Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Human Moments and the State of the Desk

The State of the Desk: Thank goodness Athena is here to watch over it all. Lots of post-its, manuscripts, and endless emails coming in, which I am, indeed, thankful for--emails mean that people are stepping up to volunteer! :)
So, I've been creeping around behind-the-scenes here, and thought I would mention the creeping things.

I'm querying. Which feels a lot like I might be walking around with broccoli in my teeth (from the crepe I had with @Annastanisz last night), and nobody is telling me. But I know that can't be true. You guys would tell me. Right?!

I'm filling volunteer positions for the Spring NE-SCBWI conference. I'm even singing about it. (Don't worry, twitter isn't wired for sound...yet.) You can follow along on twitter (@HeatherGKelly) and #nescbwi, or check out the full version here.

I went to Jodi Meadow's book launch for ASUNDER at Brookline Booksmith. I was so distracted by the above tasks that I was at the launch a full two minutes before I realized that Jodi had written INCARNATE which I had read and loved. Then I was even happier to be there.  I know, #ICanBeSoDense and I promise, #ImNotACompleteFlake. I'm just having a lot of human moments right now. Would love to have more superwomen moments, though. Loved talking with @ACGaughen at the launch. I think she's all kinds of awesome.

Then I caught up with the fabulous @KristineAsselin, @AnshaKotyk, @Kiperoo, and met a couple other awesome kidlitters like @Lena_Goldfinch at Kris's fabulous meet-up. If you live in New England, check out the date of the next one in Kris's sidebar. There were not enough hours in the night to get all the talking done. (Well, there might have been enough hours, but we chose to go home and sleep through some of those.)

Phew. Lots of fun stuff this week.

So, is your desk any less post-it-y than mine? Have you gotten out for a bit of community during this long winter? What has been your flakiest moment this week? Maybe I'll give out an award. :)

To everyone attending the NY SCBWI conference this weekend: Have fun!!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How My Characters Would Query, and How Superman Sleds

Querying is an odd beast.

I send off e-mails, not knowing if they are even received (or are victim to the Spam Bot), and wait for a reply, not knowing if I will get one. I don't even know if the agent I queried is ever going to see my e-mail--I understand that some agents use interns to weed the in-box out.

I'm working over-time to put myself in the shoes of the agents, to understand why the system is what it is, but at the same time, some days I feel like I'm giving away my power.

Everyone copes differently with stress. Some queriers openly rage against the system. Some quietly hide the stress. Some do what is recommended and work on the next thing. Some alternate between all of the above.

Right now, I'm thinking about what my main characters would do:

Pete would create to-do lists to keep him on track. He would look at the puzzle of how to get an agent from all sides and come up with concrete, but out-of-the-box solutions. He would stay steadfast, systematic, and ignore the feelings of powerlessness.

Jeze would jump right in and pretend to bold and un-crushable. She would hide her insecurities behind attitude and blow through emailing agents like a bull in a china shop. She would face her fears unquestionably and query all the scariest agents first. :)

So, how am I doing it? I think I'm combining the two. I'm definitely ignoring the feelings, and some days, ignoring the fact that I am even querying. I am making lists and doing research, but I am also jumping out there. I'm probably making a bunch of mistakes. You know, because I'm human and just a little stressed about being vulnerable.

I am being methodical, but also pretending to be bold. I'm hoping the combination works for me.

I'm doing the hard work.

And rushing out there. 
I admit, the risk of querying can be a rush. :) Clearly, just sitting on the sled isn't enough thrill for Superman. 

And, if it doesn't work, there is always the next book. :)

How would your characters query? How do you?

We're going to be sledding until there's no more snow on the ground. :) Are you enjoying winter?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Writing Rites of Passage

Wow, it's been a while. Since I've talked on the blog, anyway. I've thrown up a few TED talks, but those posts are more about sharing other people's ideas.

I have been in a major time of transition--finishing a novel and starting to query. Yup, I've started to put my work out there.

So, I haven't been using this platform as a voice recently. But I've also been busy on other (writing) fronts--finding office space and doing work for the NESCBWI conference. I'm sure I'll talk more about those things soon.

Right now I'm trying to decide what to work on while waiting for query responses. I have so many projects in various forms of completion, since I have been doing this writing novels thing for such a good long time. I might work on a MG contemporary fantasy, a tween contemporary fantasy, a YA cyber thriller, or a YA humorous contemporary (an almost spy novel). I think I'm leaning toward the YA cyber thriller, since the novel I'm querying is a YA urban-futuristic-psych thriller. Sounds awesome, doesn't it? :) And, no, I don't call it that in my query. :P

And, I don't know if the novel that I'm querying will land me an agent. There's just so much out of my control. But as far as my evolution as a writer, I believe I'm there.

Here's my know-you're-ready-for-an-agent checklist:

Made a complete fool out of myself in front of an agent at a conference. Check. I know, most of the time I seem relatively put-together when you meet me in person. But, boy, occasionally the wallflower in me comes out, and I can't string together actual words into coherent sentences. It's a rite of passage. :) I hope.

Toted my kids to writer events all over the state. Check. Their response now is, "You mean, we have to meet ANOTHER writer?" The honeymoon is definitely over. Except, of course, for this chick, who continues to have rock-star status at our house.

Revised my philosophy into: Butt-in-chair no matter how I feel about the current project, shoot for the stars and believe they're reachable, but understand that there is so much about this career choice that I have no control over. Know that rejections don't make me any less of a writer but sometimes can help me become more of a writer. Check.  Not that I have such a rosy attitude every single day, but even when I don't, I still do the writing.

Have cheerleaders (a.k.a. crit partners) from every walk of the writing spectrum. Check. There is nothing like having a published author point out that you learned a comma rule incorrectly and need to go back and relearn. So embarrassing. I tell myself that most people have a quirk like this that they have to rectify. We're all human. :) We all have bad (writing) habits.

Decided not to give up on my writing career, multiple times. Check. Although, I don't know how much power I have over this. No matter what conscious decisions I make, I always end up writing. Call it a compulsion. Plus, I don't know how to make cherry pie. Yup, I'm shameless. I linked to my own blog post. But reading about how L'Engle was rejected for an entire decade before anything of hers was published is so heartwarming. (Or maybe not--depends on perspective!)

So, does you're I'm-ready checklist look anything like mine?

How do you survive querying? How did you snag your agent? If you are an agent, what kind of check-list do you look for in your clients?

Happy New Year, everyone!