Archive for September, 2011

1.1 mil and counting (or what I’ve been writing)

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

So what have I written, you might ask. Lots of stuff, I would answer.

I started writing in January 2010 and the words come quite easily. Up until then, I didn’t know what to write about but I had these characters in my head and started getting their story down. One led to another then another… Those were all contemporary adult, as opposed to what I’m concentrating on now, which is young adult.

To date, I’ve written over 1,100,000 words. That’s in eighteen stories. I can’t claim they’re all great, but I must have something in there that could be published.

Seven are contemporary fiction (for adults). The rest are contemporary young adult.

Of the twelve young adult…

One is 98% complete, last minute editing (Frosty)

Three are 100% complete, not including editing

Four are maybe 90-95% complete (I just have to add minor stories to develop characters better. I have those ideas, just need to find the time to write.)

Two are at maybe 75% complete (I have the stories again, just not the time to finish yet.)

One is 65% complete (Put on hold long ago because of lack of enthusiasm and other ideas that popped up.)

I am working on one more now that is probably 60% complete and I have no doubt that I have enough material to finish it out.

I haven’t had to deal with writer’s block much. Sometimes I have to think a little more about the minor
storylines, but eventually it comes. Luckily, it’s been fairly easy.

So that’s where I’m at right now. My problem is, which do I pick next. I need to figure this out so I can get going with the editing so that if Frosty doesn’t work, I’ll have the next one ready to go when I decide to stop querying.

And that editing process takes a long time.

Reading is important too

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

One of the things “they” say you should do to become a better writer is to read, read, read. And of course you should read in the genre for which you are writing. That means for me, young adult.

Last summer I started reading contemporary ya books and since then, I’ve read more books in one year than I had read the first six years of Lincoln’s life.

Seventy plus books in one year, 90% of which are young adult. Sounds impressive. But you have to remember that ya books are shorter than adult novels, on average, maybe 40,000 to 60,000 words. And when I get a small, squat book with large text, I know the word count is not high.

I’ve found that reading on the treadmill works great. Unless you like to run. But since I don’t, I can walk fast and read at the same time. So with 45 minutes of reading time a day, a typical book might take 3-5 days.

I am going to keep a list of what I’m reading, and probably refer to it in my posts. I won’t go back and write down all 70+ books, but I’ll start with the ones since I started blogging.

And if anyone needs any recommendations on ya books for their teens, I can surely give you some good ones. It might take me a few days to look over my list, but I could find exactly what you might want (in contemporary ya, once again).

I wish I had started keeping track of books I’ve read back in my teenage years. I have one good friend who is doing this now. Lyz from http://moderndayjane.areavoices.com/. She actually writes a little summary so she can remember easier what it is about. It’s a great idea, but I figured I don’t want to start now in my late thirties. If I had started way back when…

It would just be interesting to see what I was reading back in high school. Oh well.

What I’m reading: The Education of Hailey Kendrick by Eileen Cook
What I’m writing: a new story

Oh really

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

I generally won’t post funny things my kids say, I like to save that for Facebook. But I’m going to give Miranda a post since it relates to books.

As we were at the bmx park watching Lincoln ride his bike on the track, 4 year old Miranda says to me, “I know a lot about motorcycles. I have a whole collection of books in my room.”

This is a bit of a surprise to me. As the only book I can think of was Fish and Flips, which by the way is from my stash of beloved Sweet Pickles books. (Fish does daring tricks on her motorcycle.)

But a collection. Really?

As a good mom, I smiled and nodded.

Why Literary Engineer

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Because it sounds cool.

Engineers often don’t like when people call themselves a “blank engineer” if that person doesn’t hold the degree. For instance, maintenance engineer (janitor) or computer engineer (software designer). You should have an engineering degree to call yourself an engineer. Of course people without that degree do engineering work all the time and are often times qualified by experience. But they shouldn’t call themselves an engineer. (Of course this doesn’t apply for an engineer on a train).

And since literary isn’t a type of engineering, hopefully nobody is insulted that I called myself a literary engineer. If so, oh well.

I am, by the way, a licensed professional civil engineer. For those who don’t know, civil engineers design bridges, roads, buildings, sewer and water systems and much more. Civil engineering is broken down into many categories. A few are: environmental, structural, geological, transportation, water resources, construction… you get the picture.

I just call myself a civil engineer. But if I had to classify it, I’d say I’ve mostly been a municipal engineer. That means I worked on all types of infrastructure projects: road and parking lot design, water and sewer systems.

These are some of the definitions according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.
Literary: Of or relating to books
Engineer: A person who carries through an enterprise by skillful or artful contrivance

So literary engineer may be a stretch, but it works.

I am building stories (literature). And one day I hope to hold in my hand, the novel(s) I wrote. I imagine I would feel the same satisfaction as when I see something I designed being built and then used by the general public.

I haven’t worked on as many projects since Lincoln’s been born, but I will continue to remind my kids, “Hey, see that turn lane over there. I designed that.” Or, “I worked on that parking lot over there.”

Maybe it’s kind of silly, but it’s still cool to know that I had a part of those things.

What are my chances

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

What are my chances of being published?

Unfortunately, not very good. I’ve looked on the web and it seems that about 97-99% of queries are rejected. So if an literary agent receives 50 queries a day, only 1-2 might pique their interest. (MIGHT)

For those 1-2 queries they liked, they may request a manuscript. But that doesn’t mean they’re signing you on yet. They have to read it. Figure out how much editing/rewriting is involved and then I assume they do some research about if they think it’ll sell. But most of the manuscripts are rejected in the end.

Supposedly agents only take on a few new clients every year. So the chances of becoming published are very small.

Another bad thing for me. Paranormal (think Twilight) and Dystopic (think Hunger games—an imaginary dysfunctional world) are the big things right now. My writing has so far been contemporary fiction—meaning realistic. And although there are plenty of authors who write contemporary fiction, it’s not the most popular genre currently. But that’s what I’m writing and any day it could swing back the other way.

If I came up with a good paranormal young adult idea, I’d go for it. I just haven’t gotten that idea yet.

Either way, your chances of being published are tiny. Gotta keep trying though.

Coming next… Why Literary Engineer?

Querying

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Right now I am in the querying process. Querying means sending letters to literary agents, hoping to find one who will represent your work. You’re trying to hook their interest with a letter so they will ask for more and eventually want to represent you to sell your book to a publisher.

There are many rules to follow. Some seem pretty straight-forward, but I guess people have a hard time following those rules. Here are a few.

  1. Don’t send out mass queries addressed to Dear Agent (address it to them)
  2. Don’t query an agent in the wrong genre (young adult, sci fi, romance, what is it?)
  3.  Don’t talk about how you’re the next Stephen King
  4. Follow the agent’s submission guidelines

The majority of agents have websites. But for those who don’t, you can find their name/address and what they represent on searchable databases. The agents who have their own websites, always have submission guidelines.

And they are all different.

Some just want your query letter. Some want a synopsis. Some want 10 pages of the manuscript. Or 50 pages. Or 1 chapter. Or 3 chapters. Some want author’s bios. I don’t have one because I’ve never published anything.

Some want it more personalized. They like when you mention a book they represented that you admire. But more seem to not want that. They want you to get to the point—what’s your story.

Some agents say they’ll reply within a certain date. Some won’t reply at all—that is their reply. Some reply in two weeks (if you’re lucky). But more likely it’s 6-8 weeks. Some are three months.

 Some only accept snail mail submissions. Most have switched to e-mail only.

 (Apologies for my overuse of some.)

And that’s how querying works. If you’re lucky, they’ll ask to see your manuscript, but the chance of that happening is small.

 Coming next… What are my chances? (of getting published)

How I Got Here

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

I’ve always wanted to write (and publish) a book. I actually have old journals that say so. This is a direct quote. “I think it would be fun to be a writer but I don’t want to write-write. Your hand gets tired.” I guess I wasn’t into typewriters. And computers – not yet. Anybody remember Oregon Trail? That’s about the most computer usuage we got way back then.

I have notebooks full of fun stuff like this. They are filled with pages of things like…

1. Song lyrics (Oh how I wished I had elyrics.net back then.)

2. My school schedules

3. Lists of favorites

4. Things I did

5. Clothes I wore (No. I wasn’t that vain, but I guess it was important  not to wear the same outfit too often.)

These notebooks came in handy with one of the stories I’ve written. But save that for another time.

I have many stories I started (writing by hand) from junior high. Including my Sweet Valley High knockoff. (No originality, I’ll admit it). I don’t know when I quit writing or why. I never gave up reading, although it went on hiatus while my children were babies.

Fast forward a few years after college. I started another story, but got stuck because I needed to do a lot of research on the Renaissance period.

Fast forward to January 2010. The words were floating in my head, so I finally decided to get them down. I wrote six stories (adult-chick lit maybe), but I also need to do research and take a trip to where they take place. So they have been set aside.

Then I moved onto young adult. I love my next one, but it’s a tad on the long side and I don’t want to try push it as a first time writer.

Fast forward to the current novel, Frosty. I am currently querying literary agents, whose job it is to sell my book to a publishing house. And I’ll save that for the next post.

Welcome

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

Welcome to my blog. I decided to get into the blogging world for one big reason. I am trying to become a published writer and…

1. Social media is very important to the publishing world.

2. Most people know little about the publishing process. Or rather, the attempting-to-get-published process. I have been learning a lot lately and want to share my experiences.

So here goes…