Weekend Love

Snapple Real Fact #687: The average cat can jump five times as high as its tail is long.

(Big deal. I have a dog that can run backwards and one that can catch a treat off of her nose! Sorry, cat lovers. Ours will always be a dog house!)

Everyone loves the weekend, right? Probably you don’t care why I love it so much, but here goes anway!

1. Freedom: No day-job work (usually).
2. Friday Night Ritual: Me, my husband, pizza and Netflix. (I know. Pretty sexy. Don’t hate.)
3. Blogging: Finding the time to post on my site and catching up on my favs!
4. Reading: This weekend I read Kiersten White’s debut novel Paranormalcy. L-O-V-E-D it!
5. Writing: Unlimited time to work on my manuscript and rework potential problem areas.

So last week I did a little whining about my rejection letters. In my ongoing quest for full disclosure, I have to admit that I did have one agent take a hard look at my manuscript. Talk about highs and lows! Anyway, said agent elected to pass based on the first 3 chapters. I was beyond disappointed. I almost cried. But I put on my big girl pants and reminded myself that it’s the name of the game. There’s no crying in baseball and there sure as hell isn’t room for tears in the publishing industry. I’ve been told over and over that it’s a cutthroat business.

And I thought I was ready. I work in a pretty tough business today. I’ve had my ideas stolen, been lied to, stepped on, and stabbed in the back. Trust me. Skin gets thicker. But this feels more personal somehow. I guess because they’re my own words and no matter how dedicated I’ve been to my day job and no matter how much pride I take in my work, it’s just not as near and dear to my heart as this manuscript. For me it symbolizes the fruition of a lifelong dream and the opportunity to do something I really love.

Here’s the upshot of last weeks rejection: I got the message loud and clear. The opening of my MS needed more punch. I certainly don’t want to land in the ‘did not finish’ pile and I want the reader to want more. So I spent the weekend reworking the intro and I feel good about it. Yeah, I wish I’d figured it out sooner, but there’s no value in second guessing the past. What’s done is done. Time to learn a little something and move on.

J.J. Bonds

Humble Pie, Sour Grapes, and the Bitter Taste of Rejection

Snapple Real Fact #883: Butterflies taste with their hind feet.
(Okay, so apparently rejection could taste worse; it could be infused with the taste of feet).
Today’s topic: The dreaded rejection letter. I got my first rejection letter (Okay, more than one, but who’s counting really?). I can’t say it’s a warm and fuzzy first, but it’s a first nonetheless, and one that I hope will bring me closer to my dream of being a published author.
I won’t lie. Rejection stings. Maybe more than a little. But it’s part of the process and I knew that going into it. I knew that publishing was extremely competitive (especially in the explosive YA genre) and that the odds were far from in my favor.  I knew that I was going to have to knock on a lot of doors and aggressively work to find people who believe in my work as much as I do.
In fact, the first rejection was kind of a relief; something I was expecting and just had to get through. After that, it was all downhill. Now I’m a little afraid of my email, although I haven’t stopped checking it compulsively. I just get a little more nervous each time I hit the refresh button on my inbox.
So, here I sit, a little dejected, posting my disappointment for the world to read although sharing openly like this is definitely not first nature for me. My real first instinct is to hide that which could be embarrassing or show weakness. But I want this blog to be genuine, so here’s to honesty!
I will say that each literary agent who has elected to pass on my work has been very polite and professional.  Knowing the volume of queries they receive, I truly am appreciative of the responses, even the ones that say ‘no, thanks’. At least I know where I stand. If the first twenty say no, I’ll find twenty more.
Despite this week’s disappointment, I still have faith. I certainly haven’t given up on myself or my dream. After all, I never expected overnight success.
I guess it could be worse. I could be one of these guys (or gals): http://slushpilehell.tumblr.com.
Seriously. I laughed so hard I cried when I found this site. My husband came running up the stairs to make sure I was okay. I now follow this blog for a good laugh and a reality check.
The best advice I can give myself and others?
Keep chasing the dream. No matter how elusive it might seem today.

Must Love/Hate Queries

Snapple Real Fact #878: Only male fireflies can fly.
(At first I was a little indignant at Mother Nature’s slight against the female of the species, but then I remembered chasing fireflies as a kid. Only the ones flying in the field got captured and placed in jelly jars… or worse!)
This week’s rant is all about query letters. What’s a query letter? Perhaps you’re better off not knowing, but since you’re probably still reading, I’ll keep writing. A query letter is a one pager designed to pique the interest of a literary agent who (if the stars align in your favor) will champion your book with established publishing houses.
It sounds so easy, right? After all, I’ve already written 300+ pages and finished my first novel. What’s another page?
Well, that one page was more difficult to write than any page in the actual manuscript. Maybe more difficult than writing all of the pages. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t challenging to condense 300 pages into 1, but that wasn’t the hardest part. The hardest part was the pressure. The knowledge that this 1 page was bound for a harried agent who probably reads thousands of query letters a month (and likely rejects 99. 9% of them). Oh, and did I mention that I was going to query the agents who represent some of my favorite authors?
Yep, that’s PRESSURE. Three paragraphs designed to make them say ‘I want more’; three paragraphs to make an impression.
Needless to say, I agonized over the query for hours on end. I agonized over it for days, actually. I changed words, bugged my proofreaders, and chugged Snapple all the while doing my best to ignore Sabot, my seemingly attention starved cock-a-poo.  The end result? One very numb butt (I really need to get cushions for my dining room chairs) and one edgy query.
I don’t know what the odds are of gaining literary representation. Probably 1:1,000,000. Probably I have a better chance of hitting the Mega Millions, but you only live once. So I’ve sent out twenty query letters and now the really hard part starts: waiting.
I’m not very good at waiting. Ask anyone who knows me. I’ve been checking my email like a crazy person since I hit send on the last email. It’s actually getting a little compulsive. My husband says this is a good exercise in patience and actually had the audacity to suggest that I limit myself to checking email once per day. (Yes, I know. It sounds like I’m married to a complete stranger… because there’s no way I possess that kind of self-control).
So, this is me (crazy/impatient) with my fingers crossed hoping that a little bit of talent and a little bit of luck will take my journey to the next level!
J.J. Bonds