Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Stormtrooper Hygiene

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Begin the Begin,” by R.E.M.

NEWS: I will have some awesome news to report next week about MUST LOVE BREECHES (re: status in Query Land) and STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY finaled in its first contest (and the first one it entered), The Golden Pen, ironically beating out MUST LOVE BREECHES by less than a point (.7)

Writing and the Writing Life:

Browncoats:

Ada Byron Lovelace

  • This recently came across Publisher’s Marketplace: “James Essinger’s ADA’S THINKING MACHINE, exploring two interwoven human stories – the story of a man, Charles Babbage (1791-1871) and that of a woman, twenty-four years his junior, Ada Lovelace (1815-1851) and their involvement in the Analytical Engine, to Gibson Square, for publication in July 2013 (world).” SQUEE!!! (that last part was me of course, not PM) Now if only publishers would be convinced that MUST LOVE BREECHES could tie in with this :)

In Geekdom:

Happy One Year Blogiversary To Me!

Actually it was this past Saturday that I posted my first blog post, but things have been PRETTY CRAZY this last week in Query Land (IN A FREAKING AWESOME WAY) and I can’t wait to be able to tell you.

Anyway, yeah, it’s been one year! I honestly didn’t know if I could last past two months blogging, but I’m so glad I faced my fear and ventured into this wacky world. I’ve met so many amazing people online (and then in person at conferences) that I shudder to think where I’d not be today if I hadn’t started blogging and tweeting. (Did that sentence make sense? Hey, it’s morning. You know what I mean.)

I was kind of surprised to read what I thought I’d be blogging about since I was just taking a stab in the dark: “writing tips, book reviews, musings, questions about my work in progress, the occasional rant.” I don’t think I’ve done a rant, but I was most surprised about the book reviews, because early on I decided not to do them at all as I didn’t want to delve into that quagmire. However, I surprised myself recently by doing a review of recent geeky romances and enjoyed that.

This milestone is a nice kick in the pants though, because lately I’ve been remiss in posting regularly. I had two conferences exactly a month apart and another next week (!) and then the craziness of querying in earnest, which started on 9/13. So this post is me recommitting to a regular schedule, which will be (except when away on vacation or at conferences):

  • Mondays: First Monday of the Month–Monday Hunk Who Reads, rest of them reader-focused posts.
  • Wednesdays: Writing Craft or Writer’s Life posts
  • Saturdays: Weekend Grab Bag
  • Sundays: Six Sentence Sunday

Here’s my blog stats:

  • 47,479 all time views
  • Highest views in one day: 648
  • 150 blog followers (115 via WP, 26 via email, 9 via feedburner)
  • The most popular page of all time? Monday Hunk Who Reads – Dan Stevens (3,283 views since it posted on 1/9/12)

So happy to be among you all and thank you so much for your support this past year! Do you blog? If so, are you happy you’re doing it? Did you think it would be difficult too?

Make Sure Your Curtains Match the Drapes–Why Your Query’s Tone Matters

As some of you know, I’ve started the query phase again for MUST LOVE BREECHES. I don’t want to get too detailed about this for obvious reasons, but I did want to provide an update and a cautionary tale.

Some of you know I queried in the spring. I did a short burst to a few agents to test the waters and then stepped back and did another round of Beta readers. Last week, I finally finished revising and polishing from that round. So, initiating query phase again, but this time all out.

So, what’s one thing that I feel comfortable sharing with you while this is going on?

Make sure your curtains match the drapes.

If you’ve been doing your homework and reading blogs and lurking/participating in forum posts about this business, you know that this process is extremely subjective. I’ve also learned that from doing RWA contests. Therefore the varied responses from agents is something I understand (though of course sometimes I have to remind myself of this). But what does this mean?

Since it is subjective, make sure your query matches the tone and voice of your manuscript!

Often I’ll see queries posted in forums and websites for critique, and either due to a timidness on the part of the author, or because it’s been critiqued too many times, all voice, tone and personality is leached from the query. You basically now have very few signposts available to the agent for them to gauge your story. Most likely they’ll shrug their shoulders and say “Next.” You don’t want that. Sure, if you put your voice back into your query, you’ll get agents who’ll cringe or reject because it’s not their thing, but guess what? You want that to happen. You just saved yourself and that agent time, because you’ve successfully given them guidance about what to expect from your manuscript. However, your query now has the correct signposts to alert the type of agent who’ll love your story, and that’s what you want.

To give you an example, I just got this feedback from an agent based on my query and sample pages:

This sounds adorable! I’d love to take a look

Yay! Hopefully, I’ve matched my tone/voice in the query to my manuscript and she’ll still find it adorable. This doesn’t necessarily mean anything will happen with this agent, but my query did it’s job and alerted agents about what to expect with my manuscript.

I’ll go ahead and post my query (minus the opening personalized part):

Isabelle Rochon, a thoroughly modern American working at the British Museum, has finally met the man of her dreams. There’s one problem: he lives in another century.

When a mysterious artifact zaps Isabelle to pre-Victorian London, a thief steals it, stranding her in a place where nobody’s heard of toilet paper or women’s lib. Now she must find the artifact, navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London, keep her origins a secret, and, oh, resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot, he curls her toes. But when he asks her to pose as his fiancée for his scheme of revenge, his now constant presence overthrows her equilibrium and kicks in her old insecurities. Why does he have to be so damn hunky, compelling and, well, Drool-Worthy? This is not what she needs. She’d carved off part of herself for another man before and is determined never to make that same mistake again. Staying would be the ultimate follow-the-boyfriend move. Besides, she’d just reassembled her life and getting promoted at the museum will ensure she can remain in London and the life she’s carefully built. In the end, she must decide when her true home lies.

MUST LOVE BREECHES is a time travel romance complete at 98,000 words. It features such historical figures as Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage. Fans of the TV mini-series LOST IN AUSTEN will love the modern woman’s fish out of water foibles, while experiencing a more scientific and mechanical London. It is similar in tone to THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE PINK CARNATION, and Katie MacAlister’s contemporary romances. It is a standalone novel with the potential to be a prequel in a series of steampunk romances.

I hold a Masters in Heritage Preservation from Georgia State University and am an RWA-PRO member, as well as a member of three RWA chapters: Gulf Coast, Hearts Through History and FF&P. My contemporary geek romance novelette, BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS, is contracted by Secret Cravings Publishing, and due to release in January 2013.

MUST LOVE BREECHES has finaled in ten RWA chapter contests in 2012–in the Regency/Victorian/Georgian category of the Hearts Through History’s Romancing Through The Ages contest, and in the paranormal category for Washington DC’s Marlene contest, San Antonio’s Merritt contest, Virginia Fool for Love contest, Celtic Hearts Golden Claddagh contest (winner), Greater Seattle’s ECO contest, Georgia’s Maggie contest, Utah’s Heart of the West contest, and Denver’s Molly contest, and in the time travel/steampunk/historical category of FF&P’s On the Far Side contest.

Are you querying right now? What have you found in regards to query tone and voice? If you’ve read MLB, do you think this query matches in tone and voice?

Six Sentence Sunday – 9/16/12

 Today is #sixsunday where writers share six sentences from their work. 

NEWS: MUST LOVE BREECHES finaled in Heart of Denver’s Molly contest in the paranormal category! I also finally finished polishing the sucker and sent it out into query land–fingers crossed!

Today’s Six Sunday is from STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY, my steampunk romance set in Mobile, AL. Everyone, including the new boarder Dr. Rawley, is sitting down to dinner. They’ve been eating and talking away for a bit when their automaton butler comes in to announce breakfast instead of dinner. The heroine’s brother Robert was asked if he could fix it and he makes a bad pun about his mechanical left hand. This picks up exactly where we left off:

Everyone else groaned at the poor pun, but Adele flinched, horrified he could joke about the loss of his hand. She turned back to Dr. Rawley and asked, “Why did you cross the Atlantic if you’re not the adventuresome sort? And why Mobile?”

The door shut behind Robert and Walter, and she relaxed a fraction.

Her father interrupted. “Adele, let the poor man have a proper supper without you badgering him.”

As always I welcome constructive feedback.

To see snippets from others who are participating or to sign up yourself, visit here.

Thank you to everyone who comes by and comments each week! 

Six Sentence Sunday – 9/9/12

I’m back! Dragon*Con was a lot of fun, and will try to post an update soon. Today is #sixsunday where writers share six sentences from their work. 

NEWS: MUST LOVE BREECHES finaled in FF&P’s On the Far Side contest (time travel/steampunk/historical category) last weekend, and this weekend, it came in first in the Celtic Hearts Golden Claddagh contest in the paranormal category!

Today’s Six Sunday is from STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY, my steampunk romance set in Mobile, AL. Everyone, including the new boarder Dr. Rawley, is sitting down to dinner. They’ve been eating and talking away for a bit when their automaton butler comes in to announce breakfast instead of dinner. The heroine’s brother Robert was asked if he could fix it. This picks up exactly where we left off:

“I’ll see to it right now. I’ll just get some of Camilla’s delicious pie to fortify myself.”

“I thought you were an archaeologist?” Dr. Rawley asked.

“You were not misinformed, however, I do like to keep my hand in all things mechanical.” Robert winked and held up his mechanical left hand.

As always I welcome constructive feedback.

To see snippets from others who are participating or to sign up yourself, visit here.

Thank you to everyone who comes by and comments each week!