Beware

A recent incident shocked me enough to realize that I need to remind any aspiring authors reading this to make SURE you vet the information you’re getting before launching into a plan of action for conferences and/or submissions. Sometimes we accept the advice of well-meaning but misinformed people without knowing they are misinformed. It always pays to check for yourself.

While you’d think it wouldn’t need to be said, here are some things you do NOT want to do:

1. Do NOT stalk editors and/or agents. Planning your time so you can “bump” into someone, and then refusing to go away, is not the correct course of action. Of course you need to be prepared, because there will be those elevator meetings sometimes, but don’t haunt the restroom door in the hopes of running into someone. Or the buffet line.

2. Do NOT misspell names on your query. Names are kind of unforgivable since you should be able to check and double check the correct spelling — especially if you’ve gotten a business card from the individual. I once got a letter from a utility company that referred to me as Mrs. Barris. Jarring. And if you want to compare yourself to another author, use caution — don’t say J.R. Rawling when you mean J.K. Rowling.

(Seriously, this should be obvious, but you’d be surprised.)

3. Do NOT take as gospel every word said by the woman sitting next to you at your RWA chapter meeting — even if she does seem to know a lot. If you’re a PRO member, download those PRO booklets and read, read, read. Then ask questions of published authors (or experienced PROs) you TRUST to give you good advice. Check and double check, because if someone tells you to stand outside the restroom door or linger in the buffet line looking for a publishing professional, it’s probably not the best advice.

(I did once listen to something someone told me when I was very green, even though my gut told me otherwise. The result was a rejection, of course. This was a long time ago, and believe me I learned.)

4. Do NOT send the same query for the same book to the same agent who just rejected it. Rework the query or submit somewhere else. Wish I could find the link, but I read a post last week about someone who kept submitting a query for an adult novel (not that kind of adult!) to a children’s book agent. She finally got frustrated and wrote back telling him to stop because she didn’t represent that type of book, which she had politely tried to tell him over the last several months. His reply? That she was an agent and therefore he would keep querying her because it was his job to query agents about his book. Talk about clueless! And, oh yeah, agents know each other. You can bet his name is now making a viral loop through Agentland as we speak. And not in a positive way.

5. Do NOT think you know it all. I’ve met these people and it’s frustrating as heck. I know I don’t know everything, but I’m pretty sure this stuff I just said is true. But you be sure and double check it before listening to me, you hear?

What kind of crazy advice have you ever gotten? Good advice? What sort of horrible hi-jinks have you seen at conferences? We’ve all heard the manuscript under the door story, but have you ever seen its equivalent? Thankfully, I haven’t, but I know at least one person who I think would do it. Sadly, some people don’t listen.

Now what?

I just finished the proposal for Book 3 and sent it to my agent. And now I’m at loose ends. Not entirely at loose ends, since I need to write the rest of the book, but loose enough for a couple of days while I think about what comes next. It’s an odd and happy feeling. Odd because I’ve been non-stop for awhile now. Happy because I have some time to breathe. I told the hubby last night that I could actually cook a real dinner for us now!

We’ve been having expedient things, like crock pot items, Lean Cuisines, and soup. I could make something — spaghetti and meatballs? Jambalaya? Meatloaf? The possibilities are endless.

I can also go to the store and buy groceries. I’ve been putting that off for a while. And then there are the dreaded taxes that still need to be done, and doctors appointments I need to make. There’s also that little matter of weight loss I was working on and got side-tracked with when I had to plant my butt in the chair day after day. It’s seriously time to get back onto the treadmill.

Oh, and television! I haven’t watched anything in forever, it seems. But I feel guilty, really, because I feel like I’m supposed to be working. And I know I will be again very soon, so I guess I should try and enjoy myself while I have a few moments.

Do you feel lost at the end of projects? When you finish a writing project, do you dive into the next one or take a break?

PS I’m participating in another eHarlequin guessing game! Guess the Bookshelf is going on right now! Pop over and see if you can figure out which bookshelves belongs to which author….(it’s kind of hard, I think!).

Things I hate

1. Synopsis writing. Seriously, it sucks.

2. Why? Because I don’t KNOW what happens yet, darn it!

3. Wrote a synopsis for new book. Hate it. Book will not even remotely resemble synopsis. I know this from two books written for an editor now. Thankfully, she didn’t freak out either time.

4. Writing a synopsis, even when I won’t follow it, crushes down on my enthusiasm for the story like Dorothy’s house on the wicked witch.

5. Must get over this and write story anyway.

6. Proposal nearly done, in spite of traumatic encounter with evil synopsisaurus.

Got any tricks for the synopsis? Any tricks for tricking yourself while writing it? Do you follow it once you’ve slaved over it? I used to try, but that only made things worse, so now I figure it’s kind of like Captain Barbossa and the pirate code — guidelines to be followed when convenient or expedient. Or to be tossed aside when something better comes along. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sleep

Do you get a lot of it? Because I don’t seem to lately. I go to bed at a reasonable hour (sort of) and then I lay awake thinking about what I need to do, what I want to do, and what is going to happen. Not a lot of fun to be tired and have your mind race.

When morning rolls around, the hubby gets up for work. And I can’t help but get up with him. Right now, his parents are visiting. And there’s a whole relationship with coffee that I thought I understood but apparently don’t. I love my coffee in the morning, don’t get me wrong.

But my FIL is SO worried about it, like I’m going to oversleep and he will have to sit there without it for hours on end, that I make sure I get up and put a pot on. I just can’t listen to the endless questions every night — “Will you make coffee in the morning?” or “Is there going to be coffee in the morning?” or “Are you making coffee?”

As IF.

So, even if I haven’t slept well, I have to get up and make the coffee. Add in the stress of revisions, submissions, and waiting for news and you have an insomniac writer. Guess I could work on the next book idea…..

Do you have trouble sleeping? What do you do for it? Do you have a crazy FIL who obsesses about coffee? Let’s talk. Just wake me up if I’m dozing….

Anxiety

There is a sense when you’ve turned in a book that everything is about to fall apart. Or at least that’s how I feel. I know this is normal. All my writer friends tell me so. Published authors still get worried about what their editor will think when the manuscript is turned in. (It goes without saying that unpublished writers are anxious when they send out books!)

Anxiety: A state of uneasiness and apprehension, as about future uncertainties.

This is my state today. I’m in that no man’s land between having turned in the book, waiting for the response, wondering whether to work on something else, and just thinking I ought to climb into bed and pull the covers over my head.

Anxiety comes with symptoms, among them headaches, nausea, insomnia, trembling, pacing, inability to concentrate, etc. There are many, many symptoms. Mine consist of the nausea, insomnia, and restlessness mostly. The headache is always an option with me. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve pretty much decided this is part of the writerly state, part and parcel with the job. Every job has its stressors; I’m experiencing mine now. The book is gone and there’s nothing I can do but worry about it.

Anything making you anxious today? Any anxiety remedies?

Embarrassing tales from the submission files

Hubby went fishing this weekend, so I decided to write a query letter to an agent who takes e-queries. I spent hours composing the perfect letter. I read it so many times I could recite it. I looked at every nuance, every word, searching for perfection. I revised it a few times. I opened with why I was querying said agent, launched into my book, and closed with awards, requests, etc.

Finally, when I was completely and totally convinced I’d written the most wonderful, most fabulous, most amazing query in the history of querying, I hit the send button. And then I was so happy I reread my letter a couple more times, imagining what the agent would think when she received it. How could she not like it? I hit all the right notes, read her guidelines carefully, and tailored my letter specifically. Yay me!

Natually, I went to bed happy and proud that I’d sent out my first agent query. This morning, still awash in happiness, I decided to reread my letter again.

And there it was — a typo. A dropped ‘r’ within the first two lines. A ‘you’ that should have been a ‘your’. And I felt like Charles I of England — for want of a nail the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lost, for want of a horse the crown was lost, etc. ARGH!!!

Oh yes, I am an idiot. In spite of my diligence, careful composure, and obsessive proof-reading, I have managed to commit the cardinal sin of sending a letter to an agent in which she will think I am careless and inattentive to detail. After about an hour of grumbling, I decided to get over it. What am I going to do? Send her another query in which I explain I had a minor typo so I’m resending? Send a brief note telling her I know I have a typo and I’m sorry?

No, none of the above. I’m going to wait, cringing with embarrassment each time I open my email, and see what happens. If she rejects me, I’ll get over it. If she requests more in spite of the glitch, I’ll happily comply. The bottom line is, stuff happens. It’s embarrassing because it’s so stupid. It could have been avoided if I’d begged a friend to read the letter for me. But I didn’t because the book pitch portion has been vetted and I was satisfied with it. I was merely composing a letter around the pitch, right?

DUH. I do believe my stylist bleached my brain on Thursday when he did my highlights.

Do you have any embarrassing tales from the submission files? Any glitches that worked out anyway? Do share! Join me in my hall of shame. ๐Ÿ™‚