Monday, April 26, 2010

Packing for a Fun Trip!

I have an exciting trip coming up! Day after tomorrow! I've been to the Malice Domestic conference in the DC area several times, but this will be the most fun one yet. Every year I know more attendees, which makes it more fun. I have a roommate this year, Marilyn Levinson, a blog partner on Dialog For Murder, which makes it more fun. And I'm nominated for an Agatha, which makes it the most fun.

My daughter lives in the area, just a short walk from the hotel, so I'll get to see her, too. I'm flying a couple days early and staying on the next week so we can shop and do lunch and stuff. I just hope the flights go smoothly!

I wish everyone could have this experience. If it's like it's been in the past, I'll have a special ribbon on my name tag saying I'm a nominee. This one is for a short story. I live for the day I'm a nominee for a novel. But I'll enjoy this moment, this trip, to the utmost anyway.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Not the journey to the center of the earth...

...but the center of the earth journeying into our space.

That's how I think of Eyjafjallajökull, that disrupter of airflight and disregarder of modern civilization. I couldn't possibly say anything about it more eloquently than Yrsa Sigurdardottir, on her blog Murder is Everywhere, so I'll refer you there, telling you to be sure and watch the video at the bottom of her post.

We must remember not to make the mistake of thinking we have everything under control.

I hope everyone who is stranded gets home soon!

(Although I have wondered about the earth being round, and why some of them can't go 'round the other way. Too expensive, I imagine. But if you really really wanted to....)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Query Process

I promised this for last week, but Easter and family visits intervened. Better late than never?

An article I wrote on how to keep track of agent queries will appear in the Breaking and Entering booklet which will be sold at the Malice Domestic conference in Arlington VA this year. Actually, this month, since it starts on April 30th. After the conference, the booklet will be available online (I'll find out exactly where eventually).

So, I won't go into how to keep track until the booklet comes out. Here, I'll discuss how to query. I discussed how to find the right agents to query a couple weeks ago. Now, when you've lined them up and have a long list, how to do it?

Your mileage may vary, but I like to do 5 at a time. I try to do 5 a week, and send my nicely polished query letter out for a month. Then I see if I've gotten any response. Granted, a month is awfully quick in Agent Land where times moves with the speed of a glacier that got stuck behind a mountain. But if I'm getting instant rejections and no requests, I can keep plugging away with that query letter, or I can redo it.

If you Google (or Bing or Dogpile--whatever you like to use) "how to write a query letter" you'll find lots of advice. I'd advise taking some of it, putting a letter together, and seeing how it does.

If you're a writer, you won't be able to resist tweaking your letter. I'd recommend doing this after the first month of querying. If you want to tweak it every month, go ahead.

When you start getting requests for partials, you'll know you have a good letter. That's the first barrier on this journey to publication. The next hurdle is getting the writing to the state of perfection that agents will want full manuscripts.

That's as far as I've gotten on this road, so I can't give personal advice from here, but I wish you much success on the journey to publication!

One more suggestion. Don't quit. You need to amass at least, AT LEAST, 100 before you think of moving on to the next project. Tales abound of three-digit rejection figures that preceded successful publications and careers. OK, that's not a suggestion, that's an order. Don't quit. The difference between an unpublished writer and a published one is, the published one didn't quit.

(photo from Creative Commons, taken by Dave Fergusson)