Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On a diet, getting ready for some fishing

It's been a while - nearly four months - since I mentioned any progress on Ghosts. Back then, I fondly imagined completing my edits and being back to querying before the end of April.


March and April got ambushed by the A to Z challenge.

Since then, I've been on a bit of a blogging diet and made good progress with the edits. After the line-by-line critiquing feedback, I had a few significant scene insertions to work on. It felt good to get back to putting new words on the page. But this left the total word count tipping the scales at 100,800 - blowing my target of keeping it to under the magical 100k.

So now the MS needs a diet as I try to wrestle it back down a bit. Things are going well there, too. So well, that I started dusting off my old records from my last round of querying two years ago.

First stop is my existing master list of agents, which I keep in a spreadsheet.

Cross-check this with Writers Beware and Preditors & Editors for any new alerts or recommendations. A few things have changed since I last looked.

I am still building this list, and will need to visit places like AAR, Publishers Marketplace, and SF Writer, for more agencies that I don't already know about. These will also get checked for warnings and added to the spreadsheet.

I keep the "dodgy" ones on file, even though I will never query them, because it saves me from repeating the research if their name pops up again. If it wasn't on my list already then I'd be likely to add it only to have to strike it off again.

Each prospect gets further vetted through their website. Do they represent my genre? Does the specific agent bio talk about the kind of story I'm querying (even sci-fi is a big field)? Do I get any funny "vibes" from the tone of the website - i.e. would I feel comfortable dealing with them (for example, one or two I flagged as "sounds snooty")? Other red flags: closed to queries, only accepts published authors, only accepts snail mail (more a practical point for me, with so many agents accepting email these days why inconvenience myself before I need to?), website non-existent or link invalid.

Confirm address, relevant agent name, and submission guidelines.

It all gets added to the spreadsheet before I'm ready to start shortlisting agents to actually query.

So, for those of you who are (or have been) through the querying mill, how do you go about building your agent list?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Roll on summer

I hear some parts of the country are basking in a heatwave.

Can you please send some of it this way?

Megan & I were out this afternoon, got cold and wet, and I've just had to light a fire to dispel the damp. It's the end of June. What's up with that?

Before any climate change skeptics start saying smugly, "So much for global warming," remember, the world is warming remorselessly on average. Some bits warm a lot - spare a thought for polar bears starving as the dwindling summer ice shortens their hunting season each year - some bits warm a bit, others maybe cool down.

All over the place, though, weather is getting messed up.

Ali and Matthew are camping this weekend. Last of the season. Under canvas. I hope they're OK.

How are things where you are?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It's official: I'm a FREAK

And I'm still dealing with the shock.

The absolutely amazing Jennifer Hillier held a contest on her blog recently. The challenge was to write something, in no more than 150 words, that would make her cringe.

This is Jennifer Hillier, the successful author who writes psychological thrillers that scare the pants of hardened reviewers. I write soft sci-fi. What the heck do I know about creepy horror-like stuff?

My first thought was, "Sounds fun, must check out the entries later." Note: Nowhere here was there any thought of actually entering! That's for other people.

For starters, it meant coming up with an idea, and ideas, for me, arrive with all the speed of a glacier. You can name geological epochs after the time intervals between my story ideas.

Nevertheless, a germ of an idea arrived, got fleshed out, and entered.

And won.

I am still in shock because (a) No writing of mine has ever won anything before, and (b) The quality of the competition was high. Just look at all the stunning entries here.

So, a big THANK YOU to Jennifer for making my week.

If you don't know her, head over to her blog, check out the contest, and say a big HELLO.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Here, kitty kitty...

A few days ago, I snapped this. Meet the feline gang...

From the far end, we have: Susie (looking to see what's going on), Tigger, Willow, Magic (just discernible by her pink collar) and Tubbs.

Nothing remarkable, it would appear. It's feeding time at the zoo, and they are all at the trough.

But this photo is remarkable to me, because this is the first time I've ever seen them all together in one place at one time.

We often get three or four of them in a room together, or out on the drive in the sun, but never all five. Even at mealtimes.

This is a unique moment.

My creativity is a bit like that, too. Writing, editing, critiquing, blogging... In a week, I might do one or two, occasionally three but badly. But these things all demand focus from me and are better kept separated.

At least one of you out there has noticed that my blogging is going through a quiet phase. And it's true.

At the moment, my writing muse is focussed on making life difficult for Shayla Carver. I have a few scenes to strengthen, to disrupt the easy ride she has in places. While I've been doing that, I just haven't been getting ideas to blog about.

And I'm not going to force the issue either. If an idea comes to mind, I'll post it, but blogging should be a joy not a chore, which is why I've never set myself a schedule. I'm still here, visiting and commenting from time to time, but most of the time I'm chasing the muse and the momentum to finish Ghosts and get querying again.

Here, kitty kitty...
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