Archive for February, 2008

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008
Slow Going

We had a terrific time yesterday. It was nice to celebrate dad’s birthday with friends and family. The drinks flowed and so did the good wishes. I only managed to edit ten pages. I’m trying to apply what I’ve learned in Immediate Fiction and it’s taking me longer than I’d anticipated. Hopefully I can at least double that number today before heading off to my cooking class tonight. We’re covering pasta. Not my favorite, but it’ll be nice to know how to make a few different things.

Yesterday, my virus protector went off due to my RSS feeds. I think you know where this is going. Yep, I had to delete ALL of my RSS feeds. The real bummer is that you couldn’t tell which one had the trojan virus. So I’m trying to decide what to do (ie whether to re-install my RSS feeds or just go back to website browsing). It used to take a long time going to the blogs via websites. Much longer than the feeds, but I didn’t have virus problems via the sites. Has anyone else had this problem? On a separate note, could someone who’s written a few pieces for Changeling Press please contact me privately? I have some questions. 🙂

Monday, February 18th, 2008
Dad’s Birthday, Spiderwick and Editing

Today is dh’s father’s b-day. This is the first time that we’ve been with him to celebrate and we’re excited. We won’t be doing anything huge. Just friends and family.

Last night we all went out to dinner and then went to see Spiderwick. (The reviews of Jumper scared us.) We still may go see it, but it’ll be during a matinee. Spiderwick was predictable, but cute. Certainly worth seeing. The magical world was nice. I wish there would’ve been more time spent there since there was so much to see. I recommend it if you want to go see a nice fantasy movie. If you have kids, I’d say make sure that they were older or it might scare them too much.

I haven’t edited over the last few days, so once I get back from the store, I plan to make up for slacking. So much work to do. So little time to do it. I am looking forward to having this book submitted, then the worrying can begin. LOL! Will my editor like it or will she finally discover that I’m a hack, who’s been masquerading as a writer? *ggg* 😉

Saturday, February 16th, 2008
Sorry for the silence

Sorry that I’ve been rather quiet, but my inlaws are in for a visit and we’re having a fun time. Monday, it’ll be back to work for me. The editing cannot wait. I’m looking forward to applying some of the things that I’ve learned in Immediate Fiction. Tomorrow we’re going to try to go see Jumper. It looks pretty cool.

Other than that, I’ve been eating WAY TOO MUCH and I feel it. :X I’ll have to fast once they leave or I’ll be popping buttons off all my pants. I wonder if the YMCA will allow me to move in for a month?

Hoping to get by the bookstore. Would like to pick up HAPPY HOUR OF THE DAMNED. It’s looking pretty fun. Who can resist zombies? I know I can’t. 😉 Are you looking forward to any books that are coming out soon?

Thursday, February 14th, 2008
Books and Cooking Class

I managed to finish the first draft of the book yesterday. I’m sitting at 384 pages before I begin my edits…tomorrow. I must have been relieved because after I finished and had some dinner I was EXHAUSTED. I felt like I’d been drinking. Sadly, I hadn’t. Anyway, it’s done and waiting for me to start editing.

Along the lines of editing, I’ve been reading the book, Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver at night. I WISH I would’ve bought this book a long time ago. I’m only about halfway through, but he’s explained more things about story than was ever covered in any of my classes. (ie what a story is, what are its components, showing, structure, characterization, etc.) So far everything he’s covered, I’ll be able to apply to my book during edits. I’ve had several ‘Aha’ moments, during his explanations on how to fix common mistakes that writers make. I really WISH I would’ve read this book when it first came out. It would have saved me lots of time and trouble. Not to mention, it would’ve helped me fix the mistakes I repeatedly make in my work. I’m just glad that I have it now.

Now onto the cooking class. We covered Fish and Shellfish on Tuesday night. I must say that I really enjoyed this class. Yes, I like seafood, but it was more than that. We learned how to shop for seafood. Here are some of the things that you need to look for when buying fish/shellfish: Fish should have a clean odor. They should smell like the sea. Their skin should be slick/moist and their scales should be firm. (No flaking.) Fins and tails should be moist and flexible. The flesh should spring back into place if you press a finger into it. Eyes should be clear. If you’re buying live fish, there should be movement, particularly in crabs and lobsters. Clams, mussels and oysters should be closed tight. They open as they age.

If you buy shrimp with their heads on, shake them. If their heads fall off, they’re old. Always ask if shrimp has been pre-frozen if they’re placed in the store counter and made to look fresh. Big lobsters lose flavor as they age. Smaller lobsters are sweeter. The same goes for shrimp. Always buy refrigerated crab, not the stuff that’s in a bag next to the tuna-fish cans.

Now here are a few cooking and cleaning tips: Never use colored fish for stock, only use white fish or shrimp/clams/etc. Add sea salt and water to fresh shrimp and it’ll revive their texture and flavor. When you need to skin a fish, create a slit at the tail end, then hold it with a paper towel. Place your knife flat between the skin and the meat, then move the skin back and forth. DO NOT move the knife. Your fish will come out beautifully skinned. When cooking salmon, the second it ‘sweats white’ it’s done. If you over cook squid, you can save it if you continuing cooking for an extra hour. It’ll make them soft again. (I do not believe that this applies to deep frying.;) And here are a couple of random tips: When you buy fruit, always see if you can smell the sweet smell by holding your nose against the skin. If you can’t, the fruit isn’t ripe. Saute fresh bread crumbs and spread them over pasta if you don’t want to use cheese. Always save some of the water from boiling noodles to add to whatever sauce you’re making. It adds a nice flavor. White fish is done when it reached 130 degrees internally. Salmon is done when it reaches 120 degrees. And tuna is done when it reaches 110 to 120 degrees. The latter depends on how rare you like your tuna. Tuna steaks are best served rare for taste. That ends our lesson for today. 🙂 If you have any questions, fire away. Happy Valentine’s Day to those who celebrate it. Now go out and cook. 😀

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008
The Book That Refused To Die

No, I’m still not done with the book yet. I added another 3K yesterday. I’m hopeful that I will finish today. I am on the last chapter and sitting at 368 pages right now. I’ll probably be finished by 375. I anticipate editing in another 50 at least, which will bring the word count to a nice number. And no, that won’t be padding. That’s what needs to go into the book because to say I skip most description is an understatement. I also have bits of info that’s missing. I have a couple of note cards beside me with things that need to be put into the book for it to make sense. I’m so glad that I have two full weeks to edit. I plan to do one sweep on the computer, then print the manuscript out and read it on hardcopy. I miss too much working on the computer alone. Once that’s done, I’m going to start charting out the next book in the series. Why? Because this book just changed EVERYTHING that I had planned for the third book. Sometimes that happens. This is a first for me, but it can’t be helped.

I’m trying to decide what I’ll do while I’m charting out the next book. Right now it’s a toss between putting together a new proposal or reading through two older manuscripts to see if they are salvageable. I really need to do both, but I’m not dumb enough to believe that I can do them all at the same time. Any thoughts?

On a separate note, my dh and I lost track of a friend whose birthday is today. Stephen if you happen to see this message, please contact us. We miss you.

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008
An Agent Is Born

Below you’ll find my Q & A with Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown Ltd. If any of her answers bring up more questions, just send them to me or drop them into a comment and I’ll get them to her. I make no promises, but I’ll try to get you an answer.

John Scalzi just wrote about a friend of his becoming an agent. I don’t know anything about her (other than what I read on her blog), but I have researched her agency in the past. If you’re in search of agent, then your choices are bountiful. But again, I caution you to do your homework. A misstep can not only cost you money, but it can cost you time. LOTS of time. That you can’t get back. Believe me, I know.

This brings me to a subject that I know I’ve covered before, but it bears repeating. When you’re searching for an agent, it pays to do your homework. Sure, you want a reputable agent that works for a good house, but you need to dig deeper. You need to ask a lot of tough questions that will give you an idea of the agent’s working style and personality. Because of my previous experiences, I grilled Ginger with a lot of questions. I also sent questions to several of her clients. Bless her heart and theirs, they answered all my questions candidly. But I didn’t just do homework on Ginger, I looked over the agency and examined me. What do I mean by the latter? I took a good long look at what I needed from an author/agent relationship. I also really dug deep to figure out where I saw myself in a few years down the road. Did I see myself writing in the same genres? Were my tastes changing? Did I plan to write in genres the agent I was querying wouldn’t be interested in representing? All the answers to these questions played into my decision to go with Ginger. She represents very specific genres.

So when you’re considering various agents, take a good hard look at yourself first. It’ll pay off in the end.

Monday, February 11th, 2008
Ginger Clark Speaks

I compiled the list of all the questions that everyone asked and sent them to Ginger. She chose which questions to answer, so if you don’t see your question, you know why. 🙂

What do you hate/dislike?

The rejections, of course! And when your clients editor leaves her job, and you have to walk them through the orphaning processthat can be frustrating.

How did you break into it (did you complete an internship/work experience placement)? What made you choose agenting, and do you see yourself working as an agent for the rest of your professional life?

Writers House was my second job in publishing, and within six months I knew I did not want to go back to the editorial side of publishing. I enjoy always being on the side of my author. Agents have a bit more freedom than editorsI think many of my editor friends and contacts spend time in meetings that I dont have to, and editors are very overworked and underpaid.

Why is it that so many agents are now referral only? How are new writers supposed to get their work seen, unless they go to conferences and get a pitch appointment (and you often find that everyone’s booked by the time you hear of the conference and you find out how to pay up)? What would constitute a referral, anyway?

I think many agents have full lists and must be very selective about what writers they take on as clients. A referral means you either met the agent and he/she requested your work; another agent referred you to them; or an author they either represent or know referred you to them.

1. How do you decide whether to represent a new author–apart from a promising manuscript? How many clients do you like to have at one time?

Well, its usually based on the strength of the work. I have had a few instances of falling in love with a book and then talking to an author, and realizing early in the conversation that we just didnt have the same vision for their work or career. Or speaking to an author and realizing our personalities just did not jell. Thats rare, though. Right now I am looking to take on new clientsmy list is not full yet!

2. Do you always get the same cut from each author, or does it vary? What would you say is an average cut for most agents?

15% is the standard rate for a book deal, or movie deal. 20% is the rate for foreign sales, either translation or into the British marketusually because you are using a co-agent there, and you each get 10%.

3. Do your clients usually stick with you for their whole careers, or is there a high turnover? Do agents ever get rid of their clients, or is it usually the other way around?

Wow, kind of a touchy subject! When I offer representation, I do so thinking this person will be with me for many, many years. I dont know how other agents are, but the lower the turnover, the better as far as I am concerned. Regarding parting waysclients have left me; I have fired clients; and it has also been a mutual parting of ways.

4. What’s the average number of revisions you normally request? What’s the most and least number of revisions you’ve ever asked for?

Good questionusually the second or third, or maybe fourth draft is what Im sending out. I do have a new client whose work I read three times before I offered representation, and she just sent me the fourth draft which I will send out shortly. I loved the book each time I read itit just was too long until that third draft, and then I realized I had to offer representation or I would kick myself when another agent took her on.

I’d like to know if she’s still looking to expand her list of urban fantasy authors, and if she’s interested in concepts and characters that are atypical of what I believe has become standard fare in the genre. As a rabid UF reader, I know I want to read something other than vampires, werewolves and faeries. What are her thoughts on this?

Yes, I am definitely looking for urban fantasyand I, too, would love to see something that does not involve vampires! Id love a book about a genie, a succubus, a witch, a psychic, a fairy, etc. etc. I once told a writers conference, with as much seriousness as I could muster, the succubus market is vastly underservedand I meant it!

And there you have it. I’d like to thank Ginger for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer the questions.:)