Saturday, January 29

Oh, Canada...

Well, I'm back at the Toronto airport, waiting to fly home. I would have posted earlier, but the internet line in my room at the hotel didn't work. Blah. Plus I had no cell phone service, so basically I have spent the last to days in technology withdraw. Honestly, it's kinda sad how much it bothered me. Didn't realize how dependent I'd become...


Anyway, on to my meeting. I was great! Carly was so sweet, and it was great to get a chance to meet with her face to face. We had a bit of a delay in connecting though... The meeting was scheduled for 2:00, and I got there at about 1:15. I was really early, so I grabbed a table in the corner and waited. And waited... When 2:15 rolled around, I started to wonder if I went to the right place. The address was right, but it was a Starbucks, and God knows there are like a million of them, so I started to get paranoid. I got up and did a scan of the whole place, to see if I missed her. On the way back to my seat a woman - who had been there since I arrived - asked me if I was Marian. Yeah, we'd been sitting like five feet away from each other for almost an hour, because we both assumed we had arrived too early for the other person to be there yet. Go us.

So... once we actually met up, it was nice. She had the contracts for me to sign, and while I did, she looked over a list I'd brought of new ideas for possible titles. She liked a few of them, and while we still don't have anything concrete, we are getting closer.

She told me a little more about the agency, and which book fairs they attend. They are also working on a new website which looks great! I can't wait until they launch it! She told me a little about which publishers she is thinking of approaching once the ms is ready, and we went over some of the revisions I have been working on.

That was about it. It was only 20 or so minutes(we actually spent a longer time waiting for each other...), but I'm really glad she was able to come up to the city to meet me. It is really nice to now have a face to put with a voice/email.

Next step is to finish up the revisions to the ms, then she will go through and do a final edit. I definitely don't envy her there.  :) Then she will send the edits to me to fix, then I will send it back to her and she will send me more edits, and back and forth and back and forth until it is finally ready to take to the houses.

As for me, my flight is about to board, so I should pack up. Maybe later I'll post some of my title ideas and see what you all think. I really need some help! :)

~ Mar

Thursday, January 27

Toronto, here I come!

So I'm all packed and ready to go. Toronto here I come! Actually, I should be going to bed soon, as I have to wake up at 3:00am to catch my 5:20am flight. Meh...

My meeting my new agent Carly is tomorrow afternoon. I will be sure to post tomorrow evening and let everyone know how it went!

Thanks for all the well-wishes! You guys are great!

Till tomorrow,

~ Mar

An Angry Rant About An Angry Rant About Query Letter Writing

I came across a blog post this morning that really pissed me off! The blog and blogger will remain nameless for their own protection, but the title of the post was 'An Angry Rant About Query Letter Writing', and it was all about this tweet the blogger had read. The tweet was made by a literary agent and basically said that if you can't write a good query, then you probably can't write a good novel. Well the blogger was completely outraged by this and went on and on about how wrong that is, and how hard it is to write a query, and how agents just don't understand, and how it is a total crap shoot, etc. Then, to make matters worse, she had like fifty odd comments from readers, most of whom agreed with her!

Well I have news for the blogger and all her loyal followers...


If you can write, you can write - if you can't, you can't. End of story.

Now, that's not to say query letters are easy to write, because they're not. They take time, and effort, and loads of rewrites and revisions, and that's what people don't seem to understand. They take months writing, revising, and editing their novel, but when it comes time to write the query they expect it to just fall out of their ass with little to no effort. Then when it doesn't, they whine and bitch about how hard it is. It's not hard, it's in your head! You can write your novel with no problem because you are writing what you want. It is coming from your heart and you are not stressing about it. Then when it comes to writing the query (and the synopsis for that matter) people freak out, because all anyone can say is how hard it is, and how everyone hates it - so it is horrible and you do hate it even if it's only for thinking you will! Self fulfilling prophecy people!

Prime example: When it was time for me to write my synopsis for my book, I wasn't really sure how to do it, or how long it should be, so I did some research online... BIG MISTAKE! Every singe site I pulled up had horrible doomsday like words right in the first sentence - sometimes in the page title! 'The Dreaded Synopsis', 'The Part You've Been Dreading', 'The Synopsis Curse'. Even the ones that said things like 'Don't be afraid', were still subconsciously telling me that I already should be. It was terrible! I wasn't worried at all until everyone else said I should be. You want to learn how to write a good synopsis? All you have to do is go the and look up any book and read the Plot Summary on that page. Choose an older book, as sometimes the newer ones don't have summaries. Something by Jane Austin, or Shakespheare, or the like. There you will find a plot synopsis that takes an entire book down to a few paragraphs. The whole story, told with little to no emotion, and only the main plot points - exactly what a synopsis is supposed to be. If the 560,000 words of War and Peace can be told in a five and a half page (that's Times New Roman 12point single spaced with a space between each paragraph) synopsis, then I grantee your book can be summarized in less.

...but I digress...

The point of my rant is if you can write a good novel, you can write anything well, it just takes effort. The query is the first and possible only example of your writing an agent is going to see, so why should they assume that that isn't the best representation of your writing? Do you really expect them to say, "Well this letter sound like a five year old write it, but I'm sure the novel is better..." Yeah right!

If you give the tools to selling your novel (query, synopsis, etc.) the same care an attention you gave to the novel itself, then I promise you, you will reap the rewards. Take the time, and do it right! And for God sake, stop blaming the agents, and the editors and even the query letter itself!!!


~ Mar

Monday, January 24

Holy Revisions!

I got the list of revisions my agent would like to see made before approaching editors. Yay... kind of...
I have no problem revising, and I love all her ideas, but wow am I tired of looking at this damn ms!

All her suggestions are small things, nothing huge, but sometimes that's almost worse. It not like I can just go into the ms and change a little thing here and there and then move on - if only. For every change I make, I then have to go over the whole book to make sure the old 'thing' is never mentioned or referenced again, and a few of these changes I know I talk about several times throughout the rest of the book.

The only major thing I have to do that will take some serious thought is coming up with a title. My working title Bibbity, Bobbity, Do-Over is not going to work for publication, but I knew that going in. I couldn't come up with anything I liked for a title when I started this project, then when I wrote the actual line Bibbity, Bobbity Do-Over, I liked the way it sounded, and started using it as my working title. Now I have to come up with the real deal, and sadly, it's not as easy as I would have hoped. Carly and I are both brainstorming, but nothing is jumping out at me just yet.

There a few changes I'm not sure about - as in, not sure what she means by them. Normally I would send her an email, but since we are meeting her face to face on Friday, I won't bother her in the meantime, I'll just bring it up then.

*Sigh* Guess I should get started...

~ Mar

Saturday, January 22

Canada or Bust!

So Friday morning will find me in Toronto Canada! I have a meeting scheduled with Carla so that we can meet face to face and of course to sign my contract! Yay! We will also discuss the plan for my book as well as go over in more detail the notes and revisions she wants me to make to the ms.

Still can't believe all this is happening, but looking forward to the ride!

~ Mar

Friday, January 21


Carly Watters of P.S. Literary signed me on as a client this morning, and I am freaking out! I really can't even believe it yet! A few of my friends at Query Tracker have asked to see my Query letter, so I have posted it below along with my query stats.

I will post my agent story in the next day or so and plan on posting everything that happens from here all the way through (hopefully) publication, so if you would like to come along with me so that you are ready when it happens to you, feel free to follow! I love online friends!

Last, I wanted to say a big thank you to all my Query Tracker friends! Most of you I never talked to, but I was addicted to QT - like checking it 5 to 6 times a day at least - and reading all your comments really helped me push ahead! I couldn't possibly thank everyone as there are too many of you, but some of the regulars I always took note of were Tarzan, ethers, dlpoet17, aldrnans, NatSanders, PatsFan, raven1, and jlewis. To all you guys, and the rest of you out there too that I didn't name, keep doing what you do, hang in there, my thanks and best wishes to you all!

My Query:

Dear Agent,

Eight years ago, Julia Basham lost her chance at happily ever after - all thanks to her fairy godmother who didn’t show up for work.

Wait, slighted by your own fairy godmother? How can that be? After all, showing up just as you hit rock bottom and giving you everything you need to ‘land your man’, is basically the fairy godmother’s sole job description, right? So we’ve been told… Bibbity, Bobbity, Do-Over, is a 70,000 word, quirky-contemporary women’s fiction novel, where unfortunately, there is no little old lady with wings handing out ‘happily ever afters’.

Julia’s life seemed to be falling perfectly into place. She had a great job, seemingly endless prospects, and a wonderful fiancĂ©, Nick Kerkley, who she was totally in love with. Nick however, while being completely devoted to Julia, did not have the potential or stability to be worthy of someone like her - or at least that was Julia’s sister Lisa’s opinion. Reluctantly following Lisa’s advice, Julia ended the relationship, forcing herself to believe it would all be for the best. Little did she know, that one decision would begin the slow but steady deterioration of her entire life. As the story opens nearly a decade later, Julia is the quiet shadow of the woman everyone thought she’d be, who’s once fulfilling life has fallen into a stale and safe existence. Her shell of a world is thrown into upheaval when she finds out that the financial planning team she works for has taken on a new client; a now successful and very rich Nick Kerkley. Stuck in a horribly awkward situation, Julia makes a decision - take charge, step up, and find her own happy ending. However, she quickly realizes that fairy tales aren’t as strait forward as we’ve been brought up to believe. Sometimes, to get to happily ever after, you have to stop waiting for fate, take charge, strap on a pair of wings, and be your own fairy godmother.

Jane Austin’s Persuasion, is one of my all time favorite novels, and it makes me sad that it has taken something of a backseat in the world of classic literature. Bibbity, Bobbity, Do-Over puts a modern yet whimsical spin on Austin’s classic love story, and serves as my personal tribute to that amazing, yet somewhat under-appreciated work.

As for me, I am 27 years old and live in Chicago with my husband and two daughters. While this is the first novel I am seeking publication for, I would love to one day make writing my career.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Marian Lee

My Query Stats:

Queries Sent: 75
Rejected on Query: 33
Closed/No Response: 27
Queries I had yet to hear back on: 8
Partials Requested: 6
Rejected on Partial: 2
Partials I have yet to hear back on: 3
Fulls Requested: 2 (One form Carly, the other from an Editor at Kensington)
Offers: 1

Moral of the story:

Never Give Up!

Monday, January 17

Ah... to be a Literary Agent...

... to have hundreds of people a month grovel for my approval...

... to make the rules, change the rules, and break whichever I choose...

... to be the be the bouncers outside the publishing night club...

... to insist that you obey all my requests to the letter, then never respond to your query...

... to take months to request a partial, then get mad when you can't grant me exclusivity as you have other submissions out to agents who didn't take six months to make their request...

... to ask for a resubmit after you make the countless revisions I have suggested to your manuscript, then after the revisions and resubmit are made, inform you that I am far too swamped to take on any new clients at this time...

and last but certainly not least...

... to make my potential employers beg, grovel, plead, revise, query, re-query, submit, resubmit, and make a deal with the devil or whatever evil being they subscribe to - before I allow them to hire me...

Must be the life!  :)

Sunday, January 16

The Word Count Enigma

How many words are in the average novel? Is word count genre specific? How long is too long? How short is too short?

If you are a writer, these and other questions just like them have undoubtedly crossed your mind at one time or another. As for me, they are on my mind all the time, and I don't know about you, but I can't seem to get a strait answer. However, I have recently found that the reason I can't get a strait answer is that simply put - there isn't one. Yes, there are guidelines that writers should try to keep to - especially if you are a new writer looking to publish for the first time - those being 80,000 to 120,000 words. Guidelines yes, but let us not forget the gray area. YA is typically shorter, while Fantasy can be longer, and so on. There is no set in stone rule ~ so what am I trying to say then? Simply this: Write the best story you can without regard to word count. The biggest mistake some writers make is worrying about word count before they have finished - or in some cases even begun - their book. Don't do it. You may end up throwing junk in the story that should be there just to fill space or cutting something important to save time. Just write the story you want to write, and worry later.

For those of you who are still looking for numbers, here is a chart I found that give some of the standard expectations:

Average #
Approx. pages,
Short-short story
Short story
Novel--hard cover
Humor feature
Book review
Newspaper feature
Magazine article
Nonfiction book
Juvenile picture book
Juvenile book--mid
Young adult book
2-100 lines
(4-16 lines preferred)

Hope that helps, though I pretty sure it doesn't, as it did little to ease my mind... but hey, I tried.

Okay, how bout this...  *Ahem*  You... you there... reading right now... yes, you - your book should be 92,573 words. There you go, problem solved.

Now get writing! :)

~ Mar

Saturday, January 15

OMG Query Openers

Every so often I come across queries that make me feel better about my own. They always put a smile on my face, so I thought I'd share. Yes, hard as it is to believe, these are all real, and have all been submitted to at least one agent/editor. They are all the opening line(s), appearing just after the "Dear Agent.'

"I am about to tell you about the best book you will ever represent..."

"There once was a cat who's family had abandoned him. He went to live in a shelter for months, and was worried no one would ever love him. One day a lady came to the shelter and adopted him. She became his mommy. That cat is me, and my mommy wrote a story about me. She would like you to represent her...."

"At this point in my writing career, I have decided that I would like to use the services of a literary agent. I have six books published, but would like to hear what you believe you could do to further my career. I can be reached at ###-####, and look forward to hearing your proposal."
(BTW - all six of this author's books were self-published, and had no measurable sales.)

"I have written a novel, entitled - title - and seek your representation. This story is like nothing you have ever seen before and will be in extremely high demand. I suggest you contact me quickly as to not loose your chance to work on such a groundbreaking project..."

My novel called - title - needs new representation. While I know my work will be a best seller, I no longer believe my current representation, Joe Agent of the The ABC Agency, is doing it justice, and would like to sign with you instead..."
(Now this would be bad enough on it's own, but it turned out Joe Agent, who is a real agent and really worked for the named agency, had never even heard of this writer.)

"Books come and books go, but some books change your life. My book, title, is one of those books..."

And last but not least... (none of this is a typo on my part by the way, this is what it really said)
"I have writing to tell you about my book. It done. It is really good. I picked you to work for me. If you want see first it my phone is ###-####."

Makes your query look like a gem, does it not? :)

~ Mar

Bring On The Death!

Ah, the good old days... Where no one was safe, and people liked it that way.

I was slumped over on the couch this afternoon, starring at my bookshelf, when I got to thinking about death. Not real death mind you - character death. How'd ya get thinkin' on that, you ask? It starts and ends with The Vampire Diaries. The books - not the show, as the two are very different. L.J. Smith is a fabulous author, and The Vampire diaries are some of her best work.
(side bar)
Now - just to qualify this - I am referring to the original three novels, not the new ones, as they are the very essence of suck. The fourth one is good, but it is not apart of my argument for two reasons - one, it was published several years later as the request of the fans and was not originally intended to be a part of the series, and two, it makes my point moot.
(end side bar)
I've been with The Vampire Diaries since back in the day. Like circa 1994ish. All my friends were. It was basically the Twilight of our era. And my favorite thing about the original series... Elena dies.


Don't get me wrong, I had no problem with her, nor do I get off on pain and suffering. What I love, is the fact that Smith had the balls to do it! She basically gave 'happily ever after' the finger, and that's okay - because it WORKED. Not every story has to work out perfectly. Not every couple has to ride off into the sunset. The only thing required of the ending of a story is that it by SATISFYING. Satisfying does not have to equal happy. Take The Vampire Diaries - Elena dies saving the town. Stefen (Elena's love interest) is devastated obviously, but he is given a purpose with is to look after Damon (his brother). Bonnie and Meredeth (Elena's friends) are sad, but they are once again safe because of her sacrifice. It all works out. Satisfying.
Okay yeah, Smith went on to write a fourth book in which Elena comes back, but like I said, that wasn't until later, and my point still stands.

Anyway, all I'm saying is it would be nice for authors to keep us on our toes. Kill off some people who we would have otherwise considered un-killable.

~ Mar

Why does YA have such a bad rep?

So I'm in the process of reading the Vampire Academy series by Mead, and I have to say I really like it - and I really didn't think I would. I'm not sure why that was, but it got me to thinking about YA as a genre. It gets a horrible rap, and it pisses me off! Every YA review I read goes on and on about how the characters are underdeveloped, and how it's shameful that the heroine thinks about nothing besides he love interest, and how the plot is mind numbing, blah, blah, blah... When the hell did the world start expecting YA literature to be thought provoking and deep?

Take the Twilight series. Yeah, yeah, I know, but the eye roll you probably just gave me is exactly why I chose Twilight. I mean lets face it, love it hate it or in between, that series is the quintessential example of YA for this decade, and it gets put down constantly. People seem to expect so much of it simply because it has been such a phenomenon. Is Twilight an intellectually earth shattering gem of the literary universe that has rocked the foundation of the modern world? No. Is it supposed to be? NO. It's supposed to be a story about high schoolers in love. Period. That's all. And considering that, it's pretty damn good. Are the characters deeply developed personalities with thought provoking dreams and aspirations? No. Should they be? NO. These books are about teenagers, who are - for the most part - underdeveloped human beings! They are suppose to be! We all were! Sure, they can be smart, and have dreams and aspirations, but as for life experience, they don't have much. Have you ever seen a teenager in love? That IS all they think about! Young adults want to read about the girl who falls in love with a vampire and lives happily ever after. They don't want the story of the girl who dates a vampire, breaks up with him , dates some more guys, get cheated on, goes to college, get average grades, goes out with a few more guys, graduates, gets married, and lives in middle class suburbia with her husband, kids and dog ever after. That's real life folks, and I don't know about you, but I live my own real life every day. I read to get away form real life! 

My second favorite is when older women complain about the female leads and how all these sort of book do is teach young women that their lives should be all about boys, and nothing else, no goals, blah, blah, blah... All I have to say to that is  - if you are so piss poor at raising your kids that you can't teach them the ways of the world and leave it all up to the books they read and the shows and movies they watch, then that's your fault - not the book's.(or show's or movie's etc.) Kids are not that clueless unless you let them be!

Sure adults may want to read complex novels about real life, focusing on vastly deep characters, and sure, a YA book like Twilight, or what-have-you, may not appeal to them, but lets face it - it's not supposed to appeal to them! It's supposed to appeal to young adults who want to dream about their very own hot vampire swooping in to carry them off to a land of romance, and to anyone else, who enjoys a little easy, entertaining reading.