Help Me Kickstart(er) My Book!

Sorry I took a bit of a hiatus from blogging. Friday was not a good day, as I got two blue-screens-of-death on my work computer and I spent most of the day backing it up in case it decided to die once and for all (on Monday I got two unexplained shut downs, and I had to do some malware scans). Over the weekend I read the entire Hunger Games trilogy (my thoughts on it at a later date), and helped my husband with some work, and poked around an old house which will show up in my Bloodsuckers series later (research, baby!)

And then I got involved in a project which I can now share:

I have a Kickstarter project!

I want/need to have a website up and running before I publish Acceptance on October 31, 2012. If you’ve been following me for a while, you may remember that I had all kinds of character and background information for my book here on my blog. I took it down when I revamped my blog with the intention of putting it on a website (it’s just less cluttered that way).

I thought I might use a free website host until I sold some books and could afford a year’s hosting, but I wasn’t happy with what was available. Then I said, “Dumbass, use Kickstarter.”

So here’s the deal:

  • If you donate $1-$4 I’ll send you an e-copy of “The Last Golden Dragon” (Retail price $1.99)
  • If you donate $5, I’ll send you an e-copy of my book 30 days before it’s published! (Retail price $4.99)
  • For $6 or more, you’ll get both “The Last Golden Dragon” and my e-book. (Total retail price $6.98)

Also, everyone who donates will get a thanks on my blog and website and I’ll share a link of your choice, so you can get a little link promotion for your own blog or website.

My website is all but complete, and I’ll be ready to launch it as soon as my Kickstarter project is funded 2 weeks from today.

Delivery dates: “The Last Golden Dragon” will be delivered via e-mail in two weeks, as soon as the project is funded and Kickstarter releases the contact info of my backers.Acceptancewill be delivered via e-mail on or before October 1, 2012. Both will be delivered in Kindle format, but if you want it in some other form, I will be happy to convert it to Nook or Sony E-Reader or .pdf format.

If you have any questions, leave a comment.

Thanks!

Book Two: Mixed Reviews

I know I haven’t posted in a while. A lot’s been going on in my life and it’s been hair, teeth, and eyes everywhere at work more often than not. My husband read my second book and he had mixed reviews. He likes the characters and the story in general, but has a problem with Kalyn being romantically involved with someone so much older. I told him, “Anselm’s 790 years old; it’s not like she’s going to catch up to him.” He still thinks I need to go back to my first book and up her age by a year or two.

So I’m waiting for some of my female readers to read through it and give me their opinions. So far, in theory, neither is averse to this May 2009-December 1219 romance, but as my boss pointed out, women, in general, are  all about romance, and the particulars aren’t quite as important. I know I don’t really see a problem; it’s a loving, permanent relationship. Sex is incidental, not instrumental. All around, it’s a better relationship than many that older women find themselves in.

Still, I’ve put a hold on sending out query letters for a while. What if it does turn out that I need to up her age (as silly as that is; absolutely nothing about her character will change, just because she’s a year older)? I’m starting to think that I might want to wait to query until I get all three books more or less done and get feedback on them, because I can always go back and change things like someone’s age while they’re still under my control, but once published, they stay published. Then the only option, if the agent and/or publisher pitches a fit about a sexually active 16 year old, is to take that out of the second book. And then it messes up everything. Better to up her age than change the plot that dramatically.

One benefit to waiting longer to query is to let the current vampire fad die down. The market is saturated, and I know that counts against me in a major way.

So, that’s where I am now. The road to getting published is never a straight path.

Book Two, Soon in Proof

You may have noticed that my blog has grown rather quiet over the past two weeks. That’s because I’ve been engaged in the final edits of the first draft of my second book. This morning I ordered my first proof.

Why am I going forward with my second book when I don’t even have an agent for my first one? For one, I am a big believer in writing when I have an idea; if I wait, I lose the idea. If I waited however many years until my first book gets published, I might forget everything I had ever planned to do with my second and third. But, primarily, it’s easier to write than to agent-shop. My book does not reject me. In fact, I get a high over finishing it, and then I get more highs as friends and family members read it and give me feedback. Sending out queries is a very depressing activity, and there’s only so much rejection you can take before you have to stop and do something else for a while. So, while I’m waiting to get un-bummed, I might as well write books two and three.

Score!

I have been sending out queries again (total count so far is 41) and this morning someone asked for my synopsis and 50 pages!

Speaking of which, I joined AgentQuery Connect yesterday (it’s a free forum for writers) and read that a general rule of thumb is that your query letter should generate a 10-20% positive response. In other words, of all the agents you query, 10-20% of them should ask for more material. If you’re not getting that (and I wasn’t getting anywhere close to that before), your query letter is probably the problem.

Rejections

A few rejections are still trickling in from queries I sent out over a month ago.

Here’s an inspiring story, though, of a hobby inventor who, at age 84, finally got a company to pick up his invention.

I hope I’m not going to be 84 before I get published, though.

I am doing one last read-through of my book, checking the proof copy for any remaining typos and grammatical errors. My husband also insisted that I redo the gun part, because it didn’t think it was accurate. After that, though, I’m going directly to publishers.

But a part of me is thinking one last-ditch attempt with agents. I still have some I haven’t tried yet. But looking at my list of 27 rejections (or no responses), I’m feeling like throwing all caution to the wind and doing stuff with my query letter that, technically, you’re not supposed to do (I don’t think). When people ask me what my book is about, I have trouble coming up with a short answer, and I usually just resort to saying “Jewish vampires.” And people get immediately interested. I’ve had a number of people say, “I don’t care for vampires, but I think I’d try that.” And I don’t think I disappoint; a friend who says she doesn’t like vampires either broke down and read it and is now begging me to send her chapters of the second book in installments.

But my query letter does not come right out and say “Jewish vampires,” although I label Micah as Jewish (and, if you’re paying attention, you’ll know that he’s a vampire, so, obviously, he’s a Jewish vampire). But maybe that’s too sutble for the 60 seconds an agent spends reading a query letter.

So how’s this for attention-grabbing?

Vampires. They’ve been done to death, right? (And more than once, obviously.) But what if they were gun-toting Jewish vampires living in Tennessee?

Why are they in Tennessee? Because, during the War, they worked on the atomic bomb at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Then they decided Tennessee was a rather pleasant place, and they chose to stay.

Why are some of them Jewish? Because they were born that way.

Why are they toting guns? Because there’s a new type of vampire on the loose, seemingly intent on killing all of them and their human servants.

“Accepted” follows the small group of vampires and humans in Tennessee. Kalyn is a star student in her junior class, a cheerleader, and just sixteen when she takes her place as an adult among the vampires’ human servants. She is placed in the care and tutelage of Anselm—a man she has been crazy about most of her life. He is an 800-year-old vampire who is introverted, perfectionist, and rather fond of Monty Python. Under normal circumstances, the only excitement in his life comes from his adopted brother, Micah, who is his Odd Couple opposite: lighthearted, disorganized, and irreverently Jewish.

But when Anselm rescues one of the strange new vampires from being murdered by his own kind, he, Micah and Kalyn lose their perfect, quiet lives, and become their peoples’ sole defenders on the front line of an emerging war.

“Accepted”  is an urban fantasy novel of approximately 110,000 words.

 

YA Writing Smackdown

I stumbled across this article today: Writing Young Adult Fiction, which details, briefly, some of the upsides and downsides to writing YA. I had no idea that the turnaround for a sequel was 6 months. That’s a crazy amount of time to write a book. It took me a year to write my first book, and that doesn’t include several of the more minor edits and letting people read it and give me feedback. It makes me have a bit more sympathy for Stephanie Meyer’s fourth book, Breaking Dawn, which needed some heavy editing. I always write more than I need, and I pare down unnecessary dialogue, scenes and chapters in editing. If she only had 6 months or so to write and edit it, I can see how she didn’t have time to go back through it and cut out all the boring, useless crap.

Speaking of books, I’ll be honest: I’m tired of querying agents. Last count was 26 or 27 queried. I’ve read books that are worse than mine and I think, “If someone will publish this, surely I can get published.” So my new tactic is to start querying publishers directly. It usually takes them 6-12 months to respond, which is a drag, but let’s face it: I’ve been querying agents almost that long. If I had started out with querying publishers, I might have heard something by now.

But first I have to do one last, last edit. I printed another proof copy a month or so ago, and my husband recently read it with editing pen in hand. He had a number of suggestions (nay, commands) to make my gun usage more accurate. (In fact, we spent an hour or so one day going over it; I drew him a picture of the terrain, and he showed me ammo and got out his sniper rifle for me to examine.) So I need to edit that part and I need to read through one more time and make my own corrections. Then, once I make the changes on the computer, I’ll be ready to print and mail.

While I’m waiting to hear back from someone, I can be working on my second book. I’m more than halfway through the first writing. I should be ready to make my first proof copy in 6 months or less. That way, if a publisher comes back and says, “We’ll take it, and we want to make it YA, so give us that sequel in 6 months,” I’ll be ahead of the game on sequels and maybe I won’t put out something crappy.

It’s Starting to Come Together

Hey, look, I do know where my blog is, and how to post.

I have had several other projects going on that have kept me busy the past week. First, I finally motivated to doing some serious house cleaning, which has turned into rearranging the living room and buying more bookcases. I still have a lot of work to do to get everything the way I want it, but I’m liking the changes.

Are you stuck with your writing? Is your general creativity at a low ebb? Rearrange the room where you do most of your creative work. Even if you don’t add or subtract anything, stirring up your things seems to stir up ideas.

I have to say it’s working for me. Just a day after moving the living room around (not where I do my writing, but it’s the first room you see when you come into the house, and you can’t go anywhere in the house without passing through it, so it’s logistically important), I have come tantalizingly close to writing the end of my third book. I’ve had the epilogue written, so I knew, more or less, who survives and who dies, but I had no idea how any of my characters get to that point.

But yesterday a plot started forming in my head, and I began writing some of the scenes which will lead to the grand finale. I was crying and shooting characters in the back of the head in a mass suicide. It was fabulous! I don’t think I’ve written anything good unless I’ve made myself cry or laugh.

Need help motivating to clean your house up or rearrange? I recommend Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston. I read this book in college and it completely changed the way I look at stuff. When I need a kick in the pants, I re-read it, then go through my house, tossing stuff or giving it away.
The show Hoarders is also pretty motivating to cleaning up. I watched the first episode and immediately went out and swept off our front porch (something it’s needed since the fall!)