Dreaming about your hero. And a contract!

I had the craziest dream last night. I’m typing it down as fast as I can so I don’t forget any details…I’m sure if I went on with my day, the dream would vanish and I’d barely remember my Hero being in it.

That’s right. I had the very first dream about my hero, Ruan, from Immortal, Beloved.

It was freaking awesome.

The dream started out with my travels in a foreign country. (I’m thinking Russia, although I’ve never known Russia to be that country-fied-rural and my book isn’t set there.) I came upon his ranch, where he lived with his step-father, mother and a bunch of brothers and sisters. I was lost. He offered to show me the way back to society, after he finished a couple things he had to do for the day. So I followed him around while he expertly ran this hundred acre ranch. We talked. And talked. And talked.

He was such a gentleman! Helping me over fallen limbs. Carrying me over rivers so my shoes didn’t soak. Holding my hand to guide me around trees and over fences. Wanna hear the crazy thing? I was me. I had a husband of nine years–we talked about him and how great he is. I had two children–he mentioned how he wanted kids eventually. I felt like from a few hours time, we were long lost friends.

Soon, his quietly bold attitude and some of the things he said started to trigger my brain. I felt like I knew this guy. The logical part of my head kept trying to place him somewhere in my waking life, but couldn’t.

When it was time to leave, for him to show me the way home, I asked for his name and was blown away.

Ruan.

What a surprise–even to myself. I was so shocked! It all made sense! The chivalry! His rugged good looks! His mannerisms! The way I felt like I’d known him forever!

Thank you Ruan, for showing me how unforgettable you are. You came to life for me. And soon, you’ll come to life for everyone else.

**I signed my Harper Collins contract yesterday! It’s on its way to Spencerhill, then back to the publishing house. (Very side note: I’m going to write a post soon about how important it is to have a good agent who fights for you and your interests. Those contracts are sticky. I got very lucky.) It rained yesterday too! All-around perfect day around these parts.

Just. Hit. Send.

I know sometimes it can be terrifying. You just finished writing your query. You’ve pasted the whole thing into an email. You’ve addressed it to your dream agent. You’ve read the email a dozen times, skimming for errors, rewording things you know worked to begin with. Your finger hesitates over the SEND button…

And you re-read it again. Or SAVE DRAFT for later.

I went through something like that yesterday. I’m “finished” with Immortal, Beloved. I attached it to an email to my agent, said a prayer (PLEASE OH PLEASE LET HER LOVE IT AS MUCH AS ENEMY, BELOVED), or…okay, maybe I said two prayers (PLEASE DON’T LET IT SUCK) and STILL I hesitated over the SEND button.

It’s just so…so…definite.

Once you push that button there’s no going back. There’s no changing something you noticed wrong later. A lot of the pressure from the writing/publishing industry stems from the feeling that you get one chance to make it happen. One chance to make it or break it–publish your work or bury it beneath your bed. Or at least that’s how it feels to me.

I think Eminem said it best in “Lose Yourself”:
Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted-One moment-
Would you capture it or just let it slip?

You have one first impression with your dream agent. Once you have a Fantabulous agent who loves your first work, you have to impress them time and time again with each manuscript you write after the first. Mr. or Mrs. Dream Agent could easily say “No, this sequel isn’t for me. Go back to the drawing board, keep the characters, and write me another.” Listen, I just spent one month plotting Immortal, Beloved, four months writing that 350 page book and another month editing it.

I. Feel. Pressure.

As I hesitated over the SEND button, I thought back to when I was querying agents with Enemy, Beloved. It felt darn near close to the same feeling. Did I get everything right? Did I cross every T and dot every I? Did I close up every single thread? Did the characters arc as they should’ve?

Then I did it. I hit send.

You should to. What are you waiting for? Take the time to make your manuscript as good as you can get it, then send that puppy. You’ll never get an agent/editor/critique partner if your computer mouse keeps hovering over the same email.

As for me, another waiting game has begun. (Did I mention I’m still on submission with Enemy?) The publishing industry is a s..l…o…w… road to walk folks. But that’s okay because the people you meet along the way are happy-writer-lovers, supportive and make the steep legs of the trip not seem as daunting.

Speaking of supportive happy-writer-lovers (I love that phrase–sums everyone I’ve met in this industry *perfectly*)…I did an interview with Kaitlyn over at Nocturnal Readings. She’s also posting a review of Dark Tide Rising tomorrow. So if you’ve got the time, between hitting that send button, stop on by!

How I Landed My Agent

I got an email the other day from a blog reader (love love love those). She said she’s on the agent prowl for her urban fantasy novel and asked a ton of questions about how long it took to find my agent, The Call, my path to submission after signing, etc. I thought this information might be a useful blog post–after all, I love reading other “How I Landed My Agent” stories.

I wrote Enemy, Beloved in the Spring of 2010. I edited, critiqued with a handful of writers and readers and rewrote problem scenes. I wrote my query letter. I revised my query letter. I revised it some more and asked friends to read it and tweak it. I wrote my synopsis. I revised my synopsis. (See a pattern here? You’ve got to nail all three!)

Around May of 2010 I sent out fifteen queries. Of those queries I received two partial requests and one full request. The full request led to an offer of representation.

I signed with that agent. I revised about a month on his suggestion to make the novel “darker and hotter.” I did. He sent Enemy, Beloved to one NYC publishing house. I received a rejection about a month later from that house.

This past September I parted ways with my agent due to his opening of an e-pub. I had already contracted my romantic suspense with The Wild Rose Press, and didn’t want to sign my paranormal Enemy, Beloved, with another. It’s not that I have anything against e-pubs, it’s just that I have a *feeling* (or hope against hope) that this one will go further.

So (against Husband’s advice) I sent out another ten queries right away. (He thought I should take some time, revise some more and finish writing the second in the series. I was angsty and roaring to go!) Of those ten queries I received two partial requests, both of which led to offers of representation.

The Call came on Halloween–BEST HALLOWEEN EVER!! Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates and I talked about dogs, writing, home life, Dark Tide Rising, etc. It was very comfortable right away–a great fit. I asked a few questions. (I was so nervous!) I asked for a day to consider her offer. (Although I knew at that point she was the agent I wanted to represent my book.) I called the next day and accepted her offer.

Since then, Enemy Beloved has gone on submission with three houses. I haven’t heard back yet, but it’s the Holidays and with that comes being patient as all heck. I’ve heard that the publishing industry comes to a screeching halt the month of December. They weren’t kidding.

So that’s where I stand. If you’d like to read the query letter that got the requests, it’s pretty much the blurb found under the “Books” tab above. On the actual query, though, I had the genre, word count, correct salutation and brief bio.

I would absolutely love to hear other “How I Landed My Agent” stories, so if you’ve got one, please share! Hope that answered your questions, blog reader! If you have another, don’t hesitate to comment away or send another email! *grin

Agents! Or lack thereof…

I’ve been hovering over my email for weeks, waiting for that one message telling me I’ve sold to Grand Central or Avon. (Those are the two NY publishers my agent submitted to. Still waiting for the response, fyi.) Instead of opening my mail and finding a sale of my paranormal, I opened my mail and found a disheartening letter from my agent.

Well, disheartening on my end.

I am now, once again, unagented. *Sigh* Wylie-Merrick Literary has decided to open a small press (I’ll give the details about their name and titles when I’m allowed to do so–1/1/11) which means it’s in my best interest to cut ties. There’s nothing wrong with small press publishers. My romantic suspense, which I should have a cover and release date for soon, are with a small press…I’ve just got my sights set on The Big Six for my paranormal. (The Big Six are the six major publishers in NYC for you non-writing folk.)

I believe in my paranormal. I think the writing is tight and the premise is marketable. I think it resembles what’s selling, with unique twists. Everything it should be to land a place in Borders and Barnes & Noble. But it’s my baby, so I could be biased.

All in all, I wish Wylie-Merrick Literary luck in their small press endeavors. And I could use the luck as well, as I rehash my query and start the dreaded agent search again.

For some reason Tom Petty’s Square One is stuck in my head this morning. Wonder why…

Letting the cat out of the bag

Meow! I promised I’d post my query blurb today and I don’t want to disappoint…Here it is!

ReVamp’s hottest Vampire Rehabilitation Specialist has been burning moonlight looking for a cure to what’s ailing the blood supply in Crimson Bay, California. The mysterious infection is causing vampires to hit the streets and act like…well…a bit like Dracula when he’s cranked out on venti mocha vamppuccinos. Neither her arranged marriage on the blood-smudged horizon, nor the threat of shutting down her clinic can tear DYLAN’S eyes off the prize–proving once and for all vampires aren’t blood-lusting primal creatures. The last thing she expects while prepping a newborn for coven induction is to be spun for a wet and wild loop by the bronze-skinned, muscle bound vampire she finds beaten to a pulp and sprawled out on her bed.

Little does she know, the shape-shifting goon squads dead set on oppressing vampiric rights have a dark trick up their flickering sleeves. They’ve sent a sheep to sleep amongst the wolves…

Shape-shifter by birth, assassin by rank, and vampire by damned unfortunate circumstance, SLADE just wants to penetrate the coven of leeches, complete his risky assignment, and high-tail it out of there. Everything he’s been taught tells him to keep his distance from parasites, especially dead sexy ones hell-bent on proving the blood-sucking species is inherently good. Despite himself and shape-shifting law, he’s fired up; ready to take Dylan six ways from Sunday….with a Blood-Blasted cherry on top.

When Slade’s next target is unveiled to be Dylan, the one who‘ll ultimately save the vampire race, he must make a choice: complete his task and assassinate the love of his life, putting an end to the vampire uprising or die a traitorous death at the hands of his shape-shifting brothers and kick-start all-out war.

*In other fantabulous news, I’m now officially represented by Robert Brown of Wylie-Merrick Literary Agency! I’m absolutely thrilled about the possibilities…stay tuned!

"The Call"

If you’ve been in the publishing industry for any length of time you know about “The Call”. It’s the ringing of the phone or opening of an email that changes your writing from hobby and healthy obsession to budding career. It’s an agent offering representation for you and your work. It’s the culmination of years of study and hard work, sleepless nights glaring at the glow of your computer screen. It’s the moment you realize your self-worth as a writer was balled into one tiny message. (When really, your self-worth should be that you’re dedicated to being a writer, shouldn’t it? Yes, yes, it should.)

I got that amazing call this week. I’m barely holding in the screams over here! WOO-HOOOOO! Can you see my grin stretching ear to ear and my arms pumping the air over my head???

I’ve been working with an agent these past few weeks, tweaking my manuscript to make it more marketable on his suggestion. Finally *finally* I received an offer of representation. The contract is in the mail and let me tell you…if that postman/woman loses that envelope I will hunt them down and stake them with their own letter opener. Of course I’m kidding. Of course. I’d stake them with their flying golden envelope pin. No, no, I wouldn’t. I’m not that twisted…only in humor folks, no worries. (Okay, now I’m concerned about the possibility of a jail sentence for threatening a postal worker at this point!) (Can I just say again, for the record, I’m joking? Hehe)

As soon as I know the agent has signed his part and it’s a 100% GO, I’ll give the deets like who and what. And hey! I’ll finally post that blurb! I’m so excited and can’t wait to head out to celebrate!

I’m on my way! *insert thousand watt smile here

Updates

1-I’ve reached my first turning point in my current work in progress! Yay! It’s smooth-sailing for me and conflicting as hell for my hero and heroine. I love it.

2-I got a partial request-Yay! Then a full request 9 minutes later from the same person-Doubly-Double Yay!

3-This month my Golden Heart Score sheets come back for Dark Tide Rising. I entered this puppy in December. I’ve been having all kinds of anxiety dreams since then…I’m ready to hear. And I’m tempted to do something drastic in the case that I final–I’m gonna have to think about it.

4-Everyone in my house has now caught the cold that’s been going around Internet-world. Thank you facebook friends for passing that along through the keys.

5-And I know I forgot to post something about it (horrible-horrible-me) but I went vegetarian for the month of March. (Oh, and I cut sugar, white flour, soda, sugary-Starbucks goodies, and salt too–Lisa, you may have had something to do with that. Darn you and thank you at the same time.) I had some crazy idea about depriving my body of something it’s so used to in order to gain perspective for what my hero is going through in my current book. Today is Day 5 and I woke up craving tri-tip.

Odd to think about oatmeal, granola, coffee and red meat as a tantalizing breakfast…

Passion and Barbara Poelle

Today I drove my gimpy-ass to the SFARWA meeting to see literary agent Barbara Poelle of Irene Goodman Literary Agency. Let me first say that she is not only brilliant and hard working, but had enough energy to power the whole publishing industry on her own! Yowzer. (And I totally mean that in a good-I-wish-she-was-my-agent kind of way.) (As a side note, she told the writers/authors at the meeting that she tends to talk fast…I didn’t notice. Hmmm, wonder what that says about me? *wink)

I could write ten blogs worth of what she talked about, but I won’t. What I will do is tell you the part that stuck with me the most. She said, “Writing is 98% passion and 2% common sense.”

Did you get that? 98% passion. (Fitting for a blog before Valentine’s Day, don’t you think?)

I’ve heard from many writers that the definition of a published author is an unpublished writer who didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. There’s that passion point again.

Maybe there’s really something to it.

John Grisham received rejections from thirty editors and thirty literary agencies before finally selling A Time to Kill (which was also made into a movie with hunky-monkey Matthew Mcconaughey).

Janet Evanovich, author of the astoundingly popular Stephanie Plum Series, received rejections for ten years before finally getting published. Talk about a passion for writing!

Stephen King has given countless interviews where he talks about rejections being the stepping stones to success…

Hold the phone. Does he mean that those nasty little form rejections lined up for my burn pile really mean something? Would I not be able to reach success without them? I don’t think so, because I’ve heard a few writers say they only had a handful of rejections before they landed an agent and made a sale. (I hate you folks by the way. I really do.) (Okay, not really.) (Well, maybe a smidgen.) But if he means that by getting them you strive harder and make your writing better until you reach the other side, I’d have to agree.

The existence of passion is crucial in every element of your life; marriage, friendships, career. Writing is no different. If you love something enough to do anything for it…or him…or her…then you have the passion that will take you to the next level (whatever that may be). If you fill yourself with an intense desire to succeed, eventually you will reach your goal.

Now do something passionate today. Kiss someone you love because you mean it and not only because Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Plant an organic garden because you know deep down it’s the right thing to do. Finish that project you’ve been putting aside. Ride out a three-thousand-word storm and then celebrate any way you know how.

98% passion, people. Live it up.

Success x 4

The Fire in Fiction workshop was AWESOME yesterday. Insightful. Clever. Mind-blowing. All the things a workshop should be, rolled into one great day.

First success: I got my 10 seconds to shake Donald Maass’ hand. I politely reminded him who I was and that the book we plotted together was in his email box. He asked me to briefly remind him what it was about. When I told him the basic premise, his eyes lit up. He said he remembered it and that he’d get to it ASAP. Very cool.

Now, he may very well have been blowing smoke. But it didn’t look that way to me.

Second success: He also said to send the next 50 pages of what I’m working on, even though you’re not suppose to send an agent another work if they already have one on submission. This is not a normal response, so I’m counting my blessings.

Third success: My brain was officially mush by the time I was done. It was a miracle I found my way home…oh, wait…I didn’t. I actually got lost in Palo Alto. Oops. Told you. M-U-S-H.

Fourth and final success: I got home after a very long, very dark scenic route and checked my email. There, sitting nice, quiet and unread was a response from a query I sent out last week. I opened it. And it read, “Thanks for the query. Sounds great. Go ahead and send the whole novel as an attachment.”

Overall, this was a great day. Getting lost, not so much. But I’ve got my foot in the door to this big publishing world…and I keep inching it in. 🙂

Fire in Fiction and good juju

Yup. I’m heading to the Fire in Fiction workshop Saturday. It’s an all day thing with quite a drive to and from. Basically, my mind should be mush by the time I’m finished. That’s my goal albeit an odd one.

But you see, I have another goal in going to this thing. I want 10 seconds to meet Donald Maass and shake his hand again. Just enough to say, “Hi. Remember me from RWA National? The book we plotted is in your email box as we speak. It’s a pleasure meeting you again and I can’t wait to hear what you think.”

See? 10 seconds should cover it. I think I’d vomit if he actually said he remembered me from last summer.

(As a side note, I don’t think agents remember writers at all. I think they remember stories…we just supply the fingers that type them. So I guess I’m praying he remembers my premise and not necessarily me in particular…although that would be cool too.)

Anyway, I could use all the good juju I can get. Please send good thoughts, prayers, etc, etc, etc, my way. I’m gonna need ’em on Saturday.