Dust Yourself Off and Try Again

Do you know what a query is? If you aren’t trying to get a book published, odds are you don’t. Which is awesome. Because if you are trying to get a book published then you have felt the bitter sting of rejection.

Over and over and over.

And over.

And over again.

When you query an agent you’re sending an email (you can query by snail mail but it’s easier to do it via email) with a quick synopsis of your story. Your hook. You want to get their attention, want them to read what you’ve written and love it as much as you do.

So you send out queries to an agent or agents and you wait.

You get rejected.

You wait.

Perhaps you get rejected again.

You go through your first query and change things. You query again. You change again.

You have friends read and re-read it and help you change things. You count on your beta readers to give you good advice.

You do it over and over and hope this time, this query is it. This is the one that’s gonna get their attention.

When she was nine years old, Melissa Wright met Noah Floyd, rock star and lead singer of the hottest alternative band of the 1990’s. 

 

Unfortunately for both, Noah was dead.

 

Yes, Melissa talks to ghosts, a gift she has avoided most of her life.  Most of them just want to pass on a message to a loved one. She helps them, they leave.  But not Noah. Twenty years after his death, he’s still around, ratting out cheating boyfriends, hitting on her attractive sister, and adamant he didn’t kill himself.

 

As the twentieth anniversary of Noah’s death approaches, Melissa is contacted by a writer who holds the key to solve the mystery of Noah’s death. But he’s handsome and charming and scarier than any ghost she has ever met. Unlike things that go bump in the night, he has the potential to change her life forever.

 

Melissa is faced with the choice of her life:  if she opens up about Noah, he could finally get the closure he desperately needs. Yet Melissa knows from experience the world doesn’t take kindly to people who are different. By opening herself up to new friendships, new experiences and new love, Melissa may just end up finding not only an answer to Noah’s death, but herself along the way.  

 

And if it isn’t it. You do it all over again.

It’s not about fame and money, at least not for me. It’s about wanting people to enter the world I’ve created and find joy and a connection there. The way I did when I was a young, bookish nerd desperate to be transported from my everyday life.

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Take Off Your Coat I’ll Make You Feel at Home

I once read a book where–in the first three pages–the lead guy who I was supposed to love was diagnosed with Chlamydia.

Now, I am all about realistic romance novels. But, when the lead starts off having sex with so many people (plus he sent his current date who is never named home with money for a cab after they did it) that he’s got an STD, I’m just not into it.

Surprise, surprise, right?

I love romance novels. I remembered my first adult romance so clearly that when I went through a list of published novels in that year I was able to find it and get it electronically. I re-read that book and still loved it.

It also explains where my love of a hairy chest comes from. The 90’s were a different time, kids.

I love romance. I love steamy sex scenes. How come it is so hard to find a contemporary author who does both without it turning into an S&M wannabe show? Or why does the male lead have to be an a-hole? I get redemption arcs, but I need to at least sorta like the guy, right?

Any recommendations for a good read?

Tell Me What You’re Working With

Here it is, the most recent thing I’ve written. I’ll post some sample pages tomorrow to get some thoughts.

Thanks!

When she was nine years old, Melissa Wright met Noah Floyd, rock star and lead singer of the hottest alternative band of the 1990’s.

Unfortunately for both of them, Noah was dead at the time.

Since she was young, Melissa has talked to ghosts. Most of them just want her to pass on a message to a loved one. She helps them, they leave. Except for Noah. Twenty years after his death, he’s still around, ratting out cheating boyfriends, hitting on her attractive sister, and adamant he didn’t kill himself.

As the anniversary of Noah’s death approaches, a writer contacts her. It is possible he can finally help Melissa solve the mystery of Noah. But, he’s handsome and charming and scarier than any ghost she has ever met. Because, unlike things that go bump in the night, he has the potential to change her life forever.

If Melissa opens up about Noah, the ghost who has come to mean so much to her could finally get the closure he desperately needs.  But, Melissa knows from experience the world doesn’t take kindly to people who are different. By revealing who she truly is, she could lose her hard-earned anonymity. She must decide if Noah, new friendships, and—possibly—love, are worth the risk.

The Road is Long

2017 was crap year. Am I right?

I feel like my creativity stumbled, sputtered, then ultimately burnt out against the onslaught of negativity in the world. Writing took a backseat to simply surviving.

And survive we did.

2017 is done. Toward the end of the year I started writing again. This one started out one way, went a completely different way, and ultimately I am happy with the final result. Or final-ish result. I have learned to set my writing aside for a couple of weeks and then come back to it. I’ve done that with this one a few different times. I’ve heard back from beta readers.

I feel good about this one.

I’m surviving.

And if you’re reading this, then so are you.

Bring it on, 2018!

Hit Me Baby One More Time

Have you heard of a query letter? It’s the way an author submits their manuscript to an agent. If you did a Google search right now, you would get a hundred results on “How to Write a Query Letter”. And you would get a hundred different ways to do it.

How do you whittle down all your hand work and labor into a couple of paragraphs, maintain your tone, and your sense of writing, and snag an agent’s attention?

It takes a miracle.

First, you spend hours, months, YEARS even working on your baby.  You edit it. You edit it again. You edit it one more time. Then you set it out into the world and let your friends and a couple of unbiased sources read it. Then you take their advice and edit it again. You fix it. You add more. You take stuff out. Then, when you think, ‘holy crap, I have a book’ you send it out into the world one more time, like a brand new college freshman, and hope someone likes it a fraction as much as you do.

Two Steps Forward

I finally have a readable draft. I sent it off to my early readers (AKA my awesome women’s running group and my mother because moms are the best) and now I wait to hear what they have to say.

It’s difficult because I find myself reading books I got at the library and comparing them to what I’ve written. It makes me loathe my own words.

But, just like most of the pictures in magazines are Photoshopped within an inch of their lives, I know these books have been looked over by an editor, picked through with a fine tooth comb. A person’s whose job it is to make a book sell-able went through and told the author how to fix things. What to focus on. What to change and what to keep.

At one point, though, it was a draft on a computer, just like mine. A shaky draft, full of errors and in need of help, but full of so much potential just waiting to be read.

Will that ever happen? Will I ever go to my library and pull out a book from the shelves with my name on it?

God, I hope so.

Daydreaming

When I was in high school I used to write stories when I should have been taking notes. I would scrawl tales of romance and teen love across my spiral-bound notebooks for hours on end. My teachers never suspected–at least in my mind they didn’t–because I looked like I was taking notes.

Luckily for me, I was a decent student even without paying attention.

Sometimes, I would share the stories with my friends. Sometimes, I would write stories specifically for them. If someone was having a bad day, I could create a little escapism for them during first period Physics.

Most of the time, I wrote for me. I wrote because there were people in my head who wanted me to tell their stories. I wrote for the pure joy of it. There is something so satisfying about putting pen to paper. I can still feel the pressure of making the two little curved lines of a quotation mark

I wish high school Margaret had thought to keep some of those tales. It would be interesting to go back and read what my seventeen year old self needed to write. I am sure most of it was unrequited love for Ryan H., who I adored from afar. He was the cool basketball player, I was the somewhat shy, bookish girl who was in the choir. There’s a story there.

I guess there’s a story anywhere if you look hard enough.

Say Something

Sometimes I’ll  be writing and I find myself forcing the characters to do something they don’t want to do. I will push and push and push until finally, one of them will look at me and say, “Margaret, come on, we don’t want to fall in love.”

That happened with my most recent book. I finished the first draft back in December, then left it to stew. Something was off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I went back to it a few weeks later, and started the fun editing process. As I went through I changed things and added things and re-wrote whole chapters and still, it niggled at the back of my brain. This is not right.

I finally figured it out. I want two characters to be in love, I want them to have hot, steamy sex, and the rest of the story, the rest of the book, shit, even the characters, simply do not want to. It’s not needed. I want this to be a romance novel, but really, it’s a novel about women and friendships and what it is to be in your mid-thirties and realized everything you have believed about yourself is wrong. It’s about finding yourself again. It is not about love and sex with a cute, younger man.

That, I can leave for a different story. Picture a cute assistant principal, one slightly broken woman with a niece who goes to his school, and voila! There is my steamy, sexy romance novel.

Now I just need to motivate myself to get back to the rough draft. To tell the story that ACTUALLY wants to be told. That is a different problem. I find it hard to creative in this current time. I feel stifled and depressed and I know in my heart of hearts NOW is the time to be creative. To write and let the world hear a dissenting voice! It’s just hard to work up the energy when so much shit keeps bogging me down.

Break On Through to the Other Side

There’s a scene in Armageddon (what you don’t enjoy cheesy Michael bay action/disaster films with super fake scenarios that would never work except in a movie? Then get out of here!) where the drillers…hang on, if you haven’t watched this movies then let me say SPOILERS…have to get to a certain point in the asteroid. The only way to do that is to keep pushing through the gas pockets and iron and all that shit until bam, there they are at the depth they need to be to save the world!

Cue Aerosmith song.

That’s what I feel like when I am writing. I have this plot, this idea, the end, the characters, some funny stuff, a training montage…but I just need to write in order to get there. I find myself pausing in front of my laptop, fingers hovering over the keys, frozen, until I internally yell, “Just write. Just get words written down. You will come back later and fix them.”

Just keep drilling.

It’s shitty. The words suck. But, I need to get it out of my head. Once it’s all out I can go back and fix things. I try to remind myself my first book looked NOTHING like it does now. I have to thank my sister for reading that first dreadful copy which I sent to her without re-reading. Just hit The End, then send. Oh how I regret that.