I’ve Been Tagged: The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

This is a meme going around for about a month wherein tagees answer WIP-related questions and pass it along to others.

I’ve been tagged by Janice Hardy, fabulous YA author of The Healing Wars trilogy, and by one of my Beta buddies Linda Morris, whom I’ve had the pleasure of Beta reading two of her works and am so happy they’ve found publishers!

Rules for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop:
***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?

I have several works in various stages of the pipeline. My current WIP is NOT ANOTHER DARCY, a magical realism/meta fiction romance, which I’m doing for NaNoWriMo this month. Langouring in revision is my steampunk romance STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY. Coming out on December 19th with Secret Cravings Publishing is BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS. But the one I’m going to post about is the one that I shopped for an agent, my time travel romance MUST LOVE BREECHES.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’ve always been a sucker for time travel and I’m a Jane Austen nut, so when I was brainstorming ideas for NaNoWriMo back in October 2010, I thought it’d be cool to go back in time to the Austen era and do some kind of tie in. But then there’d been others who’d explored that ground already and so I was noodling around in Wikipedia looking at famous people in that time period my heroine could meet and looking at Lord Byron’s page. It was while looking at that that I saw the entry about Ada Lovelace, and I was like HER. My heroine needs to meet her! So I readjusted the time period to 1834.

What genre does your book fall under?

Time travel romance, and in contests that usually falls into the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal category. I do get dinged by some judges saying they don’t understand why it’s in the paranormal category, which is frustrating, because that’s where it’s supposed to go according to their own definitions.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh man, I’m horrible with actors’ names and who’s who. I know that during revision, when I saw Toby Stephens play Mr. Rochester in one of the Jane Eyre versions, I sat up and thought, hey, that’s the closest in my mind to Lord Montagu! So him, but for Isabelle I have no clue, sorry!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When a modern American girl working at the British Museum finds herself stranded in pre-Victorian London by a mysterious artifact, she must find a way home while navigating the pitfalls of London society, resisting her growing attraction for a hunky lord, and ultimately having to decide when her true home lies.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I signed with Maura Kye-Casella at Don Congdon, Associates on October 4th. We were scheduled to start submitting November 1, but Hurricane Sandy has delayed that, but hopefully we’ll be submitting soon.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I think it took me a little over thirty-two days? I did it for NaNoWriMo and passed the 50K mark after twenty-eight days, but I kept writing as it wasn’t finished and I seem to remember that it was a couple of days after NaNo ended. But that was in 2010 and I’ve been revising and polishing it until this past September.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

That’s a tough one. For time travel and humor, maybe Sandra Hill’s The Last Viking. In my queries I compared the tone to Lauren Willig’s The Secret History of the Pink Carnation and Katie MacAlister‘s contemporary romances. After querying, a comp did come out: MacAlister published a time travel in September, A Tale of Two Vampires: A Dark Ones Novel. However, I also said that fans of the movie Lost in Austen would enjoy it as well.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

NaNoWriMo looming around the corner back in 2010!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I think it’s a little different in that it explores an aspect of 1830s London often overlooked, which is the scientific side of things. Not only is Ada Byron Lovelace a main secondary character (credited as the world’s first computer programmer), but my heroine stays at the home of polymath Mary Somerville, and she attends a soiree at Charles Babbage‘s house, and sees him demonstrate The Difference Engine. She narrowly misses seeing Michael Faraday at the same party.

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

Here’s my peeps (these are all Beta buddies–those whom I’ve swapped stories with for feedback):

  1. Kate Meader, who has a wicked-fun sense of humor, so I jumped on the chance to Beta her MS. She then landed an agent a couple of months ago and already sold her first series! Her debut (the one I Beta’ed) is Feel The Heat, coming out in 2013 by Grand Central!
  2. Donna Cummings, who ALSO has a wicked-fun sense of humor, so I also jumped on the chance to Beta her MS I Do… Or Die, which also recently found a home. Look for it December 10th with Crimson Romance
  3. Stephanie Lawton, fellow Mobilian whose gritty and haunting YA paranormal I beta’ed and just loved, recently found a home for it with Evernight Teen. Be on the look out for Shrapnel in January!
  4. Celia Breslin, urban fantasy and paranormal romance author, whose first chapter of a geek novella I critted and can’t wait to read the rest!
  5. Sarah Wesson, whom I’m eagerly awaiting for her to finish revising Full Metal Librarian as it just needs to be published, that’s all I’m saying!

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Baumgartner Space Jump LEGO Reenactment!

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Pride (In The Name Of Love),” by U2

NEWS: This week MUST LOVE BREECHES won 1st place in FF&P’s On the Far Side contest in the time travel/steampunk/historical category and a full request from the judging editor. It also finaled today in the Windy City Four Seasons Contest, paranormal category

Writing and the Writing Life:

Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

Ready to Query? The Importance of Patience

I had a fellow writer friend ask my advice about the right time to submit to agents. She had everything mapped out admirably in her calendar, including sending it off to a freelance editor. She was doing everything right, except for one thing. She wanted to know if she could slot the query process into the same place in her timeline as when her book is with her editor. She’d heard how long agents could take and so thought she could telescope that part of the process.

This was back in May and I had done a short burst of querying at this point, enough to know this was a bad idea. I had an agent request a full in less than 24 hours. So I advised her not to do that. Sure, some agents can take up to four months to get to your query, but that’s not always the case, and don’t you want to be ready for those agents that are quick?

I started my full-press querying in the middle of last month (so almost three weeks ago) and again the experience bore out my advice and my own personal decision to wait until I had every little thing ready. Most agents are quick now, and from what I could tell on forums, if they’re interested they actually act faster. I had several ask for fulls within the same day!

It’s so hard to be patient but it really does pay off. The other part of patience I had to practice was during the polishing phase. I had all my Beta feedback returned in June and had incorporated all the changes and revisions before the RWA conference. It was so tempting to send off my conference partial requests then because I SO wanted to get this manuscript into the queue and move on. But fortunately (though I cursed it several times during the process) I saw a blog post around that time from Janice Hardy called The Spit Shine: Things to Check Before You Submit. I used it as a jumping off point, creating a two page list of “flag” words from her post and others. So for several months I entered into a Polishing Phase. I did a search for every word on that list and evaluated its usage. I probably trimmed 3000 words that way! Or sometimes the words helped me see I’d lapsed out of Deep POV, so I rewrote that bit. Then I did one final read through scrutinizing each word, each phrase to decide whether I really needed it. Was it redundant? Did it have any relevance to the story plot? If not, I deleted them. It was exhausting and numbing and several times I really wondered if this effort was worth it. It was like pulling teeth making myself do this, because this isn’t the fun stage of revisions.

I actually did get a little impatient at the end and began querying a few who didn’t need to see any sample pages on a Wednesday, which pushed me to finish the rest that weekend. So as I got through the first 30 then 50, I sent off my partials and began querying the rest on my list. I pushed through my reading and was ready to send out full requests by that Monday (and I had some already)!

Whew!

Was it worth the extra time and patience?

Oh, yeah! More on that next week :)

The important thing is: don’t rush. You spent so much time on your manuscript, why short change it at the end of the process? Agents are not your Beta readers. Are you querying right now? What are you finding in response times? Did you also have to fight your impatience during this phase?

Housekeeping note: I will be at Georgia RWA’s Moonlight & Magnolia Conference this weekend! If you’re going too, drop me a line. But this means there will be no regularly scheduled posts until next week.

Recap of RWA12, plus other news!

Man what a week that was! Last month (Wait. What??) was the Romance Writer’s of America’s national conference in Anaheim, California. Being an introvert, it took me awhile to recover when I returned home, hence the lateness of this post. Plus, I’ve also been busy polishing MUST LOVE BREECHES to send out and also subject to another round of queries (more on that at the end of the post).

I thought I’d do a quick recap, but focus on only how the conference experience was for me, instead of giving a highlights recap as many have already done much better than I could. You know, I actually thought I would live blog the conference? Hahahahaha, giggle, sniff. Yeah. I barely tweeted.

One of the main validations I received was the payoff in all the hard work I’ve put into my writing career in the last year, especially cultivating my social media profile. As conference roomie Jami Gold explained so well in her post, Social Media: An Introvert’s Secret Weapon, those of us who have cultivated our online presence saw the benefits when we arrived at the conference. I hopped on the airport shuttle to the hotel, and two other attendees were on board. Like a good newbie, I handed out my card, and one of them recognized my name! (Remember, I’m unpublished) — she’d ‘seen’ me on one of the RWA loops and we figured out which one and had a great convo on the drive.

I checked in early (I arrived in CA around 9:30 a.m.) and then took the Amtrack into Los Angeles to meet my cousin for a late lunch. Like many in LA, she’s a struggling actress. She took me to Cole’s in downtown LA, which just oozed 1930s glam. We caught up on our happenings and had a cute bartender who was kind of a geek about mixology, which was a lot of fun. He mixed me a very tasty Old Fashioned, which I only found out after my second one that he made it with 100 proof bourbon, yikes!

The bar at Cole’s

Back at the hotel, I texted Jami and I finally got to meet her at the Literacy signing! We’ve been Beta reading buddies, and it was so great to finally meet in person, someone whom I’d been communicating and forming a friendship with first via Twitter, then email and then even phone (I hate talking on the phone).  She was with Buffy Armstrong, who I’d interacted with on Twitter and we had a great time going around the tables. The room was filled with writers signing books, and the first person I had to locate and say “Hi” to was Tessa Dare.

Sidenote: I have a little confession to make. My first fiction writing attempts began back in 2005 when I wrote Jane Austen fan fiction. I’d created a website called Longbourn Loungers for fans of the 2005 Pride & Prejudice movie and we had a lot of fun for a while indulging our addiction and exercising our writing muscles. My screen name was Plange. One of the participants was Tessa under the screen name Vangie and we Beta’d each others stories. I remember being blown away then by her prose. So we were super excited to see her succeed so well later on! I’m still in touch with several of the participants via Facebook and email and they were the ones who turned me on to NaNoWriMo back in 2009 which finally got me over my fear of writing novel-length fiction, and so I owe a huge debt to the Loungers :) One of them is fellow Six Sentence Sunday participant Kate Warren who just published a fabulous ebook, Bridging the Gaps.

Anyway, this was a long way of saying that it was really great to finally meet Vangie (Tessa Dare) in person:

With the lovely and super-talented Tessa Dare at RWA12’s Literacy Signing event Wednesday night

Okay, quick recap this has not become! I’m going to try to be more brief! In fact, I’m just going to say a general statement, show some photos and hit some personal highlights…

The conference was my first national writer’s conference and I know they say that you’re not supposed to hang with the same people, but I’m sorry, I did. I know this might have made me miss out on making some connections, but what it did was give me the feeling that I was part of the conference, not a stranger on the outside looking in, seeing everyone else interacting. My conference buddies were the wonderful Jami Gold, Buffy Armstrong and Janice Hardy, and it was so great getting to know them better and know they had my back. Thanks guys, can’t wait to see you again! I also met other online friends and several fellow Six Sentence Sunday and Critique Circle writers, so it was like meeting old friends, but not.  :)

Personal Highlights

  • Getting recognized at the Literacy signing! Another writer approached me by saying, “I have to meet the woman who wrote Must Love Breeches.” I think my jaw hit the floor. I know I look befuddled and probably stammered. First, I’m not published, so… Huh? How? Turns out she’d judged it in a writing contest and made me feel pretty dang good with her praise. What a way to start the conference :) There was an irony to this too– we’d just walked away from Courtney Milan’s table and I said to Jami, “Meeting great writers like her makes me really wonder what the heck I think I’m doing trying to write,” and two seconds later, this lady walked up to me and said the above, LOL. Served me right for succumbing to the writer’s worst enemy: self-doubt.
  • Hanging in our hotel room briefly Thursday night with Jami and Kat Latham and practicing our pitches. Kat was pitching to someone I’d pitched to at FF&P and I said I might still have my one-page dossier that I’d made on that agent if it’d help. So I opened my laptop and we were reading the bullet points I’d garnered on that agent back in March and then Kat says, “That’s me!” — I’d had a bullet point referencing something that agent had said on her blog, LOL.
  • Pitching on Friday. I pitched to two agents and one editor and all went well. I wasn’t nervous and I think I have the FF&P conference to thank for that. It’s one of the main reasons I went, was to experience pitching in a less intimidating atmosphere before I went to Nationals. I got requests for partials from the agents (50 pages and 30 pages) and a full from the editor.
  • Being told by Carrie Lofty at her Pitch Witch Rides Again workshop, that my pitch was a “win”
  • The lunch time keynote speeches
  • The awards ceremony (though we didn’t get to sit at a table, despite being only 2 minutes late, so we missed dessert and had to stand for part of it until they brought in chairs). It was so wonderful seeing all those talented writers going up to receive their award and hearing their tales. It just felt like a big dose of girl power and was very inspiring!
  • Running into writers that I’d met at the FF&P conference
  • Meeting published writers I admire
  • Meeting online friends
  • Free books!
  • Great workshops!

Photos

Wish I’d taken more, but here’s my paltry offering:

Thursday Night, at the FF&P’s party The Gathering. The theme was Disney characters…

With the fabulous Amanda Quick/Jayne Anne Krentz. She’s the one, with her sparkling wit and humor, who inspired me to write romance!

All dressed up with some place to go! With my conference buddies Buffy M. Armstrong and Jami Gold

Jami Gold’s hand, and Buffy Armstrong adjusting her napkin… After the awards ceremony– we arrived two minutes late and so had no place to sit and missed out on dessert. So we ordered our own later!

All the free books I got (well, mostly free. I bought 3 at the Literacy Signing, and then sent some back via Media Mail for $13)

Contest Update and Other News

I came back to some great news. First I’d won a pitch contest on Savvy Authors that resulted in a partial request from an agent. And then I found out that MUST LOVE BREECHES finaled in two more contests, making that a total of 7:

So right now, I’m doing one last exhaustive polishing revision of MUST LOVE BREECHES, before I send it to the ones who requested it and also do another wave of queries.

Did you go to RWA? What did you learn? What stuck with you the most?

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Batman Spa (and some Firefly)

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Let’s Dance,” by David Bowie

NEWS: I signed my first contract! BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS, coming January 2013 from Secret Cravings Publishing!

Writing and the Writing Life:

Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Jar-Jar Binks Target Practice

Song playing right now on my playlist: “On the Radio,” by Regina Spektor

NEWS: MUST LOVE BREECHES finaled in the Celtic Hearts RWA chapter contest, the Golden Claddagh, in the paranormal category!

Writing and the Writing Life:

Browncoats:

  •  Last week I posted the announcement of the Firefly cast reunion at ComicCon. Now there are rumors that a big announcement will be made. Oh, please be true and be what we’re thinking!!
  • And I thought you’d enjoy this:

In Geekdom:

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Star Wars parody of Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Me and Bobby McGee,” Janice Joplin

Writing and the Writing Life:

Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

  • And I’ll leave you with this, a parody of Gotye’s music video, “Somebody That I Used To Know” (h/t Stubby the Rocket):

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Harry Potter theme played on wineglasses

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Anywhere Out of the World” by Dead Can Dance

Writing and the Writing Life:


Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

  • And I’ll leave you with this, it’s the Harry Potter theme played on wine glasses:

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Cats in Space

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Xavier” by Dead Can Dance

Writing and the Writing Life:


Ada Lovelace:

Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

  • Love My Little Pony? Play Skyrim? Then check out this surreal mashup of Pinkie Pie in Skyrim
  • And for Star Trek fans, check out Cats in Space, a video short.
  • And I’ll leave you with this:

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Gandalf skateboarding

Song playing right now on my playlist: “I Shall Believe,” by Sheryl Crowe

Writing and the Writing Life:

Ada Lovelace:

Jane Austen:

In Geekdom: