Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Post-Query Thoughts

I’ve spent so much time and energy on query letters, sample chapters and checking my email for responses that I feel as if I’ve just been released from query prison. As I think through the next few steps in the process, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed. Along with refining my manuscript and bringing another layer of detail and polish to every scene, I’m also thinking about all the online resources available to writers that I’m totally oblivious to. I’ve been maintaining this blog as a way of learning how blogging works, but there’s so much more I’d like to know. I hope to relearn how video links work. I’d like to make some videos with my Ipad and post them here. That would be fun. I haven’t mentioned my blog to my Facebook gang yet, but once I do I’ll have to get used to writing for an audience. I hadn’t realized how difficult that would be for me until this past week. I’ve enjoyed writing nonsensical posts and random thoughts for my own enjoyment. My posts will probably be less frivolous as a result, which may make them slightly less interesting. Maybe I’ll have to create a new blog that’s just for me so that I can keep that frivolous part of me satisfied.

I had a dentist appointment this morning, and while watching the news during my teeth cleaning I heard a theory explaining why the U.S. crime rate was dropping. The average population was growing older. The boomers are retiring. It got me thinking about another target audience, the senior citizens in assisted living facilities. I’ve always imagined speaking at elementary and middle schools, but I can also see an equally satisfying connection with grandparents. The old Oakland Hotel that’s now a retirement home would make an ideal setting for a talk about the series. I’ll have to put that on my list.

I have a match scheduled with Todd this afternoon at 2. Todd has picked up his game this year and will come out swinging. I haven’t played since Friday morning, but I should be able to handle him. After Todd, I have three matches left before the playoffs. Rod and I play Thursday afternoon and Tyrone and I play Thursday evening. Gary and I will have to play sometime next week. If I remain the top seed, I’ll most likely play Harry in the semis and Steve and Tyrone will most likely face each other.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Back from Reno

Alice and I visited my sister Jill and her family over the weekend. It was a relaxing, enjoyable stay. Alex (5) and Hayden (3) are so cute and fun. Sandy had to put up with their nonstop petting and feeding (especially food she's not supposed to eat). It's nice to be home and back to work. I have a dentist appointment after spin class tomorrow that I'm not looking forward to. Oh, well.

I've looked over four chapters so far and will only need to overhaul the Piedmont Park scene in Chapter 9. It's not as dramatic as it should be. Also, Chloe's friends could be a little meaner, I think. As it stays, the entire scene is a little too flat and forgettable.

I'm still plowing through the Richard Yates biography. I'm on chapter 11 and hope to finish this beast by the end of the week. I can't believe it's already 11:15 p.m. How did that happen?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

iPad 2...Awesome!

From Reel Poker

Got mine today. I love it. The only problem is finding the time to play with it. I spoke with Alice on it using Skype. So fun. I downloaded about 10 books and played a video game. Netflix is on it. Technology rules.

My head is still spinning with thoughts and ideas. Racquetball was tough this morning. Dorian and I lost every game we played. Ouch. Tyrone postponed his match with me, which I'm happy about. I wouldn't have been in good shape to play him tomorrow night. I think I'll hit the spin class tomorrow morning. That'll wake me up.

Reading Lauren Oliver's "Delirium." I like it! She's so good.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

On the Phone with Sam

The first thing Sam said was "Welcome to the Agency." Wow, did that feel good. We talked for over an hour about his notes on the book. His ideas were spot on. I can tell this will be a good collaboration. He's familiar with the Bay Area and Julia Morgan but hadn't heard of the Chapel of the Chimes. We discussed roughly a half dozen scenes and issues that needed more work. He'll read over the manuscript again and give me another set of more refined edits within the next two weeks. Wonderful!

What a difference a week makes. I was all set to spend the rest of the year adapting "Botticelli Girl" into a novel. Now I can hold off on that project and focus all my energy on the Milan family. Once the revisions are done, I'll continue outlining the second and third book.

Sam represents Deborah Harkness, who came out with "A Discovery of Witches" back in February. I asked him how her novel was able to reach No. 2 on the Times Bestseller List when she was a debut author. He said Deb was an engaging speaker, a popular blogger, and savvy with social media. Viking put together a press function for her and it was very well received. Advanced sales on Amazon are calculated the first week the book is out, and because it was a slow week and buzz for "Witches" was high, she hit the list and stayed there. It suggests the game begins well before the book launch. I have so much to do and we haven't even submitted to editors yet.

I play my league match with Tyrone Thursday night. I haven't played any racquetball in almost a week. I'm hitting the gym hard today.

Friday, May 20, 2011

An Agent! Sweet!

15 months and 195 queries later, I finally received an offer of representation yesterday from Sam Stoloff of the Frances Goldin Literary Agency in New York. Among the agency’s clients are Barbara Kingsolver and Dorothy Allison. I’m delighted, of course, since just a few weeks ago I was planning to begin work on a new young adult novel after recognizing that nearly all of my query options for Julia Milan had been played out. Sam was responsive from the beginning and his agency is very well respected. This is a huge relief for me. Back in December I had an agent request changes to the ending of the novel, but never heard from that agent again, even after a follow-up email two months after submitting my revisions. That was disheartening. At any rate, I'm excited about revising the manuscript and look forward to sending the manuscript out to editors.

Here are my query numbers. I sent out 195 queries total. 30 are still out. I received 9 full manuscript requests and 15 partial requests for a positive response rate of 13%. Agents who were interested in my manuscript tended to respond quickly, whereas those who took their time either eventually said no thanks or simply never responded. 89 agents sent rejection letters and 52 agents never responded to my query. I e-mailed 165 queries, snail mailed 24 queries, and used 6 online forms from agency websites. What a crazy, maddening step in the writing process. I'm so glad it's over.