Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This May or May Not Cheer You Up

I subscribe to Publisher's Marketplace, and if you're a writer, I'd highly recommend ponying up the very reasonable $20/mo. to get access to their daily deals information. Every day I get a list of who sold what, and I can't think of a better way to find My Ideal Agent other than finding the one who's selling books like what I've written. It also helps me keep an eye on the marketplace re what's selling in YA right now. Indispensable information.

So, what's cheery about this otherwise dry data is that the sales of books to publishers are continuing. After the dreary news from HMH earlier this week that all book acquisitions are on hold for now (seriously? Isn't that like McDonald's saying they aren't going to buy any more potatoes?), I'm encouraged by this daily reminder in my inbox that there are agents out there wheeling and dealing, getting the job done, selling books. Thank god for y'all.

Here's the other cheery news. A young, talented writer who has a faithful agent who wouldn't give up on her or her debut novel has sold her book - after two years of effort. The backstory is inspiring. She looks pretty precious on her blog, which I can say because I'm older than her, and her writing is that sort of liquid, dream-like, right-brain-swimming goodness that makes me want to pick up Carl Jung and contemplate the wonders of consciousness. I look forward to her book coming out. Congratulations!

So, this may or may not cheer you, depending on whether you're the sort of person who gains inspiration from others' successes, or who shrinks from them wondering why it wasn't you. If you're the latter, then good luck to you. Life is hard enough as it is, kiddo.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why I Wrote This Book

We moved to a larger house in April of 2007, when I was pregnant with our second child. We needed more space, and even though Kirby had been high on painkillers for a kidney stone when we saw the house, because I loved it so much he agreed to make an offer, and we were under contract within 24 hours.

The bulk of the packing fell to me, as the person with the part-time, free-lance job. I was packing Kirby's books - obscure, paperback tomes from college that I had never paid much attention to - when I came across a volume of literary criticism of erotic literature. There was an entire chapter dealt to "The Rape Fantasy."

The whuh-huh-who?

Are you effing serious?

I opened the book, began to read, and proceeded to get really, really pissed. Rather than just discussing the presence of something called a "rape fantasy" which, rightly or wrongly, shows up in a lot of erotic literature, the author began the analysis with the assumption that women, in general, although they won't admit it, harbor such fantasies.

So, being the sort of person I am, I thought I'd hunt the author down and hang him by his short hairs until he agreed to publicly recant and apologize for spreading such ridiculous nonsense.


Let me try that again. Being the sort of person I am, I thought I'd write about it. I decided I'd write the anti-rape fantasy. A fantasy about extraordinary desire, slowly, gently, tenderly expressed in a mostly chaste relationship.

Have you ever wanted someone so much your mouth waters and you walk into furniture, only to find out that they hyperventilate every time you flip your hair that way, but for reasons external to the attraction you've had to keep it in check? It's HOT.

I also had a fantasy about a sword-fighting heroine. I love the stories of King Arthur, the movie Gladiator, and tough-skinned, macho tales of strength and honor that make you all proud and warm inside. Problem was, all of the tales were about male protagonists. Sure there were a few female side-characters here and there, but the leads were all men.

Then along came Buffy. THANK YOU, JOSS WHEDON.

After that, Battlestar Gallactica. Yummy. Strong, tough, unapologetic and uncompromising warrior women who kicked ass, over and over again.

So I put these two themes together, and I got GWENDOLYN'S SWORD. It may go nowhere. It may be that no one wants to represent a YA novel about a sword-fighting heroine from twelfth century England. If that's the case, then I'll write something more marketable and try to get this one published after I'm a creditable "author". I love the characters, there are at least 2 or 3 sequels possible based on the threads laid in the first book, and I'm not willing to give up on them or their story. When I was a teenager, I would have loved to have had a story like this out there for me to read, to know that it was okay to be bigger and stronger than most of the girls (and a lot of the guys), to know that it was okay to be a girl and still speak loudly and clearly, to know that being smart and assertive and a no-bullshit fighter was sexy.

So far, I've queried 17 agents. I've gotten 5 rejections, 2 referrals to other agents, and one request for a full. The waiting is ... difficult, but unavoidable. We'll see what happens. In the meantime, I'm outlining plot and characters for the next book (legal thriller) while continuing to revise Gwendolyn's Sword in anticipation of submitting it to the Texas Writers League manuscript contest this spring. I may not win, but the feedback will be invaluable.

Happy November, and keep writing.

Really? What's It About?

Think Buffy meets Excalibur.

Here's a very brief blurb; the book is 111,000 words:

In twelfth century England, while King Richard is absent from the throne, a heroine emerges who will risk everything to protect the land and the people she loves from a confederation of war-mongering nobles. Nineteen-year-old Baroness Gwendolyn de Cardinham learned from her husband how to fight with the broadsword before he left her in charge of the manor to join the crusades. In the autumn of 1192, she embarks with William, a knight from a humble family who rose to serve as head guard, on an errand to locate her parents' tomb. They discover instead that her sword, passed on to her by her grandfather, is in fact the legendary Excalibur. She alone is heir to an ancient legacy to protect the future of England at a time when the middle class of merchants and skilled craftsmen was first emerging. But her sword is not whole; a fragment of the hilt was buried with her parents and she must retrieve it before she and her sword are captured or killed.

Sound good? Want to read it? Tell an agent for me!

Monday, November 24, 2008

So I Wrote This Book ...

And it took me 9 weeks to get the first draft done. So far I'm a month into revisions. I'd never written a book before, but this just took a hold of me. Climbed on my back and wrapped it's arms around my neck and wouldn't let go until I had the story completed. Even now it still gets me out of bed after midnight to go fix that one line.

Now I'm working hard at finding an agent and getting published. Because I want to keep writing. It's like a drug. Going into my head and disappearing inside there where forty years' worth of daydreams and an overly active imagination have stored up stacks and stacks of characters and stories and places and times that are screaming to be told.

It's not that I don't like my day job - I do. And I'm good at it. But if I could get someone to pay me to write? That would be heaven on earth.

So, welcome to the blog. Thank you for stopping by.