Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy New Year!

While getting ready to make those resolutions, I stumbled upon my favorite list. Each year J.A. Konrath, author of the Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels thrillers and blogger of the no-nonsense A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, adds to a list he started in 2006. As soon as you read it, you'll jump off the internet and get back to writing the book or story you put down before the holidays. I'm not the only one, right?

I've been reading like mad, at least keeping up with part of my job. Several books on London showed up under the tree because, alas, a research trip in 2009 is out of the question. London: A Biography by the masterful Peter Ackroyd is chockful of details, 772 pages worth to be exact, 12 of which are an essay on sources! A shorter read is Walking Haunted London by Richard Jones. London has more ghosts than any other city and reading about them fuels my imagination.

So I'll procrastinate no longer. As J.A. Konrath says, "Now quit reading blogs and get some writing done."

Happy New Year all!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ghost Writer

As someone who can't stop writing about ghosts, it was inevitable that I would eventually be visited by one of my own.

While writing my new manuscript a few nights ago, I frantically typed, trying to get my ideas on the page before I forgot them. I'd written a few pages when all of a sudden my cursor started dancing across the screen. I'd try to anchor the dang thing, but no go. Then letters appeared. But not letters I'd typed.

I debated telling my son, who was doing homework at his desk behind me. Nah, he'll just laugh and question my sanity. Again.

That's it, I thought. I've finally raised my own ghost. My skin tingled, a breeze blew by my neck, and I looked around for loose change. Then, a crash sounded behind me.

It was my son. He'd tossed his mouse on his desk in frustration because it wasn't working. "Look, nothing happens," he said, rolling his mouse on his desk. I turned around and saw a cursor looping across my screen. His mouse was controlling my computer. We called tech support (husband) for advice, and he'd never seen this problem before. Leave it to Joan, I'm sure he was thinking. But then he figured it out. He tossed aside my Bluetooth mouse and wired up the old one. The words I typed were my own.

I was kind of let down that it wasn't an apparition after all. I'd already made plans to bring her to critique with me on Thursday night. Ghost writer, indeed.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

WIth Advice Like This

Since my mini-retreat at the library, I've been reading a few more how-to books. A few I will buy and keep within reach. Some were published over twenty years ago. Most of the advice holds true. I take general notes, hoping someday I'll find the time to reread them. But I also jot down ideas for my WIP characters or plot. Yesterday I finally put it all together and wrote about 3,000 words. A good day for me.

I'm still waiting to hear from a few agents reading full or partial manuscripts of The Bodley Boys and Center Court Seats and a Pair of Jimmy Choos. Pamela and I received excellent comments from Moonrat on CCS after Pamela won us a partial review and we're working on tweaking the manuscript. Moonrat said she believed someone would snap it up!

It's been over a month, so I'm not sure if I should query the next few agents on my Bodley wish-list. I thought I'd read up on the etiquette.

One particular book was published about ten years ago. Not so old. The book focused mostly on proposals and finding an agent. So far, so good. I started feeling squirmy after seeing the word entitled. As in "the book was entitled." In the U.K., acceptable. In the U.S., not so much. But hey, it could be a style thing, right?

Then halfway through I realized the advice was a little off. No, a lot off! If I followed it, I wouldn't receive the amazing rejection I received last week (so close!) or even kind "I'm passing on it" rejections, I'd be starring in all those agent blogs titled "How to Piss Off an Agent." I'm clearly exaggerating for dramatic effect, right? (The all-cap SNL references are mine.) You tell me:

1. Query one agent at a time. Offer them a six-week exclusive. REALLY!?

2. If you haven't heard from that agent, call after three weeks. OMG, YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING!

3. If you receive a confusing rejection, call the agency and ask to speak to the agent for clarification. NOW YOU'RE JUST TALKING NONSENSE!

I don't know about you, but I'm going to pass on it. Any agents reading my blog want to comment on that advice?!