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Life Imitating Fiction

narciso_zWhen I first began writing “Waking Amy”, it was a long time ago. Things were different…life was different. More importantly, different for my best friend. She is also one of my beta readers. She tells me like it is. Tells me when to flush the manuscript, bury it out back, and when she stayed up till past 2 in the morning just to see who ended up with who.

She enjoyed Amy…she had a few bouts of “why is she so weak”, but overall, found her to be a likeable girl. Flash forward a year later…to “Leaving Amy.” My friend began reading it as usual, and then something happened. Her marriage began to take some tumbles. She stopped reading my book, saying she just couldn’t do it. It reflected her life too much. All that happened in “Waking Amy” was starting to take form in her own life. She was becoming Amy!

This past month has taken a turn for the worst. Her husband left her like Wesley left Amy…and for the same reasons. Out of left field. How does that happen? I’m not naïve to the fact that there are two sides to every situation, and there must’ve been some writing on the walls, but to leave? When there are children? And not to go back? Not to try? To just throw your arms up, say “it’s been real for the last 15 years, but I think I’m going to go and do something different now.” ?

Needless to say, it’s been extremely painful to watch her go through this. To wake up one morning and know she’s a single mom, and clueless to what the next year will bring with custody and support. I dedicated “Leaving Amy” to her. I had no idea I was writing her story in bits and pieces. On a side note, she put my book away and has yet to finish it.

My third Amy book is about resolution. Without spoiling the second book, which releases on May 1st, Amy seeks to find herself in the final edition. As I sit and watch all the struggles my friend is facing, it helps me write. I will find her voice and I will give her courage. Even if it takes until whenever that she is able to read it.

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The Day After

clean upThe anatomy of book writing:

1. You have an idea.

2. You write it down…adding with it, a plot, a problem, a climax, and a conclusion. All in a neat and tidy bow. Ha-ha.

3. You have it edited. And revise it. And revise it, and revise it. Then you write it one more time. Edit it again.

4. Pick out a cover for it. Write a blasted blurb that summarizes 260 pages, down into a lengthy paragraph.

5. Send it out to beta readers, so they can let you know what’s not working with it. You revise a little more. Send it to a proofreader.

6. Schedule blog tours. Send it to bloggers for reviews.

7. Release day! It goes live. Post on every venue you’ve got, and pray it does well. Then it hits you…people are going to be reading this. This. The thing I’ve worked on for a year. What if they don’t like it? What if I get bad reviews, telling me how it sucked? Fear….

8. Then it’s the day after…today, in fact! I just got off Twitter, where a lovely “twitter friend” tweeted me about reading my book. And how she can’t put it down. And then there’s the friends I went to high school with, and they’re posting how they’re glued and can’t wait to get home and finish it.

9. A smile gets stuck right on the front of my face. (where else could it get stuck, you ask?) Point is, I’m overjoyed by the comments I’m receiving about this book child of mine. The one I sent out into the world, via Amazon. Overjoyed that people are liking it. Now, I’m no dummy. I know there will be some that don’t. And that’s fine. I don’t like every book I read. It’s what we call individual taste. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the quality or word choice…it’s just not our cup of tea. So far, I’m loving that everyone who’s contacted me, is enjoying this cup of tea. Go Amy!

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“Are You My Agent?” A Writer’s Perspective on Querying

catSo, you’ve just finished eighty or so thousand words, or as Hemingway described it, you sat down at your typewriter and bled them out. It took you months, maybe even years to get just the right tone, pacing, and dialogue. And, now you’re ready to get someone’s opinion about how they sound on paper.

You choose someone kind at first. This manuscript is, after all, your little bundle of joy. You remember when it began as just a few pages, then stretched into chapters, before the labor pains came of conflicts, climax, and resolution. Now, who would you entrust with something so dear to your heart to tell you it was the most magnificent thing they’ve read, perhaps since Wuthering Heights. Of course, your mom and Aunt Frieda! And, wouldn’t you know it, they do love it. After four thumbs up, you think you can take it to press. But, wait, maybe your mom and Aunt Frieda aren’t enough. Maybe you need a few more beta testers. Ones that aren’t biologically linked to you. So, you find a few people at your work. Throw them a copy and tell them to hold nothing back. You wait. A few grueling weeks after you checking in daily on their progress and they give you word that it’s a great story. Fine. Just what you wanted to hear. Now to the next step; Querytracker. A writer’s best resource for finding an agent.

You locate the site, do your research, and find the second top five agents you’d want to query. You know to reserve the first five for whatever you have to change with the comments of the second best five. So, you do your research, write and re-write your query, add in a few sprinkles of personality that you aren’t indeed a robot, and send it over. Now, it’s time to burn up the refresh button on your computer and/or phone. You unsubscribe to all the retail sites, just so your phone doesn’t ‘ding’ for false positive results of a query response, and wait. And, wait.

Finally, you get it. Actually, you don’t even have to open the email. You see enough of the message on the screen not to have to injure yourself any further with opening it up full page…”Not for me.”

“Not for me?” That’s it? What exactly was it? The premise, the character description, the name of the hero that would eventually save the day? What is not for them?

You wait…there’s another query response. “…it’s a subjective business, and I just didn’t like it.” Okay, it didn’t exactly say that, but that’s what I read into it. And, I appreciate it. Yeah, it is a subjective business. Not everyone likes things that other people like. So, you didn’t like it. It’s a little better than “not for me.”

So, you don’t hear anything from the other three agents and you get to work on re-writing your query and/or your first five pages of your manuscript. You send out the fresh words to five more lucky contestants. But, wait, you want to up the ante. It’s becoming less personal and more like a crap shoot. Anyway, you want more feedback…so, you send it to ten more. And, wait.

Finally, a winner! Not actually that someone wants you under contract, but someone takes the time and writes exactly what your problem is. Hallelujah!  Now, you’ve got something. They tell you that you’re telling and not showing enough, or that you try and explain too much. Now, you can work with that. And, you do. You go right to work and spend the next few weeks re-tweaking the first fifty pages. You even pay a freelance editor to double check your work.

You pick a few more agents, hoping that you could reel back the other submissions and change them first, and send out the new and improved. Afterwards, it might be that you get a partial or two with the changes. Something that keeps the ventilator pumping air into your lungs. But, nothing else. It goes no further.

In the end, you feel you did things by the book. You wrote a manuscript that passed the likes of both friends and strangers alike, you researched the market, formulated the right agent for your genre, and read up on the etiquette for querying. After all, it’s something of a mafia. You can’t ever email them back about the rejection, ask questions about improving, and you can’t re-query when you’ve made the appropriate changes.

So, you push the blue-eyed, blushing baby, that everyone gushed over and told you would go to the best seller’s list, back into the drawer and sharpen your pen for the next one. You continue to write because you have to. But, still you wonder…am I the Anne Frank of my genre and someone will one day see the injustice. Or, am I the American Idol contestant that should’ve stayed singing in the shower and not come to auditions.