Sunday, October 24, 2010

SCBWI Regional Conference & Halloween Prep

Yesterday, I attended the SCBWI Regional Conference from 8-5 at Mills College. I listened to some interesting, inspiring speakers, caught up with a few members I knew, and left wondering if I would ever find representation. I’ll send my stuff to the two agents who were in attendance, but I’m really beginning to wonder if anyone in the industry will see the potential for Julia Milan. I’ll play out my current strategy through the remaining agents and agencies that I haven’t mailed a query to, but based on what I’ve received from the agents I have contacted, my story isn’t striking a chord, nor is it interesting enough to invite a partial. This is really surprising to me. I may have to come up with another novel to write that’s entirely different, but the problem with that is I have no idea what sort of angle to go. I wrote the best book I could write with enough suspense and intrigue to keep the pages turning. Maybe I’ve out-thought my entry into the game. I just don’t know. All I can do is keep going.

Went out several times this week and it was so good for me. After last week’s debacle, I’ve learned not to say anything about myself until I actually meet someone face-to-face. Less is more and I keep forgetting that. Anyway, I still feel badly about my ridiculous lack of boundaries, but at least I’m learning from my mistakes and staying positive. I met someone today in San Francisco who was very charming and sweet. I really enjoyed our conversation. I hope to see her again.

Off to read a few more pages of “Freedom.” I’m really enjoying this book.

It’s a new week and I’m excited about the possibilities.

Oh, the Halloween effect this year is going to be killer! Richard has outdone himself again!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Redwood City

I went to Redwood City last night and had a very enjoyable evening. I needed that. I forget sometimes how overwhelming I can be, how in-my-own-head I can appear to outsiders, and last night it was just me being myself without any need to appear overtly special or interesting. It’s not the natural place I go because I feel so flat and boring when I’m there, but the payoff is an effortless, enjoyable evening in which someone is actually smiling at me instead of terrified or annoyed. What a month this has been. At least I’m learning from my colossal mistakes and poor decision making. Redwood City has a very charming downtown with two theatres and several hip places to hang out. I hope to go there again. There is a very interesting pub called “The Living Room” on Broadway that’s filled with old couches and lounge chairs. It looks very cool.

Tomorrow I’m attending an all-day SCBWI conference at Mills College from 7:45 to 5, then in the evening I’ll help Richard with Halloween tasks. It’s been non-stop since returning from Arizona. I need a day to just chill, relax, reflect and unwind.

It rained this morning so I took the bus to work. Annette, Richard & Lisa’s neighbor, was at the bus stop, so we had a wonderful 20-minute conversation about books. She insisted I read “The Book Thief,” saying it was one of the most original, amazing books she’s ever read. It’s on my list, along with “The Help” and about 20 other titles. There aren’t enough hours in the day.

I must devote at least two hours this weekend for some poker study. I miss not playing that game and feel my poker skills are eroding. This is not good. I love that game but don’t have much time to play. In a strange sort of way that game helps center me.

I can’t wait for next week’s yoga session. I’m doing yoga once a week for a month, and if I keep liking it I’ll bump it up to twice a week. My body is in super shape right now and if I can keep from getting any injuries through March, I’ll be very happy.

Okay, I’m off to send out more queries. I’m at 87 right now, and I shouldn’t rest until I have 150 sent out.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Got a super night’s sleep and feel a renewed sense of energy and drive. Yesterday’s email was indeed a blow, but things happen for a reason and somewhere in agentland there’s a far better fit for me. I reviewed my current query and synopsis and looked over the first chapter. It’s all there, waiting for someone to grab it up and sell it to a publisher. I’m incorporating hardcopy queries into the mix, mailing packets to about 20 agents who currently don’t accept emails. Chris said some really complimentary things about my book and told me not to question its merit and strengths. He’s a true believer and I love that about him.

I’m plowing through Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom,” and enjoying every sentence, every paragraph. He’s a dense, doughy writer with a “more-is-more” writing style. I’m always aware of his brilliance, which in the end works against the story, but for writers at his level it’s an easy indulgence to forgive. His attention to detail and observational skills are superb. I’m one-fifth of the way through the book and enjoying the journey immensely.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fired Up

What a week. The agent who loved the first three chapters of my book passed without comment. Such a drag. It was a week filled with rejection, but I've maintained an upbeat perspective. Sometimes I wonder why I'm in such a good mood when so many things fall short for me. Oh well. I spoke with Chris tonight. We had a great talk about everything. He loved Social Network, as did I. It's so well written and structured.

I joined Match for a month and have dates tomorrow and Sunday. It's time for me to go out more. I was thinking about Linda the other day. I still miss her sometimes.

The Giants won in a nailbiter. I'm so excited! I'd love to see them in the World Series.

The season finale of "Mad Men" was fantastic. The entire season was masterful and thoroughly original. It just may win another emmy for best drama. Jon Hamm deserves one, too. He was fabulous. The entire cast was fabulous. I so love this show. Good news! In Treatment is coming back for a third season. I'm SO HAPPY! Thank you, HBO, for answering my prayers!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Representation: A Numbers Game

The best chance of landing an agent is to query widely and get as many full and partial manuscripts into the hands of agents as possible. One of the great benefits of using is connecting with other writers who are also seeking an agent. A writer on the QT site known as “queryhater” just acquired representation with Brenda Bowen at Sanford J. Greenburger & Associates. He'd submitted 118 queries and received 38 requests for full manuscripts and 15 partial requests. He received an offer of representation last week. He waited a week to make his decision, and in the meantime sent an “Offer” email to the 20+ agents with his fulls and partials. He received another offer that day. Throughout the week, he received calls and emails from nearly every other agent, informing him that they’d read his manuscript that night or the next day. When all was said and done, he received eight offers of representation before making the decision to sign with Brenda Bowen. Eight offers!

This is how the query game is played. This was queryhater’s second novel. With his first novel, he sent out 187 queries and received 3 full requests and 4 partial requests. His request success rate was 3.7% and his first novel went in a drawer. He considered giving up, but instead wrote another novel. His request success rate with the second book was 45% (that’s amazing to me!). He never gave up. He queried widely. He now has an agent!

My current numbers are 78 total queries submitted with 6 full requests and 6 partial requests, for a request success rate of 15.4%. What queryhater’s numbers suggest to me is that I need to send at least 80 more queries out. I’m starting that process today.

I find queryhater’s story extremely inspiring. This is what it will take to gain representation.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pinball Bliss

Spent Sunday at the 4th Annual Pacific Pinball Expo in San Rafael with Richard, Trey, Miles and Sophie.

We arrived 30 minutes before the doors opened, then at 10 we entered the facility like kiddies on Christmas morning. 400 pinball machines for us to play! All my old favorites were there, Paragon, Pinbot, Pinball Pool, Twilight Zone, plus a few new games I really enjoyed, especially the basketball pinball machine that gives you a free game when you reach 50 points.

Paragon was just as unruly as I'd remembered. I love this machine, but boy does it love to drain balls. So painful. I came close to clearing the Paragon letters but no luck.

We ate lunch at Barney's, the perfect feast between pinball sessions, then returned for two more sessions (caught a lecture on the geometry of pinball at 3) before attending the raffle for the Gorgar machine. We didn't win, but had fun hoping. We left at 6:30 with lots of great memories. I can't wait for next year!