has a big vocabulary.

I watched the agent panel and instantly knew the woman I has my meeting with wasn’t going to get me. Sigh. She’s got middle-aged mom who has forgotten how to laugh written all over her.

At this point, I should mention I was getting the onset of flu, not the swine flu as the media had been covering constantly at the time, but just a general everyday, kick your ass flu. I felt like crap. My sinuses wanted to break through my skull, like in the scene in Alien but with my face not my stomach. During a session about the publishing industry, I sneezed twice and the old man in front of me got up and left. I was highly insulted.

I ended up leaving and going home for lunch, since I lived fifteen minutes away from the conference. Did I use this time to prepare for my agent session? No, I took a nap on the couch while my daughter watched Blue’s Clues. My sinuses now no longer wanted to leave my body, instead there was a constant and dull pressure squeezing my mind.

I returned to the conference in time for my agent meeting. I started to get nervous. Very nervous. Here’s the thing, I didn’t have anything to pitch. I signed up for the meeting and paid $30 because I had a few questions and I wanted an agent’s answer. I had written two novel, one of which is on draft eight and still has at least two more draft to go before it’s ready for the query letter process, the other is on draft two. Neither of them were ready to be pitched.

I waited outside, pacing back and forth, saying ‘don’t shake her hand because I don’t want to get her sick.’ And most importantly I reminded myself not to pitch the books.

She came out and made eye contact with me, I walked over, and shook her hand. Crap. Then I uttered this phrase, “I’m sorry I shook you’re hand, I’m sick and I didn’t want to get you sick.” Wait for it… wait for it. “The old dude in front of me thought I had the swine flu.” Yep. There are so many things wrong with this sentence I don’t know where to be begin.

And things got worse from there.

To be continued tomorrow.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


If you are kind enough to follow this blog, I am returning the favor by following yours, IF you have a follow button on your blog.

Yes, I'm sort of smart, but I'm not clever enough to subscribe to your blog via Google reader. Beside I don't really like Google reader *checks over shoulder to make sure Google isn't going to murder me* I like reading things through blogger, I like reading comments and I like seeing the blog itself.

So if you have a friend who blogs and you want to send them my way. I promise to follow your blog if you follow mine. As long as you don't blog about something creepy and weird that isn't work safe.

Yes, another new layout, which one did you like more? Let me know

On a side note, I'm a teacher, I'm pretty honest about my job. So why is it that whenever I meet someone and I say I'm a teacher, they want to tell me all the problems with the education system? I didn't cause the problems and quite frankly I'm not going to be the one who fixes it. Please don't call the teachers at your child's school, "a dud" or "terrible because they lost a paper."

I'm not going to rant about how broken the education system is, or how to fix it, because its really broken and I have NO CLUE how to fix it. I'm not going to rant about other teachers because I don't know what it's like in their classrooms.

I'm just saying PLEASE don't unload your venom on me and then pretend to be cool with me ten minutes later. I'm an educator and a pretty out going person, but that doesn't give you the right to freak out on me on my day off. I don't freak out on you because you work for BP or the Banks, or any other system that is broken.

Thank you

Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy friday

Contest info--
Do you like free food? I like free food, especially if it's the sugar based kind.

YA Highway is a year old and I've been following them for a few months. They've been running all sorts of cool contests this week, which I've failed in my part to promote.

Today is food, the sugar buzz is vital to any writer. Writing can get a little boring at times, but then there are other times when the plot bunnies exploded and you're hyper on caffeine and sugar when a while awesome story comes out.

Thanks YA Highway for being made out of awesome.

In other news my school was shut down early because we had no power. Not sure why, we didn't have power and to be honest, I don't care. I get sent home early on a three day weekend. NICE

I'm off to write- Penny and Hank call to me, well they don't really call as much as they are poking me gently saying, "Don't waste this opportunity of a quiet house and borrowed time, you've got 153 pages to write. Get going."

Oh on other news! I won a contest-- The second place winner, that's me. I'm looking forward to my grab bag of goodies.

Have a nice three day weekend everyone.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Laser Cats and Writer's fears.

I was going to do a post where I took a picture of my "what the hell?" face and do a whole rant pondering the question if that face was around back in the 1600's. Then I looked at the picture my webcam had taken and I wanted to kill small puppies.

Needless to say it was not at all flattering and it was too late at night to put on make up for a blog. That's the best part about the internet, you never have to look your best, or good or remotely human.

But it did get me to thinking, in my head I looked awesome, until I saw the photographic evidence. Then reality sucker punched me in the face.

So often I believe one thing and the total opposite is true. In my head, the novels I write are awesome. Perfect? No. But pretty damn close (or it will be in the next draft) but what if, they are really Laser Cats.

Yep that was a weird thing to say. Let me back up. There's a digital short on SNL called Laser Cats. Basically it's Andy Sandburg trying to pitch a skit to Loren Michaels about cats that shoot lasers out of their butts.

Yep. But here's the thing, they keep pitching it. This is Laser Cats 5.

So what if I'm really writing not a book about a band who one day makes it big, but Laser Cats the musical?

Dear writers/readers what crazy insecure fears keep you up at night?

You know besides that your cat will shoot lasers out of his butt.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The weakest link, on the weakest day.

Contest pimping and pitching.

First off, how do you like the new format? Cid thanks for your help and Alicia sorry for snipering it.

I'm going to start the doing a thing where in the middle of the week I'm going to post links to blogs I found to be useful, because as Alicia pointed out, Friday everyone's doing it, (because Friday is the most logical day.)

Contest Pimping

League of extraordinary writers is a blog for people who love the most scary screwed up future the writers can think of. It's called a dystopia. Lots of pretty amazing YA books (young adults for those who are not in the know) feature a dystopian society, the most famous being The Giver.

The blog just started and they're having a contest, FREE STUFF. Go check it out.

In exactly 10 days I will be going to a writers conference. My last writers conference was possible the worst day of my life, more about this to come at a later date.

Insanely I signed up for a three minute pitch session. *shakes my head in shame because clearly I didn't learn from last time*

So I am going to include some links on how to pitch a book to an agent, because I need a refresher.

As far as I can tell, pitching a book is like a verbal query letter, but you can see the agent's face as their eyes glaze over in boredom or shine with excitement.

Rachelle Gardner talk here about why it's so important. Basically it comes doing to being able to read body language.
After 9 years of being a teacher, you would think I'd be an expert at it... NOPE, if I have an idea I'm going to steamroll through you until I've said it, no matter how uncomfortable you are during the process.

She then goes on to say what to do during a pitch, like STEP by STEP DIRECTIONS. Pretty much the most useful and awesome thing ever. Her final advice was that agents are people too. Yes they are people but they are people with POWER, they can validate five years worth of work or they can make you cry. <-- that's my addition not hers. I should say EVERY agent I've ever encountered has been very kind and extremely helpful. Still they're kinda scary.

Over at Elana Johnson talked to Laura Rennert who gave 5 steps to a great pitch. Serious five steps and a five minute timer will give a perfect pitch. Guess what I'll be doing over the long weekend?

Just for some good measure some conference to do and NEVER EVER do's.

Agent and blogger superstar Nathan Bradford talks about the one sentence pitch and the one paragraph, and two paragraph pitch.
He's so dreamy.

Mary Kole talks about Pitchcraft and she did it MONTHS ago because she's a trendsetter. She will also be at the conference I'm attending and I pray to God I don't puke on her shoes. Maybe I should bring an extra pair of shoes for her, just in case.

Kathleen Teman talks about the one sentence pitch here and since she's running the NJ SCBWI conference I'm going to, it's some solid advice.

Ok there's you go TONS of links.

Any thoughts on what to do next week?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Penny and Hank- update

I went dark for a week because I really wanted to win a contest and in my insane logic the longer I had the posting up the better chance I would have to win. News on the contest will come soon.

I've been thinking a lot about this blog, how I can gain more followers, how I can reward my followers, what sort of content I should fill the blog up with.

So I will ask you, all of those who take the time to read this blog, and ask, what sort of stuff do you want to see?

I was thinking about doing a round up all links to all the cool blogs I read in a week on Fridays.
Maybe pictures of things I like one day of the week.

Anyway Penny and Hank. I have less then 1 month to finish the book. I hit 22K words this weekend. Page 89. I'm 2/3s of the way to my goal.

I've also hit the point in my book where I've gotten my characters to the main setting, now they need to do something. How many pages do you think I can commit to them watching TV? At least 150, right?

I have the book mentally outlined, although the outline changes all the time.

How about you my writer friends? Do you plan out your story ahead of time with room to change or do sit at the computer and let the words come? Do you control your characters or do they control you?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fail two

So back in January I predicted I would be disappointed in the series finale of Lost.

Nope, I was wrong.

I stopped caring about what happened on the island about half way through the season and I just wanted to see the sideways universe.

No spoilers.

I will say I cried at least 5 times.

Was everything answered?- nope. Would I like more? sure.

I did predict about 85% of the things that happened. Cool by me, I like being right.

Thanks Lost, it was a great 6 years. You dragged a lot in the 4th season but the last two hours made up for it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Super Cool Contest

In case no one knew, I have the bestest husband in the whole wide world. For a anniversary gift he got into a bidding war with a girl for a charity auction. The prize was a FULL manuscript critique. He was up until 1 am until the auction closed. He ended up losing the auction but the agent offered him the prize anyway.

The agent's name is Kathleen Ortiz and she as a pretty awesome blog.

Right now she's running a contest where she's offering a ton of prizes.

"Three random YA or MG books from my stash, though most are from July 2009 - August 2010 (yes, some ARCs are involved). Plus an additional prize that will consist of the following: bookstore gift card, note for a query critique, note for a synopsis critique, note for a first chapter critique or an extra book."

Ack seriously! That much! Books-- I love books, a gift card to a book store, a note for a query critique, note for a synopsis critique, note for a first chapter critique or an extra book.

Personally I'm all about the books and the query critique. Kathleen will be reading my book No System At All, but my query needs a lot of work.

I think this woman is a total rock star.

You should follow her on twitter too, her picture is this super cute dinosaur.

You should also follow her blog.

There's a little button right here on the top of her page where you can follow.

If you start to follow the blog, if you could give me credit in the comments, that would be pretty awesome.

I also updated my facebook status talking about this contest as well.
But clearly it's nearly impossible to see.

Yay for cool contests and even cooler people spreading their passion for literacy.

Oh and she has a new contest, check it out here

This woman is AMAZING!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Penny and Hank update 2 of the day

Write in was a HUGE success I highly recommend it to any writer. Meet up with other writers and write. Then do little challenges to who can write the most in 10 minutes. Its fun and productive, two things I really like.

Total Word count: 10315

Page count: 39

Not bad for two hours.

Penny and Hank update

Weekend update:

So I finished Chapter three and moved on to chapter four... I've got a whopping 31 pages done. Word count 7893.

A new fear is building, what if I lose interest in my story. I find my brain focusing on real life, and my other novels, but I'm not spending much time playing with my new imaginary friends Penny and Hank.

I'm sitting in borders waiting for my write in to start. A new word count update will be done soon.

By the way if anyone want to buy me a SUPER expensive gift,
Mary Kole is my current agent crush. It's been up for a few hours and it's already at $600. I internally weep but at least it's a good cause.

Should I drop what will most likely end up being a grand to get my dream agent to read my book (not Penny and Hank of course, but No System At All,) or should I hope I was lucky enough to get her for my 15 page evaluation for the convention in June.

Yep, there's no way I'm that lucky.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Bragging Time!

Ok Back in January I predicted that Iron Man 2 would break records! Yep I was right.

5th highest movie opening of all time, and it was released in the most amount of theaters EVER!

These are the goals I've met:

1) Zoey will learn her ABC and get potty trained. Zoey officially went to pee on the potty TWICE today.
2) I will try not to make chicken every night I cook. A few nights ago I made Pork Chops-- that counts right.
3) Learn all the lyrics to Diego and Dora, not just fumble through them like I do. EPIC FAIL... I still can't do it.
4) Talk to my husband, not just hi's and day to day stuff but deep stuff. I plead the 5th,

1) Find my desk My desk is that thing that holds my computer up, right?
2) Raise my scores for assessments --- Don't know, scores aren't due until June.
3) Try new things every year.--- Wiki Pages for students to do book talks... awesome.

1) Go to the gym more then once a week Kinda--I either go to the gym or take my "Dance" class.
2) Learn something new every day. I totally learned something really snazzy yesterday about time but I totally forgot it.
3) Take better care of myself... fail I gained 5 pounds and my neighbor asked me if I was pregnant.

1) Finish 10th draft of NSAA= write 11th draft of No System At All Done Draft 11, waiting on feedback. Newest goal get that ready to query this summer.
2) Revise New York Karma- get it ready for a summer query Revised NYK- Done, I want to push NSAA forward sooner. NYK will get queried in Novemeber while everyone is doing NANOWRIMO. (I'm so evil)
3) Start writing sequel to NSAA Not a fail, but I started a new project
4) maintain this blog and Be Nice To Strangers. Be Nice to Strangers was renamed to Project Nice, and it has something nice happening on it every day from Feb 1 to June 17. NICE WORK

Not bad for the 5th month of the year!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Penny and Hank week 1 round up

A week ago I got the idea. This is how far I got.

Chapter 3.

Page 21

Word count 5192.

Not a great day writing wise for me. Stupid real life getting in the way.

It's still a LONG way from my goal but I've got time.

I set up a time for a write in with my writers group.

There's no good TV tomorrow, right?

Monday, May 03, 2010

Penny and Hank- FAIL

Today I didn't even open the file. No new words. Penny and Hank barely entered my thoughts.
Today was filled with real life stuff.

My daughter, beta reading, e-mailing, taking care of a sick husband, shoveling rocks and saying goodbye to my parents.

Tomorrow I'll write.

Wait, Glee and Lost is on.


Penny and Hank- Weekend Goal

Word count 4770.
I wrote up to Chapter 3.
Still a long way from my goal, but I'm making solid progress.

I'm worried my real life will interfere with it. Hubby has a whole bunch of landscaping projects he wants to get started on, translation lots of physical labor, dirty and sweat for me. Yuck.

Yay Alicia for her super great news over the weekend. I won't share it, because I feel like it's her news to share. But YAY and I'm SUPER DUPER PROUD of you.