Friday, February 27, 2009

author talk

Went to see Linnea Sinclair give a lecture on Wednesday night about an hour north of here. The hubby and I got together with her an hour beforehand for drinks and appetizers. Then we had to rush to get to the library where she was speaking. We made it, she accidentally went to the old library instead of the new one.

The librarians remembered us from a similar event last year, which was rather cool. We have progressed in this relationship from fans to friendly stalkers to mentorees. It was assumed that we were Linnea's entourage. We were in contact with her by phone, giving the event staffers an e.t.a. We handed out fliers. We encouraged people to buy her books and offered to help her set up and take down. We walked her in and walked her out. We carried messages between her and the staff and vice versa.

The lecture was fun, as her lectures always are. She is fantastic for a morale boost. She pointed out both me and the hubby, identifying us as her mentorees and stating for the audience that we would soon be New York house published. I hope this is so. I believe her exact words were, "Lisa is eight and a half months pregnant with a publishing contract. She's due to explode with it at any minute." Now, there was a visual I did not need.

During the talk, she said several things that hit close to home. She talked about the characters within authors' heads, all screaming to be let out, and the one we write about is the one screaming the loudest. So true. A few years back, I wrote an earlier story in the Agency Files series I'm working on. It centered around a different character from the current manuscript -- Assassin's Nightmare. And the entire time I was writing it, I kept telling the hubby that I wanted to write Vick's story. I needed to write it. She demanded to be written. And finally, I did. And I think Assassin's Nightmare is likely a better book for that reason.

Anyway, I look forward to hearing Linnea speak again in April. She always gives a wonderful performance.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Authors Visiting My School

I've been working for several weeks to put together a panel of authors to come and speak to my students about writing novels. Finally, it is confirmed. At the end of April, Linnea Sinclair, Stacey Klemstein, and Lucienne Diver (also a prestigious literary agent) will be coming to my school to answer all my students' questions. They are very excited, and the authors are being incredibly generous with their time and hotel money to do this for my students. I hope they will gain a lot from the experience, and I hope the authors will sell a lot of books. Stacey and Lucienne write young adult novels, and my students are avid readers. I expect both sides will profit from this.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Book Review of the Day - Stacey Klemstein

I had a unique opportunity to read The Silver Spoon by Stacey Klemstein. I met author Stacey Klemstein through Linnea Sinclair. Stacey was kind enough to email me her first published novel to read at my leisure.

She had to email it to me because it was published through a small house and is very difficult to actually find in print. Despite having to read it on my computer screen (which I hate. I really like to hold a book in my hands.) I still enjoyed it very much.

At first, the main character seemed too realistically fragile for my taste. I like my female protagonists to be braver and stronger than life. Hers is a reluctant hero, complete with asthma inhaler. But she has an inner strength that is revealed through her actions and choices made in the face of one challenge after another.

There are some neat, original twists on the "alien invasion" plotline. I liked these, since "earth based" science fiction is also not my thing. And the male romantic interest is definitely an interesting deviation from the norm.

I am looking forward to reading the sequel.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Manuscript Sent

Spent all day Friday finishing up the last edits on Assassin's Nightmare. Finally, around 8:30 P.M. I sent it to the agent who had requested the full manuscript. And now I'm a nervous wreck. I believe I could have done a bit more with it, but then again, we always believe that. No work is ever perfect. I'm always finding little things to tweak or change. I wish my teaching life hadn't gone all to heck right before the manuscript was due. I would have had more time to touch things up. But I think it's good.

The problem is, in this economy, it has to be great. And it might be. I know I'm really close. The last rejection I received was from an agent who held onto my partial for six months. When she sent the rejection, she said she'd been sitting on it, trying to find a way to work it into her agency's list, but finally decided, in this economy, that it wasn't right for them. I'm getting very tired of the economy.

My first time attempting to get published, the rejections all read, "You're a very talented writer, but this is badly in need of editing." So, I learned how to edit. And I sought advice from published writers in that area. Now the rejections all talk about how they would love to take me on, but the economy is too poor to take a risk on a new writer. Well, I can't fix that. I am a new writer, and I'm going to continue to be one until someone takes a chance on me.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Woot! and the Elusive Bag of Crap

One topic of interest for today. If you have never heard of Woot!, it's a website that features one product (usually electronics) per day at a really good price. My husband and I have been shopping there for years. We haven't bought much, but we got good deals on the items we did purchase. And every once in a while they hold a "woot-off" where they sell one item after another all day for about two days until each individual item is sold out. And somewhere in all those random items is a "bag of crap."

Yep, for three dollars, plus five dollars shipping, you can buy three random bags of crap. And it's the most difficult item to secure, because everyone watching the site wants crap. Why? Well, it's like a contest. You never know what is going to be in your bags of crap. Whatever it is, it's always worth the eight dollars. But it might be worth a lot more.

We've only won the bags of crap twice now, once about two years ago, and once two days ago. In the first bags, we received a t-shirt, a model car, and a very nice remote-controlled car, along with a nice backpack that one of my kids is using for school, now. Certainly worth more than eight dollars. But some people (random winners among the purchasers of the crap) receive televisions, computers -- it could be anything that the website sells.

So, now we wait for the delivery of our crap in great anticipation.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Car Shopping - Do It Angry

I discovered something about myself the other day. The best time for me to go shopping for a new car is when I'm angry at the universe. And given my past few days at work, (see last two entries) I've been very angry at the universe lately. Our car, a Pontiac Aztec, had about 110,000 miles on it and a lot of little things wrong with it, though it's been a very good car. It was Presidents' Day. Lots of sales, so we figured, let's go looking.

There were only two makes of car I was interested in. We needed to get a very specific price and payment for whichever we chose, and we were asking for an outrageously good deal, so we doubted highly that we would be buying anything anyway. And we could probably get another good year out of the Aztec if necessary.

The first kind of car I liked was a Toyota F. J. Cruiser. Blue. Ok, up front, you need to know that every car I've owned has been blue, with one exception - a Sebring convertible which was deep purple which is awfully close to blue. Well, there were no blue F. J. Cruisers to be had anywhere within a two-hour driving radius, apparently. We called and called. None.

Which moved us to our only other interest, the Pontiac Torrent, again in blue. I like Pontiacs. This will be our third. I've had virtually no problems with the Pontiacs I've owned and they last a long time. We first went to the dealer who sold us the Aztec. They had treated us well and fairly five years ago.

Their lot was empty. They had almost nothing to sell. And of course, in my current mood, the first words out of my mouth were, "How do you expect to sell me a car if you don't have any?" Of course the dealer scrambled to drag us inside so he could locate the closest Torrent for us. We wanted to leave and head on to the next dealership, but he took off so fast to "look up information" that we didn't have a chance to get away, and I wasn't riled up enough to just walk out yet. When he returned, he apologized for his lack of stock, said the closest Torrent in any color was thirty miles away, and he could have it in by the next day, in blue. We told him to bring one in if he wanted, but we were going to keep looking.

On to the next dealership. We called ahead first. It was nine miles away. They had Torrents, so the first guy lied (big surprise), and they said they had a blue one. But it was rush hour, so it took us a half hour to go those nine miles. And when we arrived, complete with arguing ten-year-olds in our back seat, the dealer cheerfully led us to a Torrent. A red Torrent.

Me: "That's not blue."
Him: "No ma'am, it's not. But we have a blue one around here somewhere. We're looking for it."
Me: "Did you lose it?"
Him: "Why don't you take a look at this one while I figure out what happened to the blue one? The computer says we have it, but I don't see it on the lot."
(Husband takes several steps away.)
Me: "Are you telling me you just brought us out here in rush hour traffic with two kids to see a car you can't find?"
Him: "Now, what I actually said, was I 'think' we have a blue one, ma'am."
Husband: "You said you HAD a blue one. If it's not blue, we're not interested."
Him: "Now hold on. We're still looking." He begins to open all the doors on the red one, including the trunk, so we can look inside.
I follow him around the red Torrent and shut the trunk.
Me: "Find me a blue one and I'll look at it. Otherwise, we're leaving."
Husband: "She wants a blue one."
Him: "You need to understand, ma'am, the computer says it's here. Just give me time to figure out what happened, and we can always get one in for you."
Me: "YOU need to understand, I don't want you to GET one. If you HAVE one, we can talk. Otherwise, we're leaving."
The dealer hurries off.
The dealer eventually comes back. He tells us his manager is looking into the problem and invites us inside to have a seat while this gets sorted out. I need to use the restroom. When I return, my husband and daughters are sitting in front of a tv, and the dealer is talking to them.
Dealer: "I've just explained to your husband what happened. The blue Torrent was sold this afternoon while I was at lunch, and they didn't update the computer."
Me to Husband: "Why are we still here?"
Dealer: "Look, you want to do business with us. We're one of the best dealerships in the county."
Me: "You lied to us and lost a car. That doesn't sound too good to me."
He was still arguing to our backs as we left.
Back in our old car, I started laughing hysterically. Given the week I'd had, that was a wonderful release of frustration. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it.

On to dealership number three. Hubby calls ahead first. "Now, you have a blue Torrent, correct? I mean really? Are you absolutely sure?" He outlines what has already happened today for dealership number three. The dealer takes the phone and goes out into the lot and locates the blue Torrent and starts its engine to check the mileage and holds the phone up to the engine so my husband can hear it running. (Of course he could have done that to any car, but the gesture was nice.)

We arrive. They have a blue Torrent. It's a 2008 which makes it cheaper. It's a demo which makes it even cheaper. It's only got 3000 miles on it. It's on sale for Presidents' Day. It's exactly what we want. Now my husband takes over. After a couple of hours of negotiating and threatening to walk out the door twice, we get exactly the deal we ask for. My husband is a fantastic negotiator. I do blue. He does money.

We have a new car!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Request for Full Manuscript

Couldn't resist! Had to post! I had a request today for the full manuscript of Assassin's Nightmare from a very reputable New York agency. I won't give the name here, as I don't think that's considered good form, but . . . I'm excited! To get a request for a full, as a new, unpublished author, in this market, is very exciting! I've now got two weeks to finish my last edits and make it as good as it possibly can be, going on my mentor's previous advice. Eeek. Scary.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest

At my author mentor's suggestion, I am endeavoring to enter more contests. Today I entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. I doubt I have a chance of winning. The previous winners have been predominantly mainstream or mystery/thriller. But it's free. And the winner gets a $25,000 publishing contract with Penguin Publishing. So I really had nothing to lose by entering except the time it took me to put my entry together. And that wasn't too bad since they wanted things I'd pretty much already put together for agent submissions and other contest entries. They needed a synopsis, a pitch, and an author bio. I had all those, and they were close to the right lengths, so they required very little editing.

As for Baen's Bar, I've only had one person give me feedback. She had a few nits to pick, but then she said I needed to reveal my character's purpose/mission earlier, otherwise, she can't relate to the character. I'm already revealing it within the first five pages. I try to establish the setting and the personality of the protagonist in the first four pages, so I'm not sure I can discuss the mission much earlier. I suppose I could briefly refer to it in her thoughts. I'm hoping other readers will comment, as this problem has never been mentioned by any of my other critters.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Baen's Bar Instead

To update, I did not end up going with Authonomy, since they handle every genre and are mostly based out of the U.K. Instead, I've posted chapter one over at Baen's Bar. So, if anyone actually reads this blog and has an interest, one can register at Baen's and check it out. It's in the Slush Pile category under Assassin's Nightmare chapter 1.