Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Little Successes

From everything I see, hear, and read, we aspiring authors must cling to the little successes in our careers. If we wait to celebrate the publication of our first book, it could be a very boring ride, or as my formerly adorable six year old is suddenly prone to saying, "I'd rather chew my arm off, than wait that long." Authors take years, if not decades to land a contract, and those are the ones we hear about. We don't hear much about the ones who, eighteen years into the process, give up.

So, here are a few goals I have achieved in the last two weeks, which I am celebrating. If you are out there, experiencing the same ups and downs with me, then take heart and try to come up with a few of your own 'mini-goals':
Achieved in July:
--Received a request for a full Manuscript from a reputable agent
--Received a second request for a full
--Agent requested 'exclusive' while she read my book
--Favorite author emailed me to see how my writing was going
--First live human to read my book cover to cover gave her generous and thoughtful critique
--Taking online writing class from another favorite author
--Got my first compliment on my query letter
--Gave up on two lousy printers, and the problems printing at the copy store from a diskette, and bought a new laser printer. Printed my book last night, 375 pages, in about 20 minutes, clear and clean.

Mini-goals for next month:
--Re-read any positive encouragement received to date (emails, letters)
--Take notes at least five separate times on book two
--Complete writing course
--Choose and ask second person read manuscript
--Write at least once a week, and stop beating myself up for not writing more than that.
--Not lose my sanity as I get the kids ready for school to start again.

One of my writing assignments in the online class was to list twenty five things I love, and one of them was lists, so I thought I'd capitalize on that pleasure, right here:-)


Monday, July 11, 2005

The Plate Spinner

This is one of those weeks where I feel like the plate-spinner on the Lawrence Welk show, He would spin the plates on the end of a six or seven foot dowel rod. This is a very early memory, so maybe it was instead on a different entertainment show from the 1960s or 70s, like Carol Burnett, or Mike Douglas shows. But I remember him spinning one plate and we were like 'Big deal.' and then he'd add two more and we were like 'Hmmm...' and then by the time he got up to ten or twelve plates spinning, you were digging your nails into your palms, squirming in anticipation of the plates crashing to the ground, and perhaps blinding someone with their jagged spray of glass.

I have a lot of plates spinning this week. Nothing life or death. Just a conglomeration of little details and medium tasks all jumbled together with work and play in such an arrangement that even my ever-so-brilliant brain has not been able to untangle the mess. I'm now on auto-pilot.

In writing news: I just started an online writing class in Voice with one of my favorite authors, Barbara Samuel, and I'm very excited about this. I won't bore you with all the other stuff happening in my life this week, or it might even put me to sleep. But let's just say I'm really looking forward to next Monday:-) Anyone else have weeks like that?

I also got some positive responses on my queries last week. Haven't had time to update my spreadsheet yet. Soon!


Friday, July 01, 2005

Anal-retentive, anyone?

When I was in fifth, eighth, or eleventh grade, I always threw the adults who asked me, "So what is your favorite subject in school?" I would say "English and Math". This would usually stop them in their tracks with a wrinkled brow, school teachers included. All my friends, they either liked reading or they liked math, but they definitely, no way, uh-uh, liked both.

I pursued the math side of my brain for decades, due to my basically materialistic nature. I believed a career in business would better suit my tastes in blue jeans and my desire for exotic vacations. Why do they let eighteen-year-olds pick their own majors anyway? I worked in banking for years, in the computer department, and then I quit work to stay at home with my young children.

I returned to different part-time jobs and full-time employment over the years to help keep my family to a reasonable level of debt, but figured out soon after my first son was born, that the reading/writing side of my brain brings me more pleasure than the number-crunching side of my brain. Why-oh-why didn't I figure that out back in college, so I could conveniently take courses in narrative or plot development?

Alas, now that I spend as much time as possible creating my fictional world on paper, I still dally in the number-crunching that satisfies a certain itch of mine. And, I'm posting my current statistics here, not to bring on your pity, no, but for those fellow writers out there who just want some accurate data on what other aspiring authors are up to, in their quest for publication. If I occasionally update these stats, I will not give such a long-winded explanation, but will simply post with an asterisk to 'See Anal-Rententive'.

Peace to all,
Current State of Toni's querying efforts:
Number of queries to date 132
Number of Equeries 41
number of snail mail queries 91
Number of Positive Responses 7
Number of Declines 51
Number of Non-Responsives 74
Average days to respond 10.2
Percent acceptances 12%
Number of partials outstanding 3