Don’t Let Querying Kill Your Muse

Feb 11, 2014 by

Query Letters

Query Letters

Let’s talk honestly about querying . . .

Anyone who has ever queried an agent or publisher can tell you it is very, very, very hard work, and—for most of us—also very disheartening. The time-consuming, difficult process involves:

  1. Researching the right agents for your novel
  2. Reading the submission guidelines at every agency
  3. Crafting a personalized letter for each agent
  4. Keeping track of the agents who you’ve queried
  5. Waiting, waiting, waiting . . . and waiting
  6. Deal with rejection
  7. Repeat (unless you’re one of those super fortunate few who succeed the first time. If you are: Congratulations!!)

Most of the mechanics are simple—if time consuming—except of course: step 3. The meat of the query, that sweet and thrilling blurb that will make every agent and publisher want your novel, can take many, many days to write and perfect.

All of that aside, step 5 and 6 are what can take the biggest toll, and where any air-breathing, blood-pumping author might run the risk of sending their muse into permanent retirement.

There is only so much rejection a person can take before they start questioning their worth. We all know it isn’t personal; agents can’t represent every single person; publisher can’t publish every single book; it is the nature of the business. There are many valid and reasonable explanations.

Yet, the inevitable thoughts will enter our minds: Is there something wrong with my writing? Is the plot weak? Are my characters good enough? . . . and maybe at some point . . . Am I cut out to be a writer? Should I just give up?

I can’t help but wonder how many amazing stories will never be read. How many authors have given up—people who have what it takes and then some, people who just needed to try a little harder, a little longer. Because getting published is a marathon, not a sprint . . . and not for the faint of heart.

Lucky for this marathoner, we live in a wonderful time, full of opportunities for those who aren’t willing to give up. People like me who killed the rejection blues by self-publishing and, with that decision, also killed the doubt and second guessing. Many readers like my books—love them, even. They think that I can spin a good story and my words make the page exciting. I don’t have to wonder anymore. Hallelujah! Self-publishing was a liberating decision—one that saved my muse and made querying less desperate and less essential. I still query and I still hope for a traditional contract. I just don’t think life depends on it anymore ;)

[Image attribution: Photo by Daniel Borman, used under CC/ No changes]

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Top 5 reasons why NaNoWriMo might not be for you

Nov 16, 2013 by

Top 10 NaNoWriMo Tips

Is NaNoWriMo for you?

I’m a Young Adult and New Adult author who has been writing for several years and has successfully completed 7 full-length novels—one of which, The Guys Are Props Club, I wrote in 22 days.  I share this not to brag or anything like that, but to show I don’t suffer from lack of discipline or inability to write fast. That said . . .

So, yeah, I confess—after three unsuccessful attempts—that NaNoWriMo isn’t for me! Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea, the energy, the camaraderie. The whole concept is fantastic, and I really wish I could get to the finish line, but sadly I’ve finally accepted I can’t—not with the current demands on my schedule, anyway. If you’re anything like me and the points below describe you or your life in any way, maybe NaNoWriMo isn’t right for you either.

1.    You can’t force yourself to write when inspiration isn’t there

Do you have to be physically assaulted by your muse to sit in front of the keyboard and write at an intense pace? I write almost every day, muse or not. I just make myself do it, even if the stubborn goddess is on vacation. I don’t normally manage to write more than a thousand words, but I’ve built the habit. However, to be able to write more than 1k words (1,666 words to be precise) on any given day, my muse has to be suited up and on steroids. Sadly, that doesn’t happen at predetermined times—say every November. So unless I’m hyper-inspired during this particular month, it’s a struggle to meet the daily NaNo goal. For me, particularly, this is the #1 impediment.

 

2.    You can’t write every single day

Is there a day of the week when your job makes you a prisoner?  Maybe every Friday, you have to go into the office early, do a lunch meeting, then wine and dine with clients after hours; you don’t get home until very late and hit the pillow wishing for a different body. Or maybe every Wednesday you drive your super athlete fourteen-year-old to the pool at 5 A.M. for early swim practice; then, for work, you drive on-site to visit customers, and, at quitting time, you haul butt across town to pick-up your future Olympian from more swim practice. Does this remotely describe one or more of your weekdays? If the answers is yes, then you’re certain to fall behind in your daily goal. Every day you don’t write means you will fall 1,666 words behind. If writing 1,666 words a day is hard, try writing 3,332 or more! With every missed day, the word-gap multiplies, until it becomes impossible to surmount or until your weekend must be sacrificed to reach it.

 

3.    November is a very busy month for you

In your family, are you the personified spirit of the holidays? In other words, do you decorate, shop, cook, host guests, organize cozy evenings around the fire and make everyone sip spiked eggnog? If you do, Thanksgiving WILL cause you to fall behind. And, as explained in #2, falling behind—even just one day—makes things way harder than they already are.

 

4.    Your weekdays are busy, and your weekends are worse

Do you already use weekends to catch up? If, from Monday to Friday, every second of your day is occupied by your job, family, friends, church, volunteering, pets . . . so much that your home and its chores pile up and require a large amount of your attention during the weekend, then you need to think twice before taking on this challenge. If after all the laundry, cooking, picking up leaves in the yard, cleaning, grocery shopping, fixing the broken toilet, etc., you manage to scrounge a few free hours and are willing to use them for writing rather than resting, going to the movies or watching a football game, that time may not be enough to help you catch up, unless you can write a week’s worth of words (11k) in that short time. If you can, I’m jealous. You are my hero!

 

5.    You’ve never written a book, but you know you care much more about quality than quantity

Are you a budding author? If you’ve never written a book before, I will dare say you lack the preparation to put a cohesive full-length story together on your first try. Unless you are the Muse goddess’s chosen son/daughter and are able to spill golden words, cohesive plots, amazing characters, natural dialogue, flawless pacing, etc. etc. etc. without any prior experience, you will have A LOT to learn about the writing process. That in itself will be its own challenge. But, if in top of that, you’re a perfectionist and care greatly about quality, I can assure you that NaNoWriMo will drive you absolutely bunkers. As you furiously type to get your daily word count, you’ll constantly want to go back and spellcheck, tweak, rephrase or outright rewrite. With NaNo’s tight deadline, if you fall prey to rewriting, you are sure to miss your daily goal.

 

My intention isn’t to discourage anyone. As with anything, it is a good idea to try for ourselves to find our own limitations, but it is always smart to go in with a good set of expectations. If one or more of the points above sound familiar, don’t be surprise if NaNoWriMo proves impossible for you. And if you fail, don’t worry. There are 11 more months in the year. If you really want to write, you need to do it all year round. No use in getting stressed or burned out during one short month :)

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How to Create a Website

Aug 17, 2011 by

Create your own website

Create your own website

Some of my author friends have been asking what did I do to create my own website. Some of them have Blogger, WordPress or some other free service, and they don’t like the fact that their site address ends up with extra words tacked in the middle. For instance this site might have ended up as www.fictionBOUND.blogspot.com. Not so nice, huh? They want to know how to have a cleaner name, and if it is difficult to accomplish. Also they wonder what is the cost involved. So I thought it would be good to have a quick post about it.

 

1 – Choose a domain name

This could be as easy or as hard as you make it. At first I thought I would just pick a domain name and be done with it, but the possibilities gave me terrible angst. There are endless choices once you start mixing and matching keywords. I had a long list of names before I decided to go with fictionBOUND.  There are a few things to keep in mind when picking a domain name:

  • Shorter is better
  • Memorable and easy to spell
  • The name suggests the nature of what the site is about


2 – Buy your domain

There are many choices of places where you can buy your domain. Personally, I used GoDaddy.com. It is as easy as making sure the domain name you chose is available and creating an account. Oh and, of course, paying them!


3 – Host your site

More choices! Are you sensing a theme here? Choices, choices, choices. Enough to drive you to tears and give you total paralysis! In my case, I used Hostgator.com. But you can evaluate the different options at hosting-review.com or other similar places. You can buy your domain and host it in the same place. I just happened, at the time, to get a better deal by doing it separately.

After I signed up with Hostgator.com, they sent me an email with my Nameservers. I took those back to GoDaddy.com and pointed fictionBOUND to those. This way GoDaddy would know that my site was being hosted at HostGator. After this it took a day or two for my site to be available. The changes have to propagate throughout the internet. Just try to think of someone in China typing fictionBOUND.com. How is the world does it know where to find it? Yeah, that’s why it takes a few days. Servers got to talk to each other and stuff. They’ve got to learn there’s a new kid on the block, you know.

 

4 – Install WordPress

You can pay a professional web designer to design your site. I didn’t have that kind of money. However, after learning I could use WordPress, shedding the money didn’t seem like a good idea anymore. Mainly because I realized I could get a pro feel for free or for a fraction of the cost, all without the hassle and pressure of finding an affordable, reputable web designer.

WordPress is a free, Web-based software program that anyone can use to build and maintain a website or blog. You can find templates – many free – that provide the basic functionality most authors would need to promote their work and connect with readers. Installing it is easy. Once your hosting is up in running, you log in to your new website and installation is one click away.

 

5 – Choose and install a WordPress theme

I searched all wordpress free templates. There are plenty to pick from. Personally, I chose to pay a little to get a more professional look and feel and support. I used Elegantthemes.com which offers many outstanding templates for an affordable price. Once you choose a template, all you need to do is login to your websites wp-admin and upload the file.

After that you are ready to roll :)

 

So how much did it cost?

 

Item Cost
Domain through GoDaddy (full year)  $9.17
Hosting through HostGator (full year)  $66.72
ElegantThemes (one time)  $39.00
TOTAL  $114.89

 

 

You could do it all for free . . . BUT . . .

. . . having your own domain name gives you credibility. Besides if you through blogger, or whoever else, you don’t really own your site. You are subject to their policies and you can’t sell your blog if, for any reason, it becomes popular and someone offers you big bucks for it ;) Another advantage to hosting your own blog is the added flexibility you gain. This will be crucial if your site grows beyond your expectations.

Now, I must say, I didn’t get up to speed with this all by myself. My friend Clay Burt practically taught me a seminar on the topic. He knows tons about it. Thanks Clay!

Leave me a comment. I’d love to read your thoughts on this.

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