Here is a Wonderful piece done by Book Country Blog about Literary Agent Mary C. Moore. Mary is on the short list of agents I have researched and plan on querying once I finish my edits. I read a lot of theses interviews but this particular one answered a lot of the questions I’ve personally had, as well as questions I’ve often heard from other writers.
I am seriously considering attending this conference. The only hiccup is that I have already made plans to attend the ConCarolinas SciFi convention in May. Alas, I only have so many babysitting favors to call in and only so much money to spend on these endeavors. Yet I still find myself drooling over another learning opportunity of this caliber, especially when it’s in my own town. Maybe I’ll see if they offer scholarships. Hey, ya never know. I may just see you there.
First session of the conference in beautiful Myrtle Beach and I am all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Ready to get my learn on and absorb some knowledge from the lovely and very sassy Michelle Richter. Her session was titled “Writing a Good Query” and I needed to work on my query letter so it seemed like an easy yes for me.
First a few Do’s and Don’t’s I learned from Mrs. Richter:
1. Proofread over and over
You want to put forth the Best possible product you can.
2. Don’t rely on spellcheck.
She is a fickle mistress indeed. There, Their, & They’re. Nuff’ said.
3. Use a Query Tracking spreadsheet.
You can make your own on Excel or there are some excellent ones online like Query Tracker.
1. Be overly familiar
The more professional you sound the better chance they’ll take you seriously.
2. Don’t misspell the name of the agent or agency.
3. Double check the agent/agency’s website that they are interested in your genre and age group.
Interviews may be outdated but the websites are kept pretty darn current.
4. Don’t re-query
Unless they ask you to of course.
5. Don’t mislead
We’ve all heard of people padding their resume. Now is not the time to do that…
Overall I learned a ton from Michelle. She did not represent my genre but her knowledge and expertise made they session a great pick for me. I found her frank and refreshing. So much of what we hear is padded in the cloak of niceness and platitudes that it was very enjoyable to get some straight forward answers.
Now on to the mean girls and I use the term “girls” loosely. There was a young man in the session that had a lot of questions. Where they beginner questions? Yes. Where they the type of thing you could figure out with Google? Yes. Did the questions seem to ramble on and on for an eternity? God Yes. Did this young man deserve to get made fun of by a group of three grown ass women? A definite NO.
We all started somewhere and while I may have let out a heavy sigh, I commend anyone willing to put themselves out there and try to learn something new. This is just my opinion, but then again so is this entire blog, but poking fun at/about someone with a comment isn’t a big deal. I am the queen of smack talking, but there is never any malicious intent and it’s always said in a light-hearted manner. I DO NOT verbally eviscerate anyone. I do not make them the butt of my jokes, loudly, over and over, while looking around trying to get everyone else to join in and agree with me. That is something someone does when they themselves are very small.
Needless to say, despite numerous attempts to engage with me over the course of the weekend, I avoided that group of clucking hens like my life (or just my soul) depended on it.
Time to shake off that negativity and move on. My next session was with David Coe about Character Development and POV so stay tuned for my next blog post.
So I have decided that instead of going through a few highlights, and ranting about how awesome the conference was, I’m going to break it down into segments to really show everyone what the Conference experience is like for a newbie (such as myself).
I arrived at the Hilton Resort in Myrtle Beach late Thursday evening (my husband was installing a tankless water heater and the time got away from him) so I checked in later than I had planned. I got all settled into my room (which was lovely despite the view of the parking lot) and made sure to hang up all my new “grown up” clothes. I was hungry and tempted to just have something sent up to my room, but I was here to meet people so down to the bar I went. Unfortunately there weren’t any writer types in the bar area but I did strike up a conversation with some nice folks who were there for a 911 conference. So I got a yummy quesadilla, a stiff Makers Mark and Ginger Ale, and some pretty cool 911 stories. Not too shabby an evening.
My point of even getting into this whole thing, is that you never know who you’re going to meet. I was tired, I wanted to work on my novel and crash (God knows peace and quiet is a hot commodity in my house) but I told myself that’s not why I”m here. If I wanted to run out to a hotel and write in solitude, it would have to be another weekend, because this weekend was for learning as much as humanly possible, and meeting as many new peers as possible. Granted, I didn’t meet anyone from “my” conference that night but I did meet some interesting people. I was even able to join in a conversation at breakfast the following morning because I knew who the other conference was for and tell them about my night. Instant conversation, throw in a few jokes, and they’ll be eating out of your hand. Not literally, that would be gross, even if it was just bagels.
But my loyal readers is a story for tomorrow. So just to recap:
1. Hang up your damn clothes, you’re an adult for Christ’s sake.
2. Step out of your comfort zone (that’s a recurring thing over the weekend)
3. Don’t be afraid to jump into a conversation that’s already happening (politely of course)
Tomorrow I’ll talk about having breakfast with a publisher, that days sessions, expectations vs. reality and proper footwear.
Good night and fare the well.
Okay, so I finally made it to my hotel late last night and after a quick trip to the bar to settle my nerves I got a good nights sleep. I cannot tell everyone how excited I am to be attending an actual conference after the past few years of attempts to go and having things fall through.
I have already hung out with a lovely publisher at breakfast, and attending my first class. I think I’ve succeeded in the Business Causal outfit, and I have all my business cards ready to hand out at the first request. I am currently between sessions and just wanted to give a quick update.
Everyone here has be super nice and welcoming. I will say that it is mostly “mature” people but I’m not judging. I’ll talk to anyone who will listen. I have realized the toughest part is choosing which session you will attend and which ones you’ll have to skip. Ugh! I want to go to them all.
I’ll post more tonight with actual helpful info. But here’s my outfit to tide you over till then.
Okay so this is kinda scary. Actually it’s very scary and makes me kind of what to poop. You know that feeling of churning stomach, sweaty palms, and you think you may have to go to be bathroom to either poop or hurl, but aren’t really sure which, if any, will happen? Yeah, that’s where I am right now. As promised I am posting my query letter and synopsis, which is slightly nerve-wracking, but the kicker is I am also posting the critique I received as part of my WD bootcamp. Putting all my flaws out there for the world to see, yay…. The funny thing is that I know not to do half of these things, but you get so into your work that you can’t see the forest for the trees. I have been working on the things the lovely Mary Moore mentioned, so that is underway. I’m planning on having all the revisions done before the conference in a few weeks. Which is a completely separate stomach churning situation, but we’ll get to that next time.
The query letter critique is at the bottom as an attachment so you can see the note she made and sorry but I am not posting the first 10 pages for publication purposes but I did post that critique as well because it may help you with some of your own work. Without further ado here is my query letter, synopsis and the critique.:
Dear Ms. Moore,
Shifted is a completed 89,000 word Urban Fantasy novel. The novel is in the style of Laurell Hamilton’s early work, like Guilty Pleasures meets Stephen King’s Firestarter.
In the cloud covered Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, N. C. ,seventeen-year-old Charley Donnelly begins waking up in random places all over town and she figures out she can teleport. But, after connecting with a group of others like her from The Center, she learns this so-called “gift” might tear her apart if she can’t learn to control the power. There’s also the dark, violent force inside her-the flip side of her gift. As the first Killer to come along in generations, she is a valuable commodity-and very, very dangerous.
I am a debut author who currently resides in Charleston SC. Feel free to look me up at www.caycelacorte.wordpress.com and www.facebook.com/cayce.lacorte or on twitter @lacorte_cayce. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Charley Donnelly is a seventeen year old girl, living in Asheville NC, who begins waking up in strange locations all around town. She finally realizes that she has developed the gift of teleportation. She can go anywhere, or find anyone with a mere thought. Excited at first she soon learns that unless she can control her newfound talent she will split apart and cease to exist.
She meets a group from a place called The Center. They say they are there to help her learn to control her powers. Through them Charley discovers that she is what they call a Killer, with an instinctual ability and desire to fight, kill and destroy those who threaten her, including the arsonist plaguing her town. If she cannot figure out the secret to controlling this dark side of herself it will take over. Dorian works with The Center and they quickly discover their bond is stronger than anything either have felt before. They are true partners, two halves of the same energy. If she moves forward with their bond, they will be joined together forever. But how can she give up all she is, all she wants for herself, just because it is destin to be. Sometimes you have to defy destiny and decide your own fate.
Charley’s life comes to a head as the arsonist gains momentum, Dorian disappears asking not to be found, and she tries to learn more about her dark side at The Center. Things quickly start to crumb after all she finds are some vague references to “joining” with her dark energy, and she goes against Dorian’s wishes and seeks him out. Only to find him with another woman who is one of the Outcasts from The Center, someone who defied the laws and went their own way with no help or communication from their kind. She later finds a secret note left by him where he explains he’s going undercover with the Outcasts to try to ferret out their plans against The Center. She is relieved by this realization but also concerned for his safety.
Charley receives a phone call that her father is in the hospital, clinging to life, another victim of the arsonist. The arsonist has been caught and upon the death of her father, she shifts to his jail cell. Together with her dark side, they murder the arsonist by burning him alive. She shifts to the ruined remains of her childhood home, and with a burst of power that nearly rips her apart she finally joins with the darkness, regaining control of her mind and herself for good. Sensing her pain Dorian appears and takes her to The Center to recover. Now Charley must come to terms with what she’s done, what she’s lost and find a way to move forward with the help of her new friends and Dorian. After losing the only thing that held her to her former life, as well as part of her humanity, she realizes that while she is part of their world now she can still live her life under her own terms.
Ten Pages Notes:
- This is a good start. I like the Charley’s sassiness.
- Your formatting needs to be streamlined. Some paragraphs are indented, some are not. They should all be indented. I also recommend using Times New Roman font as Courier is hard to read on-screen. Formatting a ms properly is as important as correct grammar and spelling.
- There is a tendency to over-use exclamation points. Try to cut them down, and have the dialogue or prose emphasis the exclamation instead.
- Adverbs such as “suddenly” and “slightly” and “instantly” should be replaced by prose that shows the action rather than tells how it is.
- Filter words such “I felt,” “I saw,” “I heard,” “I figured out” are unnecessary and also slow down the pace. Especially in first person POV, we are in the character’s head, so we know that is what he is seeing or feeling or knowing etc.
- There is a tendency to over-describe the narrator’s actions, e.g. “I placed the note pad on my desk,” or “I rounded the corner,” “I threw on a pair of faded jeans.” The reader doesn’t need all of this detailed information, and it is unnecessary to the main story and only serves to bloat the prose. Every sentence should work towards driving the pace and plot in the direction you want the reader to go.
- Your synopsis is well done. Clean and to the point and perfect length. Make sure you streamline out some of the extra words like “finally,” “quickly,” “they say,” just as you would in your actual manuscript.
Alrighty loyal friends and strangers, I am preparing for my first ever writer’s conference. I will be attending the South Carolina Writer’s Workshop Conference in sunny Myrtle Beach in just 10 short days. To say that I am a nervous hot mess is an understatement. In this post I am going to share with you what I have already done to prepare as well as what I still have yet to do. it’s a lengthy list so bare with me. I will be making several posts over the next 10 days about this topic so stay tuned.
Here is my original to do list, and I think it’s pretty universal despite which conference you plan on attending.
TO DO BEFORE CONFERENCE
Craft Log line
Order business cards
Have Query Critiqued
Edit Novel (again)
Check clothing etiquette
Practice hair and make up (buy what you need)
Buy thank you cards to send to the agents, ect that were extra helpful. Fill out that day, to mail when I get home.
So some of these may seem a bit girlie but you have to understand that I haven’t worn make up or gone to anything resembling professional in over a year. A girl gets out of practice, ya feel me? Any who, I had my query letter and synopsis critiqued by an agent at a Writer’s Digest Bootcamp last week (I’ll post those later today) and already ordered my business cards from Vista Print (awesome coupon codes BTW) as well as picked up some super cute thank you cards from TJ MAXX. So I am well on my way to getting through my list. Hell, I even did my make up twice this week, that’s right, you heard me, I looked like a girl for two whole days. Try and hold your applause till the end of the show.
That being said there is still quite a bit I need to get through to make this a successful endeavor for myself, but I think I’m chugging along at a reasonable pace. Today is the gym and working on my log line (what you may have heard called an elevator pitch). It’s not easy and I’m kind of dreading it. So, happy neighbors and random stalkers, wish me luck and feel free to comment with any other conference prep ideas you may have.