Sunday, 13 December 2015

Things I've Learned in Therapy

Eighteen months of therapy with someone who listens to me has taught me all these things:

You are allowed to be kind to yourself.

Feel your feelings. You are allowed to be angry. You are allowed to be sad. You are allowed to be happy.

Try not to let your feelings consume you. You are not those feelings. Those are just things running through you.

You are allowed to change.

No one has all the answers.

No one has all the control.

Try not to let your fear of failure stop you from doing the things you want to. You may fail. You may succeed. You can try again, either way.

You are allowed to be kind to yourself.

You are allowed to like yourself.

Try to like yourself.

Sometimes things go wrong. It is not the end of the world.

Try not to hide yourself too much. People deserve to see you, to know you.

You can't change people. You can only change yourself.

People don't make you feel anything. People don't make you angry, make you sad. They do things, and you feel about those things what you feel.

Try to be honest, if you can.

Other people are allowed to change. No one stays the same forever.

Life is trying things and failing and succeeding and making mistakes and hating those mistakes and learning from them and trying again and wondering and hoping and trying and and and.

You don't know what other people are thinking, feeling. Ask.

You are allowed to be kind to yourself.

You are allowed to be kind to yourself.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! 2015 #13

If you don't know anything about RSW, it's a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime MorrowErin FunkKaty UppermanElodie Nowodazkij, and Alison Miller--click here for all the details. (Here are my first and last posts for RSW 2014, and first and last for RSW 2013.)






Wrap Up

So it's the end of RSW and I am really, really happy with what I managed to accomplish over the past three months! Last week I finished my revision of the manuscript formerly known as THE QUIETEST KIND and I sent it off to my agent yesterday. My goal at the beginning was to finish a first draft of my untitled punk girlband MS, which I didn't do (for good reason) but I did manage to add roughly 11k to it, and figured out where the story is going and how to finish it all. I also signed with my agent a few weeks into RSW, which is still fucking awesome!

Big thanks to our hosts Alison, Jaime, Erin, Katy, and Elodie for being the loveliest ladies and doing this again -- RSW has been responsible for a huuuuuge amount of my words these past three years and I hope it will continue to be in the future!

#ManuscriptsAndManicures

Now, for my themed nails: these are my Audrey Spencer (my MC) nails. Gold glitter because she loves wearing that; an A (for Audrey, of course); and a plus sign, for the Big News that kicks her ass in the story. I think she'd approve.



Thanks to everyone who has stopped by over the past three months and who I've gotten to know a little! Make sure you come hang out on Twitter (or tumblr, or Instagram)! That's where I drop most of my pearls of wisdome/late night ramblings, whatever you want to call them.

xoxo


Monday, 24 August 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! 2015 #12

If you don't know anything about RSW, it's a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime MorrowErin FunkKaty UppermanElodie Nowodazkij, and Alison Miller--click here for all the details. (Here are my first and last posts for RSW 2014, and first and last for RSW 2013.)





1. How I did on last week’s goals:


  • Complete a revision of (the manuscript formerly known as) THE QUIETEST KIND -- Almost, almost there. I have about a quarter of the MS left to read, then I'll have to transfer any edits across and I'll be DONE.


2. My goal(s) for this week:

  • Complete a revision of (the manuscript formerly known as) THE QUIETEST KIND.


3. A favourite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:


Choices.

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week:

Day job! I wish I could write all day and forget about having to go to work. It always feels like such an interruption to my writing-job time...if only it wasn't for the whole need-to-earn-money thing, right?

5. Something I love about my WIP:

Still pretty into the whole thing this week :)


See you next week! (Get ready for some nail action...)

Monday, 17 August 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! 2015 #11

If you don't know anything about RSW, it's a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime MorrowErin FunkKaty UppermanElodie Nowodazkij, and Alison Miller--click here for all the details. (Here are my first and last posts for RSW 2014, and first and last for RSW 2013.)





1. How I did on last week’s goals:


  • Complete a revision of (the manuscript formerly known as) THE QUIETEST KIND -- Almost there! I just need to do a final read through and add a few things in. Shine it up.


2. My goal(s) for this week:

  • Complete a revision of (the manuscript formerly known as) THE QUIETEST KIND.


3. A favourite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:


And if all that made her a bitch, then so fucking what? 

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week:

In the battle of bed versus writing...well, you know how it is.

5. Something I love about my WIP:

Right now? The whole messy, pretty thing :)


See you next week!

Monday, 10 August 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! 2015 #9/10

If you don't know anything about RSW, it's a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime MorrowErin FunkKaty UppermanElodie Nowodazkij, and Alison Miller--click here for all the details. (Here are my first and last posts for RSW 2014, and first and last for RSW 2013.)





1. How I did on last week’s goals:


  • Complete a revision of (the manuscript formerly known as) THE QUIETEST KIND -- I missed last week's check-in, but I've been doing the same thing these past two weeks: working on this revision. And I'm getting closer to completion, slowly, slowly. I have one new scene to finish and then it'll be read-through time. And then send to my agent time. Oh, sorry, I said that like it wasn't scary, let me try again: then I have to send it to my AGENT?! And hope she thinks it's good?!?! Okay, cool.


2. My goal(s) for this week:

  • Complete a revision of (the manuscript formerly known as) THE QUIETEST KIND.


3. A favourite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:


Depth.

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week:

My hours at work have changed, so I'm adjusting to that, and I really need to work on my ability to write in short bursts so can stop justifying spending the time before work dicking around online. Oh tumblr, you devil, you.

5. Something I love about my WIP:

Imperfect relationships, perfect(ish) intentions.


See you next week!

Monday, 27 July 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! 2015 #8

If you don't know anything about RSW, it's a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime MorrowErin FunkKaty UppermanElodie Nowodazkij, and Alison Miller--click here for all the details. (Here are my first and last posts for RSW 2014, and first and last for RSW 2013.)





1. How I did on last week’s goals:


  • Complete a revision of (the manuscript formerly known as) THE QUIETEST KIND -- I've worked out everything I need to complete (scenes to add, threads to weave in, little fixes) and I'm working my way through. I'm feeling good about everything that needs to be done.


2. My goal(s) for this week:

  • Complete a revision of (the manuscript formerly known as) THE QUIETEST KIND.


3. A favourite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:


Clarity.

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week:

Getting over my fear of the messy part. You know, when you're chopping away at different sections and pulling out paragraphs and it all seems like it's beyond hope; the part right before the revision comes together and it all makes sense again. I'm deep in it now and it's always scary to see it coming apart.

5. Something I love about my WIP:

The relationship between my MC, Audrey, and her sort-of stepfather, Adam. He doesn't know how to be a dad and she doesn't know how to treat him like a grown-up -- so they're perfect together.


See you next week!

Monday, 20 July 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! 2015 #7

If you don't know anything about RSW, it's a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime MorrowErin FunkKaty UppermanElodie Nowodazkij, and Alison Miller--click here for all the details. (Here are my first and last posts for RSW 2014, and first and last for RSW 2013.)





1. How I did on last week’s goals:


  • Finish off both scenes I'm currently in the middle of -- Done! Okay, so I just finished that last scene right before posting this, but it counts, right?
  • Make a revision plan for THE QUIETEST KIND so I can get started on that next week -- Didn't get to this.


2. My goal(s) for this week:

This is going to be my goal for this week and every remaining week up until I get it done:


  • Complete a revision of (the manuscript formerly known as) THE QUIETEST KIND.



3. A favourite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:


Hanna, to her sister Molly:
"You are strong and smart and brave and funny and complicated and confounding."

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week:

Busy busy, with work and dance shows and seeing my friends in London and family events and and and... 

5. Something I love about my WIP:

Working shit out. My girls are messy.


See you next week!

Monday, 13 July 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! 2015 #6

If you don't know anything about RSW, it's a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime MorrowErin FunkKaty UppermanElodie Nowodazkij, and Alison Miller--click here for all the details. (Here are my first and last posts for RSW 2014, and first and last for RSW 2013.)





1. How I did on last week’s goals:


Okay-ish. 

  • Wrote on 6 days, so one more than my goal, but sometimes my "writing" was two sentences. Eh. It all counts, right?
  • Titles: I have a couple of possible titles I really like, but more would be better.
  • Finished THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER (really, really good) and I'm about to start LIES WE TELL OURSELVES by Robin Talley.
  • Did not go to bed at sensible times. Must Do Better.


2. My goal(s) for this week:

I'm almost at a point where I think I can pause drafting and switch into revision mode without completely losing the plot. So this week I have a couple of goals:

  • Finish off both scenes I'm currently in the middle of.
  • Make a revision plan for THE QUIETEST KIND so I can get started on that next week.


3. A favourite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:

But here was Molly saying it, and she seemed so sure, with that determined look on her face and the shine in her eyes. The last thing Hanna ever wanted to do was disappoint her baby sister. And yet it feels like that’s all I ever do.

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week:

Making time to write. Again: Must Do Better.

5. Something I love about my WIP:

The relationship between one of my MCs, Hanna, and her little sister Molly. They're both struggling with big problems but are still there to talk in the middle of the night and love each other even when it's hard.


See you next week!

Monday, 6 July 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! 2015 #5

If you don't know anything about RSW, it's a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime MorrowErin FunkKaty UppermanElodie Nowodazkij, and Alison Miller--click here for all the details. (Here are my first and last posts for RSW 2014, and first and last for RSW 2013.)





1. How I did on last week’s goals:


I wrote a little less than 2400 words this week and passed 50k, that magic number that makes me think a draft can become A Finished Manuscript.

Other goals:
  • Read one book from my TBR -- I read FAR FROM YOU by Tess Sharpe (my heart aches just thinking about it; if you haven't read it, you need to). Now I'm halfway through THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER.
  • Go to bed before midnight at least four nights this week -- ...like, I'm not sure why I'm even trying anymore. 
  • Drink tons of water -- easy to achieve since it was as hot as the surface of the sun all week. 

2. My goal(s) for this week:

My overall goal this summer was to finish the draft I'm working on, but last week I got notes from my agent (my agent! Still weird!) on the manuscript formerly known as THE QUIETEST KIND, so I might have to adjust a little. (I'm hopeful I can complete these revisions and the draft by the end of RSW, but we'll see.) At the moment I'm still in the processing-and-thinking stage of revising, so it won't really affect this week's goals. Well, except for one...


  • Find the perfect title for the manuscript formerly known as THE QUIETEST KIND. (Okay, okay: find suggestions for what maybe could be a good title.)
  • Write five days this week. (Try for 500+ words each time.)
  • Go to sleep BEFORE MIDNIGHT.
  • Read more.

3. A favourite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:


She curled her hands into Delaney's shoulders — hard, from the soft hiss Delaney let out — and closed her eyes and her head fell back, knocking hard against the wall but Jules didn't care and Delaney's lips pressed up against her ear and her voice whispered, "You look so beautiful right now," and —

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week:

Did I mention it was hotter than the surface of the sun this week? (In England terms, I mean.) So mostly I was sweating my face off in my baby pool in the garden or sweating my face off in work.

5. Something I love about my WIP:

Bad decisions. Oh, so many bad decisions.

See you next week!

Monday, 29 June 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! 2015 #4

If you don't know anything about RSW, it's a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime MorrowErin FunkKaty UppermanElodie Nowodazkij, and Alison Miller--click here for all the details. (Here are my first and last posts for RSW 2014, and first and last for RSW 2013.)






1. How I did on last week’s goals:


If I count the notes I wrote, then I totally made my goal! But just story-words...no. The planning was desperately needed, though, so it's all good.

As for my Other goals: I finished an adult crime novel I picked up at work (technically not on my TBR but I'm counting it), did okay with the water drinking, and I failed spectacularly at going to before midnight every single night last week. Bad.

2. My goal(s) for this week:

Write 1500 words and write on three days.


I'll keep my Other goals the same in the hope that I might actually achieve them this time:
  • Read one book from my TBR.
  • Go to bed before midnight at least four nights this week.
  • Drink tons of water.

3. A favourite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:



"You're a badass, Dia Vazquez. How come you don't see that?"

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week:

Exhaustion. Apparently if you go to bed after 2a.m. you'll be super tired the next day? Who knew?! Seriously, though, it's so hard to write through tiredness. I need to get my sleeping pattern under serious control.


5. Something I love about my WIP:

Music, music, music.

See you next week!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Year of Becky, Back On Track

So, I have an agent, and her name is Jennifer Johnson-Blalock (of Liza Dawson Associates), and I am so happy and so excited that I have been dancing around my kitchen. Actually, I dance around my kitchen most days, but this is a very specific modern dance interpretation of my feelings, as opposed to my normal "get low to Drop That Kitty" routine...just, trust me. I am very, extremely, beyond happy and excited and thrilled!


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So this is the part where I write the whole story of how this came to be, yes? I feel like I've read so many of these posts, and now I get to write my own! As Heather Number One would say: how very.

I mean, shall we do Short Story/Long Story/Any Other Story Becky Wants To Tell?

Okay.

Short Story:

I started querying this novel, THE QUIETEST KIND, at the very end of January. [Stats break: I sent 27 queries, had one request via #pitmad, and one referral. Out of those queries, I got 4 partial and 5 full requests.] Jennifer requested the partial on the 2nd of June, then the full on the 3rd, and then offered representation during a call on the 8th. And I accepted.

Long Story:

In April I sent a query to another agent at Liza Dawson, who passed. So I get this rejection, shrug (it was a long shot, genre-wise) and move on. The next day, this email comes through on my phone: Partial Manuscript Request. I do the one-raised-eyebrow trick I spent many teenage hours in front of the mirror teaching myself and open it up. It's Jennifer, saying that the other agent passed my query along because she thought it might be of interest and could she see the first fifty pages?

I'm, like:


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For real?

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So I do a little online stalking [always check out agents, especially in contests and things like #pitmad etc -- just because someone requests doesn't mean you have to submit!] and think Jennifer seems great, and so off my little partial goes. Then the full request comes the next day ("Holy shit, she's actually read it already?!") and off that goes. Now I'm stressing (she got back to me so fast on the partial, that means she's probably going to get back really quick on the full, and oh my god, well at least if it's a rejection it'll be over with quickly). A couple of days later I get the email: she really enjoyed the manuscript and wants to set up a time to talk; when would be good?

[When would be good for me?! Never, because I don't do well on the phone or in important conversations or just generally in everyday life. Ask me what I thought of Mean Girls, and the words in my head are, "One of the best teen comedies, if not the best films, ever: the dialogue is whip smart and it's so well-written. If you want to see a sharp and funny story set in the scheming world of girls' politics, this is it." What comes out of my mouth: "Ah ma gawd, it's well good! It's, like, the best! Say crack again. Crack!"]

But I'm, like, super professional, dontcha know, and so I don't say any of the above. We just set up a time to talk and then I spend the next forty-eight hours swinging from About To Throw Up Nervous to Very Excited and back again about a thousand times.

Anyway, it gets to four o'clock on Monday and I'm vibrating out of my skin with anticipation and Jennifer calls.

[Okay, so don't laugh at me, but I did dress up for the phone call. What? I figured that if I looked nice and presentable and felt good, that would come across when I spoke.] [Because you're all dying to know, I wore blue jeans and an oversized semi-sheer white shirt, belted with a leopard belt because leopard print is a neutral, and the ever-present gold hoop earrings.] [Red nails.]

During the call we talk about my story, what she liked, what she thinks needs work, Knocked Up, how she online stalked me (ha!), Friday Night Lights, Nina LaCour, and then she says she wants to represent me.

And I'm like:

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Honestly, I wanted to say yes right then and there -- I just felt like we clicked, Jennifer totally got my story, and she had exactly the kind of plans I had been dreaming of. But I did what everyone is supposed to do and said I needed time to think it over and let the other agents who had my work know, and I'd get back to her within two weeks.


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Next I did the whole notifying-of-agents and getting responses and, oh yeah, losing my mind some more.


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And then my deadline came around and I had some very gracious passes that I was actually very grateful for, because I didn't really want to consider anybody else, because I was pretty sure that I had already found My Agent. (Yeah, pretty much since I got off that phone call I've been referring to her as "my agent" in my head. Oops?) So, yesterday I finally let Jennifer know that I was accepting, and I like to think that on either side of the Atlantic ocean were two very excited ladies! I am so so SO fucking happy and excited and I can't wait to start on revisions and getting this thing ready to go out on submission. (WHAT!)


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The Other Story:

Seven years ago I decided to write a novel. Just for fun, just to see if I could write that many words. It took two years and probably a lot of time that I should have spent working on my A-levels instead, but I finished that book. And I queried it. (Oh my god, I can't believe I queried it! What was I doing! No one will ever see that novel, ever!)

At least I quickly realised that I didn't know what the fuck I was doing and got online and started learning. I wrote another novel, queried it (oh so briefly), shelved it. I wrote another novel. I wrote another novel (number four), and I wrote novel number five. I revised novel four, loved it, queried it for over a year. I pitched it on Twitter, and I entered it into several contests (getting through to the agent round on Cupid's Blind Speed Dating contest). I rewrote novel five, turning it into novel number six. I wrote number seven and wondered if I was crazy for thinking I could do this. I revised novel six, got some very smart reader comments, and decided to split it into two novels: eight and nine. I split it, added and took away and edited and thought about it all the time and about lost my mind doing it. But I did it, and then I polished up that novel number eight and began querying it. I got close (oh so close) but not quite there. I kept querying. I did #pitmad. I really began to think that I couldn't do this anymore. I started -- and stopped, and started, and stopped, and started -- drafting novel number ten. I thought that I might really give up now, because it was making me so sad, and I didn't want to be sad. I kept querying anyway. (What's that quote about insanity?)

And then I got that email from Jennifer, and I've never felt more grateful for my madness.

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*   *   *

This is a real, true, begging plea to anybody reading this who just really fucking hates writing and/or querying right now: don't give up. I know what you're thinking: It's easy to say Don't Give Up when you're on the other side of it. Or maybe you're not, but that's what I thought a few weeks ago, when I read someone else's I Have An Agent post. I thought, okay. You're telling me not to stop. But it sucks so bad right now and I'm tired of working so much when I don't know, I really don't know, if I'm going to ever get what I hope all this work can get me.

I'm going to get all cheesy now: no, you might not get what you want. But if you stop now, then you're for sure not going to get it. While you're still trying, you still have a chance. And that chance is worth it. I really believe that.


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xoxo





Monday, 22 June 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! 2015 #3

If you don't know anything about RSW, it's a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime MorrowErin FunkKaty UppermanElodie Nowodazkij, and Alison Miller--click here for all the details. (Here are my first and last posts for RSW 2014, and first and last for RSW 2013.)






1. How I did on last week’s goals:


I passed my 1500 word goal (I ended up with 2307 words) and finished a long scene in the process, so I'm happy!

2. My goal(s) for this week:

I think I'll stick to the same writing goal as last week: write 1500 words.


I like that people are adding non-writing goals here, too, so this week, here's what I want to do:

  • Read one book from my TBR.
  • Go to bed before midnight at least four nights this week.
  • Drink tons of water.

3. A favourite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:



Hanna tipped her head back, taking in the wide expanse of shifting sky. “There’s a whole mess of shit up there. Who knows what real or right or true? Make it yours. Do what you want. Who cares?”

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week:

Making time. I'm really bad with wasting time online (hello tumblr) when I could be fitting in thirty minutes of writing, so I need to work on that.


5. Something I love about my WIP:

The complicated friendship between my three girls; all the ways they fall apart and come back together again, and again, and again.

See you next week!


Monday, 15 June 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! 2015 #2

If you don't know anything about RSW, it's a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime MorrowErin FunkKaty UppermanElodie Nowodazkij, and Alison Miller--click here for all the details. (Here are my first and last posts for RSW 2014, and first and last for RSW 2013.)




A late check-in, but I'm here! (I swear I'm going to get organised...at some point. In the future.) (The distant future.)
1. How I did on last week’s goals:

I came a little shy of my 2000 word goal, but I'm actually happy that I managed to anything done this week, so I'll take it.


2. My goal(s) for this week:

Write 1500 words.

3. A favourite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:

Jules was a grudge-holder, a stubborn girl, and Hanna was Hanna. The girl who would drink herself into such oblivion that she could no longer say her own name, who blacked out entire memories so that the fighting and the nail-scratches and the knife-sharp words belonged to everyone but her. Maybe Dia could forgive so easily, but not Jules.



4. The biggest challenge I faced this week:

Moving house really stole a lot of time that I could have spent writing, but at least it's over now. (Just the unpacking of hundreds and thousands of boxes to go.)

5. Something I love about my WIP:

The sticky, stormy, summer of it all.

See you next week!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! 2015

If you don't know anything about RSW, it's a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime MorrowErin FunkKaty Upperman, Elodie Nowodazkij, and Alison Miller--click here for all the details. (Here are my first and last posts for RSW 2014, and first and last for RSW 2013.)



I am so (so, so, so) glad RSW is back again. I don't know what it is, but something about this summer writing intensive works magic on me. Last year I managed to finish the first draft of a manuscript that was really dragging me down, and in 2013 I finished a big revision of my much-loved-but-sadly-shelved MS FATE AND OTHER GAMES, as well as starting the rewrite that eventually became the manuscript I'm querying now. I'm sending vibes to the universe to bring me that magic again this summer, because I really need to get my shit together. Come on, kid: do it.

My overall goal for Ready. Set. WRITE! 2015 is to finish the first draft of my punk girl band manuscript. That's all. That's easy.

(Say it enough, and my brain will start to believe it, right?)

Right now I have 44k and so many scenes cluttering my head. It's the getting them from my head to the screen that's proving just a little bit of a problem. So, with that in mind, let's get to it.

*   *   *

My goal(s) for this week:

Write 2000 words. (Not too crazy, but 1: I am seemingly incapable of writing at the moment, and 2: My parents are moving house this week, and I happen to live with my parents, therefore I am also moving house this week. But I can do this.)

*   *   *

Here's hoping that this is the beginning of a summer filled with so many words, for all of us.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Becky's Excellent Guide to Querying

So you've, like, totally written an awesome book, right? And now you want an agent to represent you, to go out and get you a six-figure pre-empt and a deal for a movie that will one day star, I don't know, Charlie Hunnam or Phoebe Tonkin or Michael B. Jordan. (Is that just a list of people I have a crush on? Perhaps.)

{oh phoebe, phoebe, phoebe…}


Anyway. I'm going to assume that, because you are all smart people, you have revised and polished your manuscript to within an inch of its precious life. I'm going to assume that you've done your agent research -- you've checked Literary Rambles, Query Tracker, agency sites, agent blogs/tumblrs/twitters,  and you know exactly what you've got to do. Because this post is not about that -- it's just about what to do from the moment you start querying and throughout the process.

I may have been through this process once (or twice, or three times...) before, and these are some things I've found that work really well for me/proved useful in maintaining what sanity I have. So use what you like, kick out what doesn't, and most importantly, go forth and kick querying's ass.


Keeping records is fun!

It's a good idea to keep all pertinent information in one place, and to keep a record of it at all, so that you can keep track of when to follow up or close queries out or who that agent was that just rejected you (honestly, I have queried a lot of people with the same name over the years and it can get weird up in the ol' inbox).

What you want to do is make yourself one great spreadsheet. What? Even I think spreadsheets are cool, and I don't actually know how to work Excel other than its most basic functions. (I can make, like, really pretty graphs.)


In your spreadsheet, you should make yourself columns for:

  • Agency name
  • Agent name
  • What materials they require
  • Their submission email
  • Date of query
  • Date of their response
  • How they responded
You could also add a column for any notes you want to keep for that all-important/utterly pointless (depending on your view) personalisation at the beginning of the query.

(Okay, you may be thinking, I can keep track of everything on Query Tracker! Yeah, that's true. But there's something special about a spreadsheet, no? And you can colour code things, and make it pretty, and most importantly, it's yours. Belongs to you only. I like that.)


Submission materials!

So you have your query, and you have your MS. What else could you possibly need, right?

Let me tell you:

  • A synopsis. Yes, they are the most evil creations in the entire goddamn galaxy. Yes, you need to write one. Trust me, even if someone doesn't ask for it along with the query, one day an agent is going to request a partial and a synopsis along with it, and if you don't have one already it's going to be a kick in the left ovary having to write one right then.
  • Saved versions of: First 50 pages; First 3 Chapters; First 100 Pages; First 5 Chapters; and so on, and so on…Save them as a .doc. Save them as a PDF. Shit, save them in RTF format, too -- just think how prepared you'll be! You might think this is random, but when  (when, not if) you get requests, you're going to be asked for these chunks of your MS and why not get ahead of the curve?

Things that will make agents not pull their hair out in frustration!

Have you ever seen an agent talking about a weird query they've received -- in all caps and calling the agent the wrong name; stating "I have the next BILLION SELLER and you should READ now or BATHE in REGRET FOREVER"; a single line and a link to purchase their self pubbed novel; three rambling paragraphs about how much their mother/neighbour/cat loved the MS and nothing about the ACTUAL STORY -- and thought, "Are these people out of their everloving minds?" Here are two ways to be the complete opposite of those people.

1. Save your documents as follows: <YOUR NAME><TITLE><CONTENTS> 

Example: Rebecca Barrow -- BEST FUCKING BOOK EVER -- First 50 Pages

Why do that? Well, imagine how annoying it would be to receive twenty different documents titled only "First 50 Pages". And you're trying to find that one by the one person but they're all called the same thing and you have to keep opening and reading them until you find the one you think you really wanted, but who knows?

Now imagine you are such a genius that you have saved your document with identifying information in the name and the agent easily finds what they want and everyone is smiling like an angel. Ahh.

2. Put your query on the first page of your documents. 

That way, any agent reading that document who might not quite remember the premise or is vague on what this MS is (it happens: agents request a lot, manuscripts have similar titles, brains get tired) can first of all see the query they requested from, and then go, "Oh, yeah, that sounded like the best fucking book ever!"

And the most important thing in this whole goddamn stupid terrifying exciting exhilarating process!

Find the thing that keeps you from losing your mind. Meditation. New lipstick. Wine (copious amounts of). Chocolate (copious amounts of). Killing video game monsters. Whatever it is, find it and do it whenever you feel that querying is going to push you over the edge. It's hard, it really is. But keep trying. I think we'll all get there, one day.

Hopefully with sanity still intact.