Making It Official…

This is one week late, but I’m just surfacing from the mind masher that is revisions. (There’s something cathartic about thinking that hard, but it’s also probably good — at least for my family — that I come up for air.)

Anyway, amid all the deep thinking that went on last week was the signing of THE CONTRACT!*

* A very important document that makes it legally difficult for Tricia to run away screaming when I pitch her my next manuscript idea: Swamp Chickens That Are Secretly Pulling the Strings of the Global Economy.

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You may not know this, but it’s very important to have your peanut butter toast close at hand when signing any contract. Ethan can tell you that.

You might wonder: why is your toddler there, too? Well, as any stay-at-home-mama/writer can tell you, every single word written is connected to your child: their sleep schedule, their love for the PBS show, Sid the Science Kid, their ability to quietly open both the flour and sugar canisters in the kitchen and amuse themselves for hours…

So, really this was like a team effort.

Also, he’s always there.*

     *which is fine because, if you haven’t noticed, he’s super cute.

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Go Team!

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Ethan signed his own contract, too. I think it said something about unlimited access to the flour and sugar canisters.

It all adds up to a big WAHOOOOO!!!

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June 12, 2012 · 6:53 am

An Agent Like the Death Star — But Not Evil (More Like Mind-Blowingly Fabulous)

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, an aspiring writer sent her first query letter. It was November 1st, 2010, the day she had circled on her calendar because it was: The Day to Start Querying The Book. She had revised the query countless times and read and reread it for typos. It was the culmination of months of work, and she knew any mistake would squander the opportunity. She finally added a subject and the recipient’s e-mail address — and pressed the fateful SEND button.

Only to realize a few moments later, she had spelled something wrong.

The title of her book in the subject of the e-mail.

The freakin’ title of her book in the freakin’ subject of the e-mail.

She wasn’t the type to swear — especially not loudly — but there are always exceptions to every rule.

The rejection came just a few hours later.

***

When horrible things happen, the mind is often merciful and blocks them out. It’s a wonderful thing really. That is why I can categorically deny that I have any connection to that silly, silly, young aspiring writer. None at all.

Exactly one year after that silly writer sent that infamous query, I started in on a NaNoWriMo idea I had gotten a few days earlier. I was calling it Sciencetastic SuperGirls, and I had begun getting a tad excited about SuperThis and SuperThat. In fact, the day before (Halloween) had looked something like this…

SuperMama + SuperEthan

I only got the first half of the story written during NaNo because I got two R&Rs on an earlier book I was querying, and I dove into that work instead. When I finished up the R&Rs at the beginning of January, I reopened that NaNo file and read what I had written. And I really liked it. Really really liked it. My New Year’s resolution was to make sure I didn’t query this project too soon.

Fast-forward to April. The Nano idea had been finished, revised, beta-ed, revised more, and polished to a shine. And I finally gave myself permission to enter a contest (for feedback, I told myself — just for feedback!) I entered Miss Snark’s First Victim’s Secret Agent Contest. And I got great feedback, both from the other participants as well as the secret agent, who happened to be super insightful about each person’s entry.

And then I ended up as one of the winners — and the prize was a full manuscript request.

WAHOO!

I started querying the next day.

Good times, right? Easy street!

Not quite.

One month later I was in another contest, The Writer’s Voice, with the awesome Cupid as a coach. It was another fabulous opportunity for feedback, particularly from my amazing #TeamCupidsLC teammates. Which was great because my entry didn’t generate a single request for pages. Not a one.

I was down in the dumps the morning after that contest, but I told myself that this book was so much better than my last one and that the query was fully vetted. (And my fabulous critique partner, Tara Dairman, made sure I didn’t forget it!) I just needed to keep sending queries. So I did.

Then, at the end of that day, I got an e-mail that I was completely terrified to open. It wasn’t a response to a recent query. It was a response to the full I had sent a month ago to the Secret Agent.

***

This is a really long post. Should I break it into two and save the rest for tomorrow?

What would a good blogger do?

Oh, I’m such a sucker… here’s the rest…

But first, you better put on one of these awesome shirts, courtesy of the Best Twitter Cheerleader Ever, Leigh Ann Kopans.

***

In the e-mail were three words: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. There were other words, too, but who reads those e-mails in a coherent way? And most importantly, there were no sightings of that dreaded word: unfortunately.

A few days later, I got off the phone amazed to find myself with an offer from an agent. And not just any agent — one who I already felt I could trust implicitly, one who loved my book and who loved my ideas for future books, and one who just happened to be part of the agency I had been salivating over since the beginning — since even before that silly young writer sent that first stupid query out into the world.

The next week had a flurry of new requests and a competing offer from a much beloved agent  — but it was like the initial offering agent was the Death Star, sucking me in with her tractor beam of awesome.

Like this…

Except, as I said, she’s awesome, not evil — so it’s better to imagine the Death Star as a Vat of Chocolate. Like this…

The Awesome Version of the Death Star* **

*It should be noted that I once worked in a chocolate factory, and I can testify that chocolate vats such as these look (and smell) just as good in person.

** It should also be noted that I never NEVER dipped a mug into said chocolate vat to determine whether it tastes just as good. Only silly, silly young aspiring writers would do something like that.

Anyway, that silly, silly, young writer and I are proud to announce that we are now represented by the…

(drumroll)

Fabulous

(fireworks)

Brilliant

(phasers set to confetti)

Tricia Lawrence of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency!!!!!!!

Which is basically the equivalent of getting to leap like a banshee into that vat of chocolate.

Something NEITHER of us have ever done.

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More Wordle Fun

For the sake of pure amusement and geekdom, here is a Wordle based on the character names mentioned in the 200 Writer’s Voice entries.

Wordle: lots of character names

Fascinating, eh?

I should stop now because I promised I would only do four blog posts a year, and I’m already up to my quota.

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The Word on Trends — from Wordle

So, after being totally blown away by the quality (and number) of entries at The Writer’s Voice contest, I joined Kip Rechea (http://kiperoo.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/stats-from-thewritersvoice/) in her heroic quest to analyze the entries. At least for me, there’s nothing like some good number crunching to distract one from twitter-stalking the judges.

Kip posted an excellent break-down of the 200 entries’ genres earlier today (see above link) with some oh-so-satisfying graphs, so I thought I’d venture into slightly less scientific territory: trends.

And here (in an appropriately less scientific display) is the Wordle with the results of what I found.

Wordle: trends in submissions

Not every entry is represented, but if there was a key ingredient to an entry’s plot (that also happened to be key to another entry’s plot) it got recorded and funneled into the magical Wordle website. (If you’re not familiar with Wordle, the size of the word or phrase represents its frequency.)

And stay-tuned: I think we’re going to be able to churn out a Wordle of all the characters names alphabetized!! How’s that for geeking it up in style?

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The Writer’s Voice


Contests are a great way to get feedback from other writers and sometimes even from agents. I’m a big contest fan, so I’m going to try to get into the Writer’s Voice competition that’s being hosted by four amazing authors.

Here’s my entry…

Query:

Dear Agent,

When a substitute teacher starts ranting about how dark energy is ripping the universe apart, 12-year-old Julia Veltman knows to write him off as a wackadoodle. She is, after all, one of the four members of the Sciencetastic SuperGirls after-school club and knows a thing or two about science. Unfortunately, Julia discovers dark energy actually makes up a whopping 73% of the universe, and with the twitchy sub now refusing to share anything else, the SuperGirls have to go all superspy to find out more.

After several elaborate plans involving dental floss, lip gloss, and an elevator in the most unexpected place, the SuperGirls discover a secret, dark energy-detecting, underground super collider, run by none other than Julia’s physicist parents. Which would be wicked awesome, if it didn’t mean that Julia’s parents have been lying to her for half her life. And not only are her parents just days away from announcing some earth-shattering discovery, but there’s an army of ninjas about to kidnap Julia in order to stop them. What the ninjas don’t know is that Julia’s not the kind of girl who will quietly sit tied up in a closet – and the other Sciencetastic SuperGirls sure aren’t about to let some dudes in black stand between them and one of their own.

Complete at 63,000 words, SCIENCETASTIC SUPERGIRLS is a standalone upper middle grade novel with series potential.

First 250 words:

I’m pretty sure nobody’s ever gotten good news from a man with twitching eyebrows. So when our English teacher disappears for an emergency appendectomy and the new sub Mr. Trolp appears at the lectern, eyebrows all a-wiggle, I’m not expecting him to start handing out cookies.

Of course, I’d likely get the first cookie if he did – because he’s staring right at me.

“You never know who’ll be out to get you in life.”

Right. No cookie from this guy.

“You’ve got to stay on your guard, always checking behind you.”

OK, so we’ve found ourselves a sub loonier than the lady who walked on tiptoes and only talked about leprechauns. Because it’s not just his eyebrows – his left hand is twitching, too. Maybe he got bit by a rabid spider. Maybe he’s becoming a rabid spider.

I glance at Tessa, ready for a satisfying eyebrow raise, but she’s hidden beneath her black softball sweatshirt in her classic pose – hood up, head on desk – and is probably sound asleep. Wonderful.

Back at the lectern, Mr. Trolp’s mouth twists like he has to chew each word before it comes out. “It could happen anytime – next Tuesday, for example – when you think everything is going fine.”

Jeff Harkiss tips back in his chair, his hat perched on top of his head so he can claim he’s not actually wearing it. “Just start the DVD, dude.”

There’s always a first time to agree with Jeff Harkiss.

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This blog will not follow the rules.

There will not be fresh, new, snazzy blog posts three times a week.

There won’t even be new posts three times a month.

This is going to be a very bad blog.

I am not a blogger by nature, but occasionally there are things that I want to proclaim across the Internets that are longer than a tweet (hopefully not just more elaborate descriptions of how my toddler son has mopped the whole kitchen, but I can’t promise anything.)

I’m imagining one blog post per season, or four a year — kind of like property tax payments.

So, it’s probably not worth clicking the follow button at the bottom of the page.

Unless, when the next post shows up three months from now, you think you’d get a kick out of squinting at the entry in your Google Reader and thinking, “When did I sign up for THAT” and “What kind of name is Bedichek??”  You know, it could be like finding a dollar in the back pocket of a pair of jeans you haven’t worn for a year. So, if you’re into that kind of thing, by all means: follow away!

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