The I-Got-An-Agent Post

Yep, I did it. And it only took…well, if you want to know exactly what it took, give a read to my story over on the Muffin today.

And yet…there’s a little bit of me that feels like Julie in The Sound of Music when she leaves the comfort of her old life to go out in the big, wide world to face whatever’s in store for her in her new life. In fact, I believe I shall sing along with Julie right now. Come join me! A little bit of “I Have Confidence” is good for all of us, right?

What Not To Do Wednesday on Proofreading

ImageI used Grammarly to grammar check this post because sometimes, even a grammar geek like me (or is it I?) could use a proofreading hand.

So, grasshopper, we meet again.

I really hoped we would not meet again. Hoped that I had, finally, exhausted all the What Not To Do’s which one writer could actually manage to do. But alas, such was not the case.

It began with an email, an email that was, in fact, a query to an agent. So you can see that right from the get-go, this was a terribly important email. Because when one is querying, what one is really doing is trying to convince an agent to say, “Yes! Yes! A thousand times, yes! You are the one for me! Send me your manuscript immediately!”

One might even settle for, “Well, possibly you are the one for me. Send me a bit more of your manuscript and we shall see.”

But I think it goes without saying that one wants to send his or her absolute best query. Something bright and shiny and irresistible. At the very least, one wants to send a mistake-proof query. And that’s not difficult, grasshopper, is it? Not when one proofreads an email ten times before sending it.

Except that when one proofreads one’s work, over and over and over again, one might get so used to seeing the same mistake that one doesn’t actually “see” it at all. One might just hit “send” and whoosh! Out rockets the email with an egregious mistake.

Perhaps it’s a glaring grammatical error. Maybe it’s a misspelled word, or a misplaced modifier. Possibly (and I’m not admitting to anything here), it’s the name of two of the characters in your book but you have changed their names several times so that when you send the query the names might be A and B, but in the synopsis following the query, they are C and D.

Sometimes, grasshopper, you need another pair of eyes to proofread and find those egregious mistakes, especially when one is querying.

In writing a query, as in life, you only have one chance to make a first impression. Better make it a good one.

P.S. On this particular post, I scored a 91 out of 100 when I grammar checked on Grammarly. I also checked the afore-mentioned query/synopsis email, just to see if, say, a name snafu would be flagged (They were names with unusual spellings.). It was—along with a comma that didn’t belong in the OPENING sentence.

So, grasshopper, I suppose I can either write a blog post with my query and synopsis and hope that an agent reads it—or use Grammarly to proofread before I hit “send.”

Tuesday Writing Tips: Here, There, and Everywhere

So we’re skidding  into the last days of November, scrambling to finish what we started, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, back on the first days of November.

If you’re participating in NaNo, I hope your words have been many and mostly making sense. I completely forgot to mention my guest post over at Agent Courtney’s blog, but it’s not too late for you take a tip from that timely post.

I’m caught up (just!) for Picture Book Idea Month and I am not going to lie–I have been looking out the window practically every day to find an idea. So there are an inordinate number of picture books featuring squirrels, dogs, joggers, leaves falling off trees, decaying pumpkins… Well, I think you get the picture (Ugh. Sorry about that.). But honestly, there are a few gems in the file, so I stand by my tip: ideas are everywhere, if you just take a look around.

And I just zipped over to check out The Next Big Thing over at Sioux’s blog and Debra’s blog and I cannot wait to read these finished manuscripts! Not just because I really like both of these women and their writing, but also because they both came up with great synopsis lines for their works-in-progress. If you can write a great one-line synopsis of your manuscript, then you’ve got a great handle on what your book’s about. And what’s more, you know exactly how you want to pitch it to an agent or publisher.

That’s a golden writing tip, too. So take your pick of a tip–and cross that November finish line with a wow! (And maybe a whew, too!)

 

The Letter A Stands For Agent! Artsyletters! And Aw, Shucks!

So here I am, home again, home again, jiggity jig. And I will tell you all about the Rutgers One-Plus-One Conference…er, tomorrow. But today is for the Letter A (she wrote, showing off her mad rhyming skills).

Agent Courtney shared “Lies Writers Tell Themselves” from Alexander Chee, and it’s absolutely worth dashing over there for a read. And then you must leave a comment for Agent Courtney as she will do a critique contest later in the month if she gets 25 comments. And not like certain folks (Ahem) who might leave a half dozen comments to boost the count (because I already tried that and she didn’t seem too keen on the idea).

Artsyletters–you remember Robyn Hood Black’s very cool new venture?–is still offering the October discount. Don’t forget that you can order anything and get a 15% discount as long as you include CATHY2012 at the checkout. I hope she still has the artsyletter available that I want. Although to be honest, there are lots of artsyletters I like. So a person (say like the Beneficent Mr. Hall) who was searching for a birthday gift for an October birthday girl (say like Cathy C. Hall), could certainly find a delightful present.

Aw, shucks, y’all, it was nothing. (My story, The Chocolate Cake Bait, was over at knowonder! in September. Somehow, I missed the Auspicious debut, but I wanted to give a shout out to knowonder! because they offer stories every day, and maybe you know a couple little readers who might enjoy The Chocolate Cake Bait as well as lots of other fun tales. And I also wanted to let you, the Authors, know that they are closed for submissions now in order to catch up, but will be open again in January. Which gives you plenty of time to write an Awesome story.)

I think that’s about it, except to say…Ahhhh. It’s good to be home again.

 

Words of Wisdom (From The Younger But Wiser)

Lots of years ago, after a particularly bad day at school, one of the Junior Halls said to me, “Mom, I know I have a lot to learn, but why do I always have to learn it the hard way?”

I think when we learn a lesson the hard way, it tends to stick in our brains. But sometimes, we get to bypass the really crappy teachable moments because someone else has learned the hard way and is willing to share the lesson.  And so I present these two lovely folks who had sparkling blog posts this week.

Agent Rachelle Gardner (who has an awesome blog, packed with awesome information) shares her words of wisdom for those just dying to get published. Specifically, she shares that the dream of being published may be a teensy bit different from the reality. Read, learn,  and don’t say you weren’t warned.

Editor Cheryl Klein (who also has an awesome blog) shares her words of wisdom all the time. But in this particular post, she shares words of wisdom from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park,  on writing, and particularly on plotting. She’s posted these guys’ video on the discussion and even tells us where to listen and learn. Now, frankly, if Cheryl Klein is going to go to all that trouble, I’m going to pay attention.

Because it’s getting a bit old, having to learn all my lessons the hard way. Today, I’m taking the short cut (even if tomorrow, it all falls out of my brain.)