Friday, April 27, 2012


Pic taken while on one of my walks last week
Lets talk queries.

No, not rules and blah, blah, blah. But fun query talk. And it's fun because it's not so much about the query, but about that book you've written that you absolutely adore and dream of seeing on a bookstore shelf. I think that's where we go wrong. We make the query about the query. We make it about the rules, and format, and the opinions of others who are also trying to figure out how to write an amazing query.

Erase all that. Take it all away. For me, this meant going on nature walks and just thinking about my book. Thinking about my main character, Allura, and clearing my mind of the piles of advice I'd read on the subject.

Why? Well, because basically I'd followed the rules and my query still sucked.

I knew Dark Waters was super unique. And everyone who's heard the premise has expressed the same opinion. (Except my mom, she says it's dark and asks why I'd want to write about man-eating huntress' of the night.) So, I knew it wasn't the story premise keeping agents from requesting materials.

The main problem? My query failed at mirroring my manuscript. And while I've read lots of amazing manuscripts, but very few amazing queries, I would assume that's the case for other writers as well.

So, go for a walk, do the dishes, or whatever it is you do to think, and ask yourself, "What makes my story unique?". I'm not telling you to then devise a one sentence pitch to explain it's uniqueness. We don't want to deflate creativity by forcing a format onto it. Just, ponder the one-of-a-kind elements in your story. Why is your story so special? What makes it different from everything else out there?

When you figure it out, write your thoughts. Again, NO FORMATTING. Just random thoughts. And then come back and visit me next week cause I'll be posting about stage two in the query writing process.

Can you think of a few now? Tell me in the comments section, what makes your story unique?

~ As a side note, I want to let you know why I'm posting on this topic. I am by NO means professing to have this query-writing thing down to an art or science, or whatever. But, during the last few weeks I've been pondering what it takes to write a great query. And we've all seen them online. The ones that make our mouths drop, as we wonder what they heck that writer was smoking to create such a masterpiece in 200 words. 

I'd been taking walks, thinking on my story, stepping into my character's shoes, and trying to create a great query. It wasn't until Friday night (yeah, last Friday) that I got pissed off at this whole elusive query thing, stomped off to my room with my lap top in tow, and flung myself on my bed. I'd had it and decided to write the query that I wanted to write. The one that had my voice, and Allura's personality coursing all through it. 

I started the query with: Allura's done following rules. The words began spilling out, grateful to finally be released from the cage of opinions. When I had finished, my whole query length clocked in at 229 words. That includes my address. Then after I had my two critique partners double check everything, I started sending a few out. Only a few. Within the last week, I have received more than one full request. 

When I finally wrote the elusive--but not so elusive--query, I called my best friend who is also querying. I told her I'd had an epiphany and wanted to help her write her query too. And I want to share my thoughts on my blog as well. I'm hoping they're helpful. So stay tuned, cause I've got more to come. :) 

On an agent's blog, I read that a writer should learn all the rules of crafting a query. They should write a few, following those rules, and then throw it out and break a few rules. I couldn't agree more. :)          


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Jumping Through Hoops

I wanted to title this post as, An Ode to Jumping Through Hoops, but it would have been a little long.

I am on the freeway connection between House-Hunting Land, and the Nation of House-Owning. Basically, I'm right in the middle. Our offer on a home was accepted. So that's great. But it doesn't mean the hoop jumping has suddenly ceased. Now, I'm jumping through a whole new set of round things.

And I'm okay with that. Because here's how I see it: At this time, the house prices are super low. And you want to know what else? So are the interest rates! Now, the reason these numbers have swung downward, has much to do with banks, and foreclosures, and basically the market tanking. So most of these homes for sale are bank-owned. And banks love hoops. Well, they love to watch you deal with hoops. And I'm gladly jumping, like a little kid playing hopscotch, chewing on a big wad of bubble gum. Because if it weren't for these homes being bank-owned, and the market bringing the interest rates down, I wouldn't be buying such a nice house.

Same goes for writing. You don't need a degree and ten years experience to be an author. And, if you're like me, you want to write lots of books, so it'd be a career. How many other careers can you think of that allow you entrance without an exact amount of years experience in the business, and a degree or two under your belt?

However, the flip side to this open-for-all mentality, is that it's open for all. Open for those who get a wild hair to write, whether they're any good at it, or not. Whether they are eager to learn and strengthen their skills, or not. Whether they even plan on making it a career, or not.

Thus, the hoops. The queries, synopsis', critiques, email stalking, agent stalking, blog trolling. You get the picture. Stuff you normally wouldn't be doing if you weren't trying to get published. And yet most of these are necessary if you choose the traditional route of publishing. Why? Agents need to weed out the wild-hair writers from the serious, career-minded ones.

And yes, I've heard writers comment that, "agents will work for us, so why do we have to beg for their attention". I hear yeah, I am not the begging type either. (Plus, I don't think agents want us to beg, and I also don't believe they work for the writer. I see it as a partner relationship. But, that's beside the point).

Because this career is open to anyone interested, agents get lots of personalities contacting them, and must take precautions to professionally wade through the river and locate the gold nuggets. And thankfully, every agent has a slight difference of opinion as to what a gold nugget looks like.

What I'm trying to say is that while hoops can be tiresome and bog you down, the activity also strengthens you. So instead of hating the system, I'm thankful that I have a shot at my dream job. And if that means I must prove myself in ways other than degrees and recorded experience, I'm happy to oblige. Hand me the box of bubble gum, and I'll jump away. :)

Monday, April 23, 2012


As you know, I'm wandering through house-hunting land and collecting bits of understanding along the way.

Today, I want to talk about getting your hopes up. 

Last week I saw a new house pop onto the market. And, when you're house hunting right now, looking at mostly bank owned homes, the good ones go fast. Like less than a week fast. I live an hour and a half away from where we're buying a house, so whenever I see a house I like online, I frantically rearrange my schedule to race up north and look at it. Every time I've done this, I've also put an offer on the house I like.

And every time I've put an offer on a house, I've been either an hour too late (someone was already approved to buy it) or I've been out-bid.

So last week when I saw this gem of a house, I called my realtor and jetted up north. I liked the house and put an offer in. Then, we wait. And if you've done this process numerous times, you know that this whole signing offers, getting your hopes up and then getting let down becomes

But it got me thinking.

Don't we do that every time we send out a query? We get our hopes up. Despite the mounting rejections, our fingertips grasp that thread of hope, and we click the "send" button again.

In the world of house-hunting, keeping the hope alive will do nothing short of get you a house. Eventually. It WILL happen. Quick action, perseverance and hope will most certainly MAKE that happen. So why wouldn't it be the same with queries.

I know this isn't a long post, but it's what's on my mind and I wanted to share the encouragement to those of you struggling in query land. Keep up the hope and grasp at those threads!!    

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Agents, Agents, Agents.

My hubby and I are house shopping. In my adult life, this is my third time buying a home, so I have a couple past experiences by which to compare my current experience.

And who do you look to when buying a house? An agent. Yup. A professional who is well versed in the laws, forms, and ways of purchasing a home.

In the past, I have loved my Realtors. But all good things must come to an end, and my awesome Realtor streak did just that.

Our amazing insurance company picked out an agent for us, like they had the two times prior. Almost immediately we could tell she didn't have time for my hubby and I and our home-buying endvours. When I emailed her questions, I knew I wouldn't receive an answer in a timely manner. And when I finally saw a home online that I wanted to view, she wasn't available to show it to me, so an associate of hers--who didn't know me or my wants/needs in a home--took me to look at the house. She told us that if we wanted to see a house on a Saturday, we'd have to book her at least two weeks in advance. And when we found a home we wanted, and knew it would be one we needed to jump on as quickly as possible, she actually replied in an email that there was no rush. She then sent me the offer papers to fill out  myself and after my repeated attempts at getting her expertise to help me understand the forms, she simply said, "I don't have the forms in front of me". Not, "let me look at them", or "I'll ask someone." And that house that we shouldn't need to rush on? Yeah, it was on the market for a total of seven days. Sold like a stack of warm hotcakes on a cold, rainy day.

Of course we let her go and found an agent who did have the time for us, but this taught me a lesson:

Not only do I need an agent to help me with the professional side of publishing, but I need a good one. I've read stories of authors who have signed with difficult agents and watched their writing careers swirl around the drain.

I have done this home buying thing before, but I still haven't a real clue on the nitty-gritty of it all. And, as everything else in life, the home buying process changes with time. I assume the book selling process does too.

If I truly get to where I want to be in my writing career, I need a literary agent. I need someone to walk with me, explain things to me, look over the many business forms and contracts with MY best interest at heart and not the best interest of the publisher. That would be like me walking up to the selling agent of the home I'd like to purchase and asking her to write up the offer. That offer probably wont benefit me as much as it possibly could.

Now, I've seen my writer friends struggle to find an agent who simply remains illusive (shoot that's what I'm doing now). I've seen my friends sign contracts with smaller publishers and be pleased with the outcome. So I'm not saying an agent is the only way and we writers are like little babies unable to pull up our big girl panties (or boy underroos) and get the job done.

What I am saying is that after experiencing a not-so-great agent with my home-buying process, I am now more than ever desiring a fabulous literary agent who gets my work. Who has the time for me. And who is willing to deal with those nasty forms. :)

How about you? Have you had an experience that has swayed you in a different direction or strengthened the current direction of your publishing path?      

Friday, April 6, 2012

SEA CHANGE by Aimee Friedman

SEA CHANGE was released almost two years ago, so of course I've read it. But, here's what Amazon has to say about it: 

Bestselling author Aimee Friedman is back, with her signature combination of warmth and humor. And with this book, she adds a touch of fantasy. . .

Sixteen-year-old Miranda Merchant is great at science. . .and not so great with boys. After major drama with her boyfriend and (now ex) best friend, she's happy to spend the summer on small, mysterious Selkie Island, helping her mother sort out her late grandmother's estate.

There, Miranda finds new friends and an island with a mysterious, mystical history, presenting her with facts her logical, scientific mind can't make sense of. She also meets Leo, who challenges everything she thought she knew about boys, friendship. . .and reality.

This is the review I wrote after I finished reading it:

I love mermaids. Everything mermaid, so the book already had that going for it in my mind. The story begins strongly and then it seems to lull. All the while, you're waiting to find out if in fact he is a merman. And then you wait, and you wait, and then the book is over. Huh? 

I agree with other reviewers; if this is the beginning of a series I can understand why she doesn't divulge the ever important information as to what species Leo is. But, if it's a single book, I think too much time was spent on going back and forth between boys and not enough of their relationship. I wanted to know more about Leo. 

All in all though, it was a fun read. It was a quick read too! I would recommend it. I really enjoyed it. I also hope there is a #2!

Now, onto the sad news. From what I could find online, Aimee Friedman has changed her pen name and started writing a different series. There is no longer whispers that there will be a sequel to Sea Change. I wonder why. But, just because I'm not finding whispers of a sequel doesn't mean there wont be one. I'm still holding out hope. :)

Want o buy it? Go here.

What do you think? Does the story sound interesting? How about the cover?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Over on YA Highway they are asking a question that I thought would be fun to answer:

Who has helped you on your reading/writing/publishing journey?

My best friend, Rayna, and I love to hike, so in 2009 we took a day trip to play in the mountains and take pictures. While huffing and puffing climbing a steep portion of our hike, we discussed that we each needed something more in life. We had both always dreamed of being writers, but finished nothing. It was then that we vowed to each other to have a finished novel within a year. Through out that year we continued to push and encourage each other. So, Rayna helped me tons. She still critiques my work and listens to me rant.

Now, this next person is an agent. And I know most writers don't mention the actual agents names in their blogs, but I'm going to mention her this time.When I finished my first novel she was the very first agent to ever request anything, and boy did she! A full. Three months later, she not only sent me a sweet reply complimenting my story-telling and writing style, but she offered helpful advice and reassured me that a lack of character depth was VERY normal in first manuscripts. Her name is Rachel, and she didn't have to take the time to outline for me the areas I needed to work on. She is not currently my agent, and since writing that first book I've changed genres to one she doesn't represent. But I think her gentle advice changed the direction of my writing and helped me to hone my skills. 

When I wrote my first novel, an author of the same genre befriended me. Her debut novel was about to be released and we became instant online friends. Sarah Sundin has since published two more books with a contract for three more. She has allowed me to email her numerous questions about the business, send her my queries to critique as well as my first three chapters. And not only once. She's critiqued many versions! 

Since writing my first novel, I've found many beta readers, and various critique partners who have helped me along the way. Audra, Amanda, and Jeannie to name a few. 

My husband has been incredibly encouraging and has recently pushed me to start attending conferences. When he notices that I'm procrastinating sending out queries because I fear rejection, he lights a fire under me to get them sent. 

And then there's my daughters. Ah, my daughters. My biggest fans. Especially my oldest, who is an avid book reader and loves to sit behind me reading the words I spill onto the laptop screen.When I receive a rejection letter my oldest daughter gets angry. Of course you can't dislike someone for not having the same taste as you, but I love her passion. 

How about you? Do you feel as though you have a supportive net holding you up, or is that net still being woven?       

Monday, April 2, 2012


I was trolling my own blog today and noticed something.

First off, I am so sorry. I've been beyond selfish. And for that I apologize. The fact that it's been a while since I've posted pictures of my lovely state or adorable woofies is appalling to even me, and I'm not appalled by much.

But all hope is not lost. We're in luck. I went hiking in the last week not once, but twice. And neither occurrence would I technically call hiking, but lets for the sake of sounding incredibly adventurous and free-spirited.

Okay, fine. Last Thursday I accompanied my daughter's 5th grade class for a day of nature school in which we were continually reminded to stay on the path. That our feet kill plants. Good lesson. We traveled the wet lands on foot and then enjoyed them by way of canoe. And seeing as there were only two seats in each canoe and my daughter wanted to row with her friend, I got to sit on a cushion and not a seat. I sat deeper inside the canoe while getting sea-sick from a tiny lake. But I digress...

Then this morning I decided that since it's my girls' spring break and today is supposed to be the only sunny day in the forecast for the week, we should probably do our outdoor stuff today. So, I went to my parents house, stole their Keeshond, Vader, and tried to fit him, Squeakers, my two kids and myself into a little Ford Focus for a trip to the trails. Lets just say it REALLY smelled like dog breath in there.

So, without further ado, here are the pictures of beautiful Washington in early Spring (many plants are still dormant) and the woofies that I love so much. :)

Beautiful Mt. Rainier

I love moss AND ferns!

You can see where the beavers little teeth chewed into these trees .

Fluffy 1 and Fluffy 2

He's fluffy and he knows it. He works out!
 So what fun, or fun sounding, stuff have you been up to? Come on. Tell me in the best way possible. Make the monotonous sound adventurous. I double dog dare you. ;)